Schmidts, Foerster, Kleinsorge, Kunde (2020) Proactive control of affective distraction: Experience-based but not expectancy-based Cognition 194() 104072


Unpleasant stimuli disrupt ongoing information processing, even when they are entirely task-irrelevant. We examined whether such affective disturbances can be controlled explicitly and proactively. Specifically, we studied two different mechanisms to induce proactive control: the experience of frequent affective distraction and cueing of upcoming affective distraction. We predicted that both mechanisms would shield the attentional system from affective disturbance. Participants solved a letter classification task while being exposed to neutral or negative distractor pictures. We varied whether the proportion of negative distractors was low or high and whether cues for the upcoming type of distractor valence were informative or uninformative. In three experiments (N = 114), we found support for the notion that experience-based control shields information processing from affective disturbances, whereas distractor valence expectations were not helpful. These data suggest that there is no explicit top-down influence on attentional control settings of affective distraction, just adjustments to the context. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.