Sustained attention: concept and theories

Sustained attention: concept and theories

Sometimes, immersed as many of our young people are in a compulsory education system, it is not easy to follow that maxim of Albert Einstein: “Never consider study as an obligation, but as an opportunity to penetrate the beautiful and wonderful world of knowledge”. This phrase is perfect to introduce us to sustained attention virtue essay.

Because, as much as studying can be a pleasure beyond an obligation, maintaining sustained attention is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be a very difficult job, almost titanic. Not only because we are not interested in a subject, there can be many more reasons, such as fatigue. Keep reading: How to Organize Teenage Birthday Party at Home?

What is sustained attention?

Sustained attention

Sustained attention comes into play in many of the activities we do. It is characteristic, especially, of those processes that have to do with surveillance or supervision. Thus, for vigilance to be effective, attention must be maintained. It is necessary to maintain a certain level of activation.

Sustained attention also comes into play in many processes related to learning. Students who go every day to classrooms have to make an effort to sustain attention in what the teacher says. Sometimes, sustained attention is mixed with selective attention. That is to say, sometimes we not only have to maintain the attention but also we have to keep it centered in a certain place while we draw the attraction that the distractors exert.

Man maintaining a high level of sustained attention towards his tasks

Therefore, sustained attention comes into play when we put in place mechanisms and processes through it. Our body can maintain a focus of attention to remain alert to certain stimuli during relatively long periods of time.

“You were not raised to live as beasts but to follow after virtue and wisdom.”

Why do we lose our attention?

Sustained attention

Studies and our experience tell us that the level of sustained attention decays with the passage of time. This decrease in the effectiveness with which we maintain attention may be due to different reasons. The most important would be:

We could say that attention is like a muscle. He gets fatigued with exercise and needs a rest time to recover.
In addition, with the passage of time, the temptation of the distractors, precisely because of this fatigue derived from a conscious attempt to maintain attention, increases. That is, as we accumulate hours working, the temptation to consult the phone increases.

There are also variables that can help us maintain attention. The motivation, small breaks, have positive feedback or flow would be some of them.

Theories about sustained attention

Sustained attention

As is evident, these factors are known, various theories have been developed that try to explain how our sustained attention works.

Theory of activation

It is also known as the theory of arousal or theory of arousal. He proposes that for a surveillance task to be carried out correctly there must be some continuity in the stimuli. For example, if we take a watchman as a reference. This will cost less to maintain attention if you move and makes rounds than if you stay all the time in a sitting position.

Theory of signal detection

Also known as TDS, it defends that, in the face of a surveillance task, the number of alerts decreases. That is, in the face of sustained attention tired the stimulus would have to be more salient to be detected. Thus, we find that as the second-hand runs and we keep the attention. The successes decrease, but so do the false positives.

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Theory of expectation

The theory of expectation tells us that the person who watches. Therefore sustains his attention, will hold it for longer if he expects an event to actually occur. For example, the caretaker will hold your attention longer and at a higher level. You really expect someone to come in and steal at the factory.

On the contrary, if the expectation is low, it will be more difficult to maintain attention. In this way, for that student who has no hope deposited in the teacher saying something. Interesting the job of maintaining attention will be very hard.

The habituation theory

This last theory indicates that habituation makes the person lose interest in what happens and that their attention wanes. That is, attention decreases as a consequence of the regular repetition of irrelevant signals.

These are not all theories that try to explain the functioning of the attention sustained in tasks of surveillance or learning. However, they are the most relevant and root directly with what we know about the operation of care. “What is acquired with much work, more love”. You may also read:

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