Poster C6, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Individual difference effects on attentional capture by perceptually salient distractors
Tessa Abagis1, John Jonides1; 1University of Michigan
Perceptual load is an important determinant of distraction. According to the Perceptual Load theory of attention, high, as opposed to low, perceptual load leaves fewer resources for processing extraneous information and results in less distractor interference. We conducted a replication of of Forster and Lavie (2008), in which participants completed a visual search task with perceptually salient distractors presented infrequently (10% of trials) in the periphery. Perceptual load was manipulated in blocks and was low (other items in the visual search circle were small circles dissimilar from the target) or high (other items in the circle were letters similar to the target). We replicated the finding that distractors cause distractor interference in low, but not high, perceptual load. Furthermore, we examined how inattention (measured by the CAARS) and working memory span (as tested with operation span and visual array tasks) affect perceptual load-induced distractor interference. High, as opposed to low, working memory load during a perceptual load task is associated with increased distractor interference (Lavie et al., 2004). High inattention is associated with high distractor interference in low, but not high, perceptual load (Forster and Lavie, 2007). We therefore predict decreased overall distractor interference as working memory span increases and inattention decreases. We conclude that inattention and working memory span both influence susceptibility to distractor interference and high perceptual load makes performance more nearly equal across all participants, save those with very low working memory spans.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Other