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Chapter 4

Cognitive Psychology - In and Out of the Laboratory: Chapter 4

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Psychology 2135A/B
Robert Brown

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 important? - 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 - late-selection theory: all messages are routinely processed for at least some aspects of meaning, attentional selection occurs after this routine processing - importance depends on many factors; context, personal significance, level of alertness - the amount of processing is at least the recognition of familiar objects of stimuli Attention, Capacity, and Mental Effort - attention as a set of cognate processes for categorizing and recognizing stimuli - more complex the stimulus, harder the processing, more attentional resources needed - people have some control over mental resources; choose what to focus - individual uses mental capacity on different tasks; many factors influence allocation of capacity, which depends on extent and type of mental resources available - availability of mental resources is affected by overall arousal level, or state of alertness - arousal leads to more cognitive resources available to devote to various tasks; more difficulty creates more arousal - we pay more attention to things we are interested in, in the mood for, or have judged important - limitations on available data as well as concentration affect ability to perform tasks Automaticity and the Effects of Practice - becoming well-practiced in doing something results in less attention to perform - some factors that affect the capacity a task requires are difficulty and familiarity The Stroop Effect - Stroop effect: list of colours printed in a different colour; name the ink colours - literate people read so quickly and effortlessly that not reading words is hard - response that requires no attention and cannot be inhibited called automatic - view has been challenged; results show word reading depends on attention Automatic versus Attentional (Controlled) Processing - automatic processing: three criteria: occur without intention; occur without involving conscious awareness; not interfere with other mental activity - easier to find target among array of different distracters, no matter number of distracters - when target and distracters are of same type, more distracters make it harder - automatic processing used for easy tasks
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