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  • Moray
    • Theory
      • Attention is selective
      • Humans selectively attend to some information and ‘tune out’ the rest. Attention is limited
      • Selective attention: people are presented with 2+ simultaneous ‘messages’, and process/ respond to only one of them (shadowing). This is a form of dichotic listening which was first used by Cherry when he studied the cocktail party phenomenon 
      • Divided attention: people are asked to attend and respond to both (or all) messages. This deliberately divides people’s attention
    • Background
      • Cherry’s method of ‘shadowing’ found participants who shadowed a message were ignorant of the content of the other message 
      • The first experiment aimed to test Cherry’s findings whilst the second and third experiments aimed to investigate other factors that can affect attention
    • Research method
      • All lab experiments
      • Apparatus used was a Brenell Mark 5 tape recorder matched for loudness
      • Experiment 1: repeated measures
      • Experiment 1 IVs: dichotic listening test/ recognition test
      • Experiment 1 DV: no. of words recognised in rejected message
      • Experiment 2: repeated measures
      • Experiment 2 IV: instructions prefixed by ps' name
      • Experiment 2 DV: no. of affective instructions
      • Experiment 3: independent measures
      • Experiment 3 IVs: whether digits were in both messages or not/whether ps' had to answer questions on content or just numbers
      • Experiment 3 DV: no. of digits correctly reported
    • Sample
      • Undergrads/ research workers that were male/female
      • Experiment 2: 12 ps'
      • Experiment 3: 2 groups of 14 ps'
    • Procedure
      • All passages were ready by 1 man - standardised
      • Experiment 1: A short list of simple words was presented to one of the ps' ears while they shadowed a prose message. The word list was faded in, and was equal in intensity. At the end of the prose it was faded out. The word list was repeated 35 times. They were then asked to recall info on the rejected message and given a control passage
      • Experiment 2: Ps' shadowed 10 passages of light fiction and were told to make as few mistakes as possible. Instructions eg. "Please listen to your right ear" were interpolated, and in all but 2 cases ps' were warned (half of these were prefixed with the ps' name). Ps' were tape recorded and analysed
      • Experiment 3: 1/2 simultaneous dichotic messages were shadowed. In some, digits were interpolated towards the end of the message. They were in one or both messages. Controls with no numbers were used
    • Results
      • Experiment 1: Rejected material wasn't recognised (1.9/7 words). The difference between new material and the shadowed message was significant at 1% level.The 30s delay didn't cause  the rejected material to be lost (words from earlier were heard) Findings support Cherry
      • Experiment 2: Ps' ignored instructions as they thought it was an attempt to distract them (non-affective heard 4/36). In passage 10, 3 ps' heard instructions and changed over. The difference between ‘names’ and ‘no names’ was significant. On only 4/20 occasions in which the ‘names’ instructions were heard ps' made a change to the other message
      • Experiment 3: In none of the cases was the difference significant even at the 5% level of confidence 
    • Conclusions
      • When ps' direct their attention to one ear, and reject a message from the other ear, almost none of the rejected message is able to penetrate the block
      • Even when repeated many times, the rejected message (simple words) aren't remembered
      • 'Important’ messages eg. ps' names can penetrate the block. This provides evidence for the cocktail party effect
      • It is very difficult to make ‘neutral’ material eg. numbers important enough to break through the block


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