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Feb. 8, 2011 — A new study in the journal Cognition overturns a decades-old theory about the nature of attention and demonstrates that even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one's ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods. The study zeroes in on a phenomenon known to anyone who's ever had trouble doing the same task for a long time: After a while, you begin to lose your focus and your performance on the task declines. Some researchers believe that this "vigilance decrement," as they describe it, is the result of a drop in one's "attentional resources," said University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, who led the new study. "For 40 or 50 years, most papers published on the vigilance decrement treated attention as a limited resource that would get used up over time, and I believe that to be wrong.
The Misconception: You rationally analyze all factors before making a choice or determining value. The Truth: Your first perception lingers in your mind, affecting later perceptions and decisions. You walk into a clothing store and see what is probably the most bad ass leather jacket you’ve ever seen.