I’m currently reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (amazon affiliate link).
In one of the first few chapters, Dr. Kahneman describes the “invisible gorilla test” popularized by psychologists Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. The test consists of a team of 3 people dressed in black and a team of 3 people dressed in white passing a basketball to their teammates.
Watch for yourself…and really really focus on counting the passes between the white-shirts. (If you are reading this via RSS and don’t see a video, please click here to view it).
Did you get the number of passes correct? How about the gorilla…did you see the gorilla the first time?
Whether you saw the gorilla while watching the video or not…research shows that about half of the people that watch this video and focus on counting passes, do not see the gorilla. Pretty amazing huh? Half the people don’t see a gorrilla walk through the scene, pound its chest, turn and look at the camera, then stroll off. Half the people.
From this test (and many other tests by other psychologists), we’ve learned that its very easy for us mere humans to get deceived, to miss things and/or just not pay attention that well. The ‘invisible gorilla’ phenomenon isn’t just some theoretical phenomena…Its something that happens in the real world every day. It happens to me and to you everyday.
The invisible gorilla shows up in many workplaces too. With so many people and organizations focused on “doing more with less” (or whatever other buzzworthy terms you want to use here), we tend to miss some of the very important details that might change our outlook and approach towards those things we are so focused on.
Take a step back in your job/life and look for that invisible gorilla. Maybe your gorilla won’t be as easy to see as the one in the video above…but i bet there’s one there…if you look hard enough.
PS: If you want to learn more about The Invisible Gorilla phenomenon, Simons and Chabris have written many papers on the subject and have even released a book titled The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us (amazon affiliate link).
Image Credit: Gorilla By Kris Elshout on flickr