So, I’m cruising down the aisles at the local market, looking at all of the brand selections for my next week’s dinner compilation when I think to myself how vivid all of the imagery on the packaging of the branded items is. Have you ever noticed how strikingly lucid some of the packages are or noticed how the shapes just draw your eyeballs to them? Well, this is no magical act, the packaging of an item and the shape are made that way on purpose, so your object-based attention is activated while you are shopping for these items.
In reading an article by Elias Cohen and Frank Tong, they made it very clear what “neural mechanisms of Object-Based attention” affect our human behaviors. In their research, they used fMRI and multivariate analysis. After using these technologies to study the effects of object-based attention, they found “superior knowledge of upright objects led to improved attentional selection in early areas.” In other words, people’s attention got better as they looked at objects and if the objects were familiar to them from seeing the shapes previously. So, as I’m still shopping at the market, I come to the dairy section and what grabs my eyes right away? The 3D triangular sized cheese product that looks like the cheese you would see back in the cartoons you watched as a child. Why did this cheese stand out to me more than the others? It was because I was familiar with its shape from my previous experience with watching a triangle shaped piece of cheese in cartoons growing up. According to our textbook Goldstein, B. (2011), “attention can be based…on where a person is looking on a specific object (object based attention.” So, it was pretty clever that the manufacturer of the cheese product decided to shape the cheese into a 3D object so as to grab a consumer’s attention right away, giving them an advantage over all the other cheese brands.
This leads me back to Cohen and Tong’s argument. They cited a simple idea from another researcher Duncan 1984, who said “according to prominent theories of object-based attention, the attentional system is predisposed to select entire visual objects during top-down enhancement.” We as humans will turn our attention straight to something that is of a shape form right away because we are just built that way. Most of the companies in today’s day and age are constantly trying to grab the consumer in different ways of advertisement and will have a leg up in the race when they choose to add a 3D dimensional shape to their product. This is what we know from Goldstein B. (2011) as the feature integration theory “when we look at an object, we see the whole object, not an object that has been divided into its individual features.” This process is occurring before we ever even know it is happening just because we as humans will analyze everything about an object since it is in our physiological nature.
In essence, objects will grab our eyes. Once we engage our attention to the object we will begin the process of what we will choose to do with that visual stimulation.
Cohen, Elias H. & Tong, Frank “Neural Mechanisms of Object-Based Attention” 2015-03-06
Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Wadsworth, Inc.