In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning and Definition of Attention 2. Types of Attention 3. Determinants.
Meaning and Definition of Attention:
Attention is the term used or given to the perceptual processes that select certain inputs for inclusion in our conscious experience, or awareness at any given time. It is the process involving the act of listening, and concentrating on a topic, object or event for the attainment of desired ends.
“Attention is the concentration of consciousness upon one object other than upon another”—Dumville.
“Attention is the process of getting an object or thought clearly before the mind”—Ross.
“Attention is being keenly alive to some specific factors in our environment. It is a preparatory adjustment for response”—Morgan.
Thus attention is essentially process and not a product. It helps in our awareness or consciousness of our environment, which is of selective kind, because in a given time, we can concentrate or focus our consciousness on a particular object only.
The concentration provided by the process of attention helps us in the clarity of the perception of the perceived object or phenomenon. Thus attention is not merely a cognitive factor but is essentially determined by emotions, interest, attitude and memory.
Thus attention is a process which is carried out through cognitive abilities and helped by emotional and behavioural factors to select something out of the various stimuli present in one’s environment and bring it in the centre of one’s consciousness in order to perceive it clearly for deriving the desired end.
Types of Attention:
Varieties are zeroed (nullified) by classification of Ross.
According to him attention is branched with:
(a) Non-volitional or Involuntary Attention:
This type of attention is aroused without the play of will. Here we attend to an object or condition without making any conscious effort, e.g. a mother’s attention towards her crying child, for example, attention towards the members of the opposite sex, and towards bright colours, etc.
The attention which is aroused by the instincts is called “enforced non-volitional attention”. A young man when we remark on his sex instinct or his curiosity, he becomes quite attentive in his task.
The other subtype of non-volitional attention, produced by the sentiments is called “spontaneous non-volitional attention”. It is the result of properly developed sentiment, towards the object, or idea of a person around which our sentiments are formed with.
(b) Volitional or Voluntary Attention:
When the ‘exercised will’ is called upon, it becomes volitional attention. Because it demands the conscious efforts on our part it is least automatic and spontaneous like that of non-volitional attention. Attention payed at the time of solving an assigned problem of mathematics, answering question in an examination hall and so on comes under volitional attention category.
Volitional attention is further subdivided into two categories:
i. A single act of volition is sufficient to bring about attention in the case of implicit attention, e.g. for single act of will can arouse attention.
ii. In explicit volitional attention we need repeated acts of will to sustain it, e.g. here attention is obtained by repeated acts of will.
Determinants of Attention:
One of two types.
1. External factors or condition
2. Internal factors
I. External Factors or Condition:
These conditions are generally those characteristics of outside situation or stimuli which make the strongest aid for capturing our attention.
These can be classified as:
1. Nature of the stimulus:
All types of stimuli are not able to bring the same degree of attention. A picture attracts attention more readily than words. Among the pictures, the pictures of human beings invite more attention and those of human beings related to beautiful women or handsome men, who attract more attention. In this way an effective stimulus should always be chosen for capturing maximum attention.
2. Intensity and size of the stimulus:
In comparison with the weak stimulus, the immense stimulus attracts more attention of an individual. Our attention become easily directed towards a loud sound, a bright light or a strong smell, and also a large building will be more readily attended to, than a small one.
3. Contrast, change and variety:
Change and variety strike attention more easily than sameness and absence of change, e.g. we do not notice the ticking sound of a clock put on the wall until it stops ticking, that is any change in the attention to which you have been attracted immediately capture your attention. The factor, contact or change is highly responsible for capturing attention of the organism and contributes more than the intensity, size or nature of the stimulus.
4. Repetition of stimulus:
Repetition is the factor of great importance in securing attention. Because one may ignore a stimulus at first instance, but if it is repeated for several times it captures our attention, e.g. a miss-spelled word is more likely to be noticed, if it occurs twice in the same paragraph than, if it occurs only once. While giving lecture the important aspects of the speech are often repeated so that the attention of the audience can be easily directed to the valuable points.
5. Movement of the stimulus:
The moving stimulus catches our attention more quickly than a stimulus that does not move. We are more sensitive to objects that move in our field of vision, e.g. advertisers make use of this fact and try to catch the attention of people through moving electric lights.
Duration and Degree of Attention:
People may possess the ability to grasp a number of objects or in other words, to attend a number of stimuli in one short “presentation”. This ability of an individual is evaluated in terms of the span of attention, which differs from person to person and even situation to situation.
The term “span of attention” is designed in terms of the quality, size extent to which the perceptual field of an individual can be effectively organized in order to enable him to attain a number of things in a given spell of short duration.
II. Internal or Subjective Factors:
These factors predispose the individual to respond to objective factors, to attend to those activities that fulfill his desires and motives and suit his interest and attitude. It is the mental state of the perceiver.
Some of the subjective factors are:
Interest is said to be the mother of attention. We attend to objects in which we have interest. We would like to watch a movie or a serial in TV because we are interested in the subject around which the movie or serial revolves. In any get-together if any subject of our interest is discussed that attracts our attention easily and makes us to participate in the discussion. In our day-to-day life we pay attention to the stimulus we are interested in.
Our basic needs and motives to a great extent, determine our attention, thirst, hunger, sex, curiosity, fear are some of the important motives that influence attention, e.g. small children get attracted towards eatables.
3. Mind set:
Person’s readiness to respond determines his attention. If we are expecting a stimulus, occurrence of that stimulus along with many other stimuli may not come in the way of attending to that particular stimulus. At a time when students are expecting the examination time table by the end of the semester the time table put out on the notice board along with other notices would attract their attention easily.
4. Moods and attitudes:
What we attend to is influenced by the moods and attitudes. When we are disturbed or in angry mood, we notice the smallest mistake of others very easily. Likewise our favourable and unfavourable attitudes also determine our attention. After discussing subjective and objective factors, we realize that these factors are interrelated. How much or in what way we attend to a stimulus depends on subjective as well as objective factors.