How Does Threat Modulate the Motivational Effects of Reward on Attention? Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies on attentional bias have overwhelmingly focused on the priority of different stimuli and have rarely manipulated the state of the observer. Recently, the threat of unpredictable shock has been utilized to experimentally induce anxiety and investigate how negative arousal modulates attentional control. Experimentally induced anxiety has been shown to reduce the attentional priority afforded to reward-related stimuli while enhancing the efficiency of goal-directed attentional control. It is unclear which of these two influences might dominate when attending to reward-related stimuli is consistent with task goals and by extension what the scope of the modulatory influence of threat on attention is. In contrast to paradigms in the visual domain, a novel auditory identification task has demonstrated a robust influence of target-value associations on selective attention. In the present study, we examined how the threat of shock modulates the influence of learned value on voluntary attention. In both threat and no-threat conditions, we replicate prior findings of voluntary prioritization of reward-associated sounds. However, unlike in studies measuring involuntary attentional capture, threat did not modulate the influence of reward on attention. Our findings highlight important limitations to when and how threat modulates the control of attention, contextualizing prior findings.

published proceedings

  • Exp Psychol

altmetric score

  • 1.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, A. J., & Anderson, B. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Andy J||Anderson, Brian A

publication date

  • May 2021