Attentional Biases - Why Life is Like a Minestrone

It is often the case that clients find it difficult to recognise and process positive information about themselves or the world at large. Some people may disagree, but as a child (and probably until quite recently) I did not like soups that contained "bits". If the analogy below does not work for you, try reversing it.

The "bits" in the minestrone represent all the negative things in the world - I know, it is harsh to scapegoat a soup in this way, it is quite a burden - and they are caught in the brain's collander to be used as "evidence" that life is indeed bad. All the lovely soup drains away.

By asking clients to keep a positive data log, we provide them with something to catch the positive things that happen, just like placing a bowl under the collander.

This strategy means that clients now have to attend to positive data. It is a form of attentional priming. If you ask someone how many blue cars they noticed on the way to the clinic they would probably not be able to tell you. They will probably notice them on the way home.

Attention, as the first part of the perceptual-information process, does not really get the attention it deserves.