Deutsch-Norman Memory Model of Attention

Different psychologists explain how selective attention works. Deutsch and Norman declared in their theory that all stimuli are analyzed entirely, then the most important or related stimulus determines the response. It can be said that selection does not occur depending on the pre-selection filter but after the recognition of the stimuli. This model hypothetically works on the connoted characteristics of the message, excluding inputs of the memory and future awareness if they did not have expected content.

What is Deutsch-Norman memory?

According to this memory, they proclaimed all the stimuli to be processed entirely, with a critical difference being a filter positioned later in the facts processing practice just before the arrival of working memory. Norman revised the Deutsch and Deutsch model in 1968 and added that input power is also an important factor in selecting it. Deutsch and Norman's theory claims that all messages are regularly processed for meaning in at least some aspects. After this routine processing, attentional selection happens. Thus, this theory is called Late Selection Theory. The information selected or not depends on how relevant the information is at that time.

Origin of Deutsch-Norman memory

During the 1940s, initial evidence for selective attention was derived from the work of de Groot's Dutch psychologist. The models presented by Broadbent (1957), Treisman (1960), Deutsch and Deutsch (1963), and Norman (1968) were the more significant theories in this field after de Groot's model. The model proposed by Deutsch and Deutsch was termed as Pertinence Model. Deutsch and Deutsch proposed that both information channels were identified but rapidly forgotten unless they held private relevance to the individual. In a few shadowy experiments, the participants are told to repeat a particular message, creating personal importance necessary for attention. In the Pertinence model, all information is processed earlier, and the selection will only occur after analyzing each input information. Norman further explained the Deutsch and Deutsch model by proposing that selection is determined by the relevance of the input information in the sensory memory and the strength of the input. The strength of the input can be elaborated by stimulating any sensory system, auditory, tactile, visual, or olfactory. In the Late Selection Model, responses that are output are nearer to the attention than the senses that are input. An increase in arousal also accompanies this stimulation.

Explanation of Deutsch-Norman Memory

Deutsch Norman's memory is termed the Late Selection Theory. In this theory, no filtering takes place based on features. Instead, entering stimuli are cross-checked with the connoted contents of long-term memory. The stimulus is selected depending on the evaluation of its importance. According to this memory, attention is not necessary to intuitively process and recognize items. Nevertheless, creating a more long-lasting portrayal of the information is essential.

Working Procedure of Late Selection Theory or Deutsch-Norman Memory

Late Selection Theory detects the attentional filter later while processing information. The facts from the sensory store are filtered and then identified depending on the physical features. Nevertheless, it undergoes a secondary selection mechanism before passing into short-term memory. This mechanism chooses some selective information based on connoted characteristics or message contents. All stuff is processed at this point, and the fact that it is evaluated to be the most important is amplified entirely. The amplified information is most likely to be kept while the unexplained ones are forgotten.

Example of Deutsch-Norman Memory

The importance of a message depends on many factors, which include its context and individual relation to certain kinds of content. The level of awareness also has great importance. During the low level of awareness during sleep, only the most important messages, such as the crying sound of a baby, caught our attention. While at a high level of alertness, less important messages like construction sounds can be processed. Usually, a system of attention works to find out which of the incoming messages is the most valuable, then we will respond only to those messages. In shadowing experiments, the participants were asked to say English words repeatedly, which were presented to one ear. They were then evaluated for their memory of two-digit numbers, which were presented in the other ear. It is demonstrated that the participant has no memory of those digits if they continue to shadow for more than 20 seconds before being evaluated. Although if they were evaluated just after the demonstration of the numbers, then they could remember some of the digits.

Criticism of the Deutsch-Norman Selection Model

All stimuli, including the assumed irrelevant stimuli, are processed entirely. When this model is compared with Treisman's attenuation model, the approach of the Late Selection model seems wasteful, along with the detailed processing of all information before the selection of entrance into working memory. A serious problem in this model is that the information from many messages that remain unattended is entirely lost. Norman proposed that this is due to the storage of information in short-term memory, the information being forgotten rapidly. If they are told to remember the last few words of an unattended message, he said that the participating member could recall the last few words of the unattended messages. Revising the Pertinence model may be because it is considered uneconomical.


The Deutsch Noman model is a revised model of the Deutsch and Deutsch model. The initial model focused on the significance of connotations. The revised version involves a second selection method to take in the role of connotations in the process of selective attention. This model does not say that stimuli without attention get processed into the working memory. Instead, secondary stimuli have to pass through a secondary filter. This secondary filter will only permit the important stimuli to enter the working memory. Hence, only stimuli with important meaning would become aware when not paying attention.

Updated on: 12-Dec-2022

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