The term salient refers to anything (person, behavior, trait, etc.) that is prominent, conspicuous, or otherwise noticeable compared with its surroundings. Salience is usually produced by novelty or unexpectedness, but can also be brought about by shifting one's attention to that feature. Salience usually depends on context. A child would not be particularly salient at his or her school, but would be at a nursing home. The act of crying would not be salient at a funeral, but would be at a job interview. A salient feature can be thought of as the “figure” that stands out against the “ground” of all other nonsalient features.


Humans have a limited ability to process information; they cannot attend to every aspect of a situation. Salience determines which information ...

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