What you see is what you set: Sustained inattentional blindness and the capture of awareness

Steven B. Most, Brian J. Scholl, Erin R. Clifford, Daniel J. Simons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reports a theoretical and experimental attempt to relate and contrast 2 traditionally separate research programs: inattentional blindness and attention capture. Inattentional blindness refers to failures to notice unexpected objects and events when attention is otherwise engaged. Attention capture research has traditionally used implicit indices (e.g., response times) to investigate automatic shifts of attention. Because attention capture usually measures performance whereas inattentional blindness measures awareness, the 2 fields have existed side by side with no shared theoretical framework. Here, the authors propose a theoretical unification, adapting several important effects from the attention capture literature to the context of sustained inattentional blindness. Although some stimulus properties can influence noticing of unexpected objects, the most influential factor affecting noticing is a person's own attentional goals. The authors conclude that many - but not all - aspects of attention capture apply to inattentional blindness but that these 2 classes of phenomena remain importantly distinct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-242
Number of pages26
JournalPsychological review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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