Article Correctness Is Author's Responsibility: Attentional capture by simultaneous pleasant and unpleasant emotional distractors.

The article below may contain offensive and/or incorrect content.

Both high-arousal pleasant and unpleasant task-irrelevant stimuli capture attention and divert processing away from the main task leading to impaired behavioral performance in concurrent tasks. Most studies have separately investigated interference effects of unpleasant and pleasant stimuli on behavior. Thus, little is known about how pleasant and unpleasant task-irrelevant stimuli influence behavior simultaneously. In the present study, we investigated this question during a visual-letter search task. We tested two alternative hypotheses about the influence of simultaneous pleasant and unpleasant task-irrelevant stimuli on task performance. If behavior is purely determined by the intensity of the distractor stimuli (independent of valence), then we would expect the interference effect of simultaneous pleasant and unpleasant distractors to be similar to the influence of two pleasant or two unpleasant distractor stimuli. In contrast, because of opponent interactions between appetitive and aversive motivational systems, the interference effect of simultaneous pleasant and unpleasant stimuli might be weakened. We found that the interference effect of a compound pleasant-plus-unpleasant stimulus was greater than that of a neutral-plus-emotional stimulus and similar to that of two pleasant or two unpleasant stimuli. These results suggest that at the level of behavior, the influence of joint pleasant and unpleasant task-irrelevant stimuli during perception is mainly determined by the intensity of the stimuli, and independent of their valence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)