Feast your eyes: hunger and trait reward drive predict attentional bias for food cues

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Tapper, K. ; Pothos, E. M. ; Lawrence, A. D. (2010)

Appraisal theories of emotion predict that the relevance of a stimulus to a person's needs and goals influences attentional allocation. We used a modified visual probe task to examine the influence of hunger and trait reward drive on food-related attentional bias. Both hunger and trait reward drive predicted degree of attentional "disengagement" from food images at short (100 ms), but not long (500, 2,000 ms) stimulus durations. Effects of hunger were found for both bland and appetizing foods, while effects of reward drive were restricted to appetizing foods. Our findings extend previous research showing delayed "disengagement" from threat-related stimuli, suggesting that both organismic- and goal-relevance are key biasing factors in attentional competition.
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