Who Is Most Likely to Demonstrate Inattentional Blindness?

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Updated on Jun 14, 2013

Grade Level: 9th to 12th; Type: Social Science


The objective of this experiment is to observe “inattentional blindness” and investigate whether certain age groups or genders are more likely to demonstrate this phenomenon.

Research Questions:

  • Is one gender more likely to demonstrate inattentional blindness?
  • Is there a certain age group that is more prone to inattentional blindness?

Inattentional blindness describes the phenomenon where, in an effort to focus on something important, people will not notice other critical events unfolding right before their eyes. This experiment will investigate whether certain age groups or genders are more likely than others to demonstrate inattentional blindness.


  • Video recorder
  • Computer with software for video editing and playback
  • Printer
  • Male and female test subjects in a variety of age groups

Experimental Procedure

  1. Recruit a few participants to set up a brief scenario which you will record: Two teams pass a ball back and forth for several minutes. One team wears white shirts and the other team wears black shirts. Halfway through the video, someone in a Halloween costume should walk through the game area. He or she should remain onscreen for 5-10 seconds. The participants playing the game should ignore this person and continue to throw the ball as if nothing unusual is going on.
  2. Show your video to small groups of test subjects. Instruct them to count the number of passes made among the white team. Tell them that they are being tested on their ability to accurately follow a fast-paced game.
  3. After viewing the video, ask test subjects to write down their gender, age, the number of white team passes they counted, and anything unusual they observed during the video.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with several more groups of test subjects. Include male and female participants from a variety of age groups.
  5. Analyze the results. What percentage of your test subjects noticed the person in the Halloween costume? Of these, what percentage was male? What percentage was female? Were test subjects in a certain age group more likely to notice the person in the costume?

Terms/Concepts: inattentional blindness

Reference: Scholarpedia.com. “Inattentional Blindness.”

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