How could I miss that defect? Inattentional Blindness

Yonder (Caravaggio)

Have you ever wondered – How on earth did I miss that defect?

In this session we learn how we notice or pay attention to an event or object. We use a series of videos and in-session experiments to demonstrate that we can pay increased attention to an expected event only by selectively focusing our attention away from events that do not share the characteristics of the attended event.

We show that we can miss a highly salient event simply because the event does not share the characteristics of our attentional set. We reveal the counter-intuitive result that attempts to increase the salience of an event or object (by making it brightly colored), may reduce our ability to detect it, if by making it more salient we also make it less like the event we are actively searching for.

Finally, we see how this inattentional blindness can cause use to miss defects that appear blindingly obvious in hindsight, missed simply because they appeared different from what we were looking for

Key takeaways

Defects are sometimes missed not because they are difficult to see, indeed, they may be highly visible

Sometimes we miss defects because they simply look different from the things we are searching for

To increase our chances of spotting an unexpected event, we need to either reduce the perceptual load placed on the observer, or make the unexpected event more closely resemble the attended event.


Rate this presentation – S973

Biases Creativity Track