Trypophobic images induce oculomotor capture and inhibition

  • Risako Shirai
  • Hayaki Banno
  • Hirokazu Ogawa


It is known that unpleasant images capture our attention. However, the causes of the emotions evoked by these images can vary. Trypophobia is the fear of clustered objects. A recent study claimed that this phobia is elicited by the specific power spectrum of such images. In the present study, we measured saccade trajectories to examine how trypophobic images possessing a characteristic power spectrum affect visual attention. The participants’ task was to make a saccade in the direction that was indicated by a cue. Four irrelevant images with different emotional content were presented as periphery distractors at 0 ms, 150 ms, and 450 ms in terms of cue-image onset asynchrony. The irrelevant images consisted of trypophobic, fearful, or neutral scenes. The presence of saccade trajectory deviations induced by trypophobic images suggest that intact trypophobic images oriented attention to their location. Moreover, when the images were phase scrambled, the saccade curved away from the trypophobic images, suggesting that trypophobic power spectra also triggered attentional capture, which was weak and then led to inhibition. These findings suggest that not only the power spectral characteristics but also the gist of a trypophobic image affect attentional deployment.


Trypophobia Saccade trajectory Attention Emotion 


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Integrated Psychological SciencesKwansei Gakuin UniversityNishinomiya-shiJapan
  2. 2.Tokyo Metropolitan UniversityTokyoJapan

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