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Journal Articles Emotion Year : 2019

Action opportunities modulate attention allocation under social threat.


When entering a subway car affording multiple targets for action, how do we decide, very quickly, where to sit, particularly when in the presence of a potential danger? It is unclear, from existing motor and emotion theories, whether our attention would be allocated toward the seat on which we intend to sit on or whether it would be oriented toward an individual that signals the presence of potential danger. To address this question, we explored spontaneous action choices and attention allocation in a realistic context, where a threat-related signal (an angry or fearful individual) and the target for action in that situation could compete for attentional priority. Results showed that participants chose the actions that avoided angry individuals and were more confident when approaching those with a fearful expression. In addition, covert and overt measures of attention showed a stronger avoidance effect for angry, compared to fearful, individuals. Crucially, these effects of anger and fear on attention allocation required the presence of action possibilities in the scene. Taken together, our findings show that in a realistic context offering competing action possibilities, threat-related distractors shape both action selection and attention allocation accordingly to their social function. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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inserm-02461667 , version 1 (30-01-2020)



Emma Vilarem, Jorge Armony, Julie Grèzes. Action opportunities modulate attention allocation under social threat.. Emotion, 2019, ⟨10.1037/emo0000598⟩. ⟨inserm-02461667⟩
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