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01-03-2014 | Original Article | Uitgave 2/2014

Psychological Research 2/2014

Contingent capture in cueing: the role of color search templates and cue-target color relations

Psychological Research > Uitgave 2/2014
Ulrich Ansorge, Stefanie I. Becker


Visual search studies have shown that attention can be top-down biased to a specific target color, so that only items with this color or a similar color can capture attention. According to some theories of attention, colors from different categories (i.e., red, green, blue, yellow) are represented independently. However, other accounts have proposed that these are related—either because color is filtered through broad overlapping channels (4-channel view), or because colors are represented in one continuous feature space (e.g., CIE space) and search is governed by specific principles (e.g., linear separability between colors, or top-down tuning to relative colors). The present study tested these different views using a cueing experiment in which observers had to select one target color (e.g., red) and ignore two or four differently colored distractors that were presented prior to the target (cues). The results showed clear evidence for top-down contingent capture by colors, as a target-colored cue captured attention more strongly than differently colored cues. However, the results failed to support any of the proposed views that different color categories are related to one another by overlapping channels, linear separability, or relational guidance (N = 96).

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