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Unconscious conflicts in unconscious contexts: The role of awareness and timing in flexible conflict adaptation

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Humans adapt to context-specific frequencies of response conflicts. Typically, the impact of conflict-inducing information is reduced in contexts with high compared to low frequency of conflict. We investigated how such context-specific conflict adaptation depends on awareness and timing of conflict-eliciting stimuli and conflict-signaling contexts. In a priming paradigm, we varied the visibility of the prime and whether the context is a feature of either prime or target. Concretely, the context was represented by the format of either prime (Experiment 1) or target (Experiment 2), which means that primes or targets of a particular format were associated with a high or low probability of conflict (i.e., prime-target incongruency). In both experiments, we found a context-specific modulation of congruency effects, both with masked and visible primes. To control for mechanisms of event learning in Experiments 3 and 4, context-specific conflict frequency was realized by inducing trials, while stimuli in test trials were associated with equal conflict frequency. We again found a context-specific congruency modulation when the prime represented the context, most interestingly also with masked primes within test trials. When the target represented the context, however, such a modulation occurred with visible primes, but not with masked primes. These results provide a compelling case for the unconscious exertion of a very flexible form of cognitive control. Context-specific conflict adaptation processes can basically operate independently of both conflict awareness and context awareness, but they depend on close temporal proximity of context and conflict information
Tijdschrift: Journal of Experimental Psychology
ISSN: 0096-3445
Issue: 4
Volume: 143
Pagina's: 1701-1718
Jaar van publicatie:2014
Trefwoorden:conflict, cognitive control, consciousness
  • VABB Id: c:vabb:388984
  • Scopus Id: 84904739713