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The effect of divided attention on inhibiting the gravity error


Address for correspondence: Bruce M. Hood, Bristol Cognitive Development Centre, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 5 Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TN, UK; e-mail:


Children who could overcome the gravity error on Hood's (1995) tubes task were tested in a condition where they had to monitor two falling balls. This condition significantly impaired search performance with the majority of mistakes being gravity errors. In a second experiment, the effect of monitoring two balls was compared in the tubes task and a spatial transposition task not involving gravity. Again, monitoring two objects produced impaired search performance in the gravity task but not in the spatial transposition task. These findings support the view that divided attention disrupts the ability to exercise inhibitory control over the gravity error and that the performance drop on this task is not due to the additional task demands incurred by divided attention.