The Types of Attention

Attention is an ability that helps to select the information between different stimuli and process. Our attention can decide that we want to deal with the stimuli or ignore it. Sometimes this process is automatic and sometimes we focus our attention on a problem which we have to solve.

Psychology of attention deals with mechanisms of perception that form the behavior, and how consistent behavior is created. Psychological researchers of attention concentrate on audition and sight.

There are two ways of visual attention: spatial attention and feature-based attention.

  • Spatial attention means that we direct our attention to a particular region.
  • Feature-based attention means that we direct our attention to a particular feature, for example colour.

Depending on your needs and circumstances you may employ one of the following four types of attention.

  • Sustained Attention is the ability to focus on one specific task for a continuous amount of time without being distracted.
  • Selective Attention it is an automatic process, that chooses between important and less important stimuli depending on the situation. As we can attend to only one thing at the same time, this kind of process helps to select the most important stimuli in the given situation.
  • Alternating attention is the ability to switch your focus back and forth between tasks that require different cognitive demands.
  • Divided attention: if a process is automatic, more processes can happen simultaneously. An example is driving and talking at the same time. We can pay attention only to one action at the same time, that’s why if something happens on the road in front of the driver, the driver will stop talking and concentrate on the driving. In this moment the attention becomes Focused, meaning that the attention is limited to one object, action or stimuli.

Summing-up: When we are designing digital products that people interact with, we need to understand the behavior, habits, and needs of our users. To be consciously used, we need to understand the process of human cognition, and this is related to the attention, that is, the process or act of concentrating on one or more environmental factors that your five senses experience.

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