Are we blind?

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Are we blind? It turns out that answering that question truthfully is harder than one might naturally assume.  I can prove it.

The way the mind works is absolutely amazing. The fact that your personality can be portrayed by your handwriting or that a person’s mood can drastically change depending on the colour of the environment they are in are both just some examples of how intriguing and mind-blowing psychology is. Today, I ask you to read this article and ponder over the idea of awareness. First, watch this video and take the test of counting how many passes a basketball team make:

If something in your visual field changes dramatically right before your eyes, surely you notice it immediately? This video proves that wrong, in most cases. It is an example of “inattentional blindness”, more commonly referred to as “change blindness”, and is the concept of people often missing large changes in their visual field. Inattentional blindness is a surprising perceptual phenomenon, occurring when a change in a visual stimulus is introduced and yet the observer fails to notice. Blindness is more than the lack of sight; it is also the inability to perceive or understand, a lack of awareness. The reality is, we are all blind to some extent, in some way. It is important to remember that just because something happens in the visual field does not mean that people are consciously aware of it.

“The term ‘change blindness’ refers to the surprising difficulty observers have in noticing large changes to visual scenes.”
(Simons & Rensink, 2005)


Blackmore, Belstaff, Nelson, and Troscianko (1995) – In this experiment, participants were shown an image that was changed during a brief blank interval in the visual scene. The researchers found that when there is a brief break in the visual scene, people find it more difficult to detect changes.

Levin et al. (2000) – When researchers told observers about changes that happened in a film sequence and showed them stills from the film, 83 percent of the participants predicted that they would notice these changes. When these observers did not know which changes were going to occur, only 11 percent of them actually noticed the changes.

Here is a change blindness experiment that was recently conducted:

Let’s take a look at a similar experiment, conducted in 1998:

How did you do in the tests? Had you heard of change blindness before? What do you think of psychology as a whole: intriuging or nay? Will these experiments help you in being more aware in day to day life? Let me know in a comment. Futherrmore, please share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, reddit, or other social networking sites should you wish. It would all be greatly appreciated. Have a lovely day. 🙂



Add yours →

  1. Well, it would seem we have quite a bit in common. I actually have a BA in psychology, mostly because I found it so very interesting I didn’t think I would get bored and drop out of college. I have seen the first video as well, so I knew what to expect. I imagine if the bear were dressed in white, or the instructions were to count the passes made by the guys in black the result would be different. I think the blindness was brought on by the instruction to count the white team’s passes, causing concentration on only the white moving objects while purposely ignoring the dark figures. ok, on to the next video…

  2. I’ve seen the first video once before and found it really interesting but I wasn’t aware of the science behind it. Really intriguing. 🙂

    • Me too. I saw it first in my English class last year but was also never aware of the science. I find psychology so interesting and I thought that change blindness was a topic that I believed me readers would find intriguing too. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Please consider sharing it if and when you get the chance. 🙂

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