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Outline and evaluate one 'early selection theory' (Broadbent or Treisman) and one 'late selection theory' (Deutsch) in focused attention.

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Introduction

Outline and evaluate one 'early selection theory' (Broadbent or Treisman) and one 'late selection theory' (Deutsch) in focused attention. One early explanation of focused attention was put forward by Broadbent. He devised a model explaining that two messages are sent to two channels, these are being the ears that represent two separate channels. Both messages are sent to the sensory buffer store. This is only a short time before the information is lost. One of the messages which have been attended goes through on the basis of physical characteristics through the filter. A channel has been selected and the bottleneck which the filter is often seen as, occurs here. The filter stops the overload of information piling on the attentional system. According to Broadbent these channels cannot be switched. The unattended message is left in the sensory buffer store and is completely lost. Key research was conducted by Broadbent on the filter model of attention. His split-span procedure involved participants having to recall digits presented to them in each ear simultaneously. ...read more.

Middle

Our attention may sometimes switch when we here our name in a nearby conversation. This was experimentally conducted by Moray who found that the non attended ear may switch to the attended ear. This shows that there could be semantic analysis on the unattended channel. The model has also been criticised for no specific definition of a channel. Another study against Broadbent was put forward by Gray and Wedderburn. They showed that the ears do not work as separate information channels. Further research against Broadbent was conducted by Treisman. She found that meaningful information presented in the attended ear could be switched mid-sentence to the non attended ear and participants would then change their focus to the unattended ear and shadow as much as they can. She also did a study where she presented English text to one ear and French text into the other ear. She asked them to shadow the English text. She made both texts exactly the same meaning. ...read more.

Conclusion

According to Deutsch's theory, participants should be able to identify many target words both in the shadowed and non shadowed messages since the theory claims that both are analysed for meaning. Research that is against this was shown by Treisman and Geffen. They tested this and found that participants recalled much more words in the attended channel than the non attended channel. On the other hand, there is further experimental support for Deutsch's theory. Corteen and Wood used galvanic skin responses when ever participants heard a particular target word. It also produced a galvanic skin response when the word was presented to the non attended ear. This supports Deutsch in that the unconscious processing on the non-attended channel could also involve generalization. However, there is an alternative explanation so single channel theories of focused auditory attention. The major criticism of the single channel theories is their lack of flexibility. Heinze and Johnston state that depending on the demands of the task, attentional selectivity can occur at several different stages. According to their findings they concluded that the extent of processing and the point at which selection takes place is dependant on the task difficulty. ...read more.

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