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Attentional control of emotional distraction in rapid serial visual presentation
PEERS, P.V. and Lawrence, A.D.
Emotion, 9(1), 140-145
Year of publication:
Temperament research has highlighted the importance of attentional control in both emotion regulation and as a predictor of psychopathology. Enhanced susceptibility to emotional distraction is a key feature of mood disturbance. Whereas many studies have examined the influence of individual differences in anxiety on the disruptive effects of emotional distractors, individual differences in attentional control have been largely neglected. Here we examine, within healthy volunteers, the relative contributions of individual differences in self-reported anxiety and attentional control to distractibility caused by emotional or neutral faces distractors occurring prior to neutral face targets during rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP). Participants with good attentional control were less affected by both neutral and emotional distractors than participants with poorer attentional control. More pronounced distraction deficits were seen for emotional relative to neutral distractors in individuals with poor attentional control. In contrast state-anxiety was not associated with increased emotional distraction. Our findings suggest a protective role of attentional control mechanisms in minimising the influence of emotional distraction.