Emotional Priming of Pop-Out in Visual Search

Dominique Lamy*, Liana Amunts, Yair Bar-Haim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


When searching for a discrepant target along a simple dimension such as color or shape, repetition of the target feature substantially speeds search, an effect known as feature priming of pop-out (V. Maljkovic and K. Nakayama, 1994). The authors present the first report of emotional priming of pop-out. Participants had to detect the face displaying a discrepant expression of emotion in an array of four face photographs. On each trial, the target when present was either a neutral face among emotional faces (angry in Experiment 1 or happy in Experiment 2), or an emotional face among neutral faces. Target detection was faster when the target displayed the same emotion on successive trials. This effect occurred for angry and for happy faces, not for neutral faces. It was completely abolished when faces were inverted instead of upright, suggesting that emotional categories rather than physical feature properties drive emotional priming of pop-out. The implications of the present findings for theoretical accounts of intertrial priming and for the face-in-the-crowd phenomenon are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • facial expressions of emotion
  • priming of pop-out
  • repetition priming
  • visual search


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