Department or Program



When trying to complete any task, there are often distractions in the surrounding world that can take our attention away from the task at hand. Being distracted can make us slower and less accurate at the task. However, if the “distractions” consist of information that can help you with completing the task, then we actually might complete the task faster and more accurately than if there were no distractions at all. Researchers have found that if you are alerted before being presented with the task and distractors, then distractors have a larger impact on performance (making the difference between beneficial and harmful distractors more pronounced). This effect is called the alerting congruency interaction. The purpose of this research is to investigate potential causes and moderators of this alerting congruency interaction. The factors being studied include emotional affect, arousal, novelty, stimulus onset asynchrony, and previewing of the distractor stimulus. Results show that congruency effects do not differ with manipulations of affect, arousal, and novelty and are inconclusive with respect to stimulus onset asynchrony. A theory of the alerting-congruency interaction based on the temporal overlap between target and distractor response code activation is proposed and tested, and the data support this novel account.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Open Access After Expiration]

First Advisor

Kahan, Todd

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


Available to all on Monday, May 01, 2028