Have you ever noticed that while doing both, driving and talking on your mobile you may not pay attention to driving. Or when you are studying and loud music is on in the neighbour you lose attention on your studies. Divided attention can lead to accidents when people are driving and watching some other objects.

Selective attention is a process in which we give priority to a particular incoming sensory message. Attention has broadly three possible functions:

  1. as a sensory filter
  2. as a response selection
  3. as a gateway to consciousness

Determinants of Attention

  • Physical factors: All other things being equal, physical factors like repetition, contrast, shape, size, brightness and contrast do affect our attention. A good packaging or bright light attracts us. That is why all big companies invest a lot on packaging their products in an attractive manner. Similarly an advertisement which is published on a regular basis in newspapers and electronic media catches the attention of customers more easily than non-advertised products.

  • Motives and attention: Motives also play a role in shaping our perception. For example, if you are hungry food-related words are more likely to gain your attention than non-food words. Advertisers and propagandists take advantage of two motives that are very common in our society: anxiety and sex. Many products such as toothpastes, food products even automotives highlight the health concern to catch the attention of customers. On the other hand items of fashionable products play on the desire to be attractive. The political parties cash on appeals to fear to make their voice heard by the public at large.