This article applies to:
Experiment Author: Susan Campbell. Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
This experiment compares different kinds of singletons in a display (i.e. one red letter in a set of green letters) to determine whether any of them capture attention differently. The author found that onset singletons (items that appear suddenly) capture attention, but that other types of singleton (color or brightness) do not. Note that this is only the case if participants have been informed that the singletons that will appear are irrelevant to the task they are performing.
In this experiment, participants see displays of different kinds, where letters are constructed from a set of 7 line segments (like an LCD screen number 8). In the color and brightness conditions, the singleton is of a different color than the other stimuli. In the onset condition, the non-singleton stimuli are revealed by removing pieces of figure 8’s that were presented as cues. The singleton appears at the same time that the line segments are removed from the other stimuli.
In this experiment participants see a target letter to start each trial. Then a screen with several letters appears in which the target letter may or may not be present. As quickly as possible, press "y" if the target letter appears and "n" if it does not appear. There are 48 trials in this experiment.
Yantis, Steven. Stimulus-Driven Attentional Capture and Attentional Control Settings. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 1993, Vol. 19, No. 3, 676-681.
Cited Experiment Abstract
Jonides and Yantis (1988) found that abrupt-onset singletons capture attention in visual search when onset is orthogonal to the target’s defining and reported attributes and that color and brightness singletons do not. They concluded that abrupt onset may be unique in capturing visual attention. Folk, Remington, and Johnston (1992) challenge this conclusion and argue that (a) the occurrence of attentional capture is contingent on the adoption of an appropriate attentional control setting by the observer and (b) properties other than onset (in particular, color) can capture attention involuntarily. In this article, each of these claims is critically evaluated, and it is argued that the results reported by Folk et al., though important, do not definitively corroborate either one. The available evidence concerning stimulus-driven attentional capture is summarized, and 3 empirical generalizations that characterize the evidence are advanced.
Works Cited by the Experiment
Duncan, J. (1985). Visual search and visual attention. In M. Posner & O. Marin (Eds.), Attention and performance XI (pp. 85-106). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Folk, C.L. (1990, March). Spatial discontinuities and involuntary shifts of spatial attention. Paper presented at the 61st Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston.
Folk, C.L., Remington, R., & Johnston, J.C. (1992). Involuntary covert orienting is contingent on attentional control settings. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 18, 1030-1044.
Folk, C.L., & Wright, J.H. (1992, April). Does apparent motion capture attention? Paper presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston.
Hillstrom, A.P., & Yantis, S. (1992, April). Attentional capture by visual motion. Paper presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston.
Johnston, W.A., Hawley, K.J., Plewe, S.H., Elliott, H.M.G., & DeWitt, M.J. (1990). Attention capture by novel stimuli. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 119, 397-411.
Jonides, J. (1981). Voluntary versus automatic control over the mind’s eye’s movement. In J.B. Long & A.D. Baddeley (Eds.), Attention and performance IX (pp. 187-203). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Jonides, J., & Yantis, S. (1988). Uniqueness of abrupt visual onset in capturing attention. Perception & Psychophysics, 43, 346-354.
Kahneman, D., Treisman, A., & Gibb, B. (1992). The reviewing of object files: Object-specific integration of information. Cognitive Psychology, 24, 175-219.
Lambert, A., Spencer, E., & Mohindra, N. (1987). Automaticity and the capture of attention by a peripheral display change. Current Psychological Research and Reviews, 6, 136-147.
Martin, D.W., & Benson, A.E. (1991). Is there a color advantage in visual search? Paper presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, San Francisco.
Pashler, H. (1988). Cross-dimensional interaction and texture segregation. Perception & Psychophysics, 50, 184-193.
Posner, M.I. (1980). Orienting of attention. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 32, 3-25.
Theeuwes, J. (1991a). Cross-dimensional perceptual selectivity. Perception & Psychophysics, 50, 184-193.
Theeuwes, J. (1991b). Exogenous and endogenous control of attention: The effect of visual onsets and offsets. Perception & Psychophysics, 49, 83-90.
Theeuwes, J. (1992). Perceptual selectivity for color and form. Perception & Psychophysics, 51, 599-606.
Yantis, S. (in press). Stimulus-driven attentional capture. Current Direction in Psychological Science.
Yantis, S., & Hillstrom, A.P. (in press). Stimulus-driven attentional capture: Evidence from equiluminant visual objects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.
Yantis, S., & Jonides, J. (1984). Abrupt visual onsets and selective attention: Evidence from visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10, 601-621.
Yantis, S., & Jonides, J. (1990). Abrupt visual onsets and selective attention: Voluntary versus automatic allocation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 16, 121-134.
STEP: A Feature Integration Theory of Attention 
STEP: Reassessing the Evidence for Novel Popout 
STEP: Splitting the Beam: Distributon of Attention over Noncontinuous Regions of the Visual Field 
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