Note of Psychology that describes the theory of the reflector, with analysis of the main theories such as that of LaBerge.
When we look at a scene, part of it is in focus and another part is blurred and confused, so we have the Reflector Theory (Yantis, 1998): attention similar to the light of a reflector. Everything within a small area of the field of view can be seen clearly.
It is therefore difficult to see anything that is not within the light beam of the reflector. It is possible to direct attention elsewhere by moving the reflector.
From this derives the Theory of Zoom (Eriksen and St. James, 1986):
the attention is directed towards a specific region of the visual field, we decide whether to focus our attention on a large or small area.
LaBerge’s experiments (1983): Subjects were presented with five-letter words. It was asked to focus attention both on the whole word and in the middle of it. The spotlight of attention was very narrow when the subjects focused on the word and very wide when they focused on the letter.
Limits of the reflector and zoom theories.
Studies by Neisser and Becklen (1975): attention
visual can be directed towards certain objects rather than towards an entire area (in an experiment in which 2 overlapping images were shown and participants were asked to pay attention to only one of them, they could easily)
Studies by Driver and Tipper (1989): neglected visual stimuli (therefore outside the reflector) are often processed as they noticed a disturbing effect in the stimulus linked to the next test.