Conceptual and methodological concerns in the theory of perceptual load

Hanna Benoni*, Yehoshua Tsal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The present paper provides a short critical review of the theory of perceptual load. It closely examines the basic tenets and assumptions of the theory and identifies major conceptual and methodological problems that have been largely ignored in the literature. The discussion focuses on problems in the definition of the concept of perceptual load, on the circularity in the characterization and manipulation of perceptual load and the confusion between the concept of perceptual load and its operationalization. The paper also selectively reviews evidence supporting the theory as well as inconsistent evidence which proposed alternative dominant factors influencing the efficacy of attentional selection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberArticle 522
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - 2013


  • Dilution
  • Distractor interference
  • Early vs. late selection
  • Perceptual load
  • Selective attention
  • Visual attention


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