Visual perception and your inner zombie
, a cognitive psychologist/computer scientist from UBC spoke last night at the Chelsea Art Gallery, as part of the Information Esthetics series
. He presented "change blindness," our obliviousness to major changes around us, even when we're looking directly at them. This phenomenon happens at the millisecond level (which explains sleight-of-hand tricks and why we don't get motion sickness from looking around a room), but also extends to larger visual events. Examples:
- The experimenter walks up to a man, asking him for directions to the campus library. In the middle of the explanation, two men carrying a door pass between the experimenter and the direction-giver. While the door is between them, the experimenter switches places with one of the men carrying the door, and the direction-giver continues, not noticing he's now talking to a completely different person (video). Half of the participants behaved this way.
- When the experimenter and door-carriers were dressed construction workers, the blindness extended to nearly all participants, exploiting in-group/out-group differences.
- And then there's this famous video: Can you count how many times the people in the white shirts pass the basketball? Read more at UIUC's Viscog Lab.
Resnick explained recent findings about nonattentional streams, smart subconscious processes that allow us to take in information without intentionally attending to it. Sometimes it's to our benefit (such as how we can zone out while driving a familiar route but quickly swerve to avoid something in the road), but other times it blinds us to otherwise obvious events. He said it was your inner zombie taking over.