As if by magic: An abrupt change in motion direction induces change blindness


Magicians claim that an abrupt change in the direction of movement can attract attention, allowing them to hide their method for a trick in plain sight. In three experiments involving 43 total participants, we tested this claim by examining whether a sudden directional change can induce change blindness. Participants were asked to detect an instantaneous orientation change to a single item in an array of Gabor patches, which occurred as the entire array moved across the display. Observers consistently spotted the change if it occurred while the array moved along a straight path, but missed it when it occurred as the array changed direction. This method of inducing change blindness leaves the object in full view during the change; requires no additional distractions, visual occlusion, or global transients; and worked in every subject tested. This phenomenon joins a body of magic-inspired work that yields insights into perception and attention.)

Psychological Science