What are the reasons for our carelessness

We inclined believe that everything is seen, heard and understood. However, our ability to perceive is very limited. For example, sometimes people can spend hours looking for an object that lies right in front of their eyes, and drivers often do not notice motorcyclists. Scientists have been investigating the reasons for this inattention for a long time, and here’s what they say.

We miss the details that seem insignificant

The brain tries to filter out information that it considers unimportant. This is necessary so as not to waste resources. Therefore we often We do not notice details that we do not expect or that seem to us to be of no importance. Such information simply does not go beyond the organs of perception.

So, in 2007, doctors from France conducted an experiment. In it, radiologists offered look at an x-ray of a person with lung cancer. The experts were asked if the patient had pneumonia. The doctors answered that there was no pneumonia. This was absolutely true, but they did not notice obvious signs of cancer in the picture. Just because they weren’t asked about it.

Due to the selectivity of our consciousness, we can miss really important information.

We can’t see the rapid changes

Our brain does not always have time to fix instant changes. It is especially difficult to react in cases when we stop monitoring the situation for a short time or something distracts us. For example, if we start to yawn or pay attention to dirt spots on the windshield of a car. There is even a special term to describe such situations – “blindness to change”.

Short, at first glance, loss of concentration greatly distracts us. Yes, American psychologists provedthat blindness to change is one of the causes of car accidents. Because of it, drivers simply do not have time to react to situations that arise on the road.

Inattention to the important: if you can’t understand what has changed in the photo, pay attention to the road markings
If you can’t understand what has changed in the photo, pay attention to the road markings. Image: JK O’Regan, RA Rensink, JJ Clark. Change‑blindness as a result of ‘mudsplashes’ / Nature

We don’t see gradual changes either.

it going on because our ideas about the world around us are constantly being rewritten. And if the change is smooth, the brain takes each picture update as insignificant and does not pay attention to it. As a result, it seems to us that everything is the same, although it is not. That is why, for example, parents do not notice how their children grow up.

The video demonstrates the phenomenon well: gradually the color palette of the picture changes, but during normal playback it escapes attention.

We focus on one thing

Another reason why we can overlook the obvious is “blindness of inattention.” When we focus on a specific task, then we devote our entire attention to it. As a result, we may not see everything else that is happening right before our eyes.

The experiment shown in the video below is most often cited as an example. The voice-over offers to count how many times young people pass the ball to each other.

First-time viewers of this video are so focused on tracking the passes that they may not notice the man in the gorilla suit walking into the center of the frame.

What can be done about it

It is impossible to completely get rid of the limitations of perception, but it is possible to minimize the negative effects. The following tips will help:

  1. Remember that your perception is limited. Do not rely too much on your experience, attention and reaction, because they can easily let you down. Consider this in your daily activities. For example, even if you are an experienced driver and feel quite comfortable behind the wheel, this is not a reason to relax and be distracted from the road.
  2. Try to train memory and attention. For this, experts recommend get new experience and develop. For example, read, engage in creativity, self-education or sports, play chess, collect puzzles and meditate.
  3. Try to avoid additional stimuli during complex actions. For example, if you are preparing for an important event and are afraid to forget something, ask your loved ones not to disturb you.