Kingstone, A., Smilek, D., Birmingham, E., Cameron, D., and Bischof, W. F. (2005). Cognitive ecology: Giving real life to attention research. In J. Duncan, L. Philips & P. McLeod (Eds.) Speed, control & age: In honour of Patrick Rabitt. Oxford: Oxford Press, 341-357.
Studies of attention, often conducted in artificial laboratory experiments, may have limited validity when performance in the natural world is considered. Forinstance, for over two decades investigations of "reflexive" and "volitional"attention have tended to be grounded in methodologies that do not capture the demands of attention in everyday life. Recent studies suggest these laboratoryinvestigations have lost touch with real life contexts and accordingly they maygenerate fundamental misunderstandings regarding the principles of human attention and behaviour. We identify the basic assumptions of laboratoryresearch that has led to this state of affairs, and suggest a new set of assumptionsthat lead to a new research approach, which we call "cognitive ethology". The implication is that if one is to understand human attention in everyday life then research needs to be grounded in the natural world and not in experimental paradigms.
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