Orientation of attention to nonconsciously recognised famous faces

Cognition and Emotion 19 (4):537-558 (2005)
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Abstract

The nonconscious orientation of attention to famous faces was investigated using masked 17 ms stimulus exposure. Each trial presented a simultaneous pair of one famous and one unfamiliar face, matched on physical characteristics, one each in left visual field (LVF) and right visual field (RVF). These were followed by a dot probe in either LVF or RVF to which participants made a speeded two-alternative forced-choice discrimination response. Participants subsequently evaluated the affective valence (good/evil) of the famous persons on a 7-point scale. Higher accuracy of dot probe discrimination in the same visual field (VF) as the famous face suggested that attention was oriented towards faces of persons evaluated “good”, but a reverse orientation effect was observed for those evaluated “evil”. The awareness check presented the same face pairs under the same conditions, and participants were at chance in a task of selecting the famous face in each pair. The results suggest that famous faces can be identified without awareness, and that attention is attracted by the faces of famous persons not regarded as “evil”.

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