What holds attention to television? Strategic inertia of looks at content boundaries

Robert P. Hawkins, Suzanne Pingree, Jacqueline Bush Hitchon, Eileen Gilligan, Leeann Kahlor, Bradley W. Gorham, Barry Radler, Prathana Kannaovakun, Toni Schmidt, Gudbjorg Hildur Kolbeins, Chin I. Wang, Ronald C. Serlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Looks at television that cross content boundaries (both between and within programming) provide an opportunity to examine the causes of attentional inertia - that looks at television become very much more stable after the first few seconds. Previous research left unresolved whether this inertia is due to expectations or biologic processes (strategic vs. nonstrategic processes), and this study allows direct comparisons. The strength of the inertial relationship varied considerably for different kinds of program boundaries, and also for within-program boundaries, with the latter varying as well by the genre in which they were contained. Taken together, the results provided no evidence for nonstrategic, biological processes causing attentional inertia. Instead, several genre-specific explanations based on expectations and cognitive demands are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-30+94
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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