Exploring the Impact of Focusing on the Experience of Attention


  • Ana Marija Lukenda University of Ljubljana


The contemporary way of life is full of challenges, manifesting as a result of rapid technological development and constant exposure to information through digital media which negatively impacts our ability to concentrate. Scientific research is exploring various solutions to address this challenge, with the practice of focusing emerging as a potentially beneficial approach for gaining a deeper understanding of inner sensations. 

In this thesis, I will investigate the impact of focusing on individuals' experience of attention. Despite existing studies that primarily concentrate on quantitative measurements, there is a lack of research addressing a first-person perspective. My research will employ a qualitative phenomenological approach, including in-depth interviews and diary analysis. By emphasizing the qualitative aspects of experiences, I will also explore potential differences among individuals. 

I anticipate that focusing will improve the ability to concentrate and reduce mind-wandering. This thesis will touch upon multiple disciplines, providing a comprehensive view of the topics under consideration. By integrating insight from cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience and philosophy, I aim to contribute to a holistic understanding of attention in the context of modern challenges.

The theoretical exploration will begin by examining the concept od attention and it's later developments in selective attention theory. I will also delve into Eugene Gendlin's focusing technique, which emphasizes the felt sense—a subtle bodily awareness that holds significant meaning [1]. 

I expect to find that focusing can mitigate the adverse effects of digital media exposure on attention, as evidenced by prior research highlighting the decline in attention spans [2]. Moreover, I will explore how focusing might help individuals manage information overload and improve their attention, as suggested by previous studies [3].

By combining theoretical exploration with experimental inquiry, this research seeks to shed light on the role of focusing in improving attention in the modern world. Furthermore, this research contributes to the cognitive science paradigm by providing insights into the qualitative experience of attention and its implications for overall cognitive functioning.


[1] E. T. Gendlin, Focusing, 1st ed. New York, NY, USA: Everest House, 1978.

[2] S. F. Funk, "The Modern Struggle: How Gen Z's Decreasing Attention Span Affects Higher Education," 2023, April 8. [Online]. Available: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/modern-struggle-how-gen-zs-decreasing-attention-span-affects-funk

[3] E. J. Slattery, E. O'Callaghan, P. Ryan, D. G. Fortune, and L. P. McAvinue, "Popular interventions to enhance sustained attention in children and adolescents: A critical systematic review," Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, vol. 137, p. 104633, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104633