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Title: The role of arousal in memory and attention
Author: Fowler, Christopher J. H.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1977
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It was considered from the relevant literature that the most satisfactory explanation of the behavioural effects of noise would be in terms of an arousal/distraction model (Teichner et al, 1966), Monetary incentives appeared to have the most satisfactory physiological and behavioural evidence as an arouser. An explanation of incentives and other arousers was offered by Kahneman (1973), in his model of effort and attention. The first experiment was designed to examine Kahneman's model more closely. Monetary incentives, 3 task difficulty levels, incidental learning (the colour of the word) and intentional learning (free recall of item) were incorporated in a two by three factorial design. The results favoured incentives as an arouser but not in the way envisaged by Kahneman. The data suggested that incentives increased capacity above and beyond the demands of the task (a la Davies and Jones, 1975). Further, the increased use of order recall coupled with increased item recall was not consistent with Domic's conception of order as a lower memory process. On the contrary, order appeared to be a successful STM retrieval strategy. The personality analysis could not make any distinctions between Eysenck's (1967) and Gray's (1972) theories. However, it did support the notion of incentives operating an arousal mechanism (extraversion).The second experiment was of a similar design but three levels of noise (60db, 80db and l00db), instead of incentives, were the main arousers. There was no significant evidence for noise acting as a distractor. Noise only appeared to affect neurotics significantly, particularly in the harder task where they appeared to "give up" (cf. Wiener and Schnieder 1970).The third, fourth and fifth experiments were designed to examine the role of order and other retrieval cues under incentives and noise. The results suggested that order enhances recall in both noise and incentive conditions. However, word locations were only successfully utilised by incentive groups. This again suggests that incentives 'broaden' attention whilst noise 'narrows' attention. The final chapter discussed the differential role of order under noise and incentives, and also the possibility that an explanation of many of the effects may lie in the masking properties of noise.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Behavioral Psychology