20 Feb 2013

February 20th

Do you find it hard to concentrate? Recent research has shown that too much stimulation affects people living in cities. Well, I knew that already, just by observation. 

I once heard the theory that men and women developed differently. Man went out to hunt—single focused. Woman stayed in the cave, looked after the children, talked to other women, cooked, washed, cleaned—multi-tasking. Man is said to have tunnel-vision whereas woman is able to attend to many different things at once—react to a child's cry at the same time as cooking and gossiping.

The Goldsmiths, University of London study revealed that city dwellers find it difficult to concentrate, whereas their counterparts in urban areas do well at certain tests requiring concentration. Researchers tested people from the Himba tribe in Namibia in south west Africa—and also included a further comparison with young people in London. Tribesmen and women who had stayed in a rural, cattle-herding setting were much better at tests requiring concentration than members of the same tribe who had been urbanized and were living in towns and cities. The results for urbanized Himba were indistinguishable from the results of undergraduates taking the same tests in London. Click here for full BBC news.

The research suggests that people in an urban setting have too much stimulation, with an overload of sights and sounds competing for attention. Multi-tasking reduces many caffeine-fuelled office workers' ability to concentrate on a single task. With so many of the world's population living in cities, the consequences have far reaching significance. Many people will be working below their capacity when it comes to needing sustained concentration.

Have you ever opened a cupboard and wondered what you were doing there? I know this has happened to me when I've had too many things demanding attention at the same time.

The solution for many could be to move to the country and chill—maybe work from home. Another answer could be to reduce the number of distractions in our lives, and more particularly, our children's lives.


  1. Good post. Indeed, I think folks feel the need to multitask, and I am guilty. Consequently if I watch TV and read a magazine, I don't get the quality of either. When I am home writing, I do not have on music, tv, or anything else. When I read a book, it's rare for me to have on music. And thus, I retain a tad more. I do think kids today have phone, music, tv, games, etc - all are on, but what is really percolating? Hmm.

    1. I'm the same. I can't abide any noise to distract me when I'm writing. If I hear music, my mind follows the tune and words rather than what I'm supposed to be doing. Sometimes, I grab something to read during TV commercials, but it's too hard to pull away again to concentrate on the resuming program.


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