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Exponent Scientist Invited to Publish on Involuntary Distraction of Attention


July 26, 2010

Dr. Robert Rauschenberger, a Senior Scientist in Exponent’s Human Factors practice, recently published an article in Acta Psychologica entitled, “Reentrant Processing in Attentional Guidance — Time to Abandon Old Dichotomies.” The publication comments on a controversial proposal that all involuntary capture of attention (i.e., visual distractions against which we are powerless) is the consequence of factors that are determined entirely by the conspicuity of the stimulus (e.g., an item’s brilliant red against a blue background). The article, instead, argues that the notion of exclusively stimulus-driven attention capture is misguided because we, as observers, approach the world as active, information-seeking organisms. This distinction has vital implications for safety engineering, product design, and warnings communication (although not discussed in the article). This publication was an invited editorial for Acta Psychologica; an invitation that went out to only a little over a dozen of the top researchers in the field worldwide.