Deutsch: Ablenkungskonflikttheorie / Español: Teoría del conflicto de distracción / Português: Teoria do conflito de distração / Français: Théorie du conflit de distraction / Italiano: Teoria del conflitto di distrazione /

Distraction-conflict theory refers to an analysis of performance gains in groups assuming that when others are present, attention is divided between the other people and the task; this attentional conflict increases motivation and so it facilitates performance on simple, well-learned tasks.


Distraction-conflict theory in psychology refers to the idea that attentional distractions can lead to a conflict within an individual. This conflict arises when there is a competition for cognitive resources between the distracting stimulus and the primary task at hand. The theory suggests that this conflict can result in decreased performance on the primary task as a result of divided attention. Researchers have explored how factors such as the salience of the distraction, its duration, and the individual's arousal level can influence the extent of the conflict experienced. Overall, distraction-conflict theory provides insights into how distractions can impact cognitive functioning and performance in various contexts.

Application Areas

  • Work environments
  • Educational settings
  • Clinical psychology
  • Driving and transportation
  • Social interactions

Treatment and Risks

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Mindfulness and attention training
  • Reducing environmental distractions
  • Risks of increased stress and anxiety
  • Impact on decision-making processes


  • Trying to focus on studying while receiving text message notifications
  • Listening to music while working on a complicated task
  • Engaging in a conversation while driving in heavy traffic

Similar Concepts and Synonyms

  • Dual-task interference
  • Attentional conflict theory
  • Multitasking challenges
  • Cognitive resource competition


Distraction-conflict theory in psychology explores how distractions can lead to conflicts within an individual's cognitive processes, resulting in decreased performance on primary tasks. Factors such as distraction salience, duration, and individual arousal levels can influence the extent of the conflict experienced. The theory has applications in various areas such as work environments, educational settings, and clinical psychology. Treatment approaches may include cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness training, while risks include increased stress and impaired decision-making. Overall, understanding distraction-conflict theory can provide insights into how distractions impact cognitive functioning and performance.