Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Attention worksheet

Essay type Research
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1.      How do you define the concept of attention?

William James defined attention as the process of taking possession of the mind in a clear and vivid form of one out of several stimuli simultaneously taking their courses into the senses (Willingham, 2006). This process is not a single mechanism but a product of brain processes interactions that involved in the performance of perceptual and conceptual tasks, and motor skills (Willingham, 2006). Through the senses, stimuli are encoded into the sensory registers, however, due to the interferences among simultaneously occurring stimuli, some of them failed to reach into the primary memory. Thus, attention should be allotted for some stimuli in order to be successfully perceived. Successful perception entails the efficient process on encoding in the primary memory.  Moreover, as the task or information increases and becoming complicated, attention declines. Hence, as the amount and complexity of cognitive load increases, the attention p decreases (Willingham, 2006). This denotes effective budgeting of attention for an efficient way of encoding, perceiving, and storing information.

2.      Can attention be consciously allocated to tasks? Why or why not?

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The inability of the mind to effectively process all information simultaneously detected by the senses signifies for the crucial role of attention budgeting (Willingham, 2006). For instance, using cellar phone while driving is prohibited around the world due to the possibility of car accidents; the attention of the driver is shifted to or limited by phone conversation. Thus, paying attention to other task or stimulus degrades the processing of other information. In addition, Albert Bandura recognized the crucial role of attention in his Theory of Social Cognitive Learning. Based on this theory, proper allocation of attention to the model behavior increases the possibility of copying and reproducing modeled behavior by the observant (Willingham, 2006). Moreover, the Information Processing Theory also noted the role of attention in the perception of events. The cocktail party phenomenon notion of this theory refers to the successful absorption of particular information at a time in the midst of simultaneous bombardment of stimuli on the sensory systems (Willingham, 2006). Therefore, attention can be efficiently allocated on a particular task or stimulus in parallel with the current goal or priority of the individual. Read about online enrollment system proposal

3.      What is the relationship between attention and cognition?

Cognition is generally defined as set of metal activities involved in the encoding, perception, storing, and retrieval of information (Willingham, 2006). It is described as a set inter-related process that guides one’s contexts of action as well as emotion. The proper allocation of attention on a certain task or information denotes efficient perception. On the other hand, perception means recognition of stimuli (Willingham, 2006). Thus, successful perception entails efficient processing of information that becomes the basis of one’s volition. If an individual attend and perceive, remembering and learning take their courses then, can act with forethought and deliberately (Willingham, 2006). Therefore, proper attention leads to effective cognition.


Willingham, D.T. (2006). Cognition: The Thinking Animal, 3rd Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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