Inattentional Blindness

February 3, 2011

Hiding in plain sight.

It is what the butter does in the refrigerator, especially when I look for it, much to my wife’s chagrin.

By the way – she thinks it’s just me that can’t find stuff.  How glad I was to learn that scientists say most of the population is similarly afflicted.

Not seeing things that are right in front of your nose can be a real problem, and not just for relationships!

Here is one of the most famous illustrations of the condition.

According to the researchers who conducted this experiment, not only are more than half of us missing some very obvious things in our environment, but what is worse – do not know that we are missing things.  We think we see it all, and act as if we do.

My take – If seeing is believing… how much of what you see is really there.

Or, put another way.  How much of the the reality you witness and live everyday is actually an illusion.

Inattentional Blindness.

It is an interesting human condition, and representative of the issues faced by people doing news, or providing medical diagnosis and care, or being a consultant or encountered in just about any profession where rendering or synthesizing an interpretation or representation from a set of “facts” – is required.

This says gobs about multi-tasking, and how really impossible it is to focus these days.

Inattentional Blindness. Selective visual attention. Selective auditory attention. Selective consideration of conditions. That these factors create outcome errors is obvious.

We think we see everything, or hear everything in front of us.  But in truth, much of the time, we do not. Which can make us defensive, because… seeing is believing.

On the positive side, this human condition allows the creation of  outcomes that contain random, unintended elements. Elements that “luck” their way into and onto the field. That might create a better photo.  Or that might create a more interesting conversation. Or even, on rare occasions a better outcome.

One way to combat these errors is to — just slow down.

The field is always full – it’s just that you sometimes don’t see all that there is hiding in plain sight.


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