Inattentional blindness may result in a person failing to detect a stimulus even when he or she is looking right at it.


Features of inattentional blindness:

(1) The person fails to perceive a stimulus.

(2) The person's attention is focused elsewhere:

(2a) visual fixation on an external object

(2b) inward focus (daydream, deep thought, etc.)

(2c) highly complex task

(2d) mixed activity with limited attentional resources (driving and talking, other multi-tasking)

(3) The stimulus may be perceived if the person's attention is not focused elsewhere.


The risk of inattentional blindness to an alarm can be reduced by:

(1) making the alarm multi-modal (sound, flashing light, changing colors, etc.)

(2) inserting the warning into the task being performed

(3) training and education


Differential diagnosis:

(1) color blindness

(2) low signal frequency (stimulus occurs at a rate low enough to be missed by an observer taking intermittent readings)

(3) inability to understand message (foreign language, term unknown)

(4) intentional disregard of the warning


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