The answer to why my wife can never see anything beyond what she’s looking at!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my wife coming towards me in her car and I’ve flashed my lights, waved frantically and generally tried to catch her attention only to have her drive straight past me without so much as a glance. What must I do to get this woman’s attention??!!

Finally, on Horizon: How You Really Make Decisions I had my answer! It’s not that she is trying to ignore my flashing lights, etc, it’s just that she can’t see me.

My incredulity pales into significance when you hear the case of the American police officer who was charged and found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice when he failed to notice fellow officers beating up a suspect  whilst chasing a suspect of his own. In field tests shown on the programme, 50% of subjects failed to notice a fight taking place on the route they took as they ‘chased’ someone they had to follow. Not one person on the jury could believe that he could have missed seeing this altercation taking place during his own pursuit. They obviously don’t have a spouse like mine!

The term given to this is ‘Inattentional Blindness’ – an inability to take in things in your periphery vision when concentrating on a specific task. I’m sure a lot of people will remember the video where you have to look out for certain things and completely miss seeing someone dressed in a gorilla suite. It’s that phenomenon that causes my wife to not see anything but the road ahead!

Once that aspect had been put to bed, there was the argument introduced that we have two decision making processes. A theory put forward Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman where we have a fast process and a slow process. The theory states that it is our fast intuitive process that makes most decisions whilst our slow process comes up with reasons to justify these decisions! The programme gave several examples of how we can see this in action – a simple example was to ask people to answer the following:

What is 2 x 2? The answer came immediately without requiring any though. We know the answer almost intuitively.

What is 22 x 17? This requires time to work out as it’s not something we would know automatically.

A great programme all in all and if you are interested in human behaviour, well worth watching. If you missed it, try to watch it on this link to the BBC iPlayer.

We explore these type of characteristics in our behaviour workshops, such as MBTI, SDI and Belbin Team Roles. These will give you a great insight into what drives our behaviour and our preferred working styles.


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