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Measuring the Mind: Speed, control, and age$
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John Duncan, Louise Phillips, and Peter McLeod

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198566427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566427.001.0001

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Cognitive ethology: giving real life to attention research

Cognitive ethology: giving real life to attention research

Chapter:
(p.341) Chapter 14 Cognitive ethology: giving real life to attention research
Source:
Measuring the Mind: Speed, control, and age
Author(s):

Alan Kingstone

Daniel Smilek

Elina Birmingham

Dave Cameron

Walter F. Bischof

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566427.003.0014

Studies of attention, often conducted in artificial laboratory experiments, may have limited validity when performance in the natural world is considered. For instance, for over two decades, investigations of ‘reflexive’ and ‘volitional’ attention have tended to be grounded in methodologies that do not capture the demands of attention in everyday life. Recent studies suggest these laboratory investigations have lost touch with real-life contexts and accordingly may generate fundamental misunderstandings regarding the principles of human attention and behavior. This chapter identifies the basic assumptions of laboratory research that has led to this state of affairs, and suggests a new set of assumptions which lead to a new research approach called ‘cognitive ethology’. The implication is that if one is to understand human attention in everyday life, then research needs to be grounded in the natural world and not in experimental paradigms.

Keywords:   human attention, cognitive ethology, natural world, everyday life

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