Vegetarianism provides a model system to examine the impact of negative affect towards meat, based on ideational reasoning. It was hypothesized that meat stimuli are efficient attention catchers in vegetarians. Event-related brain potential recordings served to index selective attention processes at the level of initial stimulus perception. Consistent with the hypothesis, late positive potentials to meat pictures were enlarged in vegetarians compared to omnivores. This effect was specific for meat pictures and obtained during passive viewing and an explicit attention task condition. These findings demonstrate the attention capture of food stimuli, deriving affective salience from ideational reasoning and symbolic meaning. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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