Effortful Attention Control Chapter uri icon


  • "Pay attention!" This familiar directive reveals an important clue about attention: Sometimes it exacts a cost. But under what conditions is attention costly? And what currency is spent when a person "pays attention"? In this chapter, we review evidence that the effortful control of attention exacts a psychological cost that is paid by a temporary reduction in the capacity for self-control. The research reviewed in this section indicates that acts of self-control undermine subsequent efforts to control attention. Performance on tests of attention-control capacity was undermined by prior acts of inhibiting racial bias, inhibiting thoughts of death, and exaggerating emotional expressions. Furthermore, attention-control capacity was measured in two different ways, including the Stroop color-naming task and the Operation Span (OSPAN) task. These findings are consistent with the limited resource model of self-control insofar as diverse acts of self-control appear to consume and deplete an inner resource required for subsequent attention control. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

author list (cited authors)

  • Schmeichel, B. J., & Baumeister, R. F.

citation count

  • 69

complete list of authors

  • Schmeichel, Brandon J||Baumeister, Roy F

Book Title

  • Effortless Attention

publication date

  • January 2010