Day 7 of getting introduced to Psychology

What is attention?

“Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind in clear and vivid form of one out of what seem several simultaneous objects or trains of thought… It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal with others.”

‐ William James, 1890

Characteristics of attention

  • Attention is a gatekeeper to perception and knowledge
  • Attention is very limited- we process very few things at a time and end up missing out on a LOT
  • There are unconscious processes that pick up information. So sometimes things we don’t notice end us influencing us.

Experiment (1)

This showcases that even though we aren’t entirely paying attention with both our ears we can notice a few discrepancies.
At the same time, even though we’re been given information in both ears, we end up neglecting a lot of information.

Cocktail party effect

Imagine being in a party talking to a few people and you suddenly hear your name
Weirdly enough, some kinds of things we don’t pay enough attention to have such a property that in a machine-like reflexive way our mind processes it anyway.

But again, there are certain downsides of having a reflexive mind.

Stroop effect

It is easy naming the words printed in the same color. It is easy, automatic reading.

It is harder to read out colors that the words are printed in because of conflict between automatic reading process and controlled print naming.

Experiment (2)

Objects/events have different features for example color and shape.
To notice differences within only one feature is very easy and trivial for us humans but to glue the said features together requires attention.

Spotting a red X here

Vs spotting a red X over here

Experiment (3)

If your mind is tuned to something, you brain gets fuzzy to the other things that are not it.

For example, add the digits showcased on the screen

You wouldn’t pay attention to the alphabets between it. Essentially, Controlled features blind perception to coherent perceptions.

To sum it all up

Do you ever get distracted when you are supposed to be focused? Why do we pay attention to something? How are we able to pay attention to certain things while ignoring others? Attention is present in almost all domains of human thought and feeling and the world we attend around us is weirder than we think. I learnt about visual attention and explored how certain things can captivate our attention.

Stay tuned for more!



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