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Attention

Daniel G. McDonald


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The concept of attention is one of the oldest and most commonly used in the communication literature. The concept is fraught with connotations that typically have little to do with the use of attention in a particular study because of its origins in vernacular language and the difficulty in separating everyday meaning from scientific meaning. To make matters more complicated, as Michell (1990) has noted, different operations often define different concepts, suggesting hundreds of attention concepts in the communication literature alone. Attention might be described as different concepts within particular levels of communication, and may best be understood through its oldest definitions. In its original use, the concept meant to take heed or to be ready to accompany someone. Over time, usage evolved into the military version of attention, which refers to a readiness for commands. These usages, and the connotations that have developed since, have been used to suggest that attention is a precursor to action of some sort. That is, in research at a macro-level, a society's attention may refer to the issues that are the objects of governmental policy. Organizational attention may similarly refer to those objects or actors in the environment that the organization focuses on. At the individual level , we perhaps see the most varied uses of the term, but all incorporating some sense ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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