Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Ronald A. CohenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1296


Effort is derived from the French word meaning “to force.” Today, it is widely used to refer to the expenditure of energy (i.e., work) to achieve a particular goal. Within psychology, effort refers to controlled attention or intentional processing that is required to complete demanding tasks that require intense attentional focus or sustained performance.

Historical Background

Effort was one of the subjective experiences that psychologists of the early twentieth century tried to account for as they contemplated the nature of consciousness, attention, intention, and “will.” James (1890) in his Principles of Psychology and lectures to teachers on attention distinguished between spontaneous passive attention and voluntary attention, which is “deliberate and effortful.” He stated that deliberate attention could not be sustained indefinitely, thus linking attentional effort to the idea that people have limited capacity for sustained attention.

Kahneman (1973) formalized the...

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References and Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, College of Public Health and Health ProfessionsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory, McKnight Brain InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA