Social salience does not transfer to oculomotor visual search

Alisha Siebold*, Matthew David Weaver, Mieke Donk, Wieske van Zoest

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence suggests that socially relevant information, such as self-referential information, leads to perceptual prioritization that is considered to be similar to prioritization based on physical stimulus salience. The current study used an oculomotor visual search paradigm to investigate whether self-prioritization affects visual selection early in time, akin to physical salience, or later in time, where it would relate to processing of top-down strategies. We report three experiments. Prior to each experiment, observers first performed a manual line-label matching task where they were asked to form associations between two orientation lines (right-tilted and left-tilted) and two labels (“you” and “stranger”). Participants then had to make a speeded eye-movement to one of the two lines without any task instructions (Experiment 1), to a dot probe target located on one of the two lines (Experiment 2), or to the line that was validly cued by its associated label (Experiment 3). We replicate previous findings with the manual stimulus-matching task. However, we did not find any evidence for increased salience of the self-relevant “you” stimulus during visual search, nor did we observe any self-prioritization due to later goal-driven or strategic processing. We argue that self-prioritization does not affect overt visual selection. The results suggest that the effects found in the manual matching task are unlikely to reflect self-prioritization during perceptual processing but might rather act on higher-level processing related to recognition or decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1019
Number of pages31
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2015


  • eye movements
  • oculomotor capture
  • salience
  • Self-referential information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Social salience does not transfer to oculomotor visual search'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this