Cognitive Psychology Lectures:  By Stephen R. Schmidt, MTSU

Resource Allocation

  1. Demonstration of Dual-task Performance
  2. A Model of Resource Allocation
  3. Major Assumptions
  4. Yerkes-Dodson Function
  5. Automatic vs. Controlled Processing
  6. Conclusion on Attention & Resource Allocation

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I. Demonstration of Dual-task Performance

II. A Model of Resource Allocation

Kahneman (1973)

III. Major Assumptions of Resource Allocation

  1. Limited capacity processor that can divide-up resources
  2. Total amount of resources is influenced by arousal
  3. Some processes require more resources than others
  4. We allocate resources to optimize performance
  5. We can perform multiple tasks effectively as long as the total resources required does not exceed the resources available.

IV. Yerkes-Dodson Function

V. Automatic vs. Controlled Processing

A.  Basic Differences: (Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977)
Automatic Processes Controlled Processes
Do not require attentional resources Require resources
Occur without intention Require conscious intention
Not available for conscious inspection Conscious activities
Well practiced responses Not well practiced
Fast Slow


B.  Examples of Automatic and Controlled tasks
Automatic Processes Controlled Processes
walking running an obstacle course
freeway driving driving in an unfamiliar city
recognition of frequent words recognition of rare words

C.  Example Experiment:

Klapp, Boches, Trabert, and Logan (1991)

Dual task performance:
     1)  alphabet arithmetic:


    2)  month saying (January, February, March, April ...)


VI.  Conclusion on Attention & Resource Allocation

1)  Partial selection occurs early in the information processing stream.
2)  Selection is not the result of the action of a simple, all or none, physical filter.
3)  The selection process is sensitive to the past experiences of the subjects and the context of the recognition task.
4)  Performance of multiple tasks is a complex task of allocating limited resources and performance of some operations that are automatic and thus do not require resources.

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