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Change blindness blindness: as visual metacognition

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Many experiments have demonstrated that people fail to detect seemingly large visual changes in their environment. Despite these failures, most people confidently predict that they would see changes that are actually almost impossible to see. Therefore, in at least some situations visual experience is demonstrably not what people think it is. This paper describes a line of research suggesting that overconfidence about change detection reflects a deeper metacognitive error (which we refer to as 'change blindness blindness', or CBB) founded on beliefs about attention and the role of meaning as a support for a coherent perceptual experience. Accordingly, CBB does not occur in all situations (subjects can, indeed, make accurate predictions about change detection in some circumstances), while the scope of the phenomenon remains broad enough to suggest more than a misunderstanding of a small niche of visual experience. I finish by arguing that despite the very small amount of research on visual metacognition, these beliefs are critical to understand.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept of Psychology, PO Box 5190, Kent State University, Kent OH 44242-0001. Email:

Publication date: 2002-05-01

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