It’s called "the elephant in the room"–something that should be obvious to everyone that nobody seems to notice–like the UFO phenomenon. Psychologists think this kind of “inattention blindness,” where fail to see something right in front of them while they are focusing on something else, can be dangerous (especially in cases like texting or talking on the phone while driving). People who do this have an inability to focus their attention where it’s needed, or on more than one thing at a time. Is this YOU?
A psychologist developed a test for this: he filmed a scene with six actors passing a basketball back and forth. Viewers are asked to count the number of passes. Many people are so intent on counting that they fail to see a person in a gorilla suit stroll across the scene, stop briefly to thump their chest, and then walk off. The people who didn’t spot the gorilla are those who have trouble focusing. Why are the results important?
Psychologist Janelle Seegmiller says, "You can imagine that if you’re driving and road conditions aren’t very good, unexpected things can happen, and individuals with better control over attention would be more likely to notice those unexpected events without having to be explicitly told to watch for them." Lots of teenage drivers DON’T spot the gorilla: They have four times as many accidents than adults. They’ve discovered that it ISN’T necessarily what you think: texting, drinking or drugs. Researchers are trying to figure out exactly what were teens doing before they crashed their cars. When they analyzed a database of more than 800 crashes involving teen drivers, they found that most of them were due to being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.