Often times I feel myself zoning out and losing focus of what is occurring around me. I sometimes block parts of the environment from my awareness or don’t hear a story my roommate tells me while checking Backbone on the computer. However, when hearing my name from a distance, I can automatically switch gears and will listen to what is being said. The reason for this is selective attention. When on the mound during a softball game, I selectively pay attention to the pitch I am about the throw and how I’m going to go about that pitch.
I process information from one part of the environment and exclude all the other parts. I don’t notice the conversations happening on the bench or realize that my mom is on the phone while eating a pretzel. I also don’t notice my shoes pressing against my feet or the glove enclosing my hand unless I shift my attention and think about it. At my Nassau County championship softball game last spring, my best friends came to the game with my last name written on their stomachs and their bodies covered in paint. They chanted ND screamed really loud with every pitch, yet I didn’t notice.
On the mound, I had the ability to block out their screaming and cheering and to simply focus on the pitch that needed to be thrown. I didn’t hear them screaming nor the other occurrences in the background. Selective attention is a psychological concept where a person has the ability to focus on one thing when there are numerous things occurring simultaneously. The degree of selective attention varies depending on the person, especially with those hat have low attention levels due to certain learning disorders, such as ADD.
Selective attention allows you to purposely focus your conscious awareness on a specific stimulus. For example, while sitting here writing this paper, I have not realized that the air conditioner is making a loud whistling noise or that my nose is in line with my vision. But, upon writing this, my focus has shifted and the air conditioner is all I hear. If I don’t think about the noise and focus my concentration elsewhere, I will no longer hear it because I won’t be paying attention to it. Selective attention is a key contributor as to why it is against the law to use a cell phone while driving.
When talking on the cell phone, drivers are so focused on their phone conversations that they concentrate less on the road and don’t respond quickly to billboards, other cars and traffic signals. This puts the driver at a larger risk for an accident to occur. Our minds have the ability to block out parts of the environment from our awareness because of selective attention. In my championship playoff game, I could eave purposely focused my attention on my friends yelling and chanting my name.
I also could have focused on the conversations of my teammates in the dugout or the little girl doing cartwheels behind the backstop. But, in order to enhance my game, I purposely focused all my energy and attention on throwing the pitch necessary for us to win that game. If I focused my attention elsewhere, I would not have succeeded in that game. But, because of selective attention, my focus was on the pitch, and not all the other nonsense occurring in the background. Selective Attention By collar