Attention seeking (also called drawing attention) is behaving in a way which is in pursuit of attention from others. Where such behaviour is excessive and inappropriate, the term is often used pejoratively in respect of childrens' behaviour in front of peers, or negative domestic interactions. Enjoying the attention of others is socially acceptable in some situations. In some instances, however, the need for attention can lead to difficulties and may highlight underlying ones. As a tactical device, it is used in combat, theatre (upstaging) and it is fundamental to marketing.
In different pathologies or contexts
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Münchausen by Internet
- Münchausen syndrome
- Münchausen syndrome by proxy
- Personality disorders – A sustained pattern of attention seeking in adults is often associated with, in particular, histrionic personality disorder – but it may instead be associated with narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.
- Self-destructive behavior – It is a common misconception that self-destructive behavior is inherently attention seeking, or at least that attention is a primary motive. While this is undoubtedly true in some cases, normally the motivation runs much deeper than that. Many self-injurers are very self-conscious of their wounds and scars and feel guilty about their behavior leading them to go to great lengths to conceal their behavior from others.
- Voluntary false confession
"Attention seeking" is a term that can be misused in order to discredit people who are sincerely trying to reconcile themselves with past traumas - and their consequential maladaptive behaviors through others (which is necessary and beneficial when the trauma affects the personality), thus giving the impression of simply "seeking attention" - this is usually a consequence of extreme abuse and neglect which impair the sufferers capacity for healthy interpersonal transaction.
Tactical ignoring, also known as planned ignoring, is a behavioral management strategy used in response to challenging behavior that seeks to receive attention or to gain a reaction from others. It is a commonly used strategy when the person displaying the attention seeking behavior still feels rewarded by a negative response.
- Burns, Robert B. Essential Psychology, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991; ISBN 0-7923-8957-3
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) American Psychiatric Association (2000)
- Truth Hurts Report, Mental Health Foundation, 2006, ISBN 978-1-903645-81-9, retrieved 2008-06-11
- Gewirtz, Jacob L Three determinants of attention-seeking in young children (1956)
- Gewirtz, Jacob L A factor analysis of some attention-seeking behaviors of young children Child Development (1956)
- Harvey, Eric & Mellor, Nigel Helping Parents Deal With Attention Seeking Behaviour (2009)
- Leit, Lisa & Jacobvitz, Deborah & Hazen-Swann, Nancy Conversational Narcissism in Marriage: Narcissistic attention seeking behaviors in face-to-face interactions: Implications for marital stability and partner mental health (2008)
- Mellor, Nigel Attention Seeking: A Practical Solution for the Classroom (1997)
- Mellor, Nigel The Good, the Bad and the Irritating: A Practical Approach for Parents of Children who are Attention Seeking (2000)
- Mellor, Nigel Attention Seeking: A Complete Guide for Teachers (2008)
- Smith-Martenz, Arden Attention-seeking misbehaviors (1990)