L7/8 - Attention Flashcards Preview

PSYC1020 - Introduction to Psychology - Minds, Brains and Behaviour > L7/8 - Attention > Flashcards

Flashcards in L7/8 - Attention Deck (7):


  • Cognitive paradigm
  • Scientific method used (observation-theory recursion and reinforcement)
  • Experimental method (i.v.- d.v. to test causal theories)


Components of Attention:

  • Selectivity
  • Capacity
  • Alertness/Arousal


Selective attention tasks:

The ability to differentially process, perceive and respond to one of the several sources of information available

  • The “cocktail party phenomenon” – Collin cherry
    • If you’re in a social situation, it is intuitively obvious to us that we can select or turn our attention without much physical change
  • General research strategy: Selective Attention Tasks
  • Presented with 2 stimuli
  • E.g. Dichotic Listening Tasks: certain words being played into one ear while other words are played in the other ear... then the subject is asked to ‘shadow’ or repeat the words from one of the ears
    • The more distinct the two sources, the easier selectivity is


Theories of Selective Attention:

Broadbent’s Filter Theory

  • Early selection theory or “Serial Processing
  • Though a lot of sensory information will be picked up, only stimuli being attended to will be perceived and memorised to be responded to
  • Filter protects against information overload
  • Required for attentional processes

Deutsch and Deutsch (1963)

  • Late selection theory or “Parallel Processing
  • Found that one's own name will be processed regardless of attention along with any other surrounding stimuli
  • All stimuli is registered (as individual words rather than sentences), perceived and encoded in memory before being filtered (awareness is occurs later)
  • Disproves Broadbent's theory that unattended information is always filtered out
  • Further evidenced by dichotic listening task where a classically conditioned response could be elicited even when person could not recall hearing the conditioned stimulus
  • Required for automatic processes



  • Limitations in the ability to process, perceive and respond to several sources of information simultaneously
  • Divided attention tasks
    • Dual task performance: Subjects perform tasks individually and at the same time
    • Tasks that require attentional capacity will interfere with each other (e.g. mobile use and driving both have high attentional aspects and thus will interact)



  • The variable amount of “mental energy” or “processing power” available (fluctuations within us)
    • Manipulate arousal (drugs, sleep etc.) and measure performance (usually physiologically via HeartRate, sweating, pupil diameter etc.)
    • Pupil size is an index of how hard we are thinking (dilation = harder thinking); more attracted to larger pupil size because we think that the person is thinking about us
  • Yerkes-Dodson Law: Performance is at a peak at an intermediate level of arousal (introvert/extravert dependant)
    • Past that peak, further stimulation is inhibitory to performance; better to reduce arousal (unless you're an extravert)


Attentional (Conscious, Controlled, Analytical) vs Automatic (Unintentional) Processes:

  • More practice can result in a loss of control/awareness of process (e.g. can't not know 2+2 even if our life dependent on it; can't say which lace goes in front of the other when tying shoes)
  • Awareness can make automatic processes attentional
  • Practice can make attentional processes automatic