Staffordshire University logo
STORE - Staffordshire Online Repository

Task demands moderate the effect of emotion on attentional capture

HUMPHREYS, Louise, HIGGINS, Sarah and ROBERTS, Emma V. (2022) Task demands moderate the effect of emotion on attentional capture. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. ISSN 1747-0218

[img] Text
QJEP_accepted version 20.12.21.docx - AUTHOR'S ACCEPTED Version (default)
Available under License All Rights Reserved.

Download (90kB)

Abstract or description

The current experiment examined the effect of task demands on attention to emotional images. Eighty participants viewed pairs of images, with each pair consisting of an emotional (negative or positive) and a neutral image, or two neutral images. Participants’ eye movements were recorded during picture viewing, and participants were either asked 1) which picture contains more colour? (colour task), 2) are the images equally pleasant? (pleasantness task), 3) which picture do you prefer? (preference task), or 4) were given no task instructions (control task). Although the results did not suggest that emotional images strongly captured attention, emotional images were looked at earlier than neutral images. Importantly, the pattern of results were dependent upon the task instructions; whilst the preference and colour task conditions showed early attentional biases to emotional images, only positive images were looked at earlier in the pleasantness task condition, and no early attentional biases were observed in the control task. Moreover, total fixation duration was increased for positive images in the preference task condition, but not in the other task conditions. It was concluded that attention to emotional stimuli can be modified by the demands of the task during viewing. However, further research should consider additional factors, such as the cognitive load of the viewing tasks, and the content of the images used.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of the following article: Humphreys, L., Higgins, S. and Roberts, E. V. (2022) ‘Task demands moderate the effect of emotion on attentional capture’, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. doi: 10.1177/17470218221075146. available online at
Uncontrolled Keywords: attention; emotion; task demands
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology and Counselling
Depositing User: Louise HUMPHREYS
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2021 14:49
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 14:02

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

DisabledGo Staffordshire University is a recognised   Investor in People. Sustain Staffs
Legal | Freedom of Information | Site Map | Job Vacancies
Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2DE t: +44 (0)1782 294000