Definition of Attention:
"Attention is the process that, at a given moment, enhances some information and
inhibits other information. The enhancement allows us to select some information for
further processing, and the inhibition allows us to set some information aside." (Smith &
Kosslyn, 2007, p. 103)
We all intuitively understand that it means to 'pay attention' - it is to focus on something,
and ignore distraction
Our attention can be pulled away by other distractions.
o Was all of our attention pulled away by the new distraction?
o Were we just not processing our original task?
But attention has been notoriously tricky to define.
It has been used synonymously with terms such as arousal, control, and
These are all clearly very different things.
Def.: refers to the skill through which one focuses on one input or one task while
ignoring other stimuli
Although we can focus on an entire scene, we do shift into focusing on individual
sections of the scene
Shadowing : repeating an audio track back after hearing it
Dichotic listening—Different messages to each ear
o Attended channel—Listen to this one
o Unattended channel—Ignore this one
If the voice changes on the track (changing genders, for example), people can identify
this change. People don’t necessarily pick up the content of the tracks but they will pick
up the physical properties – voice change, mood change etc.
Cocktail party effect: in a room with a bunch of people talking but can still have a
conversation with another person, ignoring all of the distractions. However, if something
interesting is said in another part of the room, attention will be pulled to that. Other conversations tuned out
Unattended channel can be noticed
o The participant’s own name
o Words of high personal significance
Boost attended items and dampen unattended items
Sometimes effects of attention are so strong that we fail to see stimuli that are directly in
front of our eyes
Something is happening that has all of our focus so that we cannot pay attention
to anything else
They have to identify whether the
line was hori