Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Experimental.




A review of the literature reveals that several models of selective attention have been proposed. Traditionally, these models have been distinguished on the basis of two dimensions: their formulations regarding (1) locus of attentional operations and (2) the nature of capacity limitations. In regard to the former, "early" theorists have indicated that attention is a prerequisite for in depth perceptual processing whereas "late" theorists have suggested that attentional activity is confined to postperceptual operations. In regard to the latter, a distinction has been made between "structural" theorists who have implied that attention, which exerts its influence in isolated processing systems, results from the inability of cognitive structures to simultaneously process competitive stimulus inputs and "functional" theorists who have described attention as a diffuse cognitive resource that is limited in a general fashion, however, variable in terms of its restrictions and functions. At the empirical level it is noted that although diverse paradigms have been employed to define and measure attention, researchers from varying theoretical positions have for the most part relied upon a particular means of data collection. On the basis of these observations, it was hypothesized that current controversy may stem from the commonly held assumption that attention is a unitary concept/process. An attempt was made to test this premise. Specifically, eight experimental tasks, two supporting each of the four theoretical positions that result from the aforementioned categorization scheme, were administered to 60 subjects. A number of predictions specific to the eight paradigms were tested. Subsequently, the entire data set was submitted to a principal components analysis. The majority of predictions were confirmed suggesting that the diverse methods of assessing attention which currently exist are equally accurate and appropriate. The results of the principal components analysis suggest that attention is a variable process. More specifically, attention appears to operate differently in the visual and the auditory modalities; it appears to manifest both "structural" and "functional" limitations; and it appears to intervene at multiple loci in the perceptual cycle.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1984 .P358. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 45-04, Section: B, page: 1309. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1984.