La distraction par des stimuli associés à une récompense et le contrôle attentionnel dans des tâches de recherche visuelle

Abstract : In our daily activities, selective attention allow us to select task-relevant information among irrelevant ones, in order to maintain consistent, goal-directed behavior. However, sometimes, a completely irrelevant stimulus can capture our attention against our will and, as a result, produce a distraction phenomenon. Distraction was initially considered to be essentially dependent on the perceptual salience of the distractors. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that stimuli associated with reward outcome (i.e., with a reward history) are also likely to produce particularly robust and persistent distraction effects (regardless of their relevance to the task at hand and their perceptual salience). Alongside, a large body of works has been devoted to the study of attentional control, which could prevent distraction by perceptually salient distractors. However, to date, very little work has attempted to manipulate the quality of the attentional control that could be implemented to avoid distraction by reward history. The objective of our work was therefore to determine whether, and if so, under what conditions, reward-distractors could be ignored or, on the contrary, could resist attentional control. Seven studies were conducted with neutral visual stimuli associated with (monetary or social) reward outcome, in order to investigate how they could affect task performance when they appeared as distractors in visual search tasks. Attentional control was manipulated by varying the perceptual (i.e., perceptual load: Studies 1 and 2), cognitive (i.e., cognitive load: Study 3) or sensory (i.e., sensory degradation: Studies 4-7) demands imposed by the task. We have shown that high-reward distractor interference resists to perceptual load increase, unlike that caused by only salient distractor (Study 1). Our event-related potentials study (Study 2) suggests that this effect may be due to an enhanced attentional capture (N2pc) under low perceptual load and by a less effective attentional suppression (Pd) under high perceptual load for high-reward distractors. Next, contrary to our expectations, no effect of reward history was observed when manipulating cognitive load (Study 3), leading us to propose that our manipulation could have drained the cognitive resources necessary to learn the distractor-reward association. Then, we have shown that the increase in time pressure (Studies 4-5), known to promote the early selection of relevant targets, could also enhanced the difficulty to ignore distractors under some circumstances. Nevertheless, in these conditions, the mere fact that rewarded distractors may appear seems to increase the difficulty to ignore the distractors, more than the time pressure itself. Finally, our last two studies (Studies 6-7) mobilized a more ecological visual search task, involving pictures of driving situations taken from a driver point-of-view, in which reward distractors were displayed on the screen of a smartphone in the vehicle cabin. The sensory degradation of the target (achieved by increasing the fog density outside the car) has led to greater distraction for distractors paired with a social reward, especially for people with a high level of FoMO (Fear of Missing Out; that is, the pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding social experiences from which one is absent). These results are discussed in the light of the literature on distraction by reward history and attentional control, in order to integrate the reward history into these models. Moreover, our observations are discussed under the scope of applied researches that focused on driver distraction, in which our work has a particular resonance.
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Jérémy Matias. La distraction par des stimuli associés à une récompense et le contrôle attentionnel dans des tâches de recherche visuelle. Psychologie. Université Clermont Auvergne, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019CLFAL010⟩. ⟨tel-02379299⟩

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