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Attention abilities rest on the coordinated interplay of multiple components. One consequence to this multifaceted account is that selection processes likely intersect with perception at various junctures. Drawing from this overarching view, the current research examines how different forms of visuospatial attention influence various aspects of conscious perception, including signal detection, signal discrimination, visual awareness, and metacognition. In this effort, we combined a double spatial cueing approach, where stimulus- and goal-driven orienting were concurrently engaged via separate cues, with Type I and Type II signal detection theoretic frameworks through five experiments. Consistent with the modular view of visuospatial attention, our comprehensive assessment reveals that stimulus- and goal-driven orienting operate independently of each other for increasing perceptual sensitivity and reducing the decision bound. Conversely, however, our study shows that both forms of orienting hardly influence visual awareness and metacognition once perceptual sensitivity is accounted for. Our results therefore undermine the idea that attention directly interfaces with subjective aspects of perception. Instead, our findings submit a general framework whereby these attention modules indirectly impact visual awareness and metacognition by increasing perceptual evidence and decreasing the decision bound.

Impact Statement

Public Significance Statement—While most scientists agree that attention is not a unitary construct, few theories consider how different components of attention operate alongside each other to shape how we perceive the world. Addressing this shortcoming, the present work provides a comprehensive assessment of the combined influence of voluntary and involuntary orienting of attention on conscious perception. Our results show that both forms of attention operate independently of each other to improve perception and mitigate biases during perceptual decision making. In turn, however, we found that attention hardly influences subjective aspects of perception like visual awareness and metacognition. This outcome challenges the idea that attention shares an intimate relationship with consciousness.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, volume 47, issue 3, in 2021 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.


American Psychological Association



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