Personality and Selective Attention.
WASHINGTON UNIV SEATTLE DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY
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Interest in the relationship between cognitions and behavior has drawn personality researchers and clinical psychologists to incorporate models of information processing into their own paradigms. In this study, the effect of presenting emotionally salient material preattentively - during shadowing - was examined, along with the interactive effects of personality variables. College students high in anxiety were found to hear sexually explicit messages imbedded in an unattended message, and as a result to experience difficulty in shadowing. Intrusion of the sexually explicit material and interference with shadowing did not occur for those low in anxiety. If subjects did not hear or were not presented with these messages in the unattended channel, personality variables still tended to predict subjects judgments about these messages. In this one task, evidence was found for mediation of cognitions by emotional and personality factors at both attentive and preattentive levels of processing. These mediational effects were sometimes specific to level of processing, e.g., one emotional message received one response during the highly attentive processing involved in applying a judgment and quite a different response during preattentive processing.