August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Are Threatening Unexpected Objects More Likely to Capture Awareness?
Author Affiliations
  • Cary Stothart
    Department of Psychology, Florida State University
  • Daniel Simons
    Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Walter Boot
    Department of Psychology, Florida State University
  • Timothy Wright
    Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 42. doi:10.1167/16.12.42
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      Cary Stothart, Daniel Simons, Walter Boot, Timothy Wright; Are Threatening Unexpected Objects More Likely to Capture Awareness?. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):42. doi: 10.1167/16.12.42.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

We sometimes fail to notice unexpected objects or events when our attention is directed elsewhere, a phenomenon called inattentional blindness. Given that threatening objects tend to hold attention longer than non-threatening information, we explored whether unexpected but potentially dangerous objects might be noticed more often. Participants played an online video game in which they tried to dodge missiles that varied in their consequences based on their color; some missiles incurred a large cost and others a small cost. After 5 minutes, an unexpected object appeared and moved across the game screen. Participants (n=360) were somewhat less likely to notice the unexpected object when it shared the same color as the more threatening missiles (M=30%, 95% CI: [23%, 37%]) than when it shared the same color as the less threatening ones (38%, [32%, 46%]), p = .096. In a second experiment, participants (n=360) tried to collide with some missiles while dodging others. Noticing of the unexpected object was higher when it shared the same color as targeted missiles (56% [48%, 63%]) than avoided missiles (46% [38%, 53%]), although the difference again was not significant (p = .058). Taken, together, these studies suggest that the perceived danger or consequences of an unexpected object have relatively little effect on whether or not people will notice it.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016

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