Attention: Cognitive Influences

In 1880, William James famously defined attention as the mind taking possession of one out of several simultaneously possible objects or train of thoughts. The modern study of attention continues to work within this broad definition. It is generally accepted that an individual is only aware of a small fraction of the information provided to the brain by the sensory systems. Attention is the name given to the process that governs which material enters awareness and which does not. This entry focuses on how cognitive factors—goals and expectations of an observer—influence visual attention.

Whether a given stimulus is attended depends both on its inherent salience and the state of the observer. The interplay between these two factors is exemplified by the following two situations: (1) Imagine ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles