Thursday, April 16, 2009

Focus Pocus - the Theory

First the Theory

Along the theory of Attentional and Interpersonal Style by Dr Nideffer
Attention comes in 2 dimensions:
  • Breadth: At any given moment, our attention will be Broad (focus on multiple cues at the same time) or Narrow (focus on one thing)
  • Direction: Similarly, our focus will either be External (focus on information outside of yourself) or Internal (focus in your own head). Internal focus is also the stuff of emotions

The appropriate style are used for different situations:

We must use broad external focus when we drive if we want to avoid the many obstacles that can get in the way of our car. If we are in narrow focus style, we are at great risk of missing one of the many external cues relevant to driving and crash into an incoming car for example.

A sports coach will use a broad internal focus to analyse and plan a strategy for the next game.

A goalie uses narrow external focus as he prepares for the soccer play to take a shot. If his mind is on the defender who arrived too late, he will miss the shifting of the shooter at the last minute

The bridge player uses internal focus as he reviews possible card combinations and the inferences he can make from the lead before he decides on the best line of play. Right at that moment, it is no use thinking about the state of the match at the other table the system agreements that we have with partner(The pic is a bunch of bridge players in the north pole, check it out:
Now, people are a bit like a televisions (well, the black box of the olden days anyway) . We can switch to all channels, but you cannot have a picture within a picture. We can all use all focus styles but we can do only one at a time.

But unlike televisions, we all have a preferred style of focus. This dominant style is relevant because it is what we tend to fall back on when the stress level is high.

In the next post ..... handball and bridge

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