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Does Isolating a Visual Element Call Attention to It? Results of an Eye-tracking Investigation of the Effects of Isolation on Emphasis

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The study reported here assessed the effects of isolation on attention. Is it true, in other words, that isolating an element in a visual display—moving an element away from other elements and surrounding it with white space—will inspire a greater allocation of attentional resources to the isolated element than to other elements on a page or screen?

While demonstrating that under carefully controlled conditions isolation does indeed have an effect on attention, the results of this experiment should be invoked with caution because this study does not suggest how strong the effect of isolation may be, particularly when used in concert with other factors that could compete for the viewer’s attention.

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: 2005-02-01

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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