Attention and Arousal: Cognition and Performance

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The thinker who has a mortal fear of being wrong will give all that is valuable in himself to that little ambition. Walter Lippmann (1914) Psychology has always been plagued by passing fads and fan- cies to a greater extent than is seemly in a scientific discipline. Over the past few years the Zeitgeist can be summed up by the two words 'cognitive psychology'. Indeed, a recent poll of academic psychologists in American indicated that over 80% of them regarded themselves as cognitive psychologists! Cognitive psychology is in the ascendant, but it has never been clear to me that it has addressed all of the appropriate is- sues. In particular, information processing in the real world (and even in the laboratory) occurs within a motivational and emotional context, but cognitive psychologists usually main- tain the convenient fiction that cognition can fruitfully be stud- ied in isolation. The main reason for writing this book was to at- tempt to demonstrate that there can be a useful cross-fertiliza- tion between cognitive and motivational-emotional psycholo- gy and that there are already tantalizing glimpses of the poten- tial advantages of such inter-disciplinary research. The ideas of Donald Broadbent and his associates have exer- cised a formative influence during the writing of this book. They discovered some years ago that there are intriguing simi- larities (as well as differences) in the effects on performance of such apparently quite disparate factors as white noise, time of day, introversion-extraversion and incentive.