Attention to Television and Some Methods for Its Measurement: Tom Grimes and Jeanne Meadowcroft
M EASURING attention is difficult because attention processes often can-not be observed directly. So researchers, primarily experimental psy-chologists, have developed indirect observation and measurement techniques to give them a window into the "black box" of cognition. It is not surprising that measuring attention can seem to be a highly specialized endeavor, one that could prompt a researcher in communication to wonder whether attention is a useful communication variable. We will offer an explanation of why attention should be isolated and studied as an independent variable, as well as provide an overview of some of the methods used to measure attention to television. Finally, we will review selected communication studies to illustrate the range of research on attention. Let us begin by answering some commonly asked questions about attention and its role in communication research.