Subjects in a selective-looking paradigm (Neisser & Becklen, 1975) attended to one of two visually superimposed videotaped ballgames by responding every time the ball was passed in the target game. An unexpected, yet highly visually conspicuous, event, occurring about halfway through the l-rain game sequence, was noticed by only 18 of 85 subjects. Noticing was unrelated to the delay between the event and the posttrial inquiry, and explicit “iconic” instructions to describe the last image seen immediately after interruption proved ineffective in enhancing noticing rates, despite optimal visual conditions). Instead, noticing appeared to be related to the specific anticipatory possibilities within the attended sequence itself. Content analysis indicated that the latter part of the unexpected event sequence afforded greater anticipatory opportunities, and the findings suggested that noticers who were skilled at the main task were more likely to detect the event during this part, whereas unskilled noticers showed no such pattern. Results were consistent with and interpreted in terms of Neisser’s (1976) notion of the “perceptual cycle.”
Becklen, R., Neisser, U., & Littman, D.The effect of event similarity on selective looking. Manuscript in preparation, 1983.
Neisser, U., & Dube, E. F.Interrupting the perceptual cycle: When do we notice unexpected events? Paper presented at the meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., March 1978.
Neisser, U., & Rooney, P.Noticing unexpected events in selective looking: A new criterion. Unpublished manuscript, 1982.
Becklen, R.A method for determining percent on-target time in continuous attention experiments with varying target- and response-probabilities. Unpublished manuscript, 1983.
Broadbent, D. E.Perception and communication. New York: Pergamon Press, 1958.
Corteen, R. S., &Wood, B. Autonomic responses to shock-associated words in an unattended channel.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1972,94, 308–313.
Deutsch, J. A., &Deutsch, D. Attention: Some theoretical considerations.Psychoiogical Review, 1963,70, 80–90.
Kahneman, D. Methods, findings and theory in studies of visual masking.Psychological Bulletin, 1968,70, 404–425.
Kahneman, D.Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Mall, 1973.
Mackay, D. G. Aspects of the theory of comprehension, memory and attention.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1973,25, 22–40.
Moray, N. Attention in dichotic listening: Affective cues and the influence of instructions.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1959,11, 56–60.
Moray, N.Attention: Selective processes in vision and hearing. New York: Academic Press, 1970.
Neisser, U.Cognitive psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967.
Neisser, U.Cognition and reality. San Francisco: Freeman, 1976.
Neisser, U. The control of information pickup in selective looking. In H. Pick (Ed.),Perception and development: A tribute to Eleanor Gibson. New York: Halsted Press, 1979.
Neisser, U., Becklen, R. Selective looking: Attending to visually specified events.Cognitive Psychology, 1975,7, 480–494.
Norman, D. A. Toward a theory of memory and attention.Psychological Review, 1968,75, 522–536.
Norman, D. A. Memory while shadowing.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1969,21, 85–93.
Norman, D. A.Memory and attention. New York: Wiley, 1976.
Spelke, E. S., Hirst, W. C., &Neisser, U. Skills of divided attention.Cognition, 1976,4, 215–230.
von Wright, J. M., Anderson, K., &Stenman, U. Generalization of conditioned GSR’s in dichotic listening. In P. M. A. Rabbitt & S. Dornic (Eds.),Attention and performance V. New York: Academic Press, 1975.
Wardlaw, K. A., &Kroll, N. E. A. Autonomic responses to shock-associated words in a non-attended message: A failure to replicate.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1976,2, 357–360.
This study was supported in part by unrestricted research funds from the Department of Psychology, Oberlin College, and in part by a research grant to the first author from Oberlin College.
An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/BF03197675.
About this article
Cite this article
Becklen, R., Cervone, D. Selective looking and the noticing of unexpected events. Memory & Cognition 11, 601–608 (1983). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03198284
- Dichotic Listening
- Posttrial Inquiry
- Full Group
- Partial Group
- Game Sequence