Monday, June 7, 2010

Inattentional Blindness

We experience selective attention almost everyday, we may think we are giving something our devoted attention, when in most situations we aren't. An example of this is inattentional blindness, when we are not able to perceive things that are in plain sight. A prime example of this is the famous YouTube video where a group of people are lined up wearing two different color shirts and the viewer is asked to count how many times the team in the white shirt passes the basketball. At the end of the clip the viewer is not only asked to answer, but if they viewed anything odd during the clip. Nearly half of the viewers neglect to notice the gorilla, or moon walking monkey that clearly stood out and made a prominent entrance in the clip. It is astonishing that people can focus so much on something that they fail to notice anything else. This phenomenon is actually quite scary because if they can;t notice a gorilla walking across a screen because they weren't expecting it, then how can they notice a a child running out in the middle of the street? In most cases people only experience inattentional blindness when they are focusing on a scenario where they are so fixed to see an end result, not while behind the wheel when they need to brace themselves for anything.

Most people don't realize but magic tricks are a prime example of how people take advantage of the fact that the average person fails to notice something in plain sight. The classic trick of the disappearing handkerchief is an example. It is so simple to notice once you know the trick, but since the audience is so focused on how and where the disappearing handkerchief is going they fail to notice that the magician is wearing a fake thumb that contains the handkerchief. In the link attached you can watch the trick and then see it reveled. I can guarantee now that you know how the trick works you will notice an obvious fake thumb on the magicians hand. However, when you are unaware of it, you fail to notice it, even though it is in plain sight right in front of your face.

click here to see the magic trick revealed

1 comment:

  1. Inattentional blindness is something I have always found to be so interesting. How do we miss half of everything around us? When I took cognitive psychology we watched the selective attention videos in class and I couldnt wait to come home and test my fiance. I showed him the video with the moon walking bear and like most people he missed it. He was just as amazed as I was. The selective attention tests are a wonderful way to show people how divided our attention really is. Great Post. Very interesting.