Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 345–391 | Cite as

Selective attention and prose learning: Theoretical and empirical research

  • Ralph E. Reynolds


Results from traditional selective attention research suggest the selective attention strategy is not an adequate general explanation for why readers tend to learn and recall important text information better than less important text information. Selected research is reviewed in which conceptual, analytical, and methodological problems with this traditional research are discussed. Results from recent research are reported that support the notion that any understanding of how the selective attention strategy works must take into account differences in readers' metacognitive ability and differences in the complexity of the iteration of the strategy that they employ. The discussion centers on the development of a modified (in terms of measures of attention) and fluid version of the selective attention strategy that seems to succeed as a general explanation for the “importance” effect.

Key words

selective attention importance salience prose learning causal regression analysis 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph E. Reynolds
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake City

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