AP Psychology : Attention and Focus

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Attention And Focus

The __________ is the lowest level of a stimulation that an organism can detect.

Possible Answers:

sensory adaptation

minimal activity stimulus

all-or-nothing phenomenon

absolute threshold

difference threshold

Correct answer:

absolute threshold

Explanation:

Absolute threshold is the lowest level of stimulation that an organism can detect. For example, the quietest sound that a human can hear is their absolute threshold for hearing.

Example Question #2 : Attention And Focus

Which type of processing makes us vulnerable to optical illusions?

Possible Answers:

Biological

Left-right

Top-down

Cognitive

Bottom-Up

Correct answer:

Top-down

Explanation:

Top-down processing involves the impact of prior knowledge on sensation and perception. Many optical illusions are successful by capitalizing on our prior knowledge to influence our perception of an image.

Example Question #3 : Attention And Focus

During which of the following activities might you use selective attention?

Possible Answers:

All of these activities would employ selective attention

Having a convorsation with a friend at a loud party

Quietly reading a book

Attending a concert at a sold out show

Driving on a busy freeway during rush hour

Correct answer:

All of these activities would employ selective attention

Explanation:

Selective attention allows one to focus on certain specific sensory information, while ignoring other sensory input. All of the given examples would require selective attention, and in fact, almost every situation you could imagine would require some level of selective attention. For example, when reading a book, even if you are in a quiet room, you require selective attention to focus on the pages and words while ignoring any sort of background noise or action in your periphery. 

Example Question #4 : Attention And Focus

The cocktail party effect focuses on which type of perception?

Possible Answers:

Olfactory

Gustatory

Visual

Auditory

Vestibular

Correct answer:

Auditory

Explanation:

The cocktail party effect explains one's ability to focus one's attention on one particular sound (an auditory stimulus) while simultaneously filtering out others. The name for this effect comes from the ability of a person at a party to focus his attention onto a particular conversation, while drowning out the other conversations happening at the party.

Example Question #5 : Attention And Focus

Which of the following describes the ability to pay attention to one voice among many?

Possible Answers:

The cocktail party effect

Auditory polarity

Figure-ground

Grouping

Divided attention

Correct answer:

The cocktail party effect

Explanation:

The cocktail party effect describes a person's ability to attend to just one voice among a group of voices--akin to a party guest's ability to listen to just one person's voice among the voices of many conversations. 

Example Question #6 : Attention And Focus

Which of the following is characteristic of a child in the concrete operational stage of development?

Possible Answers:

When Jeff pours orange juice from a large cup into a smaller one, he recognizes that the amount of juice remains the same.

Jackie explores the world around her by crawling and touching the objects in her environment.

Eli is able to complete algebra problems on his own.

Andrew continues trying to drink from a leaking cup without attempting to find the source of the leak.

Liz believes that everyone else sees, hears, and experiences things the same way that she does.

Correct answer:

When Jeff pours orange juice from a large cup into a smaller one, he recognizes that the amount of juice remains the same.

Explanation:

Jeff's knowledge that the amount of juice stayed constant is evidence that he understands conservation. According to Piaget, a child's understanding of the conservation concept is characteristic of the concrete operational stage, as this stage marks the start of logical and operational thinking. 

Example Question #7 : Attention And Focus

Timmy looks at a car engine, then from looking at the fully assembled engine attempts he figures out how the spark plugs work. Timmy is using __________

Possible Answers:

cocktail party phenomenon

top-down processing

bottom-up processing

perceptual set

Correct answer:

top-down processing

Explanation:

Top-down processing involves processing information by utilizing prior knowledge and conceptual knowledge of the whole. This allows the perception of how the smaller pieces make the whole. Timmy sees the whole, assembled structure of the engine in order to understand the workings of the spark plugs. Had he looked a spark plug, then attempted to figure out the workings of the engine, that would have been bottom-up processing.

Example Question #8 : Attention And Focus

Sam is driving down a busy street when a dog runs out of a yard and right in front of his car. Sam did not see the dog until it was in front of his car. This causes him to swerve and hit another vehicle. Why did Sam not see the car that was next to him?

Possible Answers:

He was experiencing choice paralysis

He was experiencing the cocktail party effect

He was experiencing inattentional blindess

His focus was narrowed by bottom up processing

Correct answer:

He was experiencing inattentional blindess

Explanation:

Inattentional blindness describes the ability of the human mind to block out all but a single, deeply focused on piece of sensory input. The sudden sensory input of the dog in front of his car caused Sam's focus to narrow so significantly that he was inattentonally blind to the car next to him. The cocktail party effect, on the other hand, describes a person's ability to single out one voice among many in a room, and even to shift that focus, picking individual sounds on which to focus in a noisy room.

Example Question #9 : Attention And Focus

What is inattentional blindness?

Possible Answers:

Focusing awareness on an unknown stimulus.

Looking at the big picture as opposed to focusing on smaller details.

A developmental disease impacting one's vision.

Failing to see objects when one's attention is directed elsewhere.

One's ability to focus one's attention on multiple sources.

Correct answer:

Failing to see objects when one's attention is directed elsewhere.

Explanation:

Inattentional blindness is failing to see objects when our attention is directed elsewhere. An example of this would be going through a red light while driving because your attention was focused on texting. 

Example Question #10 : Attention And Focus

Which of the following is not a principle of Gestalt psychology?

Possible Answers:

Gradient

Continuity

Connectedness

Closure

Similarity

Correct answer:

Gradient

Explanation:

Gestalt psychology emphasizes "the whole" because humans tend to integrate pieces of information into meaningful wholes. Gestalt therapy focuses on individual responsibility. Gradient is not a principle of Gestalt psychology, while all of the other answer choices convey how humans process information in wholes. 

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