This effect is easy enough to simulate in Photoshop, but I wonder how common it is. Most people use selective, luminance-based lens blur to simulate shallow depth of field. I'm talking about guiding the eye more in the painterly, less optics-based sense. This post is mainly about analyzing what painters do and incorporating those ideas into photography, although it is also interesting to see the efforts of artists who are approaching photographic ideas from the painterly side.
One could argue, I suppose, that creating a hierarchy of edges is only necessary for painters, and that photographers needn't worry about this issue (aside from DOF) because most of the edges are produced by the camera already suitably hard or soft. I'm not so sure about that. I think further manipulation might be warranted and beneficial.