You Do Not Talk about Fight Club if You Do Not Notice Fight Club: Inattentional Blindness for a Simulated Real-World Assault
- Christopher F Chabris¶⇑
- Adam Weinberger⇑
- Matthew Fontaine⇑
- Daniel J Simons⇑
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.
- Inattentional blindness
- illusion of attention
- law and psychology
- eyewitness testimony
↵¶ Corresponding author.
- Received April 17, 2011.
- Revision received May 17, 2011.
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