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26-02-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 3/2018

Psychological Research 3/2018

Can training change attentional breadth? Failure to find transfer effects

Psychological Research > Uitgave 3/2018
Lin Fang, Kristof Hoorelbeke, Lynn Bruyneel, Lies Notebaert, Colin MacLeod, Rudi De Raedt, Ernst H. W. Koster


Recently, there is increasing interest in the causal relationship between attentional breadth and emotion regulation. To test this causal relationship, attentional breadth needs to be manipulated stringently. The aim of the current research was to establish whether visual attentional breadth could be manipulated through experimental training procedures. We conducted two single-session training experiments and one multiple-session training experiment, all of which contained pre- and post-training assessments to test the direct transfer effects of training on attentional breadth construed in different measures. For the first single-session training (Experiment 1), no training effects were found to transfer to the subsequent attentional breadth measures in terms of global–local processing preference. For the second single-session training (Experiment 2) and the 5-day training (Experiment 3) which combined both trainings from Experiment 1 and 2, there were some indications that attentional breadth can be decreased, but there was no evidence that it could be increased neither in terms of global–local processing preference nor in terms of scope of visual perception. Bayesian analysis confirmed the null hypothesis of no increase in attentional breadth through delivery of these training procedures. Therefore, our findings do not support the hypothesis that training variants of the Global–Local attentional breadth task or of the visuospatial attentional breadth task can stably alter attentional breadth in healthy students. Possible explanations and implications are discussed.

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