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Blinded by magic: eye-movements reveal the misdirection of attention.

Barnhart AS, Goldinger SD - Front Psychol (2014)

Bottom Line: In an eye-tracking experiment, participants watched videos of a new magic trick, wherein a coin placed beneath a napkin disappears, reappearing under a different napkin.Nevertheless, we observed high rates of IB.Unlike prior research, eye-movements during the critical event showed different patterns for participants, depending upon whether they saw the moving coin.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cognitive Research Lab, Department of Psychological Sciences, Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ, USA.

ABSTRACT
Recent studies (e.g., Kuhn and Tatler, 2005) have suggested that magic tricks can provide a powerful and compelling domain for the study of attention and perception. In particular, many stage illusions involve attentional misdirection, guiding the observer's gaze to a salient object or event, while another critical action, such as sleight of hand, is taking place. Even if the critical action takes place in full view, people typically fail to see it due to inattentional blindness (IB). In an eye-tracking experiment, participants watched videos of a new magic trick, wherein a coin placed beneath a napkin disappears, reappearing under a different napkin. Appropriately deployed attention would allow participants to detect the "secret" event that underlies the illusion (a moving coin), as it happens in full view and is visible for approximately 550 ms. Nevertheless, we observed high rates of IB. Unlike prior research, eye-movements during the critical event showed different patterns for participants, depending upon whether they saw the moving coin. The results also showed that when participants watched several "practice" videos without any moving coin, they became far more likely to detect the coin in the critical trial. Taken together, the findings are consistent with perceptual load theory (Lavie and Tsal, 1994).

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Schematic of the actions from an experimental trial where the coin moves from under the left napkin to the right napkin. (The contrast of the coin in the central frame has been manipulated to enhance the clarity of this graphic).
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Figure 1: Schematic of the actions from an experimental trial where the coin moves from under the left napkin to the right napkin. (The contrast of the coin in the central frame has been manipulated to enhance the clarity of this graphic).

Mentions: The current experiment addresses the limitations of previous IB research by using a unique methodology, borrowed from magicians, that also allows for control over a greater number of variables than previous real-world experimentation into IB. Thus, it has the potential to be a powerful tool in the study of attention and eye-movements that can be adapted to study a multitude of hypotheses. In the basic magic trick, adapted from Regal (1999), an American half-dollar coin is placed on a dark-colored placemat and is covered by a napkin. Another napkin is placed on the opposite side of the placemat. Next, an inverted cup is placed on top of each napkin, after showing the inside of each to the camera. The coin vanishes from its starting location and re-appears beneath the opposite napkin. The method of the magic trick happens in full view; see Figure 1 in Methods and an example video from an experimental trial in the Supplementary Materials. As the inside of the first cup is being shown to the camera, the coin visibly slides across the placemat (with a mean duration of 550 ms) to its final position beneath the second napkin. The highly salient, high-contrast coin movement often eludes detection due to misdirection provided by the action of showing the inside of the first cup to the camera.


Blinded by magic: eye-movements reveal the misdirection of attention.

Barnhart AS, Goldinger SD - Front Psychol (2014)

Schematic of the actions from an experimental trial where the coin moves from under the left napkin to the right napkin. (The contrast of the coin in the central frame has been manipulated to enhance the clarity of this graphic).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4269107&req=5

Figure 1: Schematic of the actions from an experimental trial where the coin moves from under the left napkin to the right napkin. (The contrast of the coin in the central frame has been manipulated to enhance the clarity of this graphic).
Mentions: The current experiment addresses the limitations of previous IB research by using a unique methodology, borrowed from magicians, that also allows for control over a greater number of variables than previous real-world experimentation into IB. Thus, it has the potential to be a powerful tool in the study of attention and eye-movements that can be adapted to study a multitude of hypotheses. In the basic magic trick, adapted from Regal (1999), an American half-dollar coin is placed on a dark-colored placemat and is covered by a napkin. Another napkin is placed on the opposite side of the placemat. Next, an inverted cup is placed on top of each napkin, after showing the inside of each to the camera. The coin vanishes from its starting location and re-appears beneath the opposite napkin. The method of the magic trick happens in full view; see Figure 1 in Methods and an example video from an experimental trial in the Supplementary Materials. As the inside of the first cup is being shown to the camera, the coin visibly slides across the placemat (with a mean duration of 550 ms) to its final position beneath the second napkin. The highly salient, high-contrast coin movement often eludes detection due to misdirection provided by the action of showing the inside of the first cup to the camera.

Bottom Line: In an eye-tracking experiment, participants watched videos of a new magic trick, wherein a coin placed beneath a napkin disappears, reappearing under a different napkin.Nevertheless, we observed high rates of IB.Unlike prior research, eye-movements during the critical event showed different patterns for participants, depending upon whether they saw the moving coin.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cognitive Research Lab, Department of Psychological Sciences, Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ, USA.

ABSTRACT
Recent studies (e.g., Kuhn and Tatler, 2005) have suggested that magic tricks can provide a powerful and compelling domain for the study of attention and perception. In particular, many stage illusions involve attentional misdirection, guiding the observer's gaze to a salient object or event, while another critical action, such as sleight of hand, is taking place. Even if the critical action takes place in full view, people typically fail to see it due to inattentional blindness (IB). In an eye-tracking experiment, participants watched videos of a new magic trick, wherein a coin placed beneath a napkin disappears, reappearing under a different napkin. Appropriately deployed attention would allow participants to detect the "secret" event that underlies the illusion (a moving coin), as it happens in full view and is visible for approximately 550 ms. Nevertheless, we observed high rates of IB. Unlike prior research, eye-movements during the critical event showed different patterns for participants, depending upon whether they saw the moving coin. The results also showed that when participants watched several "practice" videos without any moving coin, they became far more likely to detect the coin in the critical trial. Taken together, the findings are consistent with perceptual load theory (Lavie and Tsal, 1994).

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus