Faces retain attention

Markus Bindemann*, A. Mike Burton, Ignace T.C. Hooge, Rob Jenkins, Edward H.F. De Haan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the present study, we investigated whether faces have an advantage in retaining attention over other stimulus categories. In three experiments, subjects were asked to focus on a central go/no-go signal before classifying a concurrently presented peripheral line target In Experiment 1, the go/no-go signal could be superimposed on photographs of upright famous faces, matching inverted faces, or meaningful objects. Experiments 2 and 3 tested upright and inverted unfamiliar faces, printed names, and another class of meaningful objects in an identical design. A fourth experiment provided a replication of Experiment 1, but with a 1,000-msec stimulus onset asynchrony between the onset of the central face/nonface stimuli and the peripheral targets. In all the experiments, the presence of an upright face significantly delayed target response times, in comparison with each of the other stimulus categories. These results suggest a general attentional bias, so that it is particularly difficult to disengage processing resources from faces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1053
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

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