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Illustrating a Personal Experience using a Psychological Concept - Essay Example

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In this paper, I will attempt illustrate a psychological concept drawing upon a personal experience. The concept to be so elucidated is the concept of "selective attention". Selective attention is a phenomenon that occurs and is observed when personal focus is directed toward one particular stimulus, to the exclusion of others, in an environment containing diverse stimuli…
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Illustrating a Personal Experience using a Psychological Concept
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Download file to see previous pages The atmosphere was quite noisy and listening to a friend was proving difficult, especially since so many other people were directing comments my way. However, I realized over time that I was listening to my friend relate problems with her boyfriend to the exclusion of others around me, who were insistently seeking my attention. In retrospect, I think this was quite a feat-not just for the emotional support it offered my friend, but also because I was able to pay attention to her exclusively. Psychologically, this illustrates the concept of selective attention, since I was able to narrow down my field of experience to the voice of one person, in a room while ignoring others. This was a focus on a single facet of all the possible experiences I could have had in that room.
There are psychological explanations of selective attention. The subject was first broached by William James (1890) when he opines the phenomenon the phenomenon to be a perpetual presence. According to James, "without selective interest, experience is an utter chaos". In the next century, the Dutch chess master and psychologist, Adrian de Groot (1965) provided the next wave of research into this topic by providing evidence for what would later become capacity models for explaining selective attention. In his landmark study, de Groot reported that chess players who were stopped in the middle of game and then asked to reconstruct the position of the chess pieces on the board achieved rates of success commensurate with their game abilities. When players were faced with a new board and randomly assigned pieces, there was no significantly different rate of success.
Capacity models of selective attention developed from this which asserted that humans have a limited amount of memory to assign to given tasks. Tasks, the theory asserts, are deposited in long term memory as chunks; units that represent familiarity and similarity with the stimulus being encountered. Crucial developments on this theory evolved in the form of the "bottleneck" models of attention. These models asserted that diverse stimuli converge on human sensors through various Y shaped channels. The arms of the Y represent the information source, while the tail represents the pattern recognition stage. The filter model of attention was combined with the bottleneck model to provide a theory that asserts that information sources as represented by the arms of the Y posses filters just before the pattern recognition stage (Broadbent, 1958). This model suggests that psychological filters oscillate back and forth along information channels blocking particular sources and allowing information from only one source through. Latter developments on this include attenuation (Treisman, 1964) and multimode models. The attenuation model as coupled to the filtered-bottleneck theory elucidates on the nature of the psychological filter-averring it to distinguish between sources and content on the basis of physical characteristics such as intensity and pitch.
In the 1970s, multimode additions to this theory proposed modes, or stages of filtering. These additions basically proposed that the action of psychological fil ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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