PSYCH 1X03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Dazed, Emergency Vehicle

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10 Feb 2016
Department
Professor
November 03.2014
Attention
Introduction:
attention allows you to navigate through a crowded world brimming with information and
distractions
without the ability to focus your limited processing resources, you wouldn't be able to carry on
a meaningful conversation, learn new things, and etc
William James:
the study of attention covers a seemingly wide range of topics, and psychologists have found
it challenging to put forth a single all encompassing operational definition
James wrote about the topic of attention and defined it as a taking possession by the mind in
clear and vivid form, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed state.
Selection:
attending to something causes the object of attention to be selected apart from the rest of the
unattended objects
i.e. when you first put on your clothes, you can feel the fabric as it touches your skin
but as you go on with your day you are no longer aware of these sensations as they
fade into the background noise of stimuli competing for your attention.
some stimuli in the environment can trigger your attention in an automatic fashion , i.e. if
someone flashes something bright in your periphery, you cant help but have our
attention drawn to it.
attention also refers to our conscious ability to attend to the information that is relevant to our
goals
you are actively selection where to focus your attention everyday
we are remarkably adept at distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant information in the
environment
sometimes the noise may overwhelm the signals and trigger distraction, i.e. looking for a lost
friend amongst a busy crowd
Automatic and Controlled Attention:
Automatic:
-processes triggerred involuntarily by external events
-assumed to operate in a fast, efficient, and obligatory manner
-intimately lined with concepts of learning
-some cues may seem to be more noticeable and lead to stronger and quicker
association when paired with events (notion of salience)
-salient piece of information is one that appears to naturally pop out at you i.e its hard
to miss the loud sounds and flashing lights of an emergency vehicle, this
information captures your attention with and without you intention
-
Controlled:
-guide attention voluntarily and consciously to objects of interest
-operate slowly, because they are assumed to require more cognitive effort
-i.e while driving you consciously choose to pay attention to many aspects of the
environment to guide this goal directed behaviour. YOU choose when to make
lane changes, speed up, slow down, engage in a conversation or change the radio
station.
-so why do you turn down the radio when you are looking for a new address or make an
important driving decision?” its difficult to consciously attend to many aspects of the
task environment at the same time because the resources for controlled
processes are limited
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