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Keyes & Dlugokencka 2014.pdf (511.52 kB)

Do I Have My Attention? Speed of Processing Advantages for the Self-Face Are Not Driven by Automatic Attention Capture

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posted on 2023-07-26, 13:34 authored by Helen Keyes, Aleksandra Dlugokencka
We respond more quickly to our own face than to other faces, but there is debate over whether this is connected to attention-grabbing properties of the self-face. In two experiments, we investigate whether the self-face selectively captures attention, and the attentional conditions under which this might occur. In both experiments, we examined whether different types of face (self, friend, stranger) provide differential levels of distraction when processing self, friend and stranger names. In Experiment 1, an image of a distractor face appeared centrally – inside the focus of attention – behind a target name, with the faces either upright or inverted. In Experiment 2, distractor faces appeared peripherally – outside the focus of attention – in the left or right visual field, or bilaterally. In both experiments, self-name recognition was faster than other name recognition, suggesting a self-referential processing advantage. The presence of the self-face did not cause more distraction in the naming task compared to other types of face, either when presented inside (Experiment 1) or outside (Experiment 2) the focus of attention. Distractor faces had different effects across the two experiments: when presented inside the focus of attention (Experiment 1), self and friend images facilitated self and friend naming, respectively. This was not true for stranger stimuli, suggesting that faces must be robustly represented to facilitate name recognition. When presented outside the focus of attention (Experiment 2), no facilitation occurred. Instead, we report an interesting distraction effect caused by friend faces when processing strangers’ names. We interpret this as a “social importance” effect, whereby we may be tuned to pick out and pay attention to familiar friend faces in a crowd. We conclude that any speed of processing advantages observed in the self-face processing literature are not driven by automatic attention capture.



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