Papers

The Attention fixation

February 10, 2024by Editorial Team
All eyes

We are caught between the dichotomy of seeking and paying attention more than ever before in the history of the world. Where is it taking us? Can we think of a positive direction in our thought? Read on to discover, and uncover

Understanding the dichotomy

The concepts of getting attention and paying attention are used interchangeably, but they actually refer to distinct aspects of cognitive processing. Getting attention involves attracting someone’s notice or interest, typically through various stimulus or task. On the other hand, paying attention involves actively focusing one’s mental resources on a specific stimulus or task.
Attention is a cognitive process influenced by factors like selective attention sustained attention and divided attention. Attention seeking behavior can be motivated by various psychological factors such as desire for validation, social acceptance, or need for significance. Individuals may seek attention to fulfill emotional needs or alleviate feelings of insecurity. Kahneman’s attentional spotlight model emphasize the limited capacity of attention and the importance of allocating cognitive resources effectively.

 

Seeking and paying attention in school

In schools we see teachers use several strategies to captivate students’ interest and engage them. Getting attention is essential for initiating learning experiences, motivating students and promoting active participation in the educational process. Paying attention, on the other hand, refers to the students’ ability to focus on learning tasks, instructions or learning discussions. Paying attention is crucial for processing information effectively, understanding concepts and retaining knowledge.

Thus, in context of education, both getting attention and paying attention are equally important to foster students’ learning and academic success. As students we encounter this duality of getting and paying attention in our everyday experience. When we make a presentation or project in school, we strive to make it attractive and unique to get attention. At the same time, paying attention is equally important to understand concepts more clearly.

 

Attention conundrum in today’s world

We are familiar with celebrities and politicians who deploy ways to get attention using controversial statements, extravagant lifestyles and publicity stunts. On the other hand, personalities like Elon Musk are known for their ability to deeply focus on their work. Musk’s intense concentration and dedication towards his projects like Space X and Tesla, exemplify paying attention.

In the contemporary world, we see people denote their success through the attention the get in the social media, signified by likes, shares and followers. Videos on platforms like YouTube get viral as they quickly mass millions of views. As a strange contradiction, studies have also revealed that human attention span is gradually getting reduced and sustained focus is becoming increasingly challenging in the digital age. According to research done by Microsoft, the average human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2020. The graph shows a parabolic trend which is deeply concerning.

The verdict

As we weigh out the significance of getting and paying attention in everyday life and we correlate it with success in life, we come across a very significant realization. To be successful with the longer time horizon in mind, one needs to pay attention rather than seek attention. Paying attention makes you learn more and more. When you are well learned, you become more attractive yourself. People will give us more attention and be more attentive towards us. We would not need to seek attention.

 

About the author

The article has been contributed by Sookanyya Kumar, a student of Our Lady Queen of the Missions, School, Park Circus, Kolkata.

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