Motivation and the Seven Second Attention Span

The well documented decline in the ability to focus has everybody who can focus for more than 7 seconds talking about it for at least the length of a book manuscript—or the length of a blog post.


But, the real estate worth fighting over, for our money, is not focus, but attention.

Focus happens after attention has been attracted. And, with so many forms of noise distracting the masses from messages that may or may not be beneficial for them, attention is at a premium.

But not focus.

Yes, we realize that the immediacy of social media responses and the immediacy of Internet based information has created concern that the human brain is changing—and it is—but the real battle is still not focus.

The reason we believe that the decline in focus is a symptom of the current Social Age, and not the disease, is because the core of attention, intrinsic motivation, has always been—and will always be—a limited resource.

And while we don’t personally believe that resources are limited, we know that society has been arranged to bring into reality the belief that while attention is limited, internal motivation should be limitless.

And yes, we have seen the neuroscience research around attention and focus, as well as the research around Pavlovian operant conditioning, punishment and reward studies and other behavioral studies since the 1950’s.

But, we still hold that as our technology has increased, from the oral tradition to Twitter, there has always been misplaced concern over focus rather than attention.

We really should have a few more books and blog posts about motivation…

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *