Do YOU notice anything unusual in this video? If not, you might suffer from inattentional blindness
Notice anything unusual in this video? If not, you may suffer from ‘inattentional blindness’
- New York University has recreated the classic 1999 “invisible gorilla” test
- People were more likely to see a fast-moving foreign object than a slower object
- Experts suggest that this could be traced back to our primal instincts for detecting predators
For many of us, hazard perception was one of the more enjoyable and less nerve-racking parts of the driving test.
But if discovering the unexpected isn’t within your skill set, scientists warn you could experience “inattentive blindness.”
Researchers at New York University (NYU) have recreated the classic “invisible gorilla test” from more than 20 years ago in an effort to understand our abilities.
More than 1,500 participants were shown unsuspecting footage of six people throwing two basketballs between them.
While viewers were asked to simply count how many times those dressed in white passed the ball, this was not the real test at all.
The phenomenon of inattentive blindness refers to the inability to notice unexpected objects when focused on a specific task
Instead, scientists were eager to know if participants saw the unexpected gorilla running through the crowd.
What is Accidental Blindness?
Inattentive blindness is a phenomenon that occurs when a change in your line of sight is introduced and you do not notice it.
It can occur because of our narrowly focused attention span.
For example, right now your attention is focused on this particular phrase. You may not realize that things are changing around you in the room.
It is largely interpreted as a “cognitive deficit” that has previously been cited as a reason why people at the scene of a crime may not have actually witnessed it.
“It has been thought for decades that when we are fully focused on something relevant, such as driving a car or playing a game, we do not notice something that unexpectedly enters our field of vision, even if it is clearly visible and moving,” said lead author Pascal Wallisch, a clinical associate professor at New York University.
‘Our research questions the generality of this view, as it shows that while concentrating on a task, people are quite capable of noticing unexpected objects that are moving quickly. However, our research confirms that we are indeed less adept at noticing the same objects when they move slowly.’
The phenomenon of inattentive blindness refers to the inability to notice unexpected objects when focused on a specific task.
It is largely seen as a “cognitive deficit” that has previously been cited as a reason why people at the scene of a crime may not have witnessed it.
NYU tried to learn more about the nature of this through several experiments, including a modernized version of the 1999 gorilla test.
This time, scientists examined whether the gorilla’s speed changed the result — a condition not tested in the original experiment.
Meanwhile, 3,000 other participants were subjected to another test using the same principles.
Researchers at New York University (NYU) have recreated the bizarre ‘invisible gorilla test’ from more than 20 years ago to examine participants’ abilities
This counted how many random dots moved across a central line, while an unexpectedly moving object (UMO) also moved across the screen at different speeds.
In both studies, it was clear that participants were likely to see the gorilla or UMO if it moved faster.
Researchers suggest that this ability may be related to our most primal instincts, where organisms are more alert to fast-moving, attacking predators.
“Our findings…add to the ongoing debate about the impact of physical salience on inattentive blindness, suggesting that it is high speeds, rather than the physical salience of a feature more generally, that attracts attention,” continued Professor Wallisch.
‘Fast-moving, unexpected objects seem to dominate an organism’s task focus.
“This allows it to detect and respond to the new potential threat, increasing its chances of survival.”
READ MORE: Police officer who claimed he didn’t see an attack may have been a victim of ‘inattentional blindness’
In 1995, a Boston police officer was charged with perjury after claiming not to have seen a violent assault while running after a suspect.
Now scientists say the policeman’s story is highly plausible and could be a case of “unwitting blindness.”
Psychology professors Christopher Chabris of Union College and Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois recreated some of the circumstances of the original incident.
They asked students to take a three-minute survey of the college campus. They had to keep a constant distance and count the number of times he touched his head.
Along the way, the subjects passed through a staged battle about 8 meters from the path they were using.
“Two students beat up a third and they were kicking and punching and screaming and coughing,” Professor Chabris said.
Despite the chaos, most runners missed the incident while running in the dark.