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Chapter 4

Psychology 2135A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Automaticity, Parsing, Stroop Effect

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Robert Brown

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Chapter 4 - Attention
Selective Attention
- selective attention: usually focus attention on one or a few tasks rather than many
- to focus our resources means we at least process less information from other competing tasks
- process information differently depending on how we actively focus on a stimulus
- dichotic listening task: task where person hears two or more different recorded messages over
earphones and is asked to attend to one of them
- people were able to give general descriptions of unattended message i.e. gender of speaker,
speech or noise; but not specifics i.e. the whole message, language
Filter Theory
- filter theory: limits on how much information a person can attend to at any given time
- filter to select which stimuli to process further; process its meaning
- protects us from information overload
- predicts all unattended messages will be filtered out
- cocktail party effect counters this; people switch attention when their name is said in
unattended message
- possible that filter allows important material through from unattended messages; what is
- name recognition occurred 33% of the time so possible that attention lapses and shifts to the
unattended message, which is when name recognition occurs
- when messages were switched in dichotic testing, people always processed unattended message
when they switched; difficult to explain with lapses theory
- another possibility is that people basing selection of which message to attend to at least in part
on the meaning of message
- most participants had no idea the passages were switched
- attentional shift to unattended message appears unintentional and completed without awareness
- people who detect their name in unattended messages are those who have lower working-
memory (harder to focus so less ability to block unattended message)
Attenuation Theory
- attenuation theory: unattended messages are received in weakened form but not blocked
completely before being processed for meaning
- incoming messages subjected to three kinds of analysis
- first is physical properties i.e. pitch, loudness
- second is linguistic; parsing message into syllables and words
- third is semantic; processing the meaning
- some meaningful units tend to be processed easily
- words with subjective importance like name or that signal danger have low thresholds
- primed: responding to a stimulus as a function of prior exposure to another stimulus
- context of a word in a message can temporarily lower its threshold; word is primed
- only process as much as necessary to separate attended from unattended
- if messages differ semantically, more effort needed so can recall parts of unattended
Late-Selection Theory
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