Automatic vigilance: The attention-grabbing power of approach- and avoidance-related social information.

Department of Psychology, University of Münster, Germany.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 07/2000; 78(6):1024-37. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.78.6.1024
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The automatic processing of information was investigated, varying valence (positive vs. negative) and relevance (other-relevant traits [ORT] vs. possessor-relevant traits [PRT]; G. Peeters, 1983) of stimuli. ORTs denote unconditionally positive or negative consequences for persons in the social environment of the holder of the trait (e.g., honest, brutal) whereas PRTs denote unconditionally positive or negative consequences for the trait holder (e.g., happy, depressive). In 2 experiments using the Stroop paradigm, larger interference effects were found for ORTs than PRTs. This is due to the behavior-relatedness of ORTs. In a go/no-go lexical decision task (Experiment 3), participants either had to withdraw their finger from a pressed key (i.e., "avoid") or had to press a key (i.e., "approach") if a word was presented. Responses to negative ORTs were relatively faster in the withdraw condition, whereas positive ORTs were relatively faster in the press condition.

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