The next talk in the School of Psychology Seminar Series will be held on Friday the 30th at 3pm, room 302 of the McElwain Building. Our very own Ottmar Lipp will report some of his extensive recent research on fear... be afraid, be very afraid.
Associate Professor Ottmar Lipp
University of Queensland
Snakes and spiders in the flower bed:
Is there evidence for preferential processing of fear-relevant stimuli in visual search?
Öhman and Mineka (2001) summarised evidence that phylogenetically fear-relevant stimuli, snakes and spiders in the context of animal fear and angry faces in the context of social fear, are processed preferentially. Their proposal of an evolved module of fear and fear learning is based on evidence from conditioning studies, studies involving subliminal stimulus presentations and studies of visual search performance. The latter indicate that a) absence of a deviant stimulus is found faster among fear-relevant than among non fear-relevant backgrounds, b) fear-relevant deviants are found faster among non fear-relevant backgrounds than non fear-relevant deviants among fear-relevant backgrounds, and c) identification of non fear-relevant deviants among fear-relevant backgrounds is subject to a set size effects whereas finding of fear-relevant deviants among non fear-relevant backgrounds is not. Data from our laboratory provide evidence that question these findings and suggest that it is not fear-relevance which affects visual search.