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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Visual Attention Intensifies Emotion: A Replication Study


Recent studies have made clear that emotion plays a role in intensifying attention. Mrvka et al. 2019 set out to demonstrate that voluntary attention given to stimuli intensifies the emotion associated with it. In this paper, we report the results from a replication of the first experiment reported in Mrkva et al. (2019), in which participants’ attention was directed toward a target image. In the original experiment, participants were asked to rate the emotional intensity of the target objects. The perceived distinctiveness and the degree to which participants liked each image were also examined to find out whether either parameter mediates the relationship between emotion and attention. In our replication, participants perceived target images as more emotionally intense than control images, corroborating the results of the original experiment and aligning with our expectations. Distinctiveness was also found to have a statistically significant effect on attention, indicating that it mediates the relationship between emotion and attention. Liking had no such significant effect. While recent work suggests that emotion intensifies attention and that attention in return intensifies emotion, further research is still necessary to determine the relative magnitude of the responses (What kinds of attention result in more intense emotional responses and vice versa?) and the specific context (Which neural processes do said kinds of emotion and attention trigger?) in which each process occurs.

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