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Appears in Collections:Psychology eTheses
Title: Active control in human information processing
Author(s): Russ, Elizabeth A
Issue Date: 1981
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: It is argued that man has considerably more control over the use of his intensive resources than most existing theories of voluntary and involuntary attention indicate. Contrary to the view of Kahneman (1973), data is presented which indicates that man can use his knowledge of a task to take active control of information processing through a task-specific change in activation state ("controlled activation", Hamilton and Hockey, 1974). Nine experiments, eight which use variations on the active/passive paradigm (Hamilton and Hockey, 1974) and one which uses a closed system thinking task (Hamilton, et al., 1977) are reported. Results are presented which indicate that when subjects are allowed to predict time-of-arrival of designated critical items, auditorily presented on the same sensory channel, they will produce a controlled modulation in activation state in phase with critical item presentation which serves to increase receptivity when critical items arrive. Further evidence is presented which suggests that a controlled activation can be used to maintain currently wanted behaviours even when other activities in which subjects engage would tend to force state into an inappropriate configuration. The results suggest that the usefulness of controlled activation is limited not only to situations in which preview of task demand is available, but also to situations in which sufficient time for activation state change to develop is available. Evidence which suggests the existence of individual differences in the ability to modulate state is also presented. The implications the controlled activation process hold for future models of the information processing system are discussed. It is argued that these models must present an integrated system which allows for voluntary control of both the intensive and interpretive resources. After Hamilton, et al. (1977) it is suggested that control in such a system is hierarchically structured.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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