Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 331–335

The cocktail party phenomenon revisited: The importance of working memory capacity

  • Andrew R. A. Conway
  • Nelson Cowan
  • Michael F. Bunting
Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/BF03196169

Cite this article as:
Conway, A.R.A., Cowan, N. & Bunting, M.F. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2001) 8: 331. doi:10.3758/BF03196169

Abstract

Wood and Cowan (1995) replicated and extended Moray’s (1959) investigation of thecocktail party phenomenon, which refers to a situation in which one can attend to only part of a noisy environment, yet highly pertinent stimuli such as one’s own name can suddenly capture attention. Both of these previous investigations have shown that approximately 33% of subjects report hearing their own name in an unattended, irrelevant message. Here we show that subjects who detect their name in the irrelevant message have relatively low working-memory capacities, suggesting that they have difficulty blocking out, or inhibiting, distracting information.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew R. A. Conway
    • 1
  • Nelson Cowan
    • 2
  • Michael F. Bunting
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology (M/C 285)University of IllinoisChicago
  2. 2.University of MissouriColumbia