Here’s something interesting I read on newscientist.com the other day that made me think. Below is the article:
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD
They say that love is blind and now it seems that the same is true of lust – erotic images stop us registering what we see immediately after.
They say love is blind. Now it seems that the same is true for lust. Erotic images stop us registering things we see immediately afterwards.
The effect, which also occurs with violent images, will fuel calls by road-safety campaigners to ban sexy billboard adverts near busy roads because they could distract drivers.
David Zald from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues flashed sequences of 100-millisecond images in front of male volunteers. They asked the men to say in which direction a particular picture in the sequence had been rotated. Most images were of landscapes or buildings, but the psychologists included a few sexually provocative pics.
If the target image was preceded by a neutral picture, the men were correct 90 per cent of the time. But if it was preceded by a pornographic image the subjects did no better than chance. The "attentional rubbernecking", as the researchers call it, lasted up to 800 milliseconds. The effect also occurs in women and with violent images.
"We think there is essentially a bottleneck for information processing and if a certain type of stimulus captures attention it can jam up the bottleneck so subsequent information can’t get through," Zald says. The team will publish their results in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.
The effect could exacerbate the more obvious problem of drivers simply being distracted by large, arresting images. "We should be concerned if drivers are experiencing split-second breaks in concentration, which could result in an accident," says a spokeswoman from Brake, a UK road safety organisation.