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How not to be Seen: The Contribution of Similarity and Selective Ignoring to Sustained Inattentional Blindness

How not to be Seen: The Contribution of Similarity and Selective Ignoring to Sustained... When people attend to objects or events in a visual display, they often fail to notice an additional, unexpected, but fully visible object or event in the same display. This phenomenon is now known as inattentional blindness. We present a new approach to the study of sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events in order to explore the roles of similarity, distinctiveness, and attentional set in the detection of unexpected objects. In Experiment 1, we found that the similarity of an unexpected object to other objects in the display influences attentional capture: The more similar an unexpected object is to the attended items, and the greater its difference from the ignored items, the more likely it is that people will notice it. Experiment 2 explored whether this effect of similarity is driven by selective ignoring of irrelevant items or by selective focusing on attended items. The results of Experiment 3 suggest that the distinctiveness of the unexpected object alone cannot entirely account for the similarity effects found in the first two experiments; when attending to black items or white items in a dynamic display, nearly 30% of observers failed to notice a bright red cross move across the display, even though it had a unique color, luminance, shape, and motion trajectory and was visible for 5 s. Together, the results suggest that inattentional blindness for ongoing dynamic events depends both on the similarity of the unexpected object to the other objects in the display and on the observer's attentional set. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychological Science SAGE

How not to be Seen: The Contribution of Similarity and Selective Ignoring to Sustained Inattentional Blindness

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References (17)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2001 Association for Psychological Science
ISSN
0956-7976
eISSN
1467-9280
DOI
10.1111/1467-9280.00303
pmid
11294235
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

When people attend to objects or events in a visual display, they often fail to notice an additional, unexpected, but fully visible object or event in the same display. This phenomenon is now known as inattentional blindness. We present a new approach to the study of sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events in order to explore the roles of similarity, distinctiveness, and attentional set in the detection of unexpected objects. In Experiment 1, we found that the similarity of an unexpected object to other objects in the display influences attentional capture: The more similar an unexpected object is to the attended items, and the greater its difference from the ignored items, the more likely it is that people will notice it. Experiment 2 explored whether this effect of similarity is driven by selective ignoring of irrelevant items or by selective focusing on attended items. The results of Experiment 3 suggest that the distinctiveness of the unexpected object alone cannot entirely account for the similarity effects found in the first two experiments; when attending to black items or white items in a dynamic display, nearly 30% of observers failed to notice a bright red cross move across the display, even though it had a unique color, luminance, shape, and motion trajectory and was visible for 5 s. Together, the results suggest that inattentional blindness for ongoing dynamic events depends both on the similarity of the unexpected object to the other objects in the display and on the observer's attentional set.

Journal

Psychological ScienceSAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2001

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