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Gorillas in the midst, and what else we miss when we’re not looking.

Picture this: You step into the subway, settle into a seat and begin scrolling through emails, articles and notifications on your phone. When you look up, you realize you’ve missed your stop. Essentially, the activities happening on your little screen consumed so much attention that you became oblivious to your surroundings. Experiences like this happen all the time and reveal how we can miss obvious, often important, things that are right in front of us.

Perhaps the best-known example of this is an experiment by psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, published in 1999. Subjects were asked to watch a video in which six basketball players in white and black T-shirts passed around a ball. They were instructed to count the number of passes made by those wearing white. At one point, a woman in a gorilla suit walks through the players, faces the camera and thumps her chest before sauntering off the court.

  • Words:
    Charmaine Li
  • Photograph:
    Noell Oszvald

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