Laughing off that there carrot-crunching image
After centuries of being portrayed as carrot-crunching simpletons by everyone from Shakespeare and Dickens to today’s comedians from that there London, us slow rural folk now have the perfect riposte.
For scientists have proved that people who live in remote, rural areas have a greater ability to concentrate on tasks, and can pay attention to something for longer than those townies who love to mock.
In fact, the stereotype of the West Country Wurzel being slow-witted compared to city folk should actually be the other way round.
Researchers from Goldsmiths University in London said their study showed that living in busy cities, where traffic jams often happen naturally and not because of a tractor driver stopping for a chat, can reduce people’s ability to concentrate on tasks and shortens attention spans.
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Dr Karina Linnell, from the university’s department of psychology, said people living in an urban environment were “not functioning at their optimum level of engagement”.
Scientists actually gleaned this piece of information by studying people from a remote tribe in Namibia, in south western Africa, and compared their attention spans with those of their brothers and sisters in the Himba tribe who had moved to the city, and with people living in London.
Despite this, Dr Linnell said the evidence could be extrapolated to cover rural areas of Britain. And she even suggested companies should realise that their country bumpkin workers might actually be better at their jobs than those fast-talking city types.
“While for this research we focused on the Himba to ensure a suitable control group, the findings do have wider implications.
“This research suggests a trend that people who live in less urbanised areas of the UK may be in a better cognitive state to concentrate on tasks then those who live in large cities,” she added.
Those who participated in the study were asked to examine a target and ignore peripheral information – for example, people were shown an image with a face in the middle and asked to signal which way it was facing, while ignoring related faces appearing in the periphery of the image.
“Attentional engagement has a big impact on our ability to conduct tasks to the highest standard,” she said. “What if, for example, companies realised certain tasks would be better carried out by employees based outside of the urban environment where their concentration ability is better?”
The authors studied the remote cattle-herding tribe in north-west Namibia, and compared traditional tribe members with “urbanised” tribe members – those who had moved to a nearby town – and urbanised British.
Members of the Himba tribe living remotely could better focus their attention to the task that urbanised tribe members and British participants living in London.