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You Do Not Talk about Fight Club if You Do Not Notice Fight Club: Inattentional Blindness for a Simulated Real-World Assault

  1. Christopher F Chabris
    1. Department of Psychology, Union College, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308 USA
  2. Adam Weinberger
    1. Union College, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308 USA
  3. Matthew Fontaine
    1. Union College, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308 USA
  4. Daniel J Simons
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820 USA
  1. e-mail: chabris{at}gmail.com
  2. e-mail: weinbera{at}union.edu
  3. e-mail: fontainm{at}union.edu
  4. e-mail: dsimons{at}illinois.edu


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.

Article Notes

  • Corresponding author.

  • Received April 17, 2011.
  • Revision received May 17, 2011.

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This Article

  1. i-Perception vol. 2 no. 2 150-153
  1. Free via Creative Commons: CC
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