214 Social Blindness

Based on research by Simons, D. J., & Levin, D. T. (1998) written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS.

Are you aware of what goes on around you? Maybe less so than you think.

Psychologists conducted a study on “change blindness.” a theory describing how we are selective about what we visually see.  Participants included randomly selected pedestrians on a college campus.  The researchers wanted to understand what these individuals notice about their surrounding environment.  During the study, an actor approached the participant and requested directions.  During this interaction, two men carrying a large wooden door walked between the actor and the pedestrian.  This completely blocked their view of one another for several seconds.  During this blocking, the actor was switched by someone completely different.  The new actor had a different height, build, haircut, voice, and was even wearing a different outfit.  However, only half of the participants noticed the switch! Participants from only the same social group as the actor successfully detected the swap.

Enrich your life.  Become friends with more diverse people, cultures, and social groups. Thus, become much more aware of and sensitive to cues and appreciate small differences between persons from our own as well as other cultures.


Simons, D. J., & Levin, D. T. (1998). Failure to detect changes to people during a real-world interaction. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5(4), 644-649.

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