View Full Version : Inattentional Blindness and why we all need to ride aware

Jun 15th, 2007, 11:55 AM
In case you have not read the studies and seen the videos on "Inattentional Blindness" you should read up. This effects each of us as riders every single day.

The basic theory is that people see what they are looking for and will tune out what they are not looking for. In practice this means that cagers are looking for cars when deciding when to pull out and when to turn and will tune out the pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles. As riders we hear "I never saw them", and write off the driver as stupid and distracted. While distractions do play a role for sure, especially the @#$#8 cell phones, there is more to it.

They are describing it as perception without attention. People see what is going on, but do not process it when they are concentrating on something else. Further, if it is not expected they often do not see it at all.

People expect to see cars, are looking for the cars to be out of the way when pulling out and so that is what they see. When the cars are gone they go..."motorcycle...what motorcycle? I never saw a motorcycle!"

To replicate this phenomenon in the lab the researchers did a series of videos with focus groups. They asked participants to concentrate on specific portion of a video of a group of people, like counting the number of times a basketball was passed by a specific person. When the participants were engrossed in paying attention to something specific they truly did not see the guy in the gorilla suit enter the video. They reported that he wasn't there. A gorilla!

See the video here. I cannot direct link to the video per their site, just scroll down to click on the various video links.

Videos (http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/djs_lab/demos.html)

I guess the key is that all drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings and be trained to look at the whole scene when driving, not just looking for the cars. This is hard to do, but awareness campaigns, like Biker Friendly (http://www.bikerfriend.org) are a good start.

As riders each of us needs to KNOW that the drivers on the road DO NOT SEE US and ride accordingly. The assumption that we are entitled to our share of the road will not save our life. Each time we get on a bike we have to be aware for everyone around us. Riding to the limit and riding like we drive doesn't cut it.

This is the brief of the study from their site:
Link To Source (http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/djs_lab/IB.html)

Mack & Rock (1998) explored the nature of perception when attention is directed away from a target object. In their task, observers judged which line of a briefly flashed "+" was longer, the horizontal or the vertical. On the fourth trial of this task, an unexpected object was preseted at the same time as the plus at a different position on the screen. When the plus was presented at fixation and the unexpected object was presented parafoveally, 25% of observers did not see the unexpected object. Even more startling, when the plus was presented parafoveally and the unexpected object was presented at fixation, nearly 75% of observers failed to detect the object. Perhaps more strikingly, when the unexpected object was meaningful (e.g., a smily face or the subject's name), detection was substantially more likely. Mack and Rock conclude that without attention, nothing is consciously perceived.

These recent studies are consistent with an earlier line of work examining the detection of unexpected events during a divided attention tasks (e.g., Neisser, 1979). In these studies, observers monitored one event while simultaneosly ignoring another similar event. For example, observers monitored one team of players passing a basketball while ignoring another team also passing a ball. Typically in these tasks the displays were physically superimposed so that the players were overlapping and partially transparent. While observers this task (e.g., counting the passes of the attended team), an unexpected event (UE) occurred. For example, a woman carrying an open umbrella might across the court (the UE was also partially transparent). As in Mack & Rock's studies, observers often failed to see the UE. These studies demonstrate that attention is directed to objects and events rather than spatial locations -- the attended event was literally superimposed on the unattended event, yet observers still did not see the UE. Furthermore, these studies showed that observers could miss a suprathreshold UE that lasted for several seconds (as opposed to 200ms in Mack & Rock's studies).

Some Snowboarder
Jun 15th, 2007, 01:20 PM
Very good post. I had a real life deminstration of this just this morning.

Jun 15th, 2007, 02:27 PM
Very good post. I had a real life deminstration of this just this morning.

I am sorry about that, man. Did you go down?

Some Snowboarder
Jun 15th, 2007, 03:35 PM
No, it wasn't too big a deal, I rode up behind a pack of traffic, and switched lanes and just as I was up next to a car, they started pulling over ON TOP of me, so I had to dart into the bike lane. I figure I was not behind them or next to them very long... they just didn't see me or it didn't register that I was a vehicle next to them... It just reminded me to be very aware of what the other guy is doing.

Jun 17th, 2007, 06:54 PM
Good Info!

Jun 17th, 2007, 11:14 PM
Loud Horns Save Lives. :mad:

Jul 13th, 2007, 02:52 PM
Another Article (http://home.cogeco.ca/~rjanisse2/chapter_mip/gorillas.html) on the subject of inattentional blindness and riders.

Jul 13th, 2007, 04:41 PM
Loud Horns Save Lives. :mad:

I thought it was "LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES" :cool: