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The effect of using different distractor sets in visual search with spiders and snakes on spider-sensitive and non-fearful participants.
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0011-7770
Department of Social Work and Psychology, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, University of Gävle, Sweden .ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9554-4478
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4116-5501
2013 (English)In: Swiss Journal of Psychology, ISSN 1421-0185, E-ISSN 1662-0879, Vol. 72, no 4, p. 171-179Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In two visual search experiments, the impact of distractor sets on fear relevant stimuli was investigated.  A search set with spiders, snakes, flowers, and mushrooms was compared to a search set with spiders, snakes, rabbits, and turtles. Speeded responses to spider and snake targets were found when flowers and mushrooms served as distractors, but no such effect occurred with rabbit and turtle distractors. In Experiment 2, spider sensitive individuals were compared to non-fearful individuals. Spider sensitive individuals responded faster to spider targets than did non-fearful individuals, but only in the set with flowers and mushrooms.  When using rabbit and turtle distractors, spider sensitive individuals did not show any speeded responses to their feared animal. These results indicate that behavioural expressions of the visual search task depends not only on the individual’s relationship to the stimuli included in a search set, but also on the context in which feared or fear relevant objects are presented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 72, no 4, p. 171-179
Keyword [en]
Visual search, Spider sensitive participants, Distractor dependency, fear relevance
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-19008DOI: 10.1024/1421-0185/a000111ISI: 000324375400001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84885063782OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-19008DiVA, id: diva2:623979
Available from: 2013-05-29 Created: 2013-05-29 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. FEAR - A process influenced by concurrent processing demands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>FEAR - A process influenced by concurrent processing demands
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Fear is a central aspect in mammalian evolution, prompting escape from and avoidance of threat and dangers. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that we have a well developed system to detect dangers and quickly respond to them. It has been shown that threatening information has an advantage in information processing; it seems to promote a rapid capture of selective attention and puts demand on processing resources. It has been suggested that the elicitation of fear occurs automatically, and that it is independent of and impenetrable to cognition.

The idea with the present research is that fear processing is dependent on all concurrent internal or external processing demands. One visual search study (Study II) and two secondary task studies (Study I & III) have been conducted to investigate if external or internal distraction can interfere with fear processing. In order to provoke fear responses, spider or snake fearful individuals have been exposed to pictures of their feared stimulus. The aim of Study II was to investigate if the selective attention to fear stimuli could be influenced by contextual factors, such as the nature of the distracting stimuli in a visual search. Study I and III aimed to investigate manipulation of resources allocated to fear stimuli. In Study I, task demand was used as the manipulation, and in Study III an internal cognitive directive was used. The results from these studies indicate that fear is susceptible to manipulation by both external and internal means. By changing circumstances in the surrounding or in the individuals’ internal states, responses to threatening stimuli can be altered. This means that processing of threatening stimuli is influenced by other concurrent processing demands, suggesting that a fear response is not occurring as an isolated and impenetrable process. In an evolutionary perspective, a fear system that is easily triggered but has access to cognitive evaluation at all times ought to be far more flexible, thus creating a better chance for survival than a modular and impenetrable fear system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Östersund: Mid Sweden University, 2013. p. 155
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 153
Keyword
Attention, Fear, Performance, Processing resources
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-19011 (URN)978-91-87103-82-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-05-31, F234, Campus Östersund, Hus F, Östersund, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-05-31 Created: 2013-05-29 Last updated: 2013-05-31Bibliographically approved

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