The Feldwick Factor: Are our attention spans shorter?

Paul Feldwick

Has the amount of time we spend online shortened our attention spans, and has this led to the demise of long copy ads?

Robert Stevens, chief executive, Think Eyetracking

As to your first question, I don't know. There's a lot of speculation that the lure of the next click, the addictive qualities of social media, email and texting are significantly affecting the quality of people's attention. Maybe there's something in this – I can even recognise some possible traits in my own behaviour. But a universal shortening of attention spans seems hard to square with the large crowds happily sitting through 146 minutes of the latest Harry Potter film, still less with all those who have read its several hundred pages. If people collectively were losing the ability to deal with large bodies of continual text, I wouldn't expect so many of them to be buying Stephen Fry's memoirs, or a Kindle. It's just that sustained attention, as always, needs to be earned.