The Attentional Cost of Comparisons: Evidence for a General Comparison Induced Delay
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Description: The current work aimed to uncover the pattern of attention given to external comparison standards when engaged in social judgments. In a series of 5 experiments (N = 463), a Modified Spatial Cueing Task provided evidence for a general Comparison Induced Delay (CID), but found no signs of visuospatial attention (Pilot, Study 1 & 2). However, the CID did not occur if cues did not remain visually available throughout the trials (Study 3 & 4). Heterogeneity in results prompted the use of a single-paper meta-analysis including all secondary studies. A consistent CID effect was found across studies when standards remained visually available (K = 5), but not when they were masked (K = 2). No direct signs of visuospatial attentional bias were found. These results suggest that the attentional cost of engaging with external comparisons is mainly cognitive in nature, although a minor reoccurring visual component could not be excluded.