Involuntary attention is a variation of attention arising due to the effect on the analyzers of a stimulus and consists in reproducing an image, a phenomenon, an object without the application of will power. This variation of attention is considered the most elementary of its variety, also characteristic of animals. Involuntary attention is observed even in infants, but at first it is unstable in nature and is relatively limited in volume. It arises suddenly autonomously from consciousness, regardless of the type of activity performed at that moment under the influence of various stimuli acting on the analyzer of the organism.
The considered variation of attention is often referred to as passive or forced, since it originates and is maintained autonomously from human consciousness. Usually spontaneous attention arises due to a complex of reasons, including a variety of physical and psycho-physiological factors, as well as mental roots. All reasons are interdependent. In this case, they can be divided into the following categories.
The first is due to the nature of the stimulus from the outside. It takes into account, first and foremost, the strength or intensity of the stimulus. Any sufficiently powerful irritation provoked, for example, by loud sounds, intense light, strong odor, strong push, involuntarily attracts attention. However, the most significant value is not the absolute intensity of the stimulus, but the relative strength of the stimulus.
For example, when an individual is too much carried away by something, he does not notice weak “impulses”. Because their intensity is not too high in comparison with the intensity of the stimuli that make up the subject or condition of the individual's activity. At the same time, in other circumstances, for example, when wandering in the Morpheus Kingdom, human reactions to all sorts of rustles, squeaks, voices become quite sensitive.
It is believed that the occurrence of involuntary attention is associated with the coincidence of stimuli from the outside with the mental state of individuals, in particular with their needs. For example, a person who has a feeling of hunger will react differently to the mention in the conversation of food, rather than well-fed. The hungry subject to the chatter, in which we are talking about food, will involuntarily take notice. This feature is the second category of factors causing the considered variant of attention.
The third category is due to the general aspiration of the individual. The sphere of interests of people includes subjects and areas most of their interest (in particular, and professional interests). Therefore, a sudden "collision" with the subject of interest gives rise to the phenomenon in question. Therefore, the architect, walking along the narrow streets of an unfamiliar town, involuntarily draws attention to the elegance of old buildings.
Consequently, the general aspiration of the individual and the presence of previous experience have a direct impact on the formation of spontaneous attention.
Therefore, the phenomenon under consideration arises when one of the following conditions is present: an unexpected impulse, intensity of stimulus and novelty, contrast of phenomena or objects. The appearance of this variation of attention is also influenced by the inner mood of a person.
T. Ribot, a French psychologist, hypothesized that the unconscious attention is due to the deep recesses of the human being. The direction of the described species of attention of a specific individual demonstrates his character or his aspirations.
Based on this characteristic, it is possible to draw a conclusion regarding this individual, for example, that he is inherent in lightheadedness, simplicity, limitation, or vice versa, depth, sincerity. A beautiful view attracts the artist’s attention, influencing his innate aesthetic sense of beauty, whereas a person who follows this route every day sees only ordinariness in such a landscape.
Features of involuntary attention
The phenomenon in question is characterized by a lack of focus in the process of fixing the consciousness on a specific stimulus. This type of attention is considered to be its primary type, which is produced in the process of ontogeny at the preschool stage. The peculiarity of the described variation of attention is the absence of volitional regulation.
Thus, spontaneous attention is its primary form, due to reflex settings. It occurs due to the influence of external impulses. It is maintained without the conscious desire or intention of the individual. The property of the acting stimuli, their emotional coloring, strength or novelty, connectedness with the needs determine the capture and riveting of attention to individual phenomena, objects, persons.
The physiological basis of spontaneous attention is an unconditioned-reflex guiding activity. Its neurophysiological adaptation is the excitation coming from the subcortical zones of the cerebral hemispheres to its cortex.
The main condition for the emergence of involuntary attention is the lack of confrontation of motives, the conflict of interests inherent in its arbitrary form, where an individual can be “torn off” by rival impulses that have different directions, but which can attract and retain the consciousness of the individual.
Thus, the peculiarity of the phenomenon under consideration lies in its origin, with the prevalence of external stimuli over the power of arbitrary impulses, when subdominant stimuli are made more intense in some conditions and circumstances than the leading ones at the moment.
The catalysts of the considered variation of attention are not always external objects, conditions, but also needs, desires, emotional states, that is, everything that concerns or interests a person.
Often it occurs when the individual is tired against the background of adverse conditions (hot or cold, stuffy, musty air) or when the work that the individual does not take does not require active mental activity.
Passive attention is characterized by a short-term course, but under a number of conditions, in accordance with the strength of third-party stimuli affecting an individual, it can appear quite often, interfering with leading activity.
The considered variation of attention differs from its arbitrary colleague by the presence of the obligatory component - will. Non-passive attention is characterized by a conscious concentration of the individual on certain phenomena or objects of the surrounding world.