ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (6): 622-636.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00622

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇

虚拟仿真场景中威胁性视觉刺激搜索的注意偏向效应 *

袁小钧, 崔晓霞, 曹正操, 阚红, 王晓, 汪亚珉()   

  1. 首都师范大学心理学院, 北京市“学习与认知”重点实验室, 北京 100048
  • 收稿日期:2016-11-28 发布日期:2018-04-28 出版日期:2018-06-01
  • 通讯作者: 汪亚珉
  • 基金资助:

Attentional bias towards threatening visual stimuli in a virtual reality-based visual search task

YUAN Xiaojun, CUI Xiaoxia, CAO Zhengcao, KAN Hong, WANG Xiao, WANG Yamin()   

  1. Beijing Key Laboratory of “Learning & Cognition”, School of Psychology, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China
  • Received:2016-11-28 Online:2018-04-28 Published:2018-06-01
  • Contact: WANG Yamin


自?hman, Flykt和Esteves (2001)完成威胁性刺激引起注意偏向的经典实验后, 有不少实验重复了这一发现。进化心理学家据此将人对蛇与蜘蛛的注意偏向反应解释为早期人类适应野外环境的结果。然而已有实验中既没有野外环境, 也没有视觉搜索时的光流动态信息, 实验的生态效度存疑。本研究利用新近发展的虚拟现实技术, 模拟早期人类生存的丛林环境, 让被试以完全浸入式的方式来搜索丛林草地中的威胁性刺激(蛇、蜘蛛), 结果发现被试搜索威胁性刺激确实比非威胁性刺激(蘑菇、花、松鼠、蝉)要快。并且, 三维空间数据显示, 被试确认威胁性刺激的空间距离要显著远于非威胁性刺激。这是首次从时间与空间两个维度上揭示了人对威胁性刺激搜索的注意偏向加工。实验结果为威胁性刺激加工的进化心理学解释提供了新的事实依据。此外, 利用虚拟现实技术提高实验的生态效度的尝试也获得了初步进展。

关键词: 威胁性刺激, 注意偏向, 视觉搜索, 虚拟现实, 生态效度


Ever since ?hman, Flykt and Esteves published their classic study in 2001, many researchers have replicated their findings regarding attentional bias to threatening stimuli in visual perception research. Based on these findings, psychologists proposed a promising theory called predatory fear, in which the attentional bias to threatening animals is interpreted as evolutionarily adaptive behavior of early mammals and the ancestors of modern humans. However, from an evolutionary perspective, the lack of ecological validity of existing experiments inevitably attenuated the interpretation. The present study aimed to fill the gaps by repeating the classic work in a virtual reality environment.

A virtual reality grove was created with the Virtools virtual reality engine, in which jungles, trees, flowers, and weeds were arranged in the form of a wild grass field. The virtual reality grove was presented with an Oculus Rift DK 2 helmet. Forty participants were instructed to navigate along a path in the grove and search for threatening or non-threatening target stimuli. 3D models of a snake, a spider, a flower, a mushroom, a cicada, and a squirrel were used as stimuli in the search task, among which snake and spider were considered threatening stimuli. All the stimuli were shown in yellow and were assessed by twenty participants not included in the forty participants in search task to ensure they were of similar salience.

To examine attentional bias to threatening stimuli, two experiments were conducted in the same visual search task as reported by ?hman et al. In Experiment 1, as in ?hman et al., the snake or the spider was selected as a target stimulus, and thirteen copies of the flower or the mushroom were used as distracting stimuli, or other combinations of these. Twenty participants were individually presented with the virtual grove and instructed to passively wander along the path in the jungle to search for target stimuli. A fixed camera was set at a uniform speed to simulate the navigation in visual search task. Given that searching for animals took less time than searching for plants ( Soares et al, 2009), flowers and mushrooms were replaced with cicadas and squirrels in Experiment 2. The other twenty participants repeated the experiment procedure. In addition to response time (RT), response distance (RD) was also computed as a compensatory index.

In Experiment 1, the results of RTs revealed that the searching for threatening stimuli (snake and spider) is faster than searching for non-threatening stimuli (mushroom, flower). The RD values showed that participants found the threatening stimuli when they were farther away than the non-threatening stimuli. In Experiment 2, the same results were found even when the distracting stimuli were all animals. The RTs and RDs both confirmed that participants were better at finding snakes and spiders than finding flowers, mushrooms, cicadas, and squirrels.

The total results supported the hypothesis of predatory fear was relatively soundly and the attentional bias to threatening animals, especially snake and spider, was found to be likely to be caused by predatory fear as part of human cognition. These findings provide new evidence for the hypothesis of predatory fear from an evolutionary perspective. In addition, virtual reality was proven to be a suitable technique for assessing the ecological validity of psychological experiments.

Key words: threatening stimuli, attentional bias, visual search, virtual reality, ecological validity, response distance