To disentangle the effects of valence and arousal on visual attention, a novel set of motivationally significant pictures was developed. The pictures were validated in Study 1 using physiological indices of the orienting response, a precursory mechanism to attentional processing. In Study 2, latencies for responding to the probe’s location indexed the allocation of spatial attention. In Study 3, a more demanding probe classification task was employed and the spatial configuration of the cues relative to the probes was amended to eliminate spatial overlap. The results of Study 2 and 3 were interpreted with respect to existing models of attention to emotional stimuli. An integrated model is proposed that accounts for the effects of both valence and arousal on the allocation of attention according to the findings of the current research and existing literature. Limitations of the research are also discussed and directions for future studies are suggested.

Year Manuscript Completed



Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology


emotion; visual attention; spatial cueing; motivational significance; valence; arousal; threat.

Primary Language of Manuscript


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