Average British attention span is 14 minutes, research finds

The average Brit's attention span last for 10 minutes in finance meetings while motorists lose focus and drive on 'auto-pilot' soon after setting off

Emma Elsworthy
Thursday 28 December 2017 12:50 GMT
It was found that drivers lose focus after an average of 10 minutes
It was found that drivers lose focus after an average of 10 minutes (iStock)

The average British person has an average attention span of just 14 minutes, new research has found.

According to the data, while watching television the average adult loses concentration – usually to look at a mobile device – after just seven minutes.

Finance related meetings or conversations only keep our attention for 10 minutes.

Listening to someone who is moaning, or who is gossiping about a complete stranger, leads to most of us tuning out after six minutes.

And, alarmingly, motorists lose focus on where they are and drive on ‘auto-pilot’ just 10 minutes into a journey.

The study found concentration is a struggle for many of us – with four in 10 admitting they have a particularly short attention span.

Stacey Stothard of Skipton Building Society, which carried out the research, said: “As we all lead busy lives, our attention spans only allow us to think about things in the short term, not the long term. So it is sometimes hard to see beyond your next cup of tea or weekly shop.

‘’Unfortunately our research shows due to our short attention spans we are simply not taking enough time to think about the things that matter, including our finances and the future.”

The poll also found when in a meeting, workers are unable to focus on what is being said for longer than 13 minutes, before they zone out.

Similarly, on a call with a client or customers, employees start getting bored and as a result read emails or ‘doodle’ just seven minutes in.

Listening to chatty colleagues keeps us gripped for just nine minutes, but that is cut to just six if they have a ‘boring’ voice.

Phone calls to family members last just nine minutes before their loved ones will multi-task by doing other jobs around the house at the same time.

And the mother-in-law can only command seven minutes of attention before her son or daughter-in-law tries to get her off the phone.

The survey did find attention spans are longer in situations which involve friends – and when enjoying a social engagement it can be 29 minutes before people reach for their phone.

Others last around 24 minutes before their focus starts to wane when watching a film, and a good book can keep full concentration for 15 minutes.

When it comes to why people lose focus, 26 per cent say it is because they’re so busy multi-tasking, while 18 per cent haven’t got time to waste.

And while 88 per cent of those polled believe they’re pretty observant, more than half find it very difficult to think about more than one thing at a time.

Stacey Stothard added: “ While everybody leads very busy lives with plenty of distractions, it’s important that we pay as much attention as we can to the things that matter.

‘’Everybody has different priorities and varying amounts of time they can spend on each, however one thing we all have in common is the need to have enough money to pay for the things we want to do.

‘’Only by taking time out, to ensure we have secure plans for the future can we be in the best place to make our aspirations a reality.’’


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