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See what you want to see: Does people’s motivational state determine what attracts their attention?

School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The Self-Regulation, Attention, and Emotion Lab examines various topics at the intersection of self-regulation, emotion, and social cognition research. We are interested in understanding how people pursue their goals and motivations, for instance, we aim to understand how they cope with adversity during goal pursuit such as failure or conflicts between goals (wanting to live healthily versus aiming to have enjoyable or cheap food), or how they cope with negative emotions like fear and disgust. Much of our research investigates visual and perceptual processes such as attentional biases to emotional events, food items, or in- and outgroup members. In this project, we aim to investigate how people’s motivational state impacts the way they attend to the world. In particular, we will investigate whether goals can tune people towards information that is useful to achieve their goals. For instance, can dieters become blind towards unhealthy food or students blind to Facebook when studying for an exam but more alert towards healthy food or studying materials.

Funding Notes

2(i) or above in Biology, Psychology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Philosophy and MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience


Vogt, J., Koster, E.H.W., & De Houwer, J. (in press). Safety first: Instrumentality for reaching safety determines attention allocation under threat. Emotion.

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