Contingent Attentional Engagement: Stimulus- and Goal-Driven Capture Have Qualitatively Different Consequences

Alon Zivony*, Dominique Lamy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined whether shifting attention to a location necessarily entails extracting the features at that location, a process referred to as attentional engagement. In three spatial-cuing experiments (N = 60), we found that an onset cue captured attention both when it shared the target’s color and when it did not. Yet the effects of the match between the response associated with the cued object’s identity and the response associated with the target (compatibility effects), which are diagnostic of attentional engagement, were observed only with relevant-color onset cues. These findings demonstrate that stimulus- and goal-driven capture have qualitatively different consequences: Before attention is reoriented to the target, it is engaged to the location of the critical distractor following goal-driven capture but not stimulus-driven capture. The reported dissociation between attentional shifts and attentional engagement suggests that attention is best described as a camera: One can align its zoom lens without pressing the shutter button.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1930-1941
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1286/16


    • attention
    • open data
    • selective attention
    • spatial perception
    • visual attention


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