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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics
Title of proceedings Attention, Perception & Psychophysics


Visual search for feature targets was employed to investigate whether the mechanisms underlying visual selective attention are modulated by observers’ moods. The effects of induced mood on overall mean reaction times and on changes and repetitions of target-defining features and dimensions across consecutive trials were measured. The results showed that reaction times were significantly slower in the negative than in the positive and neutral mood groups. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that the processing stage that is activated to select visual information in a feature search task is modulated by the observer’s mood. In participants with positive or neutral moods, dimension-specific, but no feature-specific, intertrial transition effects were found, suggesting that these observers based their responses on a salience signal coding the most conspicuous display location. Conversely, intertrial effects in observers in a negative mood were feature-specific in nature, suggesting that these participants accessed the feature identity level before responding.