Re-examining attention capture at irrelevant (ignored?) locations.
Published on Apr 15, 2021in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
· DOI :10.1037/XGE0001061
In 2018, Ruthruff and Gaspelin used a modified spatial cuing paradigm in which targets were presented at two locations while abrupt-onset cues could be presented at four locations. They found that performance following cues presented at irrelevant locations was no worse than following no cue or following a centrally presented cue. They concluded, as conveyed by the title of their article (Immunity to Attentional Capture at Ignored Locations) that a spatial attentional control setting had eliminated capture of attention. This conclusion was reached by comparing response time to targets on cue-absent versus irrelevant cues condition. We administered the exact same task in Experiment 1 and observed that responses on irrelevant trials were faster compared with cue absent trials providing support for the "immunity to attention capture claim" made by Ruthruff and Gaspelin (2018). However, cue absent trials may not be the most appropriate baseline condition as they lack the alerting benefit provided by cue-present trials. Thus, equivalent response times (RTs) on trials with absent cues and irrelevant cues observed in Ruthruff and Gaspelin (2018) could have been due to the lack of this alerting benefit. We tested this in Experiment 2 by additionally including a warning beep on every trial as an alerting signal. With this methodological change, we observed that responses were slower on irrelevant trials compared with the cue absent trials suggesting interference from cues at irrelevant locations. This study underscores the importance of using the appropriate baseline while testing attention capture. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).