We all think that we know what attention is, but do we actually know what attention is? Do we know how it changes according to different situations or circumstances? We use attention in our everyday life, even in this very moment you use attention to read this blog. But what happens to our attention when we are focussed on our phone?
The smartphone is an integral part of our everyday life. When you walk on the street and look around you, most people are using their phone. Some while they are walking, others while riding a bike, and some even while driving a car. But what effect does your smartphone have on your attention in traffic?
Based on previous research, we can say that reaction time is longer in traffic, while also paying attention to your phone. This makes sense, because it’s way harder to divide your attention on two things. This was the basis for our study, in which we wanted to expand our understanding of perception and attention in different contexts. Therefor participants had to solve a target detection task. This was sometimes presented as a single task and sometimes as a dual task, which also included an additional auditory stimulus. This all to see which effect attention has on your performance.
Now coming back to real life experiences, have you ever noticed that if you do not directly attend to something, it can be harder to actually give an accurate response? Suppose someone asks you what colour the car had that just drove by you, do you think it is easier to response correctly if you attended to that specific car? Of course, you would! Thus, as we expect, the attention condition (single task) should reduce false alarms and improve accuracy compared to the dual task condition.