The And Late 's Selection Theory Controversy

1120 WordsNov 2, 20155 Pages
Abstract The sensory channels provide us with a huge amount of information, therefore in order to concentrate not all the information can be processed. Selective attention refers to the mechanism whereby mental processing is focused on a specific stimulus. Much psychological research has tried to uncover how attention is managed. This essay will focus specifically on the ‘early’ versus ‘late’ selection theory controversy. The basis of this debate stems from Cherry’s (1953) dichotic listening experiments. An early selection model, such as Broadbent’s Filter theory suggests information is discarded early in the stream of processing. Conversely Deutsch and Deutsch (1963) late selection model proposes unattended information is processed at…show more content…
First external and internal stimuli enter a sensory buffer (McLeod, S. A, 2008). The stimuli are initially processed on a shallow level for basic physical properties for example colour, pitch, tone. Due to the limited capacity, only salient information is allowed to pass, preventing overload or information bottleneck. The information is then further filtered to allow perceptual processes to occur which attach semantic value to the input. The information that does not pass through the filter will rapidly decay. Thus Broadbent’s single channel model is an early filter theory in that it proposes a system of processing in which unattended information is discarded early in the stream of selective processing. Research used to inform Broadbent’s model of attention is based on the ‘dichotic listening task’, introduced by Cherry (1953). The participant is presented with two messages simultaneously over headphones. They are then asked to reject the message in one ear, while ‘shadowing’ or repeating the message in the other ear. If Broadbent’s theory were correct one could hypothesise that there will be zero recall from the unattended channel as it would have decayed from the short-term memory. Indeed Cherry (1953) found participants could only recall physical aspects of the unattended stimulus such as the gender of the speaker. Processing at a semantic level did not occur as participants failed to notice if the speaker changed language and knew little
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