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Chapter 3 Attention and Performance

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1 Chapter 3 Attention and Performance

2 Objectives This chapter will help you to understand the following:
Attention and its various properties and definitions Attention as a limitation in the capacity to process information Attention as a limitation in the capability to perform actions Performance under conditions of increased stress

3 What Is Attention? Attention is a resource (or pool of slightly different resources) that is available and that can be used for various purposes. The ways in which attentional resources are allocated define how we use attention. A way to think of attention is related to the limitations in doing two things at the same time.

4 Figure 3.1

5 Attention and Understanding Skilled Performance
In many skills, there is an overwhelming amount of relevant and irrelevant information that could be processed. The performer's problem is how to cope with this potential overload. (continued)

6 Attention and Understanding Skilled Performance (continued)
The performer must learn what to attend to and when to attend to it To shift attention between the following: Events in the environment Monitoring and correcting his or her own actions Planning future actions Doing many other processes that compete for the limited resources of attentional capacity

7 Parallel Processing Considering the processes occurring in the stimulus identification stage, some sensory information can be processed in parallel and without much interference—that is, without attention Different aspects of the visual display (Stroop effect) Sensory signals from the muscles and joints associated with posture and locomotion “Cocktail party” effect

8 Figure 3.2

9 Inattention Blindness
We can miss seemingly obvious features in our environment when we are engaged in attentive visual search (e.g., Simons and Chabris,1999). A number of automobile accidents seem linked to this phenomenon (e.g., “looked- but-failed-to-see” accidents).

10 Sustained Attention After a period of time, the task of concentrating on a single target of our attention becomes a progressively more difficult chore. Factors known to affect vigilance include motivation, arousal, fatigue, and environmental factors.

11 Controlled and Automatic Processing
Controlled processing is thought to be slow, attention demanding, serially organized, and volitional as a large part of conscious information processing activities Performing two information processing tasks together can completely disrupt both tasks. Automatic processing is fast, not attention demanding, organized in parallel, and involuntary.

12 Developing Automaticity
Automaticity is developed through lots of practice especially under a consistent mapping condition. Although very fast processing is effective when the environment is stable and predictable, it can lead to terrible errors when the environment changes the action at the last moment. It is most effective in closed skills.

13 Response Selection and Distracted Driving
Does distracted driving affect the response selection stage or the movement programming stage? The assumption is that the hand operation of a cell phone interferes with the operation of a motor vehicle (movement programming limitation). However, the source of the problem lies in the capacity demanded by the phone conversation (e.g., Strayer & Johnston, 2001).

14 Double Stimulation Paradigm
The subject is required to respond, with separate responses, to each of two stimuli presented very closely together in time. The delays in responding occur because of the interference that arises in programming the first and second movements as rapidly as possible.

15 Psychological Refractory Period
The motor system processes the first stimulus of two closely spaced stimuli and generates the first response. If the experimenter presents the second stimulus during the time the system is processing the first stimulus and its response, the onset of the second response can be delayed considerably.

16 Figure 3.6

17 The Probe-Task Technique
A researcher would have the subject perform one task, called the primary task. At some strategic point in the performance of the primary task, the researcher would probe the attention demanded in the main task by presenting a secondary task. Use the RT to the probe as a measure of the attention demanded by the primary task.

18 Focus of Attention During Action
Internal focus of attention (e.g., monitoring the ongoing movement) External focus of attention (e.g., a target, such as an object to be struck or the intended effect that the action will have on the environment) In almost all situations, an external focus results in more skilled performance than an internal focus of attention

19 Inverted-U Principle Arousal is the level of excitement produced under stress. The inverted-U principle represents a view of the relationship between arousal and performance. Increasing the arousal level generally enhances performance, but only to a point.

20 Figure 3.9

21 Perceptual Narrowing It is the tendency for the perceptual field to shrink under stress with high arousal. This is an important mechanism because it allows the person to devote more attention to those sources of stimuli that are immediately most likely and relevant.

22 Choking Under Pressure
Occurs when performers change their normal routine or fail to adapt to a changing situation, resulting in failed performance Attentional control theory (Eysenck et al., 2007) Change in attentional focus (e.g., Beilock 2010)

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