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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Attentional biases by induced microvalence in novel objects : an emphasis on the role of experience Manaligod, Maria Gloria Mina


How do each of us come to view the world uniquely? An emerging theory of microvalence proposes that subtle feelings of reward and punishment derived from individualized experiences with basic everyday objects help determine how we later attend and behave towards them. These objects that are part of our more mundane experiences are thought to be given attentional priority similar to objects that evoke stronger emotional responses. However, this relationship between preferences guided by daily experience and attention has not been tested. I introduced a novel paradigm to induce microvalences by simulating real life experience paired with an interocular suppression technique (bCFS) to explore its role in attention. Consistent with the theory of microvalence, affective ratings indicated that our novel shapes possessed pre-existing affective properties by which they are evaluated, giving rise to preferences. Unexpectedly, we observed a unifying effect of experience, blurring perceived differences between novel shapes, thus collapsing initial preferences (feelings of like or dislike). Results showed, however, that microvalences were not prioritized in attention. Our findings place emphasis on the role of experience in shifting automatic preferences to create unbiased representations of the world.

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