Guessing right: Preconscious processing in inattentional blindness

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Much research has been conducted on the determinants of inattentional blindness—the failure to miss an unexpected but salient stimulus in plain view. Far less research has been concerned with the fate of those objects that go unnoticed in such a setting. The available evidence suggests that objects that are not consciously noticed due to inattentional blindness are still processed to a certain degree. The present study substantiated and generalised this limited evidence by reanalysing 16 datasets in regard to participants’ guessing accuracy in multiple-choice questions concerning the unexpected object: Participants who did not notice the critical object showed guessing accuracy that lay significantly above chance. Thus, stimuli that are not consciously noticed (i.e., cannot be reported) can nevertheless exert an influence on seemingly random choices. Modality of the primary task as well as performance in the primary task and in a divided-attention trial were evaluated as potential moderators. Methodological limitations such as the design and implementation of the multiple-choice questions and the generalisability of our findings are discussed, and promises of the present approach for future studies are presented.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1055-1065
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 19.03.2020

ID: 5195835

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