Attention By Paulhus, Graf And Van Selst (1989)

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Attention is the act or state of selectively narrowing and focusing consciousness on a stimuli, thus it plays a significant role in cognitive processing. It can also be affected by many different factors that distract attention away from a given task. Paulhus, Graf and Van Selst (1989) particularly examined the role of attention in self presentation through a cognitive processing task. They noted other studies have shown that affective distractors induced an increase in positive self-description. In those studies participants were instructed to indicate if the trait word presented in microcomputer screen described them or not, by pressing given keys. In previous studies the distractor word appeared simultaneously with the trait task. When the…show more content…
The experiment contained three parts. First, the participants were given instructions and were to complete practice trials, then participants completed the counting digit and trait rating tasks. Lastly, participants completed a memory recognition task. Participants were instructed to respond as quickly and as accurately as possible in completing three practice trials and the rest of the trials. In digit task participants saw a target digit in a computer screen, and were asked to keep count of how frequent the target digit appeared in a series of digits. Once the target digit appeared, the participants were asked to press a key to begin the trial. The digit series continued for 20 seconds; the speed in which the series of digits appeared was either slow (1 digit every 2 seconds), or fast (2 digits in every second). Participants were randomly assigned to the two rate conditions. This was intended to emulate cognitive load; fast speed was high cognitive load, and slow speed was low cognitive load. After the 20 seconds, participants were asked to state their answer; how frequently the target digit appeared in the trail. Two second later, another trial for digit series was presented. Then randomly between 50 to 75% of series trials, the trait test was presented replacing the target digit task for 500ms interval. The series digit task then continued simultaneously with the…show more content…
In the case where attention is withdrawn, we tend to refer back to highly practiced traits available in the given moment. This study provides further evidence that affective distractors can be mediated with attentional change in inducing desirable response. Furthermore, distractors can lead to more superficial forms of social perception. They concluded attention may have a more significant role than emotion, such as threat, in moderating perceptions of the self. They further stated that self-presentation under emotional arousal is short lived, once attention is fully recovered, a more controlled cognitive processes takes over, and the heightened tendency to represent the self in positive light diminishes. In cases where attention is not intentionally diverted, and environment is controlled so one is able to fully control their attention to a given task, modest or negative self-representation possible could occur. Lastly, they acknowledge future research should examine the reliability of emotion as being the moderator of cognitive processing and
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