Compare and Contrast Early vs Late Selection Models of Attention. How Well Do They Explain How We Selectively Attend to Informatio Essay

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Compare and contrast early vs late selection models of attention. How well do they explain how we selectively attend to information?

Attention was described by William James (1890, cited in Eysenck & Keane, 2000, p130) as
“the taking possession of the mind, in clear and vivid form , of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalisation, concentration of consciousness are of its essence.”
This definition emphasises how attention is thought of as a selective process. It seems clear from common sense that we cannot attend to all stimuli at once, so some kind of selection must take place as to what information we attend to and process further, and what is disregarded.
Since the 1950’s,
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Whilst this model explains the results of early shadowing experiments (Driver, 2001), the inflexible nature of Broadbent’s model means thatit cannot fully account for the cocktail party effect, or for the findings of a number of experiments in which varying degrees of processing of unattended stimuli are observed to take place. One such study was carried out by Treisman (1960, as cited in Driver, 2001) in which she found that while shadowing a message played into one ear, participants would sometimes switch to shadowing the other, previously unattended ear when the message they had been shadowing was switched over, i.e. they followed the message over to the other ear.
Treisman went on to develop an alternative selective attention theory (Treisman, 1960, as cited in Naish, 2010 & Driver, 2001) which argued that unattended stimuli were not completely filtered out, but turned down or attenuated. Normally this would make them too weak to be available for semantic processing, but in certain circumstances, e.g. when words from the unattended message had special significance, such as one’s own name, or words relevant to the attended message, these words would have a lower threshold for identification and therefore would be processed. Treisman’s model can be considered an early selection one, as it is basically a modified version of Broadbent’s (1958, as cited in Driver, 2001)