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Sensation & Perception

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Chapter 3, Week 4- Sensation and Perception

Susan M. Jackson Professor Covington PSY P103 February 4, 2013

Chapter 3, Week 4- Sensation and Perception
Question: See Stroop website, take the fun test, record your score and answer the following questions. In what way might you apply what you've learned to your everyday life? Are there examples of the Stroop effect you've observed in the real world? For this forum, I decided to take the Stroop test. I tested on word set #1, and it took me 10.664 seconds to correctly identify the words, regardless of their color. In word set #2, it took me 23.967 seconds to identify the colors regardless of the word. The website stated that there are two theories that could explain the Stroop effect, and that is either The Speed of Processing theory, which says that the interference takes place because words are read faster than colors are named, or, The Selective Attention Theory, which says that the interference happens because naming colors requires more attention than reading words (Neuroscience for kids, 1996-2012). I decided to investigate this test further, so I Google searched “The Stroop Effect”, and came upon a website that mentioned Directed Attention, so I Googled that as well, and ended up looking at a website, http://www.troutfoot.com, which discusses Directed Attention Fatigue and Restoration. The website states that if one does too much concentrating, directed attention can fatigue, and in cases of the extreme, directed attention can quite possibly fail! There are several names for directed attention; concentration, effortful attention, and focus. We tend to use this kind of attention when we are sticking to a task regardless of both distraction and boredom, but to continuously do so can have consequences. (Fan, 2001). We need Directed Attention to when we want to ignore distractions, like reading a book while the television or the radio is playing in the background. We also need Directed Attention when we plan things and need to stick to those plans and follow through with them, and not just let our minds continuously wander. Without Directed Attention, while we may not waste away from hunger, or get hit by an oncoming vehicle (as another kind of attention, called involuntary attention or fascination handles this), but we would have more complications with studying, working, and even socializing effectively. The site continues the explanation of Directed Attention by stating that it is inhibitory attention, in other words, it does not work by turning up certain thoughts, instead it makes other, perhaps less significant thoughts quiet down, or become subdued. (Fan, 2001). In addition, the website also states that learning to use our voluntary directed attention system is one of the major mental tasks of childhood. We are taught at an early age to repeatedly focus and/or pay attention! By the time we reach school age, we are expected to be able to sit still and stay with a project regardless of anything that might be happening around us. We learn to stifle any responses to attractive temptations and situations, and concentrate on whatever task is at hand. Directed Attention allows us to learn, relate, associate and plan. When Directed Attention system is functioning soundly, we may feel prepared, and even motivated, and may not even notice anything about our responsiveness to attention at all (Fan, 2001).

On the other hand, the site also says if Direct Attention is fatigued or compromised in any way, we may become short-tempered, out-of-focus, and feel lost (this happens to me in math class!). We are most likely to notice our own Directed Attention when it starts to wane, at those times we may sometimes feel irritated, or confused, and have trouble making assessments. After reading all of this, I began to have a better understanding of things like the Stroop test, and also of ADD and ADHD. If I personally have trouble concentrating on things I hate, e.g. math, and trouble concentrating in general (I believe I may be seeing my doctor about this! I have many of the symptoms of ADD!), then I can imagine how it must feel for someone suffering from either of these conditions! I could also see how Direct Attention might be impaired if an individual has any type of mental/emotional disorder and or developmental disability.

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