Wednesday, April 22, 2009

'Choice' and 'change' blindness shows people don't know what they want

Research aggregated by New Scientist recently shows people suffer from "choice" and "change" blindness. "Choice blindness" is when people defend decisions they didn't make. For example, if you hold up two paintings, a Rothko and a Picasso, and the subject picks the Rothko as their favorite, and then you put the Picasso up and say, "why did you pick this as your favorite?" Most people would gush for hours about why the Picasso is so much better than the Rothko (which they originally selected).

According to the New Scientist column, choice blindness leads to "self-feedback ('I chose this, I publicly said so, therefore I must like it')", which they suspect "lies behind the formation of many everyday preferences."

Many every day preferences? That's not good. Shouldn't choice be based on present reality, not previous statements or decisions?

In "change blindness," people don't notice big changes in their environment. For example, in one real experiment, "X asks Y for directions; while Y is struggling to help, X is switched for Z and Y fails to notice."

The findings "show little information we use in daily life, and undercuts the idea we know what is going on around us."

Again, that's not good. Does this immediately disqualify all eyewitness testimony ever given in the history of the courts?

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.