The importance of attention in the observation and perception process - inattentive blindness

From the psychological side, this phenomenon can be explained by the so-called inattentive blindness, which is the failure to notice a fully visible but unexpected object because attention was engaged on another task, event, or object. It means that you cannot see a fully visible but unexpected object, because attention has been attached to another task, event or object. (Mack, Rock, 2000). This results from focusing attention on another task or stimulus, which causes that additional information sent to our brain is simply not processed – it is unconscious and additionally causes distraction. The solution here is to use filters playing a synonymous role to focusing attention on a given thing. If we would be talking about vehicles in our presentation, the likelihood of noticing a red truck and a white bus in the background would be greater. However, we were concentrating on the yellow colour and yellow taxis, therefore the probability of capturing other stimuli was low. All this depended on the already mentioned factor, which is the preparatory attitude, responsible for the readiness to capture a given type of stimulus. If we are not prepared to capture them, they may go unnoticed.

What to do if many stimuli are competing for our attention? It would seem that just enough would be to give every one of them an equal amount of attention and the matter would be settled. Unfortunately, the reality is much more complex. The brain can scan about 30-40 pieces of information (e.g. sights, sounds, smells, tactile data) per second until something captures its attention (Grissinger, 2012). Hence, it is very close to the conclusion that multitasking does not bring the expected results and consequently reduces efficiency. As various studies confirm, when many tasks are performed, each of which requires the same processing channels, conflicts arise, so one must decide which task to focus on (Rubinstein, Meyer, Evans, 2001).