In the present study, we investigated whether faces have an advantage in retaining attention over other stimulus categories. In three experiments, subjects were asked to focus on a central go/no-go signal before classifying a concurrently presented peripheral line target. In Experiment 1, the go/no-go signal could be superimposed on photographs of upright famous faces, matching inverted faces, or meaningful objects. Experiments 2 and 3 tested upright and inverted unfamiliar faces, printed names, and another class of meaningful objects in an identical design. A fourth experiment provided a replication of Experiment 1, but with a 1,000-msec stimulus onset asynchrony between the onset of the central face/nonface stimuli and the peripheral targets. In all the experiments, the presence of an upright face significantly delayed target response times, in comparison with each of the other stimulus categories. These results suggest a general attentional bias, so that it is particularly difficult to disengage processing resources from faces.
KeywordsStimulus Onset Asynchrony Attentional Bias Face Stimulus Line Target Inverted Face
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