Critically review the evidence supporting Schneider & Shiffrin’s model of automation and evaluate the extent to which it explains evidence from studies of divided attention.
In everyday speech we use the word attention to include several kinds of mental activity. Psychologists also use the word in many different contexts. Attention can refer to the kind of concentration on a mental task in which you select certain kinds of perceptual stimuli for further processing, while trying to exclude other interfering stimuli (Shapiro, 1994). For example, when you take a written examination you concentrate on the visual stimuli contained in the exam, excluding other sensory information, such as the many small movements in your peripheral vision from fellow students and many other insignificant sounds and smells in the room.
Attention can also refer to being prepared to receive further information. For instance, being told to pay particular attention to an important announcement. Attention is an ongoing mental process and is applied to so many everyday contexts that is it difficult to define the lines between the different kinds of attention which occur. Using the exam as an example again, you may think that you are concentrating solely on the written text on the page but surely it is not possible to exclude all the unwanted stimuli which is present in the room, such as other students asking to go to the toilet or opening a drink or coughing etc. It may be our best intention to concentrate on the one task that is our goal to complete but how can we physically ignore so many other stimuli? I will look at some models of attention and evaluate the evidence from studies of these models to better understand the concept of attention and the divisions within it. I also intend to answer some basic questions such as, why can we do some tasks simultaneously but not other? And, is attention capacity fixed?
Early studies of attention include methodologies such as dichotic...
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