Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



Selective attention is comprised of two simultaneous processes—the inhibition of distractors and the focus of attention on target stimuli; yet, many existing selective attention measures only measure one aspect of selective attention. This leads to a high possibility of Type I errors as high interference control or high working memory capacity may be mistaken for high selective attention. This paper proposes several criteria for high construct validity and external validity in selective attention measures.

Concerning construct validity, the test must allow participants to exercise selective attention, adequately measure the level of attention to the distractor stimuli, and adequately measure level of attention to the target stimuli. Concerning external validity, tests should utilize multiple modalities of stimuli. Several existing measures of selective attention were evaluated using these criteria, and it was determined that the Stroop color-word task had low construct validity, the other existing measures had moderate construct validity, and the Ruff 2 & 7 test was found to have moderate external validity. Two selective attention measures are proposed however, which have high construct validity, though only moderate external validity. Further research should attempt to develop these and other tests, though multiple modalities of stimuli should be utilized.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Jenni Redifer


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Psychiatry and Psychology