Automatic vigilance: The attention-grabbing power of approach-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


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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Available from: Klaus Rothermund, Jun 27, 2014
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    • "Previous research has found that valenced stimuli interact with compatible approach and avoidance responses; usually facilitation is shown by shorter approach/avoidance congruent responses (Chen & Bargh, 1999; Duckworth et al., 2002; Rinck & Becker, 2007; Seidel et al., 2010; Solarz, 1960; Stins et al., 2011; Wentura et al., 2000). By contrast, in our study, stepping did not show such interaction, as the valence of the conduct verb did not significantly interfere with forward and backward stepping. "
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    ABSTRACT: Approach and avoidance tendencies towards valenced others could be associated with our interpersonal conduct towards them: helping would be associated with approach tendency, and harming (or denying help) would be associated with avoidance. We propose that the encoding of this association enjoys attentional priority, as approach/avoidance representations of past interactions would regulate one's predisposition to either help or harm in subsequent interactions. Participants listened to interactions conveying positive/negative conduct between 2 characters. The conduct verb was then presented visually with a cue prompting participants to quickly step forward or backward. Subsequently, they performed a recognition task of noncentral story details. In matching conditions (positive conduct-step forward, negative conduct-step backward) the concurrent step should interfere with the encoding of motor representation of the conduct verb, and the verb encoding should divert attentional resources from the consolidation of memory traces of less relevant information. Results showed the predicted impairment in the recognition task in matching conditions, which supports an attentional bias towards encoding motor approach/avoidance representation of interpersonal conduct in the process of comprehending narrated interactions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 02/2015; 69(2). DOI:10.1037/cep0000046 · 1.02 Impact Factor
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    • "In our study this increase of RT for negative words was significant when compared to positive, but not when compared to neutral words. These findings can be attributed to the " automatic vigilance " hypothesis implying that people tend to focus their attention preferentially on negative stimuli and can also rather difficult dissolve it from them (Wentura et al., 2000; Öhman and Mineka, 2001). This is in line with findings by Estes and Verges (2008) who postulated a slower disentanglement of attention from negative stimuli and with an approach by Larsen et al. (2008) "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Automatic emotional processing of faces and facial expressions gain more and more of relevance in terms of social communication. Among a variety of different primes, targets and tasks, whole face images and facial expressions have been used to affectively prime emotional responses. This study investigates whether emotional information provided solely in eye regions that display mental states can also trigger affective priming. Methods: Sixteen subjects answered a lexical decision task (LDT) coupled with an affective priming paradigm. Emotion-associated eye regions were extracted from photographs of faces and acted as primes, whereas targets were either words or pseudo-words. Participants had to decide whether the targets were real German words or generated pseudo-words. Primes and targets belonged to the emotional categories “fear,” “disgust,” “happiness,” and “neutral.” Results: A general valence effect for positive words was observed: responses in the LDT were faster for target words of the emotional category happiness when compared to other categories. Importantly, pictures of emotional eye regions preceding the target words affected their subsequent classification. While we show a classical priming effect for neutral target words – with shorter RT for congruent compared to incongruent prime-target pairs- , we observed an inverse priming effect for fearful and happy target words – with shorter RT for incongruent compared to congruent prime-target pairs. These inverse priming effects were driven exclusively by specific prime-target pairs. Conclusion: Reduced facial emotional information is sufficient to induce automatic implicit emotional processing. The emotional-associated eye regions were processed with respect to their emotional valence and affected the performance on the LDT.
    Frontiers in Psychology 09/2014; 5:1039. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01039 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • ". e Press Time = RT + Movement Time . f Estimated from Fig . 1 in Chen and Bargh ( 1999 ) . g Observed in 2nd Half of Experiment . h Estimated from Fig . 3 in Wentura et al . ( 2000 ) ."
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    ABSTRACT: Although there is increasing evidence to suggest that language is grounded in perception and action, the relationship between language and emotion is less well understood. We investigate the grounding of language in emotion using a novel approach that examines the relationship between the comprehension of a written discourse and the performance of affect-related motor actions (hand movements towards and away from the body). Results indicate that positively and negatively valenced words presented in context influence motor responses (Experiment 1), whilst valenced words presented in isolation do not (Experiment 3). Furthermore, whether discourse context indicates that an utterance should be interpreted literally or ironically can influence motor responding, suggesting that the grounding of language in emotional states can be influenced by discourse-level factors (Experiment 2). In addition, the finding of affect-related motor responses to certain forms of ironic language, but not to non-ironic control sentences, suggests that phrasing a message ironically may influence the emotional response that is elicited.
    Acta Psychologica 09/2014; 156. DOI:10.1016/j.actpsy.2014.08.007 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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