Forty-five years after broadbent (1958): Still no identification without attention

Joel Lachter*, Kenneth I. Forster, Eric Ruthruff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

286 Citations (Scopus)


According to D. E. Broadbent's (1958) selective filter theory, people do not process unattended stimuli beyond the analysis of basic physical properties. This theory was later rejected on the basis of numerous findings that people identify irrelevant (and supposedly unattended) stimuli. A careful review of this evidence, however, reveals strong reasons to doubt that these irrelevant stimuli were in fact unattended. This review exposed a clear need for new experiments with tight control over the locus of attention. The authors present 5 such experiments using a priming paradigm. When steps were taken to ensure that irrelevant stimuli were not attended, these stimuli produced no priming effects. Hence, the authors found no evidence that unattended stimuli can be identified. The results support a modern version of Broadbent's selective theory, updated to reflect recent research advances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-913
Number of pages34
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Forty-five years after broadbent (1958): Still no identification without attention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this