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How Do You Measure Attention?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Unfortunately, most professionals rely on questionnaires that ask the person if they FEEL like they are focused, if they can pay attention, if they are distracted, etc… However, data shows that people are terrible “self-reporters”. As an easy example, someone that has been drinking may feel great! But their reaction times, judgement, logic, may be impaired. If you’ve ever watched a video of yourself, you have probably experienced a time when you thought you did just great because you felt good about it initially. But your communication may have been poor, no eye contact, incoherent message, giggled too much, said repeat words over and over. In other words, how you felt did not match how you performed. More accurate measures of attention identify the following:

  • Do you respond more frequently to visual or auditory input?

  • When do you start to daydream and under what conditions?

  • What happens if you are presented with both visual and auditory info at the same time?

  • In a fast-paced environment do you check out, start jumping the gun, or get laser-like focus?

  • In slow-paced environments, can you breathe and keep up, fall asleep or think about what you need at the grocery store?

  • When you are on a roll, can you restrain yourself and stop when needed?

  • Can you switch topics quickly and keep pace?

  • Can you focus intently over time?

  • Are you consistent in your thoughts and actions?

  • Can you continue to pay attention when disinterested?

  • How do you respond when the input you see or hear is in conflict?

These are best analyzed by objective measures (i.e. formalized tests) rather than through questionnaires.

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