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Chapter 4

Chapter 4. Paying Attention

Course Code
Gabriela Ilie

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Selective attention: the focusing of cognitive resources on one or a small number of tasks to the exclusion of others.
Sometimes the tapes are recorded so that both messages are heard in both ears -called binaural presentation.
Dichotic listening task: a task in which a person hears two or more different, specially recorded messages over
earphones and is asked to attend to one of them.
Based on some physical aspect of the attended message: the location of its source and its typical pitch or
In other words, the filter selects information for later processing.
Protects us from information overload by shutting out messages when we hear too much information to process
all at once.
Filter theory: a theory of attention proposing that information that exceeds the capacity of a processor to process at any
given time is blocked from further processing.
Name recognition occurs during attention lapses.
They believed that the participants who noticed the backward speech had their attention "captured" by
the backward speech, which led to poorer performance on the main shadowing task.
Lower working-memory capacity means less ability to actively block the unattended message (less
able to focus).
Research participants who detect their name in the unattended message are those who have a lower
working-memory span.
Wood and Cowan concluded that the attentional shift to the unattended message was unintentional and
completed without awareness.
The cocktail party effect shows that people sometimes do hear their own name in an unattended message or
conversation, and hearing their name will cause them to switch their attention to the previously unattended message.
First the physical properties, such as pitch or loudness.
Second the analysis is linguistic, a process of parsing the message into syllables and words.
Third is semantic, processing the meaning of the message.
Incoming messages are subjected to three kinds of analysis.
Some words such as "Fire!" or "Watch out!" have permanently lower thresholds, we can recognize our own
names with little mental effort.
Priming: the facilitation in responding t one stimulus as a function of prior exposure to another stimulus.
Context of the word in a message can temporarily lower its threshold, in that case the word is primed.
If two messages differ in physical characteristics, then we process both messages only to this level and
easily reject the unattended message.
If two messages differ only semantically, we process both through the level of meaning and select which
message to attend to based on this analysis.
People process only as much as is necessary to separate the attended from the unattended message.
Attenuation theory allows for many different kinds of analyses of all messages, whereas filter theory allows
for only one.
Filter theory holds that unattended messages, once processed for physical characteristics, are discarded
and fully blocked; attenuation theory holds that unattended messages are weakened but the information
they contain is still available.
Differences between attenuation and filter theories:
Attenuation theory: a model of attention in which unattended perceptual events are transmitted in weakened form but
not blocked completely before being processed for meaning.
The message's importance depends on many factors, including its context and the personal significance of certain
kinds of content (such as your name).
Also relevant is the observer's level of alertness.
Late-selectiontheory: a model of attention in which all perceptual messages, whether attended or not, are processed
for some meaning.
The availability of mental resources is affected by the overall level of arousal, or state of alertness.
Arousal affects our capacity for tasks.
Allocation policy is affected by an individual's enduring dispositions, momentary intentions, and evaluation of the
demands on one's capacity.
This model predicts that we pay more attention to things we are interested in, are in the mood for, or have
judged important.
Attention is "mental effort", the more effort expended, the more attention we are using.
In Kahneman'smodel, attention is depicted by the allocation of mental resources to various cognitive tasks.
Stroop effect: a task invented by J. R. Stroop in which a subject sees a list of words (colour terms) printed in an ink colour
that differs from the word named (for example, green printed in blue ink). The subject is asked to name the ink colours
Chapter 4. Paying Attention
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
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