The Consequences of Everyday Inattention
Carriere, Jonathan Scott Andrew
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Beginning with a series of several self-report questionnaire studies I examine the potential for everyday attention lapses to create an inability to form connections to the external world, particularly through the experience of chronic boredom, and to subsequently lead to depression. In the first study I examine this process through the intermediate role of memory failures in the onset of boredom and depression, while in the second I examine the role of self-efficacy and in the third I add psychological stress as a further intermediate step between attention lapses and depression. For each study significant associations are found between self-report measures of attention lapses and attention-related cognitive errors, as presumed causes, and boredom proneness and depression as presumed outcomes. Structural equation modeling is then used to show these associations are well explained by an Attention-to-Affect model in which the attention lapses and attention-related errors predict the onset of boredom and depression, in part through their effects on memory failures (Chapter 1), perceived self-efficacy (Chapter 2), and psychological stress (Chapter 3). That these Attention-to-Affect models provide much better fit for the data runs contrary to the typical conception of attention and memory problems as consequences of emotional distress. Following from these models I examine in more specific terms the disconnect experienced as a result of attention lapses, through a laboratory study employing the Sustained Attention to Response Task. This study (Chapter 4) revealed a significant influence of attentional challenges on blinking behaviour, suggesting that whenever our attentional capacity is tested we have a tendency to momentarily direct our thoughts inwardly, perhaps to re-evaluate our attentional performance, and that the timeframe of this redirection is expanded following lapses of attention, and the commission of attention-related errors.