Cocktail party effect

The first research into this

The most well documented first version study of this effect was conducted by Colin Cherry, who was a British cognitive scientist, in 1950s and onwards. Cherry’s work often focused on auditory attention with one of those areas being the cocktail party research.

  1. Speaking voices such as speed, pitch or if the voice was male or female
  2. Accents
  3. Direction of the voice
  4. Tranisition probailities, our abiltiy to pick up a few word and then fill in the gaps to form a complete sentance

The cocktail party visually

The original study looked at it from just an audiotary perspective but the same principle could be applied visually as well. For example, if you notice your name when scrolling through a website you are instantly drawn to that because you wonder why is my name being mentioned here?

Selective attention

One fun example of selective attention is how sometimes as a child (or as an adult) when going on a long road trip you would play spot the car colour. The rules of the game were simply, you would say shout when you see a yellow car or vehicle. We then would filter out all of the other colours and focus on looking for that yellow car.



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Michael Gearon

Michael Gearon

Senior Interaction Designer and Author of Tiny CSS Projects book. Living in Cardiff, South Wales, interested in human psychology and behaviours.