Directed Attention Fatigue and Restoration

Causes of DAF: Running Multiple Models

Running multiple models can cause DAF.

While doing any kind of concentrating uses up Directed Attention, running multiple models can drain attention fast. We run multiple models are when we compare different plans or ideas, or do creative work.

Not only do these activities involve holding at least two models or sets of ideas about some aspect of the world, we also have to compare and evaluate, and maybe even put ourselves into the imagined world.

Other circumstances in which we run multiple models include deception, keeping secrets, living a double life. We even do it in ordinary times like trying to be polite in a difficult situation, or talking about one subject while worrying about something else, especially when we want to conceal the worry.

Running multiple models is like juggling—the more things we have to keep track of, the trickier things get. With any kind of double-bookkeeping, there are unusually high numbers of details to track and many things to inhibit.


Kaplan, S. (1978). Attention and fascination: The search for cognitive clarity. In S. Kaplan & R. Kaplan (Eds.), Humanscape: Environments for people. Belmont, CA: Duxbury. (Republished by Ann Arbor, MI: Ulrich's, 1982)

Kaplan, S. and R. Kaplan (1982). Cognition and Environment. New York: Praeger. Republished 1989 by Ulrich’s, Ann Arbor, MI.


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