This article will broadly cover two important topics – attention and perception in psychology. The topics are very important from the perspective of a psychology student.
Attention And Perception In Psychology Explained
Basically, we have seven senses among which 5 are the signs senses, that is touch – skin, taste – tongue, vision – eyes, nose – smell, and audio – ear, but there are two deep senses, that is the insight senses which are discussed/discovered apparently. These are:
1. Kinesthetic – present in ligaments, and tendons and helps in movements like dance, twists, and turns.
2. Vestibular – it is present in our ear inside the semi-cellular canal which helps in balancing, walking, and maintaining an erect posture. It has a limited range and is exploratory.
Nature Of Attention / Characteristics Of Attention
1. Conscious Process
Attention is a conscious process. It includes both the focus point and margin.
Out of the flood of information, an individual selects a limited number of attributes to attend to.
Our attention shifts from one object to another which fascinates us. It changes even when we are asleep.
Attention is a process, a motivational process because it depends upon needs and interests.
Attention is a perceptive attitude. It is related to anticipation, which means it is the reaction to an expectation.
The perceptive attitude of attention involves the receptor set(eyes focus on it), the muscular set(muscular movement towards the object), the mental set(e.g. When the mother hears the cry of her baby), and the postural set (the entire muscle system, a body position marked by escalated/increased rapid muscle tone, which is taken on reading for reaction).
Usually, these sets help with attention but at times they interfere as well.
Attention is directly proportional to purposiveness, which means the stronger the purpose, the stronger will be the attention.
7. Mental Activity
Attention involves three processes – cognitive, effective, and conative(mental will to perform).
It is like we sense a lot of things by our sense modalities, that is, by our sense organs or we can say our senses respond to only one particular event which is attention, which we are aware/we get to sense a lot of stimuli from our environment but respond to anyone, it is called attention.
Technical Definition Of Attention
The means by which we actively process/attend to the limited amount of information from enormous in presence of sensation, memories, and thought processes is known as attention.
Attention/Readiness = Sensation + Memories + Thought
Attention works at both conscious and unconscious levels.
Selective attention is when there is a strong will toward something which makes an individual focus only on a particular thing.
Cocktail Party Phenomenon
It is the brain’s ability to focus on one’s acoustic/auditory attention stimulus filtering out a range of other stimuli, when a party goes on, one can focus even in a noisy room.
Also read: Sigmund Freud On Neurosis Summary
Properties Of Attention (cognitive process)
Focusing on a particular thing. It is not just learning but also experiencing.
There is readiness when one is paying attention to something, for instance, the whistle when a race begins.
The individual quests for the targeted stimuli.
For instance, suppose you have to buy cereal or pulses and your mother has given you a list of things to purchase, you will go to the shop and start searching for that particular thing while ignoring all the other things present there.
Target Stimuli – The stimuli which are to be quested or searched are termed the target stimuli.
For instance, your mother has asked you to bring your younger brother home back from school, now you will stand at the door gate scrutinizing all the students while they are coming out. While all of these are stimuli to you, your eyes will be looking for the target stimuli.
Attention is a cognitive process in which we sense enormous things/stimuli but respond or attend to the selective ones, if we don’t do that, we won’t be able to do anything in life.
Fluctuation of Attention – Attention shifts response quickly
Consciousness = Awareness (different from attention)
So, attention and consciousness are not at all same. Consciousness is just the sensation/signal received by our modalities.
Attention requires effort and when we distribute our efforts in various different perspectives simultaneously our attention also divides, hence known as divided attention.
For example, cooking and singing.
But, you can only do this if you are an expert in any one of it.
Purpose Of Attention
1. Connects Past To Present
If you are encountered any bad experience, it gets stored somewhere in your unconscious part of the mind (as a trace only) and if you had paid attention to that at an earlier particular time, you will get a big no from your perception to stop committing the same error again.
2. Helps Make Future Plans
We learn from our experiences and learning is possible only because of attention if we attend to something carefully, we will be able to attend and make future plans and can be foresighted.
3. Gives Adaptive Values
If we do not monitor attention, then there will be less survival/adaptive value. If we do not pay attention to certain stimuli, we won’t be able to grasp or learn anything, hence, we won’t adapt the knowledge.
Concentration is a property of attention. It is divided into two parts – fringe and focal. Fringe concentration is a vague stimulus present in our mind, it is not clear/visible to ey and we are not able to attend to it. Focal concentration is when we focus on something.
5. Effort Allocation
Attending something from a pile of stimuli requires effort and it is directed toward the goal.
Concentration Tip – draw a point on the page and paste it on the table whenever you get distracted, wait on it, and then look at the point and focus again.
We pay attention according to context, personality, traits, demands, motives, personality, and requirements.
Determinants Of Attention/Factors Of Attention
We pay attention and there are various elements also which affect it and they are – external as well as internal.
External Factors Of Attention –
These are outside the situation or stimuli which make a strong bid. These include size, shape, intensity, variety, contrast, brightness, change of stimuli, and novelty.
Internal Factors Of Attention –
These include interests, something which comes from within. They are further divided into two categories, cognitive and motivational. Cognitive factors include mood, interest, attitude, mental set, and moves. Motivational factors include biological or social needs and direct or indirect attention.
Explanation Of Attention In Psychology
Attention is a cognitive process. At the time of attention, two types of processing go on in your head, and at the time of the division of attention rather.
Processing is of two types – automatic and controlled.
It is parallel processing. Multiple tasks can be performed f there is expertise in any one. Like, if you grasped something you can automatically perform it with any sort of conscious effort.
It is social processing. At one time, only one task is being performed. Like, if you learn to tie laces for the first time, you will be consciously aware but with practice, it changes to learning, and then we need not get controlled by the mental process used when we learn something new.
Division Of Attention
Attention is divided when your effort is located in more than one task, for instance, driving and singing at the same time. Two activities are involved here.
We are still working on this article. Let us know if you found it useful. Till then, you can check out our other articles Little Albert Experiment In Psychology Explained In Detail, Origin Of Health Psychology | Research In Health Psychology