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A theory of cognitive switching is presented which was developed from human performance literature and signaled stopping research. The purpose of the study was to validate the basic constructs of the theory and to present data which display behavioral traces of the ways people organize television news into their information-processing system during the actual reception of the messages. The findings suggest (1) that people cognitively switch for four basic reasons (functions) to: agree, disagree, think, and question; and (2) that people exhibit similar cognitive switching behaviors in similar information-processing situations, even though the content of the stimulus changes. Limitations of this type of research are discussed and implications for further study are suggested.