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In goal neglect, a person ignores some task requirement though being able to describe it. Goal neglect is closely related to general intelligence or C. Spearman's (1904) g (J. Duncan, H. Emslie, P. Williams, R. Johnson, & C. Freer, 1996). The authors tested the role of task complexity in neglect and the hypothesis that different task components in some sense compete for attention. In contrast to many kinds of attentional limits, increasing the real-time demands of one task component does not promote neglect of another. Neither does neglect depend on preparation for different possible events in a block of trials. Instead, the key factor is complexity in the whole body of knowledge specified in task instructions. The authors suggest that as novel activity is constructed, relevant facts, rules, and requirements must be organized into a "task model." As this model increases in complexity, different task components compete for representation, and vulnerable components may be lost. Construction of effective task models is closely linked to g.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Psychol Gen

Publication Date





131 - 148


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Attention, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Female, Frontal Lobe, Goals, Humans, Intelligence, Male, Memory, Middle Aged, Psychology