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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Stacy Pilea

First Committee Member

Kenneth Beauchamp

Second Committee Member

Deborah Schooler


Highly emotionally negative pictures and sexually erotic pictures have been shown to distract human attention during an attentional blink task. The current study examined how participants performed in an attentional blink task that used gender-specific (i.e., bitch and testicles) and gender-neutral taboo words (i.e., bullshit) as distracters. Taboo words elicited an attentional blink at Lag 6 and female taboo words elicited more attentional blinks than male or neutral taboo words. Participants also missed a large number of targets during Lag 2 and Lag 10. There were no gender differences in attentional blink. Participants exhibited greater memory recall for taboo words over filler words. These finding suggest that taboo words affect human attention and are processed for later recall.





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