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Perception. 2012;41(5):623-5.

Payoff changes sensitivity by modulating the processing style.

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School of Psychological Sciences, Zochonis Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK.


In a perceptual decision-making task, we compared a neutral payoff and two asymmetric payoffs: a liberal one, favouring positive responses, and a conservative one, favouring negative responses. Participants were presented with ambiguous images composed of superimposed target and non-target photographs, and asked to decide whether the target dominated in the picture. Signal-detection analysis demonstrated that the liberal payoff yielded significantly higher sensitivity than other payoffs. We argue that the liberal payoff encourages confirming the target's domination, hence making it easier to ignore non-target elements of the picture. We conclude that payoff can influence perceptual decisions by changing the approach to the perceptual task, and how attention is allocated between different elements of the sensory input.

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