Psychology Web Module Notes
Attention allows you to navigate through a crowded world brimming with information and
distractions; you need the ability to focus your attention for more than just crossing a busy
Selection- attending to something causes the object of attention to be selected apart from the
rest of the unattended objects.
Attention also refers to our conscious ability to attend to the information that is relevant to our
We are remarkably adapt at distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant information in the
environment. The irrelevant information in the environment acts as noise that can make it
difficult to identify and attend to important information.
Automatic and Controlled Attention
Automatic- involuntary, fast and efficient
Controlled- conscious, slow and effortful
Automatic processes are triggered involuntarily by external events and trigger the “capture” of
Controlled processes guide attention voluntarily and consciously to objects to interest.
It’s difficult to consciously attend to many aspects of the task-environment at the same time
because the resources for controlled processes are limited.
In automatic attention, some of the cues seem to be more noticeable and lead to stronger and
quicker association when paired with events. This is the notion of salience.
A salient piece of information is one that appears to naturally pop-out at you.
There is a second type of automatic process related to learning; example: driving, at first it
seems difficult and requires a lot of attention, but as you get better it becomes automatic.
The Spotlight Model
A spotlight illuminates a key part of the visual scene and focuses where you look (focuses on
only part of the environment at a time).
As your attention moves around your field of vision, objects falling within the spotlight are
processed preferentially: you can respond to objects faster and greater accuracy.
Spatial Cueing Paradigm
Experimentally manipulate the attentional spotlight
Flashing box serves as a cue for your attention; the target can then follow in either the cued or
If a target appeards in the cued location= amplify the perceptual processing of that target and it
will be detected quickly. Opposite if the target doesn’t appear in the location that the spotlight
This translates into a measurable difference in target detection in target detection in the cued
and uncued trials.
Under many circumstances, consciously controlled shifts of attention can lead to faster
responses to targets that appear in the location indicated by the cue than to targets that appear
opposite the location indicated by the cue. In all of these experiments on spatial cueing, the predictive cues lead to faster detection times
even though the subjects don’t have time to move their eyes to the cued location before making
The ability to single out one specific cue that stands out from the rest of the cues trying to get
Cocktail effect- in which subjects were asked to listen to two different messages played from a
single loudspeaker at the same time. Subjects tried to separate the messages, repeating one
but not the other, in a so called “shadowing” task.
Filter models suggest that attention helps ignore the grass and allows the flower to continue on
for further processing.
Broadbent’s Single Filter Model
Broadbent used data from behavioural experiments to infer the functional stages of cognitive
The attentional filter selects important information on the basis of physical characteristics, and
allows that information to continue on for further processing.
Information that does not pass through the early physical filter was assumed to be completely
eliminated and unav