ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (3): 312-320.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00312

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Self-related Information Modulates Global Advantage Effect in Visual Selection

LIU Minghui;ZHANG Ming;SUI Jie   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China) (2 Department of Psychology, Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China) (3 Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China)
  • Received:2013-08-13 Published:2014-03-25 Online:2014-03-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Ming;SUI Jie


It has been well documented that that personal significance modulates the high-level cognitive processes, including face recognition, memory and thinking. How personal significance (i.e., the self) modulates the visual selection remains poorly understood, however. Here by combining recent developed self-associative learning approach and a global-local task, this article present the evidence that self-salience impacted on visual selection–eliminating the effect of global advantage. The pattern consistently occurred in both divided and focused attention tasks. In contrast, this was not the case for friend-associations. The present study report 3 experiments to test how the self-salience modulated the selection of attention. It first developed a baseline experiment showing a global advantage effect in Experiment 1; 24 participants participated in Experiment 1 and carried out two tasks – a self-associative learning task following by a global-local task. In the self-associative learning task, three geometric shapes were randomly assigned to three persons (self, friend, and a stranger). Having formed a personal association, participants performed the global-local task where they were presented compound shapes (e.g. a global circle formed by local squares, self – square, stranger – circle, local self forming global stranger) and had to identify the shape-associated person (self vs. friend). Targets randomly appeared at either the global or local level. Reaction time and accuracy performance were measured and analyzed using repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with Social Relevance (self vs. friend) and Attention Level (global vs. local). Experiment 2 was identical to Experiment 1 except that the stranger-related shapes were targets while the self- and friend-related shapes had to be ignored. There were 20 participants in Experiment 2. Different from Experiments 1 and 2 where the divided attention task was employed, Experiment 3 used a focus attention task where participants were instructed to complete either a local or global task in different blocks. There were three within-subjects factors with 2 (Social Relevance: self vs. friend) × 2 (Saliency Level: global saliency vs. local saliency) × 2 (Attention Level: global vs. local). 24 participants participated in Experiment 3. The results in Experiment 1 showed a reliable self-advantage effect where faster responses to global than local level targets occurred in both the self- and friend-related target conditions. In contrast, the global advantage to targets (stranger-shapes) was eliminated in the presence of self-related distractors while the effect survived in the presence of friend-related distractors in Experiment 2. The interference effect of self-salience was verified in Experiment 3where the focused rather than divided attention task (in Experiment 2) was used. In conclusion, the results demonstrated that compared with friend-related information, the self as distractors affected the global advantage effect, and the effect appeared at both global and local levels unanimously and cannot be influenced by task. The data indicate that self-saliency can modulate basic visual selection.

Key words: self-salience, visual selective, attention, global advantage effect, self-associate learning