Measuring the Interrelations Among Multiple Paradigms of Visual Attention: An Individual Differences Approach

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2012 Apr;38(2):414-28. doi: 10.1037/a0026314. Epub 2012 Jan 16.


A large part of the empirical research in the field of visual attention has focused on various concrete paradigms. However, as yet, there has been no clear demonstration of whether or not these paradigms are indeed measuring the same underlying construct. We collected a very large data set (nearly 1.3 million trials) to address this question. We tested 257 participants on nine paradigms: conjunction search, configuration search, counting, tracking, feature access, spatial pattern, response selection, visual short-term memory, and change blindness. A fairly general attention factor was identified. Some of the participants were also tested on eight other paradigms. This general attention factor was found to be correlated with intelligence, visual marking, task switching, mental rotation, and Stroop task. On the other hand, a few paradigms that are very important in the attention literature (attentional capture, consonance-driven orienting, and inhibition of return) were found to be dissociated from this general attention factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Color Perception*
  • Cues
  • Depth Perception
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Intelligence
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Motion Perception*
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Size Perception*
  • Space Perception
  • Stroop Test