Moderating the influence of a prime: can self-focused attention inhibit response preparation behaviour in an interpersonal context?

Alexandra Wyatt-Barton


Research into the effects of focused attention on prime-to-behaviour effects indicates that heightened self-focus can eliminate stereotype and trait activation. The present research investigated the influence of focused attention on prime-to-behaviour effects after the exposure to a threatening social group (‘hoodies’). In particular it was predicted that focusing on an irrelevant target after ‘hoodie’ priming would result in response preparation behaviour whereas self-focusing would inhibit it. Results revealed that self-focusing does indeed inhibit response preparation behaviour during an interpersonal context but failed to show the opposite effect for non self-focusing. This suggests that purely focusing attention away from prime related material is sufficient to produce inhibitory effects.

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