People often have difficulty detecting visual changes in scenes, a phenomenon referred to as 'change blindness'. Although change blindness is usually observed in pictures of objects that are not the focus of attention, it also occurs for attended objects in the real world. Here, we further explore the finding that many participants fail to detect the unexpected substitution of one conversation partner for another. We show that change blindness for a conversation partner occurs in a variety of situations. Furthermore, when tested with a photographic lineup following the change, participants who noticed the substitution showed better memory for both pre- and post-change experimenters than participants who did not detect the change. We conclude that change blindness in this case is associated with relatively ineffective or inaccessible representations of previously attended objects, and we contrast these results with others indicating that change blindness arises from a failure to compare the original and changed object.
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