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In the present study we explored the impact of task-irrelevant emotive picture stimuli on visuo-spatial vigilance. Ninety-five participants completed the experiment in which task-irrelevant emotive picture stimuli were embedded in the vigilance task. Four experimental groups were tested by combining two levels of picture valence, positive versus negative, and two levels of picture arousal, arousing versus non-arousing, for the picture stimuli. The task was organized so that baseline performance, the initial impact of the images, and any continual carry-over effects of the images on performance could be measured. In addition to performance on the task, subjective state was measured using a self-report questionnaire designed to examine energetic and tense arousal as well as task-related and task-unrelated thoughts. The performance decrement of the groups exposed to the arousing picture stimuli was attenuated in comparison to those exposed to the non-arousing stimuli. Further the relationship between self-reported energetic arousal and performance differed for the arousing and non-arousing picture groups. Post-task energetic arousal significantly predicted the performance decrement for the arousing picture group, but not for the non-arousing picture group. These results provide support for the perspective that the arousal quality of picture stimuli matters more for performance than valence, and that arousing pictures while possibly disruptive when presented concurrently with the vigilance task may result in improved performance later due to an increase in energetic arousal.
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- The effects of emotional stimuli on visuo-spatial vigilance
William S. Helton
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg