Schedule of Events | Search Abstracts | Symposia | Invited Symposia | Poster Sessions | Data Blitz Sessions

Poster F15

Examining individual differences in inward versus outward attentional control: the attentional preference questionnaire

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Nia McClendon1, Mark Beeman1; 1Northwestern University

Attention is a multifaceted phenomenon, with individuals varying in how they allocate and manage their attentional resources. Moreover, individuals may express similarly unique attentional preferences when trying to maintain concentration (i.e., attentional control). Here, we investigate whether some individuals find it easier to stay focused in the face of inward (self-generated) distractions while others find it easier to shut out environmental distractions. By specifically surveying internal and external facets of attentional control, the present study explores the different ways individuals can modulate and direct their attention and how this interacts with other cognitive traits or behaviors. We’ve developed the Attentional Preference Questionnaire (APQ) to survey an individual's preference for either external or internal attentional control. Participants (N = 541) were given 30 minutes to complete three questionnaires: Need for Cognition, Mind-Wandering, and the APQ. After running analyses to ensure strong reliability and internal consistency, we investigated the structure of the APQ via principal component analysis (PCA), which resulted in one question being excluded from the final questionnaire. We then uncovered a three-factor structure via exploratory factor analysis (EFA), which suggests that the APQ measures three facets of attention, which are mapped onto questions surveying internal, external, and general attentional control. The Attentional Preference Questionnaire can serve as a crucial tool for investigating attentional control preferences. In addition to enhancing our understanding of attentional control, this study lays the foundation to explore how these preferences influence a variety of cognitive processes, including creative problem-solving.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Other


CNS Account Login


April 13–16  |  2024