The Concept of Identity and Children’s Selective Attention
As a source of information, the environment is inexhaustible, but not all events are relevant to the individual’s present and future activities. Selective processes are inevitably part of cognition, first in determining which information is registered and then in specifying what information will be retained. Thus an initial selection of information may have a spatial component: Sensory systems such as the eyes or hands are oriented to a particular location at a given time. Only a fraction of the information registered will receive further processing, however. This second selection involves active recoding of certain aspects of the perceptual input in order to facilitate subsequent recall and recognition. Both forms of selectivity can occur together, and selective processes obviously play an important role in determining what information about the world an individual will obtain. In selecting only a portion of the available information for detailed processing, people restrict what they can know about the environment. The developmental problem is to determine how children come to adapt their selectivity in ways appropriate to the requirements of their activities.
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