Inattentional blindness is an issue that almost everyone has experienced at least once in their lifetime, but most people know nothing about it.
While benign under normal circumstances, it creates a major issue for drivers. But why?
Defining intentional blindness
Frontiers takes a look at inattentional blindness in drivers in particular. First, it is important to understand what inattentional blindness is.
This is a natural phenomenon that occurs when a person needs to focus on something very closely. The brain can only take in so much information at a time and consciously acknowledge it, so most of the information it takes in is actually much larger than the small fraction that it processes.
When a person focuses extremely hard on one thing in specific, it is usually for good reason, such as a surgeon focusing on an operation. In order to aid in concentration, the brain will cut out even more information that is not related to the subject at hand.
The main issue with inattentional blindness
However, this can lead to a person missing some pretty glaring things. The famous example studying inattentional blindness introduced a person in a gorilla costume to the study, but many people did not even see it because they were busy counting how many times people wearing blue shirts passed a ball in accordance with the scientist’s instructions.
This is a major issue when it comes to driving. Multitasking is important behind the wheel, and if a person loses their ability to recognize and react to sudden and unexpected dangers, it can lead to an increased risk of crashing.