A major research limitation in investigating the validity of the TAIS has been the failure to distinguish when attentional style has an effect on the information processing system, early as in encoding or late after processing. Few investigations have examined the TAIS predictive validity in a controlled setting wherein task attention demands can be systematically and accurately varied. Does the general trait of attentional style really have anything to do with how attention related information is processed? The present study examined this question using a valid attention theory (Treisman's feature integration theory) and a visual search paradigm. When the TAIS attentional-style scales were correlated with visual search rate for attention demanding targets, no significant relationships were observed. Specifically, TAIS scales did not relate to visual search rate for an attention demanding target, the performance of subjects extreme in search rate, or the central to peripheral slowing of search time in target detection. The factorial validity of the TAIS was also questioned. It was concluded that the attentional-style scales were not valid in predicting how attention related visual information is processed. The importance of distinguishing when attentional style might be operating in the information processing system was emphasized for future research.
Deborah Dewey, who was at the University of Waterloo at the time of this study, is now attending the University of Galgary in the Department of Psychology. Fran Allard and Lawrence R. Brawley are with the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 Canada.