Change Blindness and Font Detection

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Literature Review Change blindness is the inability to detect changes within a scene. Inattentional blindness occurs when people have a hard time perceiving stimuli if attention resources are focused elsewhere. Both of these phenomena were noticed by Harvard Psychologist William James who based his personal observations on our effort to “focus on some things in exclusion to others (1890, as cited by Goldstein, 2012).” He went on to suggest that the perceptual system has a limited capacity for processing information. James believed that in order to not overload the visual system, we purposely ignore some things in our environment so that full attention can be paid to others. One study that demonstrated inattentional blindness was carried out by Simons and Chabris (1999). According to the researchers, our attention to the central interest in a scene inhibits the ability to perceive changes that are of marginal interest. In the study a video recording depicted a team wearing black and a team wearing white. Each team had a basketball that was passed among the group. Observers were asked to keep track of either the total amount of passes that one team made or keep track of only the amount of aerial or bounce passes made by one team. Each task was given a level of difficulty; easy and hard respectively. During the observation a woman with an umbrella or a woman in a gorilla suit would pass through the scene, which served as an unexpected event. Almost half of the observers failed to notice the highly salient and unexpected event while engaged with the monitoring task. The results show that the primary task given to the observers affected whether an unexpected event was more or less attended to; harder primary tasks made it more diffic... ... middle of paper ... ...e and an advertising message, problems can arise and consequences can be severe. If we are not actively looking for a warning we may never see it. Other than warnings how else can inattentional blindness be induced in reading material? As previously noted, majority of inattentional and change blindness research has focused primarily on how to detect change within a scene or noticing something in a dynamic environment. What about inattentional blindness in reading? While we are so focused on reading our favorite piece of literature or doing reading assignments for class or work, can we easily pick out a change in font? Does the type of reading material matter in font change detection? The goal of this present study is to observe how well people are able to pick out font changes in reading material from the American Literature genre and also Non-Fiction Science.

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