Distractions may distort view of reality, study suggests

Published September 16, 2019, 10:57 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Alec Go

Psychology research conducted by Ohio State University revealed that changing attentions can interfere with human perception of what is real and may cause individuals to believe differently from what they saw.

“We wanted to find out what happens if you’re trying to pay attention to one thing and something else interferes,” said Julie Golomb, senior author and associate professor of psychology at the university, science website Science Daily reported.

The researchers used four different-colored squares on a computer screen and asked 26 participants to focus only on a square while a bright distractor appears around a different square to evaluate how distraction plays with reality.

The participants were shown a color wheel to choose the color closest to their original square.

The participants responded with either mistakenly choosing the distraction color with the original, or selecting a color that is different from the distractor.

The findings revealed that confusion sometimes arises in people in remembering the color of an object which they are supposed to recall with a distraction object.

Overcompensation also came as a result in which respondents remembered colors that are far different from the distraction color.

According to Golomb, the results imply “that there are deeper consequences of having [our] attention is drawn away that might actually change what [we] are perceiving,” the science website reported.

Golomb added that the findings showed humans do not fully understand distraction and its implications.

Ohio State University is currently conducting additional research on the interaction of distraction and reality, Science Daily reported.

Science Daily is an American website that creates content based on scientific studies and updates published by academic and science institutions.