Can Incentive Influence Susceptibility to Inattentional Blindness?

Tristan D. Fava, The College of Wooster


Inattentional blindness is a phenomenon in which individuals do not always see obvious events that unfold directly in front of them. It is believed that this phenomenon can be attributed to working memory capacity and the selective attention of the individuals involved. Incentives are known to be capable of improving working memory performance through means of providing a motivation. Participants watched an inattentional blindness video (Jewell, 2005) and were instructed to count the number of basketball passes made by the individuals in the video. During the video, 70% of the participants noticed the unexpected event of the gorilla crossing the screen while 30% did not. The incentive of Hershey's Kisses for performance in the counting task was found to have no effect on noticing the unexpected event. Working memory scores did not influence the susceptibility to inattentional blindness. The combination of unusually high notice rates in the inattentional blindness task and no influence by working memory suggests uncontrolled variables influencing the study in an unexpected way.