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You’re driving along a highway talking on the phone, but still concentrating very hard on the road ahead of you when bam you’ve hit a deer! What happened? There is no way that was there a second ago! That question is very similar to the question that I hope to answer in my experiment which is, “What is the psychological concept of inattentional blindness, and what percent of the population are susceptible to it?”. I selected this topic because I find the topic of texting while driving very relevant in this day and time, and I wanted to learn more about it.
Inattentional blindness is defined as when a person fails to see something that is in plain sight. This is not a lack of visual perception, but rather just the inability to notice something unexpected that is right in front of you because your attention is focused elsewhere. Inattentional blindness is currently a very relevant problem as it is the reason for many driving accidents. Because drivers are focused on something like texting, they do not notice something happening right in front of them such as a driver coming to a stop or a deer running across the road.
With this project, I hope to make people more aware of the problem of inattentional blindness and how it is related to other driving problems such as texting while driving. Another element of inattentional blindness is change blindness which is the inability to notice a change in an image because it is a small change and you are not paying attention to the specific area that is changing in the image. This is related to inattentional blindness because inattentional blindness and change blindness are both when you notice something that is right in front of you. The difference between inattentional blindness and change blindness is that inattentional blindness has to do with not noticing something because you are doing something else while change blindness is just not noticing a small change like a new haircut.
One more crucial part of inattentional blindness is visual perception. Visual perception is the ability to use your eyes to send information to your brain. This is important to inattentional blindness because inattentional blindness is a mistake made by your brain in your ability to comprehend certain things otherwise known as visual perception.
The procedures for my project involve showing people a video of six people passing a basketball. Half the people are wearing white and half black. The goal of the students is to count the amount of times the people wearing white pass the ball. They do not know this, but half-way through the video, a person in a gorilla suit will walk through the video. My experiment is to test what percent of the people do not notice the gorilla, therefore being susceptible to inattentional blindness. This type of experiment has been attempted many times such as an experiment in which radiologists were asked to do a simple lung-nodule detection test. Part-way through the test, a gorilla would float across the screen, and the researchers would see if the radiologists noticed the gorilla. Only 27% of the radiologists reported having seen the gorilla, showing that most people were concentrating so hard on discovering the lung-nodules that they did not notice the gorilla. This proves that many people are affected by inattentional blindness.
As a result of many incidents, it is not only me that recognizes inattentional blindness as a problem for drivers everywhere. The department of motorized vehicles in the United States even posted an article explaining the risks of inattentional blindness to drivers. They warn against focusing on anything other than the road while driving because anyone can fall prey to inattentional blindness without their knowledge. This is why it is important to inform people about inattentional blindness so as to reduce the amount of accidents occurring on the roads.
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