Selective attention is a cognitive process to choose, on which stimuli we would like to focus and which one we should not pay attention to. It is comparable with a filter of all the stimuli we receive at one moment. One example of selective attention is the "Cocktail Party Effect" where a person is able to focus on a certain voice in a noisy room. Selective attention is also a factor in car accidents, drivers focusing on talking on a phone or holding a conversation with a passenger are more likely to be in an accident because they are more focused on the conversation than on the driving.
The video with the basketball passes and the bear is a very good example,
(even though we had it in our discussion already) of how we focus on our task, rather than pay attention to other events happening at the same time. When I saw the video first, I was very impressed, because I was so focused on counting the passes, that I did not see the bear at all, when it was shown that a bear appeared in the video I realized it.
. Selective attention is considered as very important to everyone. For instance while learning we filter just the important information, rather than knowing the whole text by hard. Because this phenomenon appears not just with me, but with almost everybody we can speak of reliability. But I was just wondering how it is possible for our brain, to really make the right decision of what is really important, and what we can just ignore. Maybe it is correlated with our nurture and what we have been taught what is important or not.
Psychology-From Inqury to Understanding, Scott Lilienfeld