טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentSofer-Baron Amit
SubjectIndividual Differences in Attention Control: the Influence
Of Task Characteristics
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Professor Emeritus Daniel Gopher


Abstract

The present study examines the mechanism of attention control, and uses the paradigm of individual differences to examine the effect of characteristics of the task on the factor common to the three attention activities - attention focus, attention division and attention switching. The results of the present study support the approach that claims that the attention control mechanism is composed of control attributes that are distinct from one another - the multidimensional approach -  as opposed to the approach that presents the attention control mechanism as unidimensional.

The study is based on a sampling of 100 subjects, who carried out two tasks: “number judgment,” which includes two variants - dimensions and judgments - and a “letters and digits” task. In constructing the tasks, emphasis was placed on complete factorial representation of the three control attributes in each of the tasks.

Four new conclusions emerge from the study. The first conclusion relates to the generality of the attributes that were examined. This conclusion claims that attention focus is a very stable attribute. In other words, a person’s ability to focus attention is almost independent of the characteristics of the task. Attention division was also found to be a stable attribute. The characteristics of the task have a relatively small influence on the person’s ability to divide attention, with the exception of the existence or non-existence of the characteristic of conflict between the two tasks performed simultaneously. As for the attribute of attention switching, the results are ambivalent, and must be treated in accordance with the methodological reservation presented in the study. The second conclusion emerging from the results of the study claims that performance of control activities on a physical dimension of the stimulus, as opposed to an “abstract” dimension (the type of judgment) strengthens the correlation between the attention attributes. In other words, the factor common to the control activities of focusing, switching and division is greater when they are performed on a physical dimension of the stimulus as opposed to an “abstract” dimension.The third conclusion discusses the size of the factor common to the focusing and division attributes, and claims that the existence of the element of conflict between the dimensions of the stimulus raises the level of similarity between these attributes. The fourth and last conclusion indicates that the existence of transitions in timing and essence that are known in advance brings the focusing attribute closer to the switching attribute.