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Attention in Early DevelopmentThemes and Variations$
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Holly Alliger Ruff and Mary Klevjord Rothbart

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195136326

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195136326.001.0001

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Constructs and Measures

Constructs and Measures

(p.12) 2 Constructs and Measures
Attention in Early Development

Holly Alliger Ruff

Mary Klevjord Rothbart

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the advantages and limitations of different methods and measures used in the study of attention. Methods include naturalistic observation, experiments, and marker tasks. Measures of selectivity in infants and young children include direction and duration of looking, direction of reaching, and use of habituation to study attention to particular aspects of objects. Measures of state or intensity of engagement include behavioural measures such as facial expression and motor activity; and physiological measures such as heart rate and cortical electrical responses. Performance on tasks that have been related to specific neural activity associated with attention can point to underlying processes. The measure of higher-level control also involves these measures in the context of experimental manipulation to elucidate voluntary attention and to differentiate between automatic and controlled processes.

Keywords:   looking, selectivity, intensity, facial expression, physiological measures, marker tasks, controlled attention

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