Monday, December 14, 2009

Change Blindness


Here's proof that most of the time we look but don't see.

20 comments:

Pete said...

I wonder if artists would fare better in this experiment? After all, we are trained to see things other people don't. It would be interesting to find out!

Steve said...

I feel the experiment reveals a common feature of human awareness (unawareness); an unwillingness to truly look into the eyes and faces of strangers. To an extent, I also believe this is a phenomenon that is strengthened with increased population density and busy lives. The ever-increasing tendency to disengage from the present moment, marking time mentally by listening to our own thoughts about where we're headed, rather than being fully engaged with where we are, leads to the blindness demonstrated in the experiment. Unlike the process you and Jeanette went through, comparing the Soda Jerk painting to the published tearsheet, this experiment in noting changes was rooted in a human interaction. Most people have cultivated numerous defenses to avoid truly making contact with "strangers."

Jim Ottaviani said...

There's an excellent earlier version of this experiment as well: http://viscog.beckman.illinois.edu/flashmovie/15.php . The instructions to the experimental subjects were "When viewing the video, try to count the total number of times that the people wearing white pass the basketball. Do not count the passes made by the people wearing black." Most people don't notice anything unusual in the course of the counting...

DavidStill said...

Jim, I've seen another version of that experiment before, in a television program, and I had to actually rewind and watch it again to make sure they weren't fooling me.

Brad Teare said...

Fascinating. It reminds me of the book Visual Intelligence that was constantly challenging the assumption of what we see (or don't see).

James Gurney said...

Jim, I watched that basketball video knowing something weird would happen, and it seemed so obvious!

Steve, that's a really profound meditation about how we relate (or don't relate) to strangers. How often at a Target store does the whole transaction take place without any eye contact?

Pete, I don't know if artists would fare better. I'm often looking at the colors of shadows or something and missing something important in the scene.

K. W. Broad said...

I agree with Pete. Not only are artists trained to see more than the average person, but many of us (or at least myself and the artists around me) are constantly observing the world around us in scrutinizing detail. It's become habitual. Even if I'm just sitting in a chair daydreaming, my eyes are still soaking in my surroundings, paying attention to light and shadow, texture, color, and the layout of the world around me.

I also agree with Steve, but I think that also depends on the area you live. That was most certainly the case in California. No one looks each other in the eye. But after moving to Oregon, I've noticed people up here DO look strangers in the eye. Makes me wonder if the results of this experiment might change by region as well?

nikgee said...

wow...Perception how we see reality. Do you see what I see?

innisart said...

Interesting. I wonder if the results would be different if the experiment were conducted in a rural environment, as opposed to an urban environment. I'm also curious about the results when gender is factored in: women have better color memory than do men. As gathers, women had to remember the color of berries which were safe to eat. Men on the other hand are better at tracking moving objects: the hunters. This is also a reason why color blindness is prevalent in men.

James said...

There's a similar thing done by the great Derren Brown that's quite interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBPG_OBgTWg

GooGoo Supreme said...

steve is a deep brother..haha

i also wonder if it had to do with man and man intereaction and woman and man interaction. the females seemed to notice far more then the guys, the guys just almost seemed brain dead...but the girls definatly noticed it was a different guy, haha.

but i bet the same is true if you put a girl there the guys would notice a change, and the girls might fade off into brain dead land?

but its interesting.

Stari said...

weird...
1st vid mentioned-do people really not notice it?! I mean they kinda get in the way of counting...
2nd vid mentioned- I kinda didn't notice anything till the second guy cause i was to busy tilting my head to see the painting. At the end I was laughing so hard I almost fell of my chair but that could be cause I'm sitting like L...
Would the out come be different if it was a kid or teenager?
and if they just let them leave i wonder how many would see the change later.....

GooGoo Supreme said...

also i thought of even more profound change blindness going on. i read alot of learning to lucid dream and realizing your in a dream just by questioning things around you during your awake time, simpily reminding yourself to check things around you each hour to see if anything is unusual, such as signs clocks. basically looking at a sign, then looking away, then looking back. if your dreaming the sign words might change.

but basically you do this all day, and eventually it becomes habit. and then you start doing it while your dreaming and if your looking at a sign in your dream or clock, look away and look back you can catch yourself dreaming and awaken in your dream.

so i would say that the mind is much much more "asleep" and "blind" then you may think. how can one catch a man who simply changes face, hair and shirt when most people cant even figure out on a nightly basis all the profound huge differences in the real world and the dreaming world.

i remember a dream where i was mowing the lawn and the mower was shooting out 20ft flames, and i just kept on going about my business mowing, if an average person, artist or not cant catch that then its easy to see why 75% of us wont ever catch a person popping up for a split second from behind a counter

Tyler J said...

Interesting observations.

I wonder how closely this is tied to familiarity? For example, when traveling in a foreign country, I am mentally exhausted by the end of the day: I have to think carefully about every sign, every spoken word, every landmark.

Perhaps our brains are in cruise control mode in a familiar environment.

James Gurney said...

Goo Goo, you're right, it seemed to be more often the women who noticed the change in this video and also in that Derren Brown video that James linked to (very clever setup). Don't know why that would be.

Also, that's an interesting link to lucid dreaming. Becoming aware that a dream is a dream (and not reality) means training yourself to look out for absurdities, which is probably a good survival mechanism in this crazy world of ours.

stephenjrider said...

Who noticed that the interviewee also wore different color shirts?

SVSART said...

I wonder if being an extravert or introvert could play a part.

Les said...

All right, okay -- I watched the video, and the video in Jim Ottaviani's comment. Marvelous! Brought much wondering laughter to my wife and son and I. My wife caught the unusual element in Jim's video -- my son and I did not. Amazing!

On a personal note, thank you for posting something that my son and I could share and laugh at. It helped get us through a particularly rough patch in our lives. Thank you both very much.

Justin M. said...

People are always trying to get back into their comfort zone (where ever that may be: in front of a computer, easel, tv) and thus seem to ignore the other... interference? I believe it is a coping mechanism many of us spread over the world with a broad brush. I find it hard to believe that autopilot is our natural state but just look at the current news with our actual commercial aircraft pilots... it must be fought!

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