Most psychologists regard attention as having three interrelated aspects, all of which are part of a single complex act. Attention is (1) an adjustment of the body and its sense organs, (2) clear and vivid consciousness, and (3) a set toward action. So let’s take a closer look at Shaping Psychology and Aspects of Attention.
Attention as a postural response. When we attend to something, we adjust the body and its sense organs to receive particular stimuli most readily. When the physician listens with his stethoscope for certain faint sounds in the chest of his patient, his postural adjustment is as complete as is humanly possible.
He may even close his eyes to shut out distracting visual stimulation. This is a familiar example of the way we select the significant stimuli from among the many to which our sense organs could respond.
Attention as clearness in consciousness. The method of introspection must be used to illustrate the second aspect of attention. Do you wear glasses? If so, were you noticing the rims just now? Probably not. Yet they are in your field of vision. Look for them and there they are. Is a clock ticking in the room where you are studying or a radio playing softly in the distance? If so, were the sounds vivid in your consciousness a few seconds ago? Probably not.