ATTENTION | Nature of the Attention | Classification of attention | Types of Attention | Factors Affecting Attention | SPAN OF ATTENTION | Causes of Inattention | Inattention | DIVISION OF ATTENTION | Skip to main content
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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLASSICAL AND OPERANT CONDITIONING Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning 1.   The learner is not independent in this type of learning. 2.   Classical conditioning is restricted to animal learning only. 3.   Stimulus oriented. 4.  Learning through stimulus substitution.             5.   Behaviour is elicited. 6.   Reinforcement comes before the act. 7.   Response is forced. 8.   Developed by Russian (Pavlov) experiment. 1.   The learner is independent in this type of learning. 2.   Operant conditioning may be useful for the purpose of human learning also. 3.   Response oriented. 4.   Learning through response modification. 5.   Behaviour is emitted. 6.   Reinforcement comes after the act. 7.   Response is voluntary. 8.   Developed by American (Skinner) experiment   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

ATTENTION | Nature of the Attention | Classification of attention | Types of Attention | Factors Affecting Attention | SPAN OF ATTENTION | Causes of Inattention | Inattention | DIVISION OF ATTENTION |

Attention is the process of getting an object or thought clearly before the mind. – Ross. Attention can be defined as a process which compels the individual to select some particular stimulus according to his interest and attitude out of the multiplicity of stimuli present in the environment.                 -  Sharma R.N.

Nature of the Attention
·         It is focusing of consciousness on a particular object: It is the process of the concentration of consciousness upon one object rather than another.

·         It is constantly shifting: When we are attending to an object at a particular time, we are clearly aware or conscious of it as our consciousness is focused on it. But, we are aware of many of the things in and around the focused object.

·         It is Selective: At a moment, there are various stimuli in the environment of an individual which try to affect the person. But our reaction to those multi-stimuli is selective based on our attitude and interest. 

·         It is a state of preparedness or alertness: It is a preparatory adjustment for response.
Classification/Types of Attention (Ross: 1951)

1. Non-Volitional / Involuntary Attention: This is aroused without the play of the will. Here we attend to an object or an idea without making any conscious effort n our part. Example, attention towards loud noise and bright colours. This type of attention is further classified into two categories.

            1. a.) Enforced Non-volitional Attention: The non-volitional attention which is aroused by the instincts is called enforced non-volitional attention. A young man, when we make an appeal to his sex instinct or curiosity, becomes quite attentive in his task. 

            1. b.) Spontaneous Non-volitional Attention: The non-volitional attention aroused by the sentiments is called spontaneous non-volitional attention

2. Volitional or Voluntary Attention: Attention is volitional or voluntary when it calls forth the existence of will. It demands conscious effort on the part of the learner. It is like solving a mathematical problem and answering the questions in the examination hall.

            2. a.) Implicit Volitional Attention: This is possible by a single act of volition. For an example, when a child is warned by the teacher to do the mathematical problem in the class, for the sake of avoiding punishment, she does the problem. So it is called implicit.

            2. b.)  Explicit Volitional Attention: This type is obtained by repeated act of will. One has to struggle hard to keep this attention for longer time. So we need repeated act of will to sustain the attention. For an example, a boy is concentrating on the preparation for the examination.

Factors Affecting Attention

A) Internal Factors: The following are the internal or personal factors which affect the attention. It depends on the personal characteristics of a person.
  • Interest: One is attentive on an object or thing based on his interest on that.
  • Motives: The basic drives or motives/urges of an individual are very important in securing the attention.
  • Mental Set-up: It is nothing but the bent of the whole mind on some phenomena or event. It represents whole hearted willing on the event.
  • Attitude: We are always attracted towards a stimulus and attend to it in relation to the attitude maintained by us towards that stimulus.
  • Mental and Physical State: The person’s physical and mental state directs the person to be attentive on a particular task.
  • Value and Purpose: The intensity of our value and value preference will direct us towards our purpose.
  • Prior Experience and Training: If we have prior training or experience on some tasks/stimuli, then almost we will not have the hesitation to attend that.
  • Habits and Temperament: A person with smoking and drinking habits is attracted towards the people of that sort and try to serve the purpose. This is due to his habit and temperament. 
  • Instincts and Emotions: A mother’s attention towards the crying child is based on the instinct and emotions of the mother. It is basic and innate.
B) External factors: These are the factors which are outside the person.

Nature of the Stimulus: A picture than a word attracts more. The picture of beautiful woman attracts easily than the other. So it depends the nature of the stimulus.

Intensity: Our attention is easily attracted towards, loud sound, a bright light or a strong smell. So the intensity of the stimulus attracts the attention.

Size: The bigger the size greater the attraction. Among the small objects big objects attracts easily.

Contrast: Among the white the black seeks attraction. Among the similar objects, contrasting objects receives the attraction.

Change: Change and variety strike attention more easily than the sameness and absence of change. Among the small letters, Capital letters will attract.

Repetition: Repetition places a vital role in the attention. A spelling mistake in a paragraph repeatedly coming receives the attention of the reader than the misspelling at once. 

Movement: A moving stimulus catches our attention more quickly than the stimulus that does not move. Example: Moving electrical lights in the decoration attracts more than the static lights.


Attention span is the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.  Span of attention may be defined in terms of quality, size or extent to which the perceptual field of an individual can be effectively organized in order to enable him to attend to a number of things in a given spell of short duration.

INATTENTION: It is an inability of an individual to recognize an unexpected stimulus that is in plain sight which results in missing details, forget things and impulsiveness.

Causes of Inattention
  Motivational Causes : When we are not interest on the stimuli, we do not attend
  Emotional Causes : The stimuli may not be our preference on the sight
  Social Causes : In  the objects in front of us, we do not attend it due to social norm
  Beliefs as Causes : To intentionally avoid 
  Overstimulation Causes: When a number of things present in front of us, we may not be able to attend a few.
  Passivity Causes: When the mind is blind, the eyes are useless.
DIVISION OF ATTENTION: If two or more than two tasks are attended to and performed simultaneously then the attention will have to be divided among those tasks. It is called division of attention