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How The Blindness Of Inattention Spoils Our Lives - Self-development, Society
How The Blindness Of Inattention Spoils Our Lives - Self-development, Society

Video: How The Blindness Of Inattention Spoils Our Lives - Self-development, Society

Video: How The Blindness Of Inattention Spoils Our Lives - Self-development, Society
Video: Quantum & Fiction: Alternative Realities for the Living by Ben Okri 2023, December

We are sincerely convinced that important events automatically attract our attention, and our consciousness does not miss any significant changes. However, this is far from the case, especially if we are focused on something else. This phenomenon is known as perceptual blindness or inattention blindness.

How often do you pay attention to bloopers?

Are you able to do several things at the same time without losing efficiency, for example, to correspond with someone, while following the plot twists of the movie? Are you always absolutely involved in events, aware of what is happening around you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, congratulations, you are not alone. Many are sure that their attention does not for a moment miss anything important, but most likely they are mistaken.

Since the 70s of the 19th century, experimental psychologists have documented a lot of evidence that our perception of the world is limited not only by the ability of the ears to hear, the eyes to see and the skin to feel, but also by the mind itself. Our consciousness cleverly filters the information received from the senses, as a result of which we largely perceive only what the focus of our attention is directed to.

Experiments and evidence of our inattention

Remember, you've probably had to talk to someone in a noisy place more than once. Most likely, if the conversation was interesting or important to you, you clearly heard what your interlocutor was telling you, and did not understand the conversations of other people nearby. But as soon as your attention was attracted by someone's loud voice or sudden movement, you completely stopped hearing the one with whom you were next. This selective ability of our attention allows us to filter out extraneous information from consciousness, letting in only those elements that are of the highest importance right now. Unfortunately, thanks to this ability, we can miss out on what could be obvious and important, we draw attention to this.

That being said, the more we are focused on something and the more tired we are in general, the more likely we are to miss something important

In Boston in 2009, there was a trial of a police officer who, while on duty, ran past a brutal beating and did not intervene. The officer claimed that he had not seen the crime being committed. It was difficult to believe in this, since according to all indications it was absolutely impossible not to notice what had happened. Is this malice or negligence? Later it turned out that there was one nuance in the case - the policeman claimed that he was so focused on pursuing a suspect in another crime that he did not notice anything around him at all. Is it possible? The researchers conducted a simulation of what happened and found that indeed, at night, 65%, and in broad daylight, 44% of the subjects did not notice the fight.

Invisible gorilla effect

Watching a ball game closely, you may not notice a man in a gorilla costume passing between the players. Especially if before that you received the task to calculate how many passes were made by the players of one of the teams. In the famous Invisible Gorilla Effect experiment by Simons and Chapris, more than 50% of viewers said they had not seen a gorilla.


There are many entertaining videos posted on the Internet by which you can test your observation skills and understand what the blindness of inattention is. So, during a simple game of "thimbles", trying to guess in which of the nine cups of three different colors the candy is hidden, you may not notice how during the game three cups changed their color, a rubber duck appeared and disappeared and the third hand was cups.

Attention on the road

And while there are indeed people among us who are capable of multitasking, there are very few of them. Talking on the phone dulls attention to what is happening on the road. Experiments in 2001 showed that pedestrians who talk on their mobiles while walking are less likely to notice an approaching cyclist, even if he is wearing bright clothes. We literally go blind and deaf when carried away by talking on the phone.

Despite a lot of research, a huge number of people are sure that they definitely do not have any particular problems with attention. 90% of those surveyed claim that they are able to spot a gorilla running among the ball players, and 78% agree with the statement that "people usually notice when something unexpected appears in their field of vision, even if they are passionate about something else." … We firmly believe that we are able to see any blooper, we always notice and remember what is happening around, and immediately pay attention to changes. More often than not, however, we deceive ourselves.

Understanding the limitations of our consciousness is of great importance in everyday life. Overconfidence, ignoring the possibility of inattention blindness, can lead to tragic consequences on the road, to susceptibility to various kinds of manipulation and to a loss of vigilance, which fraudsters can take advantage of.