Why are we always looking for distractions

Easily distracted? According to studies, it's because of that

Distractions are just a click away today. Even chirping birds, hammering excavators or gossiping colleagues disturb our circles. But the more difficult a task is, the more frustrated we get over time and the more we look left and right, right? No, apparently not entirely. US researchers have found that we are mostly be distracted, if…

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Easily distracted: It depends

You are sitting in the office and are supposed to take minutes of the last team meeting. A thankless task! Ah, how good that an email has just come in to cheer you up. Haha funny! OK, back to the record. Just checked the cell phone again. Hihi, Sybille's Whatsapp message is not bad either. Wait, breaking news on the screen, I have to take a quick look ...

work is with distraction connected. In the age of smartphones and social media, more than ever. Always, always, continuously.

But: Before the information age, it was not fundamentally different. The US golfer Tom Kite is said to have said: "You always find a distractionif you are looking for one. " And further: "Discipline and concentration are a matter of interest."

So that could Kite are spot on. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology dispels the hypothesis that the more difficult the task at hand, the easier it is for people to be distracted.

Focus: Conflict between the inside and outside world

“People almost constantly have to express their need for inner concentration with their need to participate in the outside world balance, write the study authors, psychology professors Simona Buetti and Alejandro Lleras from the University of Illinois. "But when the need for inner focus is great, we sometimes have the feeling that we are temporarily saying goodbye to the outside world so that we can achieve a higher degree of spiritual concentration."

The psychologist duo now wanted to use several experiments to find out when and how easily we can be distracted - and whether the assumption is correct that the Level of difficulty plays the decisive role in this.

First, they asked their subjects to do some math problems different difficulty to solve.

Meanwhile flickered on the screen neutral pictures in front of the participants - a cow in the pasture, a cup on a table - which should tempt you to take a quick look. An eye tracker followed each eye twitch of the participants down to the last detail.

Result: The easier the math taskthe greater the likelihood that subjects blinked at the screen. If the task was more difficult, they looked at the screen less often.

Distraction: gorillas in the middle

According to researchers, it should actually have been the other way around. “This suggests that when someone is focused on a complex task, his sensitivity diminished for the things that happen around him and are not related to the task "explains Buetti.

But the phenomenon of the so-called is underpinned Inattention blindness.

Accordingly, concentrated people often overlook curious, strange or unexpected events that occur in parallel. Probably the best-known example, also launched at the time by the University of Illinois, are the gorillas in our midst.

During the experiment, many test persons who had been told to concentrate fully on the basketball game scenes in the video shown did not notice a person in a gorilla costume walking across the screen.

“Between the inner world, in which you want to solve a problem, and the outer world - what is happening around you - there seems to be an urge to yourself to detach from the one, if Increased attention for which other is required "says Lleras.

Engagement Theory of Distractability

“Interestingly, seemed the level of difficulty of the task It doesn't matter how easily the participants get distracted ", adds Buetti.

Your hypothesis: Perhaps it is not the degree of hardness of a nut to be cracked that mainly determines our distraction. Maybe it is rather - new German: Commitment - one person is decisive for this.

The researchers also created a completely new technical term for their concept: the “Engagement Theory of Distractability”.

So they designed a new task and this time lured the participants with monetary incentives. Again a surprising result: Financial incentives had no significant impact. But: "The more the participants struggled with a task, the more reflexively they avoided distractions, regardless of financial incentives"says Buetti.

The bottom line is that there are likely to be several factors that determine how easily we are distracted. In addition to the level of difficulty and a quiet environment, this also includes our commitment and interest.

How much do we commit ourselves to a task?

  • Is ours Stakes high, concentration and focus also increase.
  • Is that to us Task does not matter, we are reluctant to concentrate - and are more easily distracted.

Distraction: personal responsibility

For example, if you are determined to go through the exercise before the exam and solve it without errors, you are making a commitment. The effort increases, concentration and focus, sources of distraction, on the other hand, are perceived less and less frequently.

Also means: Distractions - the others are not always responsible for this, Facebook and television. But above all we ourselves.

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