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Psychology 2135A/B Lecture Notes - Daniel Kahneman, Visual Search, Circular Reasoning

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Robert Brown

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Lecture 5 - Attention
- really hard to define, even operationally
What is Attention?
- William James had a reasonable definition
- two different systems:
- Focal attention - controlled internally by intentions and goals
- Automatic attention - controlled externally by sensory events that demand attention
Attention is about choice
- more on focal attention
- some things relevant to survival
- before choose what to attend to, how do we select it on a basis without attention
- what information can be gotten from stimulus without attention so that we know to attend to it
- based on physical qualities like colour or direction of movement [meaning of object is not
considered]? or abstract qualities like name or categories [select based on meaning]
Choice can be governed by what is out there in the world
- behaviourist view; behaviour controlled by things in world
- earliest cognitive models adopted this
Broadbent's early filter model
- early is soon after stimulus occurs; before much processing has occurred
- shape, size, colour, direction of movement generated; not meaning
- filter means only one stimuli will be processed for meaning and other stimuli will be ignored;
physical characteristics may be processed
- Evidence:
- dichotic listening studies; participants only able to report on physical aspects of voice
on ignored track but unable to report on meaning
- Split-span task: separate series of 3 digits in each ear; simultaneous pairs of digits
sounded; people better reporting by ear, like right ear first then left, than by pairs; easy to pickup
physical properties; filter messages on which channel they come in
- respond to the loudest, brightest, etc. stimulus
- not much more complex than standard stimulus-response theories
Problems with Broadbent's model
- some people fail in attempt to select input attention on some physical basis; i.e. Stroop
effect; colour words printed in different ink, respond on word, not colour
- some people get meaning information about stimuli that appear in unattended channel;
i.e. produce conditioned response with word and electric shock, conditioned response will occur
on some occasions even if words appear in unattended ear
- when messages change mid-sentence, people continued to shadow original message
after it was switched; not supposed to have meaning in that ear
Treisman's Attenuation model
- can give more or less attention to a stimulus; not all or nothing
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