How to Stop Attention Seeking, Too

By Amy LoefflerThe New York Times article A new study found that people who feel like their attention is divided into two parts—a primary and a secondary attention area—can have a lot of trouble staying focused on their work and have difficulty focusing on what matters most.

People who are distracted in one part of their attentional field often experience difficulty staying focused in the other.

They also tend to be more easily distracted during meetings, and their work can be distracting too. 

The study, published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, also found that a person’s focus on a single task can make it hard for them to keep track of what they’re actually focused on.

“We’ve seen a lot more research into attention seeking disorders, but it hasn’t really captured what’s going on,” said Amy Loeschler, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. 

In her work, Loescher examined the prevalence of attention seeking in adults.

She used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Loeschier also compared the attention seeking behaviors of people who had attention seeking disorder to those of people without.

She found that attention seeking was more prevalent among people who were hyperactive and distracted.

They were more likely to report being distracted at work, to be overwhelmed by meetings and to be unengaged during the day.

“People with attention seeking tend to have hyperactive or distracted personalities,” Loeschtler said.

“They’re often hyperactive at work.

They’re distracted at meetings.

They get distracted by their phones.

They don’t want to work hard.”

When Loeschiels’ research team asked people what they were really interested in, she found that hyperactive people were more often focused on one of two tasks.

People with attention seek disorders, like hyperactive types, are more likely than those without to have trouble focusing on a task that requires two hands.

They are more often distracted by meetings.

And they are more easily caught up in their work than people who aren’t hyperactive.

Loefflers said the results could be a result of the fact that hyperactivity is more prevalent in hyperactive personalities, but also that attention is more concentrated on a primary focus area, like the primary focus of a job.

“In the study, hyperactive individuals were more apt to report more problems with attention control, including difficulty focusing,” she said.

Loses the FocusOn a second question, Loechler asked the participants to indicate what their attention was most focused on while they were doing the task.

This was a key finding.

“People who reported being distracted tended to be less likely to identify which part of the task they were focused on, Loses the focus.

It was as if they had no control over the focus, she said.”

The study also found a correlation between hyperactivity and difficulty with focusing on tasks that require two hands, like reading or typing.

People who were more hyperactive tended to have difficulty with these tasks.

The researchers also looked at whether the hyperactive participants reported more symptoms than the people who weren’t hyperactivity.

The study found a clear link.

“Hyperactive individuals reported higher levels of attention-related symptoms than their nonhyperactive counterparts, such as hyperactivity, decreased concentration, difficulty completing task,” Losesthe focus.

Lose the Focus is a clinical study of the prevalence and consequences of attention and attention seeking.

It is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.