That's me in the spotlight: Self-relevance modulates attentional breadth

Marius Golubickis* (Corresponding Author), Colin Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


A core prediction of models of social-cognitive functioning is that attention is preferentially tuned to self-relevant material. Surprisingly, however, evidence in support of this viewpoint is scant. Remedying this situation, here we demonstrated that self-relevance influences the distribution of attentional resources during decisional processing. In a flanker task (N = 60), participants reported if to-be-judged stimuli either denoted, or were owned by, the self or a friend. A consistent pattern of results emerged across both judgment tasks. Whereas the identification of friend-related targets was speeded when the items were flanked by compatible compared with incompatible flankers, responses to self-related targets were resistant to flanker interference. Probing the origin of these effects, a further computational analysis (i.e., Shrinking Spotlight Diffusion Model analysis) confirmed that self-relevance impacted the focusing of attention during decision-making. These findings highlight how self-relevance modulates attentional processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1915–1922
Number of pages8
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • self
  • visual attention
  • spotlight
  • attentional breadth
  • flanker task


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