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Identification of angry faces in the attentional blink

By Frances A. Maratos, Karin Mogg and Brendan P. Bradley


According to cognitive and neural theories of emotion, attentional processing of innate threat stimuli, such as angry facial expressions, is prioritised over neutral stimuli. To test this hypothesis, the present study used a modified version of the rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) paradigm to investigate the effect of emotional face stimuli on the attentional blink (AB). The target stimuli were schematic faces which depicted threatening (angry), positive or neutral facial expressions. Results showed that performance accuracy was enhanced (i.e., the AB was reduced) on trials in which the second target was an angry face, rather than a neutral face. Results extend previous research by demonstrating that angry faces reduce the AB, and that this effect is found for schematic facial expressions. These findings further support the proposal that, when there is competition for attentional resources, threat stimuli are given higher priority in processing compared with non-threatening stimuli

Topics: Article
Publisher: Psychology Press
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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