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Differences in Flicker Paradigm Response Times: Change Blindness in Snake Phobics




Mulfinger, Amanda

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This study is a replication of Wheeler (2003), expanding upon his exploration of the connection between snake phobia and change blindness, a phenomenon in which individuals do not recognize changes in their immediate environment. Employing Rensink’s (1997) flicker paradigm, two experiments were conducted. In Experiment A, 12 snake-fearful and 15 control participants engaged in a change detection computer task involving central and marginal changes in fearsome and neutral stimuli before being assessed for snake phobia on the ADIS-IV. In Experiment B, assessment was carried out before the computer task. No significant group differences were present in either experiment, although a significant group difference emerged when the data were aggregated, suggesting that snake-fearful participants responded in a significantly different manner than controls, generally requiring more time on the tasks. Furthermore, location of change and content of stimuli had a significant effect on time to change detection. Finally, a significant three-way interaction was found in Experiment B and the aggregated data, whereby fearful individuals required more time to detect changes in fearsome marginal stimuli. This data is interpreted in terms of information processing, attention bias, and disengagement theories.