The influence of attention on value integration

Melina A Kunar, Derrick G Watson, Konstantinos Tsetsos, Nick Chater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


People often have to make decisions based on many pieces of information. Previous work has found that people are able to integrate values presented in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream to make informed judgements on the overall stream value (Tsetsos et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(24), 9659-9664, 2012). It is also well known that attentional mechanisms influence how people process information. However, it is unknown how attentional factors impact value judgements of integrated material. The current study is the first of its kind to investigate whether value judgements are influenced by attentional processes when assimilating information. Experiments 1-3 examined whether the attentional salience of an item within an RSVP stream affected judgements of overall stream value. The results showed that the presence of an irrelevant high or low value salient item biased people to judge the stream as having a higher or lower overall mean value, respectively. Experiments 4-7 directly tested Tsetsos et al.'s (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(24), 9659-9664, 2012) theory examining whether extreme values in an RSVP stream become over-weighted, thereby capturing attention more than other values in the stream. The results showed that the presence of both a high (Experiments 4, 6 and 7) and a low (Experiment 5) value outlier captures attention leading to less accurate report of subsequent items in the stream. Taken together, the results showed that valuations can be influenced by attentional processes, and can lead to less accurate subjective judgements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1615-1627
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Attention/physiology
  • Decision Making/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment/physiology
  • Male
  • Social Values
  • Young Adult


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