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Evaluating the Role of Attention in the Context of Unconscious Thought Theory: Differential Impact of Attentional Scope and Load on Preference and Memory
, Narayanan Srinivasan, Maruti V Mishra, Smriti Kesarwani
Published in Frontiers Media SA
2013
Volume: 4
   
Abstract
Attention is a key process used to conceptualize and define modes of thought, but we lack information about the role of specific attentional processes on preferential choice and memory in multi-attribute decision making. In this study, we examine the role of attention based on two dimensions, attentional scope and load on choice preference strength and memory using a paradigm that arguably elicits unconscious thought. Scope of attention was manipulated by using global or local processing during distraction (Experiment 1) and before the information-encoding stage (Experiment 2). Load was manipulated by using the n-back task in Experiment 1. Results from Experiment 1 show that global processing or distributed attention during distraction results in stronger preference irrespective of load but better memory only at low cognitive load. Task difficulty or load did not have any effect on preference or memory. In Experiment 2, distributed attention before attribute encoding facilitated only memory but did not influence preference. Results show that attentional processes at different stages of processing like distraction and information-encoding influence decision making processes. Scope of attention not only influences preference and memory but the manner in which attentional scope influences them depends on both load and stage of information processing. The results indicate the important role of attention in processes critical for decision making and calls for a re-evaluation of the unconscious thought theory (UTT) and the need for reconceptualizing the role of attention.
About the journal
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
PublisherFrontiers Media SA
Open AccessNo