01 June 2007

New attention test devised

Prospective employers may have a new tool to spot people who are too easily distracted while on the job.

Prospective employers may have a new tool to spot people who are too easily distracted while on the job.

Nilli Lavie, a psychology professor at University College London in England says she's developed a method of measuring how easily a person's attention wanders. She says it could be used by employers when hiring workers and could prove especially useful for jobs - such as a bus driver or pilot - where distraction could lead to fatal errors.

Easily distracted people are more likely to be involved in accidents, noted Lavie.

Could be dangerous
"When you are easily distracted, you are more liable to do things like put your keys in the fridge or call out 'come in' when answering the phone. These are the more amusing consequences of distraction," she said in a prepared statement. "But distraction can have more serious implications. For example, it is known to be associated with a higher risk of being involved in various types of accidents such as car and workplace accidents," she said.

The computer-based test designed by Lavie measures a person's accuracy and reaction times when exposed to distractions. It was tested on 61 people, and the findings were published in the Association for Psychological Science journal.

Not only did the study find that the test gauges how easily a person is distracted, it also found that all people - easily distracted or not - tend to be far less likely to be distracted when they're doing a difficult task. This is likely because people are so focused on completing a difficult assignment that they have no extra brain capacity for processing distracting information, Lavie said.

"This second finding shows that, even if you are more easily distracted than others, you can decrease your susceptibility to being distracted. This could have important implications for increasing attention and performance," Lavie said. – (HealthDayNews)

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Mind Centre

June 2007


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