Chapter 4 Textbook

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Published on 8 Mar 2011
Paying Attention
Chapter 4
Selective Attention
We usually focus our attention on one or a few tasks or events rather than many
We shut out other competing tasks
At any given moment, awareness encompasses only a tiny proportion of the stimuli, impinging
on their sensory system”
Dichotic listening
oA person listens to an audiotape over a set of headphones
Different messages are heard simultaneously in opposite ears (message speed
is increased)
Listener is asked to repeat (shadow) one of the messages
They are then asked to say what information they remember from either of the
oBinaural presentation when both messages can be heard in both ears
When messages are at normal speed, people have no trouble shadowing the message
Participants cannot recall the unattended message
Filter Theory (Broadbent) EARLY
There are limits on how much information a person can attend to at any given time
oPerson uses attentional filter to let some information through and block the rest
The filter is based on some physical aspect of the attended message (loudness,
Filter selects information for later processing
The meaning from an unattended message is simply not processed
oAttentional filter selects what message to process early before the meaning of the
message is identified
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Paying Attention
Chapter 4
oIt should not be possible to recall any of the meaning of the unattended message
Messages that contain little information or when presented slowly can be presented
Filter protects us from information overload
Cocktail party effect shadowing performance is disrupted when ones own name is
embedded in the attended or unattended message
opeople do hear their own name in an unattended message
Moray concluded that only important material can penetrate the filter
Participants dont always hear their own name
oShadowing task does not always take 100% of ones attention
oAttention occasionally lapses and shifts to the unattended message
oDuring these lapses, name recognition occurs
Treisman two distinct messages would play in the opposite ear but would then switch ears
oParticipants would repeat same words from the unattended ear
Wood + Cowan attentional shift to the unattended message is unintentional and completed
without awareness
oLower working memory capacity less ability to actively block the unattended
Less able to focus
Attenuation Theory MIDDLE
Some meaningful information in unattended messages might still be available, even if hard to
Incoming messages are subjected to three kinds of analysis
1. Physical properties (pitch, loudness) are analyzed
2. Linguistic (syllables and words)
3. Semantic (meaning of the message)
FIRE low threshold easily recognizable at low volumes
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