Consciousness and Cognition 6 (2-3):413-428 (1997)

Everybody knows the phenomena summarized with the term attention: concentration, focalization, limitation, selection, and intensification . The explanation of these phenomena is, however, a different matter. Problems easily arise with regard towhathas to be explained and with regard to thestyleof explanation. A problem of the first kind is the “methodology of ‘bad focus’”: the explanation starts with and is fixated on an intuitively striking but nonessential behavioral feature or cognitive achievement. A problem of the second kind is a “virtus dormitiva” explanation: the explanation starts with emphasizing one aspect of the observed phenomena, the emphasized aspect receives an interesting and suggestive name, and that name with its connotations is used as a concept in the explanation. At the start of contemporary, behavior-based, information processing psychology, avirtus dormitivaexplanation infiltrated the functional accounts of the phenomena of attention; the empirical observation that people show performance limitations was translated into the theoretical concept of a communication channel with a limited capacity. That limited capacity notion became the core concept in what can be called the standard theory of attention. This standard theory of attention faced severe difficulties in explaining the guidance of attention by the information processor's goals and intentions. Subsequent modifications, concerned with removing these difficulties, revealed that selection, guided by goals and intentions, is the essential behavioral feature and that the observed performance limitations are a result of this selection. So, the limited capacity theorizing was not only plagued by avirtus dormitivaexplanation, it also suffered from the methodology of bad focus
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DOI 10.1006/ccog.1996.0284
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References found in this work BETA

A Feature Integration Theory of Attention.Anne Treisman - 1980 - Cognitive Psychology 12:97-136.
Attention and the Detection of Signals.Michael I. Posner, Charles R. Snyder & Brian J. Davidson - 1980 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 109 (2):160-174.

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