, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 346-354

Uniqueness of abrupt visual onset in capturing attention


Yantis and Jonides (1984) demonstrated that the detection of a target in visual search was markedly enhanced when the target was presented as an abruptly onset character embedded among other characters whose presentation was not characterized by abrupt onset. This effect was attributed to a shift of attention caused by abrupt onset. In the present article, we report experiments investigating whether abrupt onset is simply one member of a large class of stimulus characteristics, all of which are capable of capturing attention. To test this possibility, we compared abrupt onset with differences in stimulus luminance and hue to determine whether these also could elicit shifts of attention. They could not.
This research was supported by Grant 82-0297 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to John Jonides.