Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

2020 Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


  • Mary L. CourageEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_1066



Distractibility is the difficulty in maintaining attention or a tendency to be easily diverted from the task at hand (American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology 2007).


Efficient learning, problem solving, and task performance require that attention be focused selectively on information that is relevant to the task, while task-irrelevant distractors are ignored. Individuals often fail to ignore distractors, and those who report a greater frequency of such attention failures are at increased risk for inefficiencies, accidents, and degraded task performance that can be of minor or major consequence. Sources of distraction can be external (e.g., background noise, a peripheral image) or internal (e.g., mind-wandering, daydreaming) and can involve information presented in the same modality (e.g., visual target-visual distractor) or across modalities (e.g., visual target-auditory...

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This research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to Mary L. Courage (418206).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMemorial UniversitySt. John’sCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Beth A. Visser
    • 1
  1. 1.Lakehead UniversityOrilliaCanada