Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Did You See the Gorilla?

An Interview with Psychologist Daniel Simons

By: David DiSalvo
If you’ve spent any time on YouTube over the last few years (and you know you have), you’ve likely seen the video of the invis­i­ble gorilla exper­i­ment (if you’ve some­how missed it, catch your­self up here). The researchers who con­ducted that study, Dan Simonsand Chris Chabris, didn’t real­ize that they were about to cre­ate an instant classic—a psy­chol­ogy study men­tioned along­side the greats, and known well out­side the slim con­fines of psych wonks. Mil­gram taught us about our sheep­ish obe­di­ence to author­ity; Mis­chel used marsh­mal­lows to teach us about delayed grat­i­fi­ca­tion; and Simons and Chabris used a faux gorilla to teach us that we are not the mas­ters of atten­tion we think we are.

The duo’s new book, The Invis­i­ble Gorilla, and Other Ways Our Intu­itions Deceive Us, is every bit as engag­ing as the orig­i­nal study was innovative.Using the invis­i­ble gorilla study as a jump­ing off point, the authors go on to explain why so many of our intu­itions are off the mark, though we’re typ­i­cally con­vinced oth­er­wise. I recently had a chance to chat with Dan Simons about the study, the book, and why we’re usu­ally in the dark about how our minds really work.

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