Evolutionarily relevant threats have been shown to receive an attentional bias in the visual system. However, no studies to date have directly examined whether the effect persists while attention is divided between multiple tasks. The present study examined whether the attentional bias to threats persists when demands on attention are increased using a multitasking paradigm. Thirty undergraduate students searched for threatening and nonthreatening targets among an array of neutral distractors under both single-task and multi-task conditions. Inconsistent with past research, threatening targets and nonthreatening targets were detected at equal rates, suggesting that the threatening targets do not receive an attentional bias resulting in preferential processing. However, regardless of what type of target was presented, increasing demands on attention produced deficits in response time. Together, the findings suggested that evolutionarily relevant threats do not receive preferential processing in the visual system and that these stimuli are as susceptible to the consequences of engaging in multiple attention-demanding tasks as are nonthreatening stimuli.
|Commitee:||Sawatzky, Misty, Treesukosol, Yada|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 58/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychology, Experimental psychology, Cognitive psychology|
|Keywords:||Attentional bias, Snakes, Threats, Visual search|
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