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Iperception. 2011;2(2):150-3. doi: 10.1068/i0436. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

You do not talk about Fight Club if you do not notice Fight Club: Inattentional blindness for a simulated real-world assault.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Union College, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308 USA; e-mail: chabris@gmail.com.

Abstract

Inattentional blindness-the failure to see visible and otherwise salient events when one is paying attention to something else-has been proposed as an explanation for various real-world events. In one such event, a Boston police officer chasing a suspect ran past a brutal assault and was prosecuted for perjury when he claimed not to have seen it. However, there have been no experimental studies of inattentional blindness in real-world conditions. We simulated the Boston incident by having subjects run after a confederate along a route near which three other confederates staged a fight. At night only 35% of subjects noticed the fight; during the day 56% noticed. We manipulated the attentional load on the subjects and found that increasing the load significantly decreased noticing. These results provide evidence that inattentional blindness can occur during real-world situations, including the Boston case.

KEYWORDS:

Inattentional blindness; attention; detection; eyewitness testimony; illusion of attention; law and psychology; noticing; perception

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