100 Things You Should Know about People: #1– You Have "Inattention Blindness"

I’ve decided to start a series called 100 Things You Should Know about People. As in: 100 things you should know if you are going to design an effective and persuasive website, web application or software application. Or maybe just 100 things that everyone should know about humans!

The order that I’ll present these 100 things is going to be pretty random. So the fact that this first one is first doesn’t mean that’s it’s the most important.. just that it came to mind first.

I hope you enjoy this series. Make sure to let me know by posting comments.

So here’s #1 — Inattention Blindness

First let’s start with a little test for you to take. Watch the video below:

This is an example of what is called “inattention blindness” or “change blindness”. The idea is that people often miss large changes in their visual field. This has been shown in many experiments. Here is a description of an experiment conducted outside the lab:

So what does this mean if you are designing a website or something on a computer screen? It means that you can’t assume that just because something is on the screen means that people see it. This is especially true when you refresh a screen and make one change on it. People may not realize they are even looking at a different screen. Remember, just because something happens in the visual field doesn’t mean that people are consciously aware of it.


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31 Replies to “100 Things You Should Know about People: #1– You Have "Inattention Blindness"”

  1. I watched the bear movie before and still couldn’t believe that I missed that guy :-)

    Very interesting series. Thank you.

    Keep up with the good work.


  2. Really?

    I couldn’t count the passes at all — but as soon as I saw that guy I was all, WTF is that?

    Maybe it’s because it’s my job to see things other people miss.

  3. What a wonderful way to get people stoked about their minds and behavior! I did the first video a long time ago – except it was a gorilla suit that no one noticed. What fun. I think these short clips stimulate much more thought and discussion amongst folks just being introduced to new ideas. Great job! Loved it. Kevin

  4. I’m sure you’ve looked at this because seems an obvious question – any gender diff in who notices? Just interesting in video the people chosen

  5. This is a brilliant post, really looking forward to the rest! I have seen the first video before, and I missed the bear too. I find it incredible that 75% don’t notice, that’s insanely high!

  6. I just bought the book “100 things every designer needs to know about people” the Taiwanese version here in Taiwan, so I followed this instruction to this page. This is a very nice book for me and for my team to know about the DESIGNING FOR THE PEOPLE through all these 100 things. Great!!

  7. This is very interesting.
    It’s little bit confused to understand what this post says cause I’m Korean, but I know what the point is. Thanks! I’m looking forward to your another post :-)

  8. Very observant, thought provoking,interesting. As I was counting the passes, I did notice something moving in the opposite direction, but to me it was a blur and it didn’t register as anything but a moving blob of dark colors. When it was pointed out what that was and I focused on it, the moon-walking bear was a unique addition to prove the point that was being made. :D

  9. Very interesting! Iv followed the link “The Gorilla Video” from your book, counted all 13.5 passes and saw the Moon-walking Bear. But I was thinking that it was the Moon-walking Gorilla until I was told that its a bear XD

  10. currently reading “100 things every designer needs to know about people” which prompted me to watch the GORILLA VIDEO. Although the book mentioned it was a “gorilla video,” I was still fixated on counting the passes (thankfully got this right) but totally missed the gorilla. INATTENTION BLINDNESS is real and is an extremely helpful and tactful tip for designers.

  11. I counted correctly and saw the gorilla but ignored it, also tried to process other information such as the number of players, types of ball, other t-shirt colors and pants.
    My mental model was like this – I was asked to accomplish a task which immediately informed me of the context (i am reading a blog on design and cognition), alerted me that there must be other sub-task which I might miss and I became active to collect as much information I could.
    I am UX Designer and that could be a reason.

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