Sit Still and Pay Attention?


Sitting still while trying to pay attention implicitly reinforces the idea that to pay attention one should focus on a single aspect of the stimulus. Movement encourages attending to different aspects of the stimulus and as such is hypothesized to increase attention. We tested this with students from a traditional and a nontraditional school. Students were asked to observe and recall landmarks on a map. Students from the traditional school who viewed the map from multiple perspectives remembered more landmarks and locations than students who viewed the map from a single perspective. Students from a nontraditional school who are accustomed to movement while learning, did not show this effect. The experiment is discussed in terms of mindfulness theory.

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Carson, S., Shih, M. & Langer, E. Sit Still and Pay Attention?. Journal of Adult Development 8, 183–188 (2001).

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  • attention
  • mindfulness
  • multiple perspectives
  • attention deficit disorder