Attentional inertia reduces distractibility during young children's TV viewing.

D. R. Anderson, H. P. Choi, E. P. Lorch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The longer a look at TV is maintained, the conditional probability that it will be further maintained rapidly increases for about 15 sec, after which it increases slowly. This increase in the conditional probability of maintaining a look is called "attentional inertia." An external audiovisual distractor stimulus was presented during 3- and 5-year-olds' TV viewing. The distractor was less effective in eliciting a head turn from the TV if it was presented after a look at the TV had been continuously maintained for at least 15 sec. If a head turn to the distractor following such a maintained look did occur, moreover, its reaction time was significantly increased. Parallel effects were found for the nonviewing pauses between looks. The results provide evidence of increasing attentional engagement as a look at TV is maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)798-806
Number of pages9
JournalChild Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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