Do automatic and deliberate processes decide which external information gets your attention? The role of the dual-process theory in selecting stimuli based on goal-relevance.
Lange, M. de
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In our information-overladen world we need our limited capacity to take in all relevant facts for making everyday choices more than ever. To spare our capacity, we make a selection of all incoming stimuli based on the relevance to our current goals. How stimuli are judged to be relevant is however not discussed much in literature. Some theorists assume that the dual-process theory plays a key role in stimulus selection. Recent evidence supports that assumption by showing that the relevance of stimuli can be assessed both deliberately and automatically. Therefore I am going to test the role of the dual-process theory in selecting stimuli in the present study. Using a flanker task, present study indeed shows that goal-relevant information gets selected over non-relevant information. Results also indicate that selection of stimuli can take place deliberately as well as automatically. Lastly, a target that is identical to its flankers is hard to discriminate and identify automatically. The findings replicate the results of previous studies. They also show that messages need to fit personal goals and have to be discriminating against its environment to stand out. Without these conditions, the chance is significantly smaller that messages are selected for further processing. This has implications for studies of consumer behavior and marketing. However, I did not find evidence supporting the role of the dual-process theory in stimulus selection. [225 words]