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Emotional real-world scenes impact visual search

Bendall, RCA; Mohamed, A; Thompson, C

Emotional real-world scenes impact visual search Thumbnail


A Mohamed

C Thompson


Research shows that emotional stimuli can capture attention, and this can benefit or impair performance, depending on the characteristics of a task. Additionally, whilst some findings show that attention expands under positive conditions, others show that emotion has no influence on the broadening of attention. The current study investigated whether emotional real-world scenes influence attention in a visual search task. Participants were asked to identify a target letter embedded in the centre or periphery of emotional images. Identification accuracy was lower in positive images compared to neutral images, and
response times were slower in negative images. This suggests that real-world emotional stimuli have a distracting effect on visual attention and search. There was no evidence that emotional images influenced the spatial spread of attention. Instead, it is suggested that findings may provide support for the argument that positive emotion encourages a global processing style and negative emotion promotes local processing.


Bendall, R., Mohamed, A., & Thompson, C. (2019). Emotional real-world scenes impact visual search. Cognitive processing, 20, 309-316.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 17, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 24, 2018
Publication Date Aug 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 7, 2019
Journal Cognitive Processing
Print ISSN 1612-4782
Electronic ISSN 1612-4790
Publisher Springer Verlag
Volume 20
Pages 309-316
Publisher URL
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