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HRW Behavioral Summer Camp: Attention

16.08.2019

Welcome back to HRW’s Behavioral Summer Camp: where, throughout August, our internal team of behavioral scientists (known as HRW Shift) will teach you about some of the larger principles that drive behavior.

For this week’s activity, we have a short (around ~1 minute) video to share, for which no sound is necessary.

Please click on this link to view the video first, then scroll down for the explanation.

We hope you enjoy.

The HRW Shift team

 

Explanation

The ‘Invisible Gorilla Test’ is a classic experiment conducted by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, which demonstrates how we think we observe more than we do. At the onset of the video, you are instructed to focus on a very particular task: to count the passes between the team of players wearing white t-shirts. In the middle of the video, a man in gorilla suit walks through the group, pauses in the middle, and dances his way out of the scene. Over half of respondents did not see the gorilla the first time this experiment was conducted. More interestingly, when those who did not report seeing a gorilla were told about the interruption, they refused to believe it happened.

Our inability to recognize a blatant, but unexpected, event can be described as ‘unintentional blindness’. The ‘Invisible Gorilla Test’ has been replicated countless times gaining worldwide attention. It not only exposes our tendency to overlook salient details in a given environment, but also reveals how much weight we inappropriately give to our intuition, which often leads us astray as we fail to recognize how much we are missing.

As Daniel Simons states in book following the experiment ‘The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us’, “We pay attention to what we are told to attend to, or what we’re looking for, or what we already know…what we see is amazingly limited.” As market researchers, the result of this experiment is a great reminder to maintain vigilance as we kick off projects with a clear set of objectives, design materials to collect data based on respondents’ memories, and analyze our results to form our final recommendations.

Please contact our team of behavioral experts, HRW Shift, if you would like to find out more.

 

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