Your wife tells you to get the teacups from the kitchen cupboard. She tells you it’s on the second shelf in the cupboard above the cooker. You go, look, and cannot find it. Your wife walks in, opens the cupboard, and points to the teacups straight in front of you. But it was on the first shelf, not the second. You feel silly, but now you have an excuse – inattentional blindness:
A number of years ago, a pair of US psychologists conducted an experiment where they asked volunteers to watch a game of basketball. Their task was to count the number of passes made by one of the sides. After the viewing, the volunteers were asked for their answers. They were also asked whether they noticed anything else. Many said no. They were then told that midway through the game, a gorilla, well, a person dressed as one, walked on to the court and stood for five seconds looking at the camera, before walking off! This is an example of what is called inattentional blindness. We become so focused on one thing; we miss the obvious straight in front of us.