Oculomotor examination of the weapon focus effect: does a gun automatically engage visual attention?

Heather D. Flowe, Lorraine Hope, Anne P. Hillstrom

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Abstract

A person is less likely to be accurately remembered if they appear in a visual scene with a gun, a result that has been termed the weapon focus effect (WFE). Explanations of the WFE argue that weapons engage attention because they are unusual and/or threatening, which causes encoding deficits for the other items in the visual scene. Previous WFE research has always embedded the weapon and nonweapon objects within a larger context that provides information about an actor's intention to use the object. As such, it is currently unknown whether a gun automatically engages attention to a greater extent than other objects independent of the context in which it is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere81011
Pages (from-to)e81011
JournalPLoS One
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2013

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