Motivated suppression of value- and threat-modulated attentional capture. Academic Article uri icon


  • Attention prioritizes stimuli previously associated with reward or punishment. The present study examined whether this attentional bias, widely considered to be involuntary and automatic, could be suppressed with sufficient motivation. Participants performed visual search for a shape-defined target. One color-singleton distractor predicted the possibility of receiving a reward and another an electric shock, with each outcome occurring infrequently. Participants were informed that the likelihood to earn a reward or avert punishment depended on fast and accurate performance, thus providing strong motivation to resist distraction by reward- and shock-related stimuli. Results revealed a reduction in the magnitude of attentional capture by reward- and threat-associated distractors, relative to neutral distractors, that persisted into extinction. In a second experiment, we replicated the suppression of value-modulated attentional capture in the absence of the shock condition, thus confirming that the suppression did not result from the presence of threat. Finally, in a third experiment, we replicated the typical pattern of attentional capture by reward cues using a more conventional procedure in which the motivation to suppress valent stimuli was low (the likelihood to be rewarded was high and not contingent on fast performance). This study demonstrates that signals for reward and threat can be actively suppressed with sufficient motivation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

published proceedings

  • Emotion

author list (cited authors)

  • Grgoire, L., Britton, M. K., & Anderson, B. A.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • GrĂ©goire, Laurent||Britton, Mark K||Anderson, Brian A

publication date

  • June 2022