Previewing a set of distractors allows them to be ignored in a subsequent visual search task (Watson & Humphreys, 1997). Seven experiments investigated whether this preview benefit can be obtained with emotional faces, and whether negative and positive facial expressions differ in the extent to which they can be ignored. Experiments 1–5 examined the preview benefit with neutral, negative, and positive previewed faces. These results showed that a partial preview benefit occurs with face stimuli, but that the valence of the previewed faces has little impact. Experiments 6 and 7 examined the time course of the preview benefit with valenced faces. These showed that negative faces were more difficult to ignore than positive faces, but only at short preview durations. Furthermore, a full preview benefit was not obtained with face stimuli even when the preview duration was extended up to 3 s. The findings are discussed in terms of the processes underlying the preview benefit, their ecological sensitivity, and the role of emotional valence in attentional capture and guidance
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