I spy with my little eye!”: Breadth of attention, inattentional blindness, and tactical decision making in team sports

Institute of Sport and Sports Science, University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology (Impact Factor: 2.59). 07/2007; 29(3):365-81.
Source: PubMed


Failures of awareness are common when attention is otherwise engaged. Such failures are prevalent in attention-demanding team sports, but surprisingly no studies have explored the inattentional blindness paradigm in complex sport game-related situations. The purpose of this paper is to explore the link between breadth of attention, inattentional blindness, and tactical decision-making in team ball sports. A series of studies revealed that inattentional blindness exists in the area of team ball sports (Experiment 1). More tactical instructions can lead to a narrower breadth of attention, which increases inattentional blindness, whereas fewer tactical instructions widen the breadth of attention in the area of team ball sports (Experiment 2). Further meaningful exogenous stimuli reduce inattentional blindness (Experiment 3). The results of all experiments are discussed in connection with consciousness and attention theories as well as creativity and training in team sports.

Download full-text


Available from: Daniel Memmert,
  • Source
    • "This article is not about crossing the road and this anecdotal example does not have anything to do with Olympic sports or sports in general, but it is suitable to introduce two different types of information processing: one requiring controlled attention and one not requiring controlled attention. Although researchers have acknowledged the importance of attention in sport (Abernethy, 2001; Furley & Memmert, 2010; Memmert, 2009; Moran, 1996; Wulf, 2007), research in this area is underdeveloped and has been conducted in a piecemeal fashion without a suitable overarching theoretical framework: 'a suitable framework to study the influence of attention on sport skills has not been established' (Boucher, 2008, p. 326). In addition, attentional accounts of skill acquisition and performance in sports – e.g. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The goal of the present article is to introduce dual-process theories—in particular the default-interventionist model—as an overarching framework for attention-related research in sports. Dual-process theories propose that two different types of processing guide human behavior. Type 1 processing is independent of available working memory capacity, whereas Type 2 processing depends on available working memory capacity. We review latest theoretical developments on dual process theories and we present evidence for the validity of dual-process theories from various domains. We demonstrate how existing sport psychology findings can be integrated within the dual-process framework. We illustrate how future sport psychology research might benefit from adopting the dual-process framework as a meta-theoretical framework by arguing that the complex interplay between Type 1 and Type 2 processing has to be taken into account in order to gain a more complete understanding of the dynamic nature of attentional processing during sport performance at varying levels of expertise. Finally, we demonstrate that sport psychology applications might benefit from the dual-process perspective as well: Dual-process theories are able to predict which behaviors can be more successfully executed when relying on Type 1 processing and which behaviors benefit from Type 2 processing.
    International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology 03/2015; DOI:10.1080/1750984X.2015.1022203 · 3.35 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "It is well-known that, particularly during fast team ball sports, athletes are required to deal with a multitude of attentional processes under physical exercise ranging from moderate to intensive effort. They have to simultaneously perceive the positions and movements of teammates, opponents, and the ball, and consciously decide on the best possible action [1]. In order to be successful, team sports players should have and maintain a high fitness level as well as a high cognitive skill level irrespective of physical exercise bouts. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A number of studies document that physical exercise influences cognitive performance in a variety of ways. Some of these studies present the relationship between the workload of exercise and the activation level of the central nervous system as an inverted-U relationship. Among the factors that could be responsible for diverging results are the participants' individual fitness level and the athletic status. While athletes and non-athletes do not differ in general cognitive skills, athletes are better able to maintain these during physical exercise especially under high exercise intensities. Hence, we hypothesized that the inverted-U function applies for non-athletes but disappears in team sports experts. We compared athletes' and non-athletes' cognitive performance on a measure of attentional behavior under three different physical exercise intensities. Results showed an increase of non-athletes' attentional breadth right up to a certain level of maximal aerobic power before decreasing, as expected according to an inverted-U curve. In contrast, athletes' attentional breadth continued to increase with higher physical exercise intensities. We concluded that physical exercise influences participants' attentional behavior and that individual fitness acts as a moderator of this relationship.
    Physiology & Behavior 05/2014; 131:87–92. DOI:10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.020 · 2.98 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Clearly, more research is warranted to further illuminate the effects of set size in the search task on attentional guidance from WM. Again, team sports offers a suitable domain in this endeavor as previous research has suggested that successful team-sports decision making in a computer based sports task requires a broad attentional focus [31] to incorporate all promising passing options and selecting the best one. Therefore, we expect that increasing the potential targets competing for limited attentional capacities in a computer based team-sport task will also result in a broadening of attention and therefore result in greater attentional guidance effects. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Three experiments investigated the predictions of the biased competition theory of selective attention in a computer based sport task. According to this theory objects held in the circuitry of working memory (WM) automatically bias attention to objects in a visual scene that match or are related to the WM representation. Specifically, we investigated whether certain players that are activated in the circuitry of WM automatically draw attention and receive a competitive advantage in a computer based sport task. In all three experiments participants had to hold an image of a certain player in WM while engaged in a speeded sport task. In Experiment 1 participants had to identify as quickly as possible which player was in possession of the ball. In Experiment 2 and 3 participants had to decide to which player they would pass to in a cartoon team handball situation and a photo picture basketball situation. The results support the biased competition theory of selective attention and suggest that certain decision options receive a competitive advantage if they are associated with the activated contents in the circuitry of WM and that this effect is more pronounced when more decision options compete for attention. A further extension compared to previous research was that the contents of working memory not only biased attention but also actual decisions that can lead to passing errors in sport. We critically discuss the applied implications of the findings.
    PLoS ONE 05/2013; 8(5):e62278. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0062278 · 3.23 Impact Factor
Show more