Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Psychology: The Science of Human Behaviour
Givler, Robert Ch.
that they do not call forth a sufficient release of 
energy. To be sure, other stimuli than the most in¬ 
tense are, under certain conditions, capable of arous¬ 
ing us, since many faint stimulations can sum up 
into a powerful excitation. Besides, attention often 
depends upon the area of the sense organ affected. 
A large, faint cloud, for example, may be seen when 
a small one would float by unnoticed. 
Again, change of size or intensity, whether from 
large to small, or from less to greater, usually causes 
us to attend. “One notices a whistle of changing 
pitch or intensity where a constant one would escape 
notice. One even appreciates the ticking of a watch 
as it stops, although the preceding continuous tick¬ 
ing has not been noticed at all. Similarly, objects 
that move toward or away from us are noticed, al¬ 
though the same objects would escape notice if sta¬ 
tionary, and our only way of knowing that they 
move away or approach is from the changing size.” 
So far, however, we have made no very clear dis¬ 
tinction between attention and sensation, for all the 
examples given above could be cited with equal right 
under either of these mental processes. And, indeed, 
psychologists draw no sharp line between one form 
of attention, called involuntary, and sensation itself, 
except to point out that whenever one stimulus is 
producing a stronger response than any others, the 
field of clear consciousness begins to be narrowed, 
and the object so stimulating us “takes the center of 
our mental stage.” Here, then, is something new. 
The things we are attending to become focal and con¬ 
sequential, they dominate and direct our main out¬ 
put of energy, while the other objects present are, 
by being more or less neglected, placed in the mar¬ 
gin or background of our minds. Attention, then,


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