Inattentional Blindness

Inattentional blindness — not seeing something in plain sight because the mind is paying attention to something else.

We all know it’s dangerous to text or use hand-held cell phones while driving, but it’s also dangerous for the driver to converse on the phone, or even with a passenger. We stop tuning into the cars around us. This chart shows how when we use our brain to listen to another person we mostly stop checking for cars behind and to the side of us. And even when our eyes are on the road ahead of us, there’s no guarantee we’re seeing everything we need to. Humans don’t have enough brainpower to pay attention to everything, so we have “inattentional blindness.” Magicians are a great example of how this works:

We’re not aware of everything that’s going on.

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12 Responses to Inattentional Blindness

  1. Rummuser says:

    No, we are not and some serious experiments have been conducted on this phenomenon including, strangely enough, one with a gorilla walking through a basket ball game. Strange, because, at the back of the total picture sequence, there is a prop of a gorilla costume!
    http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Story 11. The Gritty Lady.

    • Jean says:

      Yes, I’ve seen that. I didn’t use it because I figured enough people knew about it that it wouldn’t have the same impact as something new.

  2. bikehikebabe says:

    This explains why Tom doesn’t hear me when I talk. He’s doing something else. WHAT A RELIEF TO KNOW THIS.

  3. Mike says:

    That’s why multitasking is less effective than proponents think.
    Mike´s last blog post ..The Harvest Gypsies–Their Blood is Strong.

  4. Rummuser says:

    I had to search quite a bit to locate something that had stayed in my memory and which I thought I had saved, but could not locate. Despite being rather dated on current standards, this article is worth a read. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-multitasking
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Story 11. The Gritty Lady.

    • Jean says:

      In fairness there is a downside to extreme focusing. I still remember my mother yelling, “How could you burn hard-boiled eggs and not notice — when you were in the same room!” Actually I did eventually notice. But not in time to air out the kitchen before she came home. The smell was bad, yes, but I had been studying my Spanish.

      Thanks for taking the time to find the link. It confirms my prejudices. :)

  5. tammyj says:

    going to check out the links here.
    this is a fascinating subject.
    i used to multitask with the best of them… thinking i was accomplishing so much.
    the fallacy of the multi tasker i think.
    then i fell back on re reading and studying zen again.
    i relaxed. i did one task a time. i was calm. imagine that. . . calm! hadn’t been calm on the job in years. i had always had great deadlines. you know… i reached them even easier when i finally quit multitasking… and with less stress too!
    i love bhb’s comment. LOLOL!!!
    tammyj´s last blog post ..oh my gosh !!!

  6. bikehikebabe says:

    I learned to multi-task. Check the stove. Rinse the sprouts while looking at the yogurt to see if it’s yogging. Get that laundry in NOW while calling the kids to go grocery shopping, answer the phone etc. I loved it. :D

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