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Can J Exp Psychol. 2017 Jun;71(2):146-159. doi: 10.1037/cep0000118.

Safe or out: Does the location of attention affect judgments at first base in baseball?

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Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, Dalhousie University.


Titchener's law of prior entry states that attended stimuli are perceived before unattended stimuli. Prior entry effects measured with visual stimuli have been generated with both endogenous and exogenous attentional deployment (e.g., by Shore, Spence, & Klein, 2001). In theory, the endogenous form of prior entry may have implications for baseball umpire judgments. Conventionally, umpires are instructed to first attend to the ball when it is hit into play; however, where they attend at the imperative instant of the play at first base can vary between individuals and across scenarios. If the law of prior entry holds in the baseball context, umpires may be biased to make judgments in favour of the imperative event nearest the locus of attention. We tested this hypothesis by having non-umpires make "Safe" or "Out" judgments in response to first base baseball plays wherein the relative arrival times of the runner and baseball were varied. A novel colour wheel method was implemented in an orthogonal task to bias attention endogenously and to measure the effectiveness of this manipulation. Attention was confirmed to be successfully biased to the glove or base by way of improved identification at the likely probe location. However, there was no evidence that prior entry was affecting Safe or Out judgments. (PsycINFO Database Record.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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