Distance is relative: Inattentional blindness critically depends on the breadth of the attentional focus

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Inattentional blindness – the phenomenon that we sometimes miss salient stimuli in our direct view when they appear unexpectedly and attention is focused on something else - is modulated by various parameters, including distance of the unexpected stimulus from the attentional focus. In two experiments, we expanded the existing literature on spatial factors influencing inattentional blindness as well as theories on the spatial distribution of attention. Noticing rates of unexpected objects were significantly higher when they appeared outside instead of inside the bounds of primary task stimuli. Thus, our results do neither support the account that spatial attention is tuned as a spotlight that includes relevant targets and everything in between nor an account of purely object-based attentional orientation. Instead, the results speak in favor of an inhibitory area between two attended targets. Experiment 2 replicated these surprising findings and additionally demonstrated that they were not confounded by task.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102878
JournalConsciousness and cognition : an international journal
Issue number78
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 5132262

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