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Warning—taboo words ahead! Avoiding attentional capture by spoken taboo distractors.

Rettie, L., Potter, R. F., Brewer, G., Degno, F., Vachon, F., Hughes, R. W. and Marsh, J. E., 2023. Warning—taboo words ahead! Avoiding attentional capture by spoken taboo distractors. Journal of Cognitive Psychology. (In Press)

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Warning taboo words ahead Avoiding attentional capture by spoken taboo distractors.pdf - Published Version
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DOI: 10.1080/20445911.2023.2285860


We examine whether the disruption of serial short-term memory (STM) by spoken taboo distractors is due to attentional diversion and unrelated to the underlying disruptive effect of sound on serial STM more generally, which we have argued is due to order cues arising from the automatic pre-categorical processing of acoustic changes in the sound conflicting with serial–order processing within the memory task (interference-by-process). We test whether the taboo-distractor effect is, unlike effects attributable to interference-by-process, amenable to top-down control. Experiment 1 replicated the taboo-distractor effect and showed that it is not merely a valence effect. However, promoting cognitive control by increasing focal task-load did not attenuate the effect. However, foreknowledge of the distractors did eliminate the taboo-distractor effect while having no effect on disruption by neutral words (Experiment 2). We conclude that the taboo-distractor effect results from a controllable attentional-diversion mechanism distinct from the effect of any acoustically-changing sound.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:irrelevant speech; auditory distraction; serial recall; cognitive control; taboo words
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:39363
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:09 Jan 2024 14:31
Last Modified:09 Jan 2024 14:31


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