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  • Department of Psychology

    © Universität Bielefeld

Prof. (apl.) Dr. Gernot Horstmann

Research Assistant

Postal Address

Universität Bielefeld
Fakultät für Psychologie und Sportwissenschaft
Abteilung für Psychologie
Postfach 10 01 31
D-33501 Bielefeld


By Agreement (CITEC)

Prof. (apl.) Dr. Gernot Horstmann

Prof. (apl.) Dr. Gernot Horstmann

AE01 / Neuro-Cognitive Psychology
2.412 (CITEC)
++49 (0)521 106 - 12391
++49 (0)521 106 - 156934

Research Topics

Overall topic

  • Attentional control

Central issues

  • Goal-dependent and goal-independent attention
  • Is there attentional guidance by affective features?
  • Attention and inattention to unexpected events
  • Target guidance and distractor rejection influences on visual search efficiency
  • The perception of gaze


  • Reaction time tasks
  • eye tracking
  • psychophysics


  • DFG (German Research Foundation) 2004-2006 and 2008-2009 "Control of Attention by Expected and Unexpected Stimuli"
  • DFG grant 2016-2019 "Expectation Discrepancy, Eye Movements, and Attention"


Ernst, D., Becker, S., & Horstmann, G. (2020). Novelty competes with saliency for attention. Vision Research, 168, 42?52. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2020.01.004

Horstmann, G., & Becker, S. (2020). More efficient visual search for happy faces may not indicate guidance, but rather faster distractor rejection: Evidence from eye movements and fixations. Emotion, 20(2), 206-216. doi: 10.1037/emo0000536 . LINK


Horstmann, G., Becker, S. I., & Grubert, A. (2019). Dwelling on simple stimuli in visual search. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01872-8.

Horstmann, G., Ernst, D., & Becker, S. (2019). Dwelling on distractors varying in target-distractor similarity. Acta Psychologica, 198, 102859. doi: doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.05.011.

Horstmann, G., & Loth, S. (2019). The Mona Lisa Illusion - Scientists See Her Looking at Them Though She Isn't. I-Perception, 10(1), 1-5. doi:10.1177/2041669518821702 . PDF


Ernst, D., & Horstmann, G. (2018). Pure color novelty captures the gaze. Visual Cognition, 26(5),366-381. doi: 10.1080/13506285.2018.1459997 . PDF

Loth, S., Horstmann, G., Osterbrink, C., & Kopp, S. (2018). Accuracy of perceiving precisely gazing virtual agents. In A. Bogdanovych, D. Richards, S. Simoff, C. Pelachaud, D. Heylen, T. Trescak, & S. J. Simoff (Eds.), 18th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA'18): November 5-8, 2018, Sydney, NSW, Australia (pp. 263?268). New York, New York: The Association for Computing Machinery. doi: 10.1145/3267851.3267852 . PDF


Riechelmann, E., Pieczykolan, A., Horstmann, G., Herwig, A., & Huestegge, L. (2017). Spatio-temporal dynamics of action-effect associations in oculomotor control. Acta Psychologica, 180, 130-136. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2017.09.003 . LINK

Reisenzein, R., Horstmann, G., & Schützwohl, A. (2017). The cognitive-evolutionary model of surprise: A review of the evidence. Topics in Cognitive Science, 11(1), 50-74. doi: 10.1111/tops.12292 . PDF

Poth, C., & Horstmann, G. (2017). Assessing the monitor warm-up required before a psychological experiment can begin. The Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 13(3), 166-173. doi: 10.20982/tqmp.13.3.p166 . PDF

Khalid, S., Horstmann, G., Ditye, T., & Ansorge, U. (2017). Measuring the emotion-specificity of rapid stimulus-driven attraction of attention to fearful faces: Evidence from emotion categorization and a comparison with disgusted faces. Psychological Research, 81(2), 508-523. doi: 10.1007/s00426-016-0743-8 . PDF

Becker, S., Dutt, N., Vromen, J., & Horstmann, G. (2017). The capture of attention and the eyes by emotional photographic faces. Visual Cognition, 25(1-3), 241-261. doi: 10.1080/13506285.2017.1333182 . PDF

Horstmann, G., Becker, S., & Ernst, D. (2017). Dwelling, rescanning, and skipping of distractors explain search efficiency in difficult search better than guidance by the target. Visual Cognition, 25(1-3), 291-305. doi: 10.1080/13506285.2017.1347591 . PDF


Horstmann, G., & Ansorge, U. (2016). Surprise capture and inattentional blindness. Cognition, 157, 237-249 . doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.09.005 . PDF

Horstmann, G., Herwig, A. & Becker, S. (2016). Distractor dwelling, skipping, and revisiting determine target absent performance in difficult visual search. Frontiers in Psychology,7. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01152 LINK

Horstmann, G., Becker, S., & Ernst, D. (2016). Perceptual salience captures the eyes on a surprise trial. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 78(7), 1889-1900. doi: 10.3758/s13414-016-1102-y . PDF

Horstmann, G., & Herwig, A. (2016). Novelty biases attention and gaze in a surprise trial. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 78(1), 69-77. doi: 10.3758/s13414-015-0995-1 . PDF


Horstmann, G. (2015). The surprise-attention link: A review. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1339, 106-115. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12679 . PDF

Schneider, W., Einhäuser, W., & Horstmann, G. (2015). Introduction to competitive visual processing across space and time: Attention, memory, and prediction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1339 , v-viii. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12744 . PDF


Horstmann, G. & Herwig, A. (2014). Surprise attracts the eyes and binds the gaze. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22(3), 743-749. doi: 10.3758/s13423-014-0723-1 . PDF

Becker, S., Horstmann, G., & Herwig, A. (2014). Eye movement control. Journal of Ophthalmology, 2014 ID: 262541. doi: 10.1155/2014/262541 . PDF

Venini, D., Remington, R. W., Horstmann, G., & Becker, S. I. (2014). Centre-of-Gravity fixations in visual search: When looking at nothing helps to find something. Journal of Ophthalmology, 2014 ID: 237812. doi: 10.1155/2014/237812 . PDF


Reisenzein, R., Studtmann, M., & Horstmann, G. (2013). Coherence between emotion and facial expression: Evidence from laboratory experiments. Emotion Review, 5(1), 16-23. doi: 10.1177/1754073912457228 . LINK

Schneider, W. X., Einhäuser, W., & Horstmann, G. (2013). Attentional selection in visual perception, memory and action: A quest for cross-domain integration. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 368(1628), ID: 20130053. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0053 . LINK

Savage, R. A., Lipp, O. V., Craig, B. M., Becker, S. I., & Horstmann, G. (2013). In search of the emotional face: Anger versus happiness superiority in visual search. Emotion, 13(4), 758-768. doi: 10.1037/a0031970 . PDF


Horstmann, G., Lipp, O. V., & Becker, S. I. (2012). Of toothy grins and angry snarls - open mouth displays contribute to efficiency gains in search for emotional faces. Journal of Vision, 12(5), 7. doi: 10.1167/12.5.7 . LINK


Ansorge, U., Horstmann, G., & Scharlau, I. (2011). Top-down contingent feature-specific orienting with and without awareness of the visual input. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 7, 108-119. doi: 10.2478/v10053-008-0087-z . PDF

Becker, S.I., Horstmann, G., & Remington, R.W. (2011). Perceptual grouping, not emotion, accounts for search asymmetries with schematic faces. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 37(6), 1739-1757. doi: 10.1037/a0024665 . PDF

Becker, S.I., & Horstmann, G. (2011). Novelty and saliency in attentional capture by unannounced motion singletons. Acta Psychologica, 136(3), 290-299. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.12.002 . PDF

Herwig, A., & Horstmann, G. (2011). Action-effect associations revealed by eye movements. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18(3), 531-537. doi: 10.3758/s13423-011-0063-3 . PDF

Horstmann, G. & Becker, S.I. (2011). Evidence for goal-independent attentional capture from validity effects with unexpected novel color cues - a response to Burnham (2007). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18(3), 512-517. doi: 10.3758/s13423-011-0080-2 . PDF

Horstmann, G., & Ansorge, U. (2011). Compatibility between tones, head movements and facial expressions. Emotion, 11(4), 975-980. doi: 10.1037/a0023468 . PDF


Ansorge, U., Horstmann, G., & Worschech, F. (2010). Attentional capture by masked colour singletons. Vision Research, 50(19), 2015-2027. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2010.07.015 . PDF

Ansorge, U., Horstmann, G., & Scharlau, I. (2010). Top-down contingent attentional capture during feed-forward visual processing. Acta Psychologica, 135(2), 123-126. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.05.008 . PDF

Horstmann, G. (2010). Tone-affect compatibility with affective stimuli and affective responses. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(11), 2239-2250. doi: 10.1080/17470211003687538 . PDF

Horstmann, G., Becker, S., Bergmann, S., & Burghaus, L. (2010). A reversal of the search asymmetry favouring negative schematic faces. Visual Cognition, 18(7), 981-1016. doi: 10.1080/13506280903435709 . PDF


Becker, S.I., Ansorge, U., & Horstmann, G. (2009). Can intertrial priming account for the similarity effect in visual search? Vision Research, 49(14), 1738-1756. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2009.04.001 . PDF

Horstmann, G. (2009). Visual search for schematic affective faces: Stability and variability of search slopes with different instances. Cognition & Emotion, 23(2), 355-379. doi: 10.1080/02699930801976523 . LINK

Horstmann, G. & Ansorge, U. (2009). Visual search for facial expressions of emotions: A comparison of dynamic and static faces. Emotion, 9(1), 29-38. doi: 10.1037/a0014147 LINK

Becker, S.I. & Horstmann, G. (2009). A feature-weighting account of priming in conjunction search. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71(2), 258-272. doi: 10.3758/APP.71.2.258 PDF


Horstmann, G. & Becker, S.I. (2008). Attentional effects of negative faces: Top-down contingent or involuntary? Perception & Psychophysics, 70(8), 1416-1434. PDF

Horstmann, G. & Becker, S. (2008). Effects of stimulus onset asynchrony and display duration on implicit and explicit measures of attentional capture by a surprising singleton. Visual Cognition, 16(2), 290-306. doi: 10.1080/13506280701461725 PDF


Horstmann, G. (2007). Preattentive face processing: What do visual search experiments with schematic faces tell us? Visual Cognition, 15(7), 799-833. doi:10.1080/13506280600892798 LINK

Ansorge, U. & Horstmann, G. (2007). Preemptive control of attentional capture by colour: Evidence from trial-by-trial analyses and orderings of onsets of capture effects in reaction time distributions. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(7), 952-975. PDF


Horstmann, G. (2006). On the latency and the duration of the action interruption in surprise. Cognition and Emotion, 20(2), 242-273. doi:10.1080/02699930500262878 LINK.

Horstmann, G. (2006). Time course of intended and unintended orienting of attention. Psychological Research, 70(1), 13-25. doi:10.1007/s00426-004-0184-7 LINK.

Horstmann, G., & Ansorge, U.(2006). Attentional shifts rare singletons. Visual Cognition, 14(3), 295-325. doi:10.1080/13506280500236492 LINK.

Horstmann, G. & Bauland, A. (2006). Search asymmetries with real faces: Testing the anger-superiority effect. Emotion, 6(2), 193-207. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.6.2.193 LINK

Horstmann, G., Borgstedt, K., & Heumann, M. (2006). Flanker effects with faces may depend on perceptual as well as emotional differences. Emotion, 6(1), 28-39. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.6.1.28 LINK.

Horstmann, G., Scharlau, I., & Ansorge, U. (2006). More efficient rejection of happy than angry face distractors in visual search. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13(6), 1067-1073. doi:10.3758/bf03213927 PDF

Hegel, F., Spexard, T., Vogt, T., Horstmann, G., & Wrede, B. (2006). Playing a different imitation game: Interaction with an Emphatic Android Robot. 6th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, 56-61. doi:10.1109/ICHR.2006.321363 LINK

Meyer, W.U. & Horstmann, G. (2006). Emotion. In K. Pawlik (Hrsg.), Handbuch der Psychologie (pp. 231-238). Heidelberg: Springer.

Scharlau, I. & Horstmann, G. (2006). Perceptual latency priming and illusory line motion: Facilitation by gradients of attention? Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 2(1), 87-97. doi:10.2478/v10053-008-0047-7 PDF.

Scharlau, I., Ansorge, U., & Horstmann, G. (2006). Latency facilitation in temporal-order judgments: Time course of facilitation as a function of judgment type. Acta Psychologica, 122(2), 129-159. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2005.10.006 LINK


Horstmann, G. (2005). Attentional capture by an unannounced color singleton depends on expectation discrepancy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31(5), 1039-1060. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.31.5.1039 LINK.

Ansorge, U., Horstmann, G., & Carbone, E. (2005). Top-down contingent capture by color: Evidence from RT distribution analyses in a manual choice reaction task. Acta Psychologica, 120(3), 243-266. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2005.04.004


Reisenzein, R. und Horstmann, G. (2005). Emotionen. In H. Spada, Lehrbuch Allgemeine Psychologie (pp. 435-500). Bern: Huber.


Horstmann, G. (2003). The psychological refractory period of stopping. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 29(5), 965-981. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.29.5.965 LINK

Horstmann, G (2003). What do facial expressions convey: Feeling states, behavioral intentions, or action requests? Emotion, 3(2), 150-166. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.3.2.150 LINK


Horstmann, G. (2002). Evidence for attentional capture by a surprising color singleton in visual search. Psychological Science, 13(6), 499-505. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00488 LINK

Horstmann, G. (2002). Facial expressions of emotion: Does the prototype represent central tendency, frequency of instantiation, or an ideal? Emotion, 2(3), 297-305. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.2.3.297 LINK

2001 and earlier

Horstmann, G. (2001). Judgements of typicality and frequency of facial expressions of emotion. In K. J. Jonas, P. Breuer, B. Schauenberg, & M. Boos (Hrsg.), Perspectives on Internet research: Concepts and Methods. URL:

Schützwohl, A. & Horstmann, G. (1999). Überraschung, Handlungsunterbrechung und Schemarevision. In M. Jerusalem & R. Pekrun (Hrsg.), Emotion, Motivation und Leistung (pp. 65-77). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Horstmann, G. & Schützwohl, A. (1998). Der Einfluss der Verknüpfungsstärke von Schemaelementen auf die Stärke der Überraschungsreaktion. Zeitschrift für Experimentelle Psychologie, 45(3), 203-217. PDF

Wulf, G., Horstmann, G., & Choi, B. (1995). Does mental practice work like physical practice without information feedback? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 66(3), 262-267. doi:10.1080/02701367.1995.10608841 LINK


  • 2014 Professor at the Psychology Department, Bielefeld University
  • Since May 2011: Organizing Assistent to the ZiF Research Group Competition and Priority Control in Mind and Brain
  • 2006-2011 Temporary Professorships at the Psychology Departments of the Universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg & Bielefeld, Germany
  • 2002-2011 Lecturer (wissenschaftlicher Assistent), Department Psychology, Bielefeld University (C1)


  • 2007 Habilitation Degree for Psychology, Bielefeld University, Germany; Habilitation thesis on Action interrruption and orienting of attention elicited by expected and unexpected stimulus changes
  • 2001 Dr. phil., Department Psychology, Bielefeld University, Germany; Doctoral thesis on The interrupt function of surprise: A new experimental paradigm and a test of the automaticity hypothesis
  • 1996 Diploma study program 'Psychology', Bielefeld University, Germany

Current Administrative Activities

  • Head of the MSc Psychology student selection committee
  • Coordinater for BSc Psychology Module Perception and Cognition
  • Coordinater for BSc Psychology Module Experimental Practicum
  • Coordinater for MSc Psychology Module Experimental Seminar
  • Coordinater for BSc Cognitive Informatics Module Perception & Cognition
  • Coordinater for BSc Sport Sciences Module Neuro-Cognitive Psychology
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