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Value Drive Attention Capture in Adolescence

Value Drive Attention Capture in Adolescence
Read this article, it is the focus paper – Roper, Z., Vecera, S.& Valdya, J. (2014). Value-Driven Attentional
Capture in Adolescence. Psychological Science, 25(11), pp. 1987-1993.

Your task is to write an APA formatted essay which argues for (or against) the relevance and applications
of this research.

Include an analysis of the article which briefly outlines, in you own words and from your own viewpoint,
how the study worked and how its conclusions were arrived at. Do not simply summarise any part of the
article. Within your analysis, assess the methodology and arguments made by using other literature in the
relevant fields (that is: Value based attentional capture, Control in adolescence). Your argument is the
most important aspect of your essay – choose a side, and back it up with evidence from the core article
and others related to it.

if you wish to argue strongly in favour of the relevance and applications of the research, be sure to qualify
your statements and argument with recognition of limitations and research yet to be done.

If you wish to argue strongly against the relevance and applications of the research, be sure to support
your argument with evidence obtained from further research in the same field or closely related fields.

Value Drive Attention Capture in Adolescence
Brief Analysis of Article
This article presents an analysis of the decision making process that is followed by majority of
people in the age of adolescence. To bring out the unique nature of adolescents’ mental reward
mechanisms, the reserchers had to involve adolescents as well as adults and subject them to
similar controlled conditions whereby they were subjected to a test where they had to identify a
red ring as well as a green one hidden within an image on a computer screen. Different awards
were given for their accurate discoveries. The assumption that was held by the researchers prior
to the commencement of the study was that teenagers generally tend to be impulsive. As such
they sought to determine if there indeed exists a fundamental change in the way teenagers make
decisions and the way adults do leading to the assumption that the three researchers had. The
particular element of decision making that these researchers were focused on was the brain’s
reward mechanism and how it functioned. The participants were trained on how to do the visual
identification and keep track of the rewards. From the study it emerged that the two age groups
initially demonstrated what was termed as “value-driven emotional capture”. When the reward
was withdrawn however teenagers lagged behind compared to the adults who maintained their
level of performance. The performance of the teenagers was more adversely impacted by the
withdrawal of the reward. The initial performance of the teenagers meant that the argument
about having lower levels of development in their cognitive element could not be justified. The
significance of an individual’s ability to control his or her attention appeared to lack in the
teenagers and this was then theorized to result from the manner in which their brains assign
value. Their subconscious prioritizing of things in their immediate environment had a direct
impact on their cognitive performance (Vercera et al, 2014).

Assessment of the methodology
The research methodology that was used by the scientists who conducted this study was
purposive sampling since they required participants who met specific attributes with respect to
their age group and also level of understanding. This is because they were to be subjected to the
same series of instructions and also similar stimuli. To this end the researchers made the right
decisions because the composition of the respondents was well in line with the study’s objective
of finding out the dynamics of the reward mechanisms that exist in the minds of adolescents as
well as adults. The hypothesis that was held by the researchers with regard to the teenagers’
relatively restricted capacity to maintain attention meant that it was important to include adults as
well in the study so as to first of all given the assumption empirical support and therefore
credibility. Secondly this would meet the gap in knowledge given the controlled environment
and the scientists’ ability to manipulate environmental parameters for the sample that was
selected. While this was a complicated study, the organizers of the study made sure the
complexity did not negatively impact the respondents. This was done through the design of a
simple exercise for them to go through and also the issuance of clear instructions on the tasks
that they were given to do. Having such stability meant that the focus of the study in the analysis
stage would be relatively narrow and this is good as it allows for exhaustive study and
interpretation of the results (Casey et al, 2008).
Arguments presented by Researchers
The arguments forwarded by the researchers following the study remained consistent with their
initial hypothesis. This is because they maintained the focus on the actions of the teenagers. The
specific actions of the teenagers right down to the focus of the teenagers on the previous circles
that earned them awards that were nolonger available. The argument was based on the theory

they were investigating and this combined with the data collected confirmed the hypothesis.
Furthermore, the study’s conclusions were a refinement of the initial hypothesis rather than
merely a confirmation of the same (Sommerville et al, 2011; Galvan, 2010).
The design of the study and the subsequent analysis of the data that had been collected broke
down the assumption held by the researchers and they attached relevant psychological and
scientific parameters to the various elements of the assumption. The teenagers were categorized
as adolescents and a specific age group used. The performance they presented was used as a
measure of their concentration and this would be used to show the degree to which they had
control over their cognitive faculties. The ability to do this highly correlates with the relative
unscientific observation of teenagers being poor decision makers. They came closer to the root of
the matter by attaching various responses to components of the brain, the most important being
the reward mechanism. The argument then proposed by the study in the end was of greater value
since it can be adapted to other areas of knowledge which may be used in areas of importance
such as education, discipline and also sports (Huntsinger et al, 2010).
A limitation in their study however was the fact that they did not consider the possible socio-
cultural factors that may have been contributing to teenagers being poorer decision makers. It is
not so much a weakness as it is a gap in knowledge. A possible hypothesis for further studies
would be that the social conditions and expectations placed on teenagers and adults lead to their
different decision making patterns (Dahl, 2004).
Personal Argument
I am in agreement with the study’s results based on the relevance it has and more so in
appreciation of the efforts that the researchers made to scientifically quantify an assumption that
is made with an explanation that is based on empirical observations. This is not to say that they

have exactly added onto existing knowledge. It could be argued on one hand that their
conclusion is tantamount to reinventing the wheel since the assumption they had was common
knowledge. On the other hand however they have indeed added onto existing knowledge by
linking up the theory they had with facts (Hooper et al, 2004). A possible area of application
could be in the area of public safety where teenage delinquency is one of the major issues.
Dangerous behavior of these adolescents could be investigated to find out the specific rewards
that exist in these contexts and therefore leading to solutions such as possible alternatives for the
teenagers or ways of limiting their poor decision making negatively affect them. In areas such as
academics, such information could be put into practice through the inclusion of rewards at
different stages of learning so as to increase their participation and improve their performance
(Roper et al, 2014; Anderson et al, 2013).

Anderson, B. A., Faulkner, M. L., Rilee, J. J., Yantis, S., & Marvel, C. L. (2013). Attentional
bias for nondrug reward is magnified in addiction. Experimental and Clinical
Psychopharmacology, 21, 499–506
Casey, B. J., Jones, R. M., & Hare, T. A. (2008). The adolescent brain. Annals of the New York
Academy of Sciences, 1124, 111–126. doi:10.1196/annals.1440.010
Dahl, R. E. (2004). Adolescent brain development: A period of vulnerabilities and opportunities.
Keynote address. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 1–22.
Galvan, A. (2010). Adolescent development of the reward system. Frontiers in Human
Neuroscience, 4, Article 6.
Hooper, C. J., Luciana, M., Conklin, H. M., & Yarger, R. S. (2004). Adolescents’ performance
on the Iowa Gambling Task: Implications for the development of decision making and
ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Developmental Psychology, 40, 1148–1158.
Huntsinger, J. R., Clore, G. L., & Bar-Anan, Y. (2010). Mood and global-local focus: Priming a
local focus reverses the link between mood and global-local processing. Emotion, 10, 722–726.
Roper, Z. J., Vecera, S. P., & Vaidya, J. G. (2014). Value-driven attentional capture in
adolescence. Psychological science, 0956797614545654.
Serences, J. T. (2008). Value-based modulations in human visual cortex. Neuron, 60,

Somerville, L. H., Hare, T., & Casey, B. J. (2011). Frontostriatal maturation predicts cognitive
control failure to appetitive cues in adolescents. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23,
Vecera, S. P., Cosman, J. D., Vatterott, D. B., & Roper, Z. J. J. (2014). The control of visual
attention: Toward a unified account. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), Psychology of learning and motivation
(Vol. 60, pp. 303–347). Waltham, MA: Elsevier.

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