Last Updated 27 May 2020

Answering questions

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2-A. Recently, a comedian on a television show remarked that he thought it was funny that people turn the car radio off when they are looking for a house number in a strange neighborhood. What theory of attention is this comedian adhering to?

The comedian based his remarks on the theory of divided attention. This theory states that attention can be divided into two separate states, wherein one can attend to two things or stimuli at the same time, without sacrificing the quality of attention given to either of the two stimuli (Reisberg, 2001). Thus to the comedian, one can continue listening to the radio and at the same time look for the house number, and it perfectly makes sense to him that a person can do both of it since it does not really require an intense concentration.

However, a case in point is that looking for a house number in a long row of houses may be quite a challenging task, one that requires concentration and selective attention. Yes, it can be said that keeping the radio on would not make any difference but to those who prefer to look closely and to be able to do so safely would naturally turn their radios off. Just imagine yourself driving slowly in a street you are unfamiliar with and keeping the radio on would mask the noise of incoming traffic or even pedestrians.

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Besides, when a person is involved in one task, like looking for a house, then one instinctively attends to it and disregards the other sounds, sights and disturbances in the immediate environment. Divided attention is very real, we engage it once in a while especially if we multi-task but we could do so in a limited period, for example think of how you can possibly manage to entertain questions from an officemate at your table and at the same time talk to someone on the phone, you could do both for a maximum of 2 minutes, but eventually one stimuli takes greater attention and we must give our full attention to it.

On the other hand, with training, anybody can make use of divided attention, but its contributions and benefits in engaging in it remains to be seen since much research has to be done in this area.

2-B. Based on what you have learned about perception and attention, do you think it’s safe

for people to talk on cellular phones while they are driving?

Learning about how we perceive the world around us gives us a better way of understanding how intricate the human mind is and how even a faculty that we often take for granted can have a profound impact in our daily lives. Perception refers to a complex process of how we receive a stimuli, how our brain process the stimuli, and how our mind tells us what to do and how to react to the stimuli (Reisberg, 2001).

It can be said that a disruption of any of the lines of our perception may have adverse consequences; sometimes it can be bizarre, like when a person cannot recognize the face of love one but instead are able to say that they look like a family member. Taking our study of perception into our daily activities, a debated issue like “is it safe to talk on the cell phone while driving” is better explained.

I still believe that it is not safe to talk on the cellular phones while driving. Driving already entails a number of processes and is quite demanding of our attention, like when you are in the freeway, one has to be conscious of incoming traffic, cars at you back, the speed limit of the highway, and even looking out for possible mishaps in the road, on top of which, the driver must be conscious of the cars fuel level, brake fluid and tire conditions. So how could anybody be able to talk on the phone while driving?

Talking on the phone also demands attention; we have to perceive and process what the other person is saying, and to even think of the appropriate response to what they are saying. Theories on perception have stated that our mind works overtime just to process and be able to respond to external stimuli, and that each part of the brain is involve in different ways just to come up with the correct processing of information (Reisberg, 2001), like being able to recognize faces of family members.

Perceptual illusions demonstrate that what we see may not be true or real, hence while driving we may not be able to accurately tell how far we are from the car ahead of us or how near we are to the railings without our full concentration. Reports have shown that many people die on the road or in car accidents than any disease. Perceptual overload occurs when we drive and talk on the phone, based on previous researches (Reisberg, 2001), perceptual overload makes us incorrectly perceive our surroundings and hence we may see what is not there, or we may not see what is really there.

When we overload our senses it would mean that one part of the brain or our faculties might be sacrificed to compensate for the attention we give to another stimulus. And in an activity like driving which in itself is a high-risk behavior, we need complete control of our faculties, thus talking on the cell phone is not advisable.

2-C. Write a 200 word summary and critical analysis on Rayner’s article. Discuss what the article is basically about, its strong and weak points, how convincing (or unconvincing) you find its arguments, and how it might be followed up (e.g., if you think the article suggests any promising, new ideas for future research, describe what they are and how they might best be pursued.)

The article “Eye Movements in Reading: Recent Developments” by Keith Rayner (1993) presents the latest development in the study of eye movement in the reading process. The strength of the article is that it gives a background of what has been discovered so far in the field of study, the article argues that studying eye movement is important for it help build theory and also used to infer perceptual and cognitive processes during reading thus the objective of the article. It also presents a number of theories that have used new methods in studying eye movement.

What was weak about the article was that it was not able to connect how the new methods of studying would contrite to a better understanding of the cognitive processes that occur during reading. The article basically was not convincing when the author says that much remains to be seen when researchers realize how interesting a research data eye movement can be. The article does not arouse this interest and simply goes on to say that eye movement is a natural consequence of reading, which contradicts his claims earlier in the introduction part. The article was also too technical for the average reader even if the reader is interested in eye movement.


Rayner, K. (1993). Eye movements in reading: Recent developments. Current Directions in

Psychological Science, 2 (3): 81-85

Reisberg, D. (2001). Cognition: Exploring the science of the Mind, 2nd ed. New York: W.W.

Norton & Company, Inc.







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