ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (12): 1356-1368.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.01356

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Cognitive advantage for self-information: Evidence from the orienting network of attention

GAO Hong1,LI Yangzhuo1,HU Die1,ZHU Min2,3,GAO Xiangping1,HU Tianyi1()   

  1. 1 Department of Psychology, School of Education, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China
    2 Department of Social Work and Management, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing 211816, China
    3 Institute of Social Innovation and Development, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing 211816, China
  • Received:2017-10-17 Published:2018-12-25 Online:2018-10-30


The cognitive advantage of self-related information using various stimuli has been established in several studies. To explore the mechanism for this effect, this study examined the attention functions in the process of self-related information. By adopting the Attention Network Test (ANT), this study compared the process of self-related information to that of friend-related information in alerting, orienting and executive control networks.

In Experiment 1, participants were assigned a classic ANT task in which arrow stimuli were replaced by face stimuli. In each trial, a test array consisted of one central target and four flanker stimuli. Participants were instructed to pay attention to the central target and judge whether the image was a self-face or a friend-face. Each test array was preceded by one of four cues, namely centre, double, spatial and none. Results showed that participants had a stable advantage in processing self-face. Specifically, the efficiency of orienting on self-face was significantly larger than on friend-face.

In Experiment 2, a recently developed self-associated learning approach was employed to exclude the possible confounding of face familiarity. The stimuli used in Experiment 2 were geometric shapes that were temporarily associated with self or friend or had no social meaning. The result was consistent with that in Experiment 1. Self-associated shapes displayed advantages on orienting efficiency compared to friend-associated and non-social-meaning shapes. This finding implied that the improvement of orienting network on self-information processing was due to the important meanings in self-information apart from the simple familiarity of self-face.

In Experiment 3, the processing priority of orienting network on self-face no longer existed when the task was to determine the colour of the face. This condition indicated that the cognitive advantage for self-information in orienting network was influenced by task requirements.

In summary, this study found that among the three attention networks, only orienting network displayed a processing priority of self-related information and, therefore, played a more important role in self-processing advantage. Such advantage occurred only when self-information was task-related. By contrast, no special biases on self-related information processing were found in the alerting and executive control networks.

Key words: self-related information, attention network test, alerting, orienting, executive control.

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