Inattentional Blindness

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The most interesting thing to me from the past two weeks was the subject of attention, more specifically inattentional blindness. Inattentional blindness is the failure to perceive things that are in plain sight. It is caused by an absence of attention to the unseen object. This proves that without attention we are blind. I think inattentional blindness can be ever more specific to just refer to the failure to see unexpected objects. Of course this can be best demonstrated by the invisible gorilla test first done by Daniel Simons.
Inattentional blindness is important because it proves we have selective attention, meaning it allows us to focus on important things going on around us without distraction from irrelevant events or objects. Of course there is a drawback to our inattentional blindness. For example, many automobile accident reports report drivers saying they "looked but failed to see" the other vehicle. Many collisions between cars and motorcycles involve cars turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle, with the car driver not seeing the motorcyclist. Given that motorcycles are less common that cars, inattentional blindness is likely to be the cause of the accident because the car driver is expecting to see another car when they look instead of a motorcycle. This also applies to things like talking on cellphones. While talking on a cellphone people are less likely to detect objects and events. It is also used in many magic shows. The audience focuses on something while the actual manipulation of the trick is being done away from the distraction.

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This page contains a single entry by bowma242 published on October 9, 2011 11:36 PM.

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