The effect of semantic value on inattentional blindness

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We often fail to consciously perceive a stimulus that appeared unexpectedly in our field of vision if our attention is focussed elsewhere. This failure of conscious perception has been termed inattentional blindness and can lead to major consequences for our daily life as well as sports performance. Various determinants have been identified that influence the likelihood of inattentional blindness. However, it is not clear whether the semantic value of a stimulus can affect whether or not this stimulus is consciously perceived under conditions of inattention. Therefore, this thesis includes six experiments with a total of 1226 participants to shed light on a stimulus´s semantic value as a determinant of inattentional blindness. Thereupon, this thesis provides a theoretical overview on the variety of methodological approaches used to investigate inattentional blindness and its prevailing definition.
My findings indicate that neither a stimulus´ semantic value based on personal meaning and created through monetary short-term reinforcement-based learning, nor a stimulus´ semantic value based on evolutionary meaning and modulated through the induction of perceived hunger on inattentional blindness influences the probability to consciously perceive an unexpected stimulus containing the respective semantic value. In contrast, my findings showed that a stimulus´s semantic value solely based on evolutionary meaning, namely the semantic value of primary reinforcers as facial expressions, seemed to partly influence its likelihood to be consciously perceived under conditions of inattention. Embedded in previous research, my own findings cannot confirm nor confute a general effect of a stimulus´ semantic value on inattentional blindness. These mixed findings rather demonstrate that a stimulus´ semantic value should be seen as an important but complex determinant of inattentional blindness. Also, in response to these mixed findings, the theoretical overview on the variety of methodological approaches used to investigate inattentional blindness provides the opportunity redefine, rethink and categorize potential subtypes of inattentional blindness as a failure of awareness based on their underlying mechanism and its determinants. Theoretical and sports-related implications of the findings and the resulting conclusions are discussed.
Based on my findings presented in this thesis, I recommend future research on inattentional blindness to (a) take the different types of semantic value, their sources as well as their interactions into account, and (b) keep in mind that different paradigms with different operationalizations might have different underlying mechanisms.
Translated title of the contributionDer Effekt semantischer Wertigkeit auf Unaufmerksamkeitsblindheit
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKöln
PublisherDeutsche Sporthochschule Köln
Number of pages111
Publication statusPublished - 04.2022

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