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Emotion. 2004 Sep;4(3):312-7.

Does imminent threat capture and hold attention?

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium. ernst.koster@ugent.be

Abstract

According to models of attention and emotion, threat captures and holds attention. In behavioral tasks, robust evidence has been found for attentional holding but not for attentional capture by threat. An important explanation for the absence of attentional capture effects is that the visual stimuli used posed no genuine threat. The present study investigated whether visual cues that signal an aversive white noise can elicit attentional capture and holding effects. Cues presented in an attentional task were simultaneously provided with a threat value through an aversive conditioning procedure. Response latencies showed that threatening cues captured and held attention. These results support recent views on attention to threat, proposing that imminent threat captures attention in everyone.

PMID:
15456400
DOI:
10.1037/1528-3542.4.3.312
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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