Sensation Seeking and Selective Attention: Focused and Divided Attention on a Dichotic Listening Task

  • Ball S
  • Zuckerman M
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Differences in selective attention as a function of sensation seeking, extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism were examined in 108 undergraduates using a dichotic listening task. Dependent measures included shadowing performance, reaction times to a secondary light task, target detection, and recall. The results suggested that high sensation seekers have better focused attention than low sensation seekers, and these effects were strongest on the 1st trials of the shadowing tasks. High sensation seekers did not attend differently than low sensation seekers to words related to their interests (sexual, violent, or drug related). Extraversion was associated with greater recall of these kinds of words, although there were no overall differences in selective attention as a function of Eysenck's dimensions. The role of arousal in personality and attention is discussed, particularly in regard to the response of sensation seekers to task novelty.

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  • Samuel A. Ball

  • Marvin Zuckerman

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