The truth about attention spans

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 3, 2021

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Do people today really have shorter attention spans?

Well, it appears that because multiple messages bombard us daily, we mentally “delete” those we don’t currently need. (This explains why some folks forget what they had for breakfast, or why I call so many of my friends “Pal.”)

Latest reports – compiled by scientists who pay attention – set the average adult attention span at only eight minutes. It’s reportedly even shorter if you’re a dog, and shorter still if you’re a roaming animal, like a dog with amnesia.

The key to getting attention, research says, is to appeal to as many senses as possible. If we can see something, hear it, and have a chance to “talk back” to it (such as responding to a message by typing a response), we’re more likely to retain it.

Following this logic, the best way to make a person remember you is to meet her, ask questions, listen to her answers, shake her hand, then buy her dinner.

A few years ago, we called this a “date.” Today, however, we applaud it as a great scientific discovery.

So, what have we learned? (1) To get somebody’s attention, ask him or her out for dinner. (2) To keep that person’s attention, limit the date to eight minutes.


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