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#2. Classic attention experiment (1-minute video)

Let’s try this fun exper­i­ment, con­ceived by Simons and Chabris for their clas­sic study on sus­tained inat­ten­tion­al blind­ness.

–>You will watch a brief video clip, and your chal­lenge is to count how many times that the play­ers wear­ing white pass the bas­ket­ball. 



Next brain teas­er in Sharp­Brains’ top 25 series:

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125 Responses

  1. micky says:

    i count­ed 24

  2. Eric says:

    I watched the video sev­er­al times, noticed the goril­la at some point, and had a nice laugh. But through­out I was hyper-focused on count­ing every last pass. Because the ques­tion was sole­ly ask­ing how many times the balls were passed, that was what I focused on. The thought that the whole point was that I might be so focused on count­ing the bas­ket­balls that I might miss some­thing as ridicu­lous as the goril­la unex­pect­ed­ly appear­ing did not even begin to cross my mind dur­ing the exer­cise. Even after I read sev­er­al of your replies that were notably not men­tion­ing how many times the balls were actu­al­ly passed, Alvaro,
    I still thought it was of some impor­tance that I fig­ure out how many times the balls were actu­al­ly passed. ^_^

    I some­times grow so focused on spe­cif­ic details that I miss oth­er poten­tial­ly impor­tant hap­pen­ings.

    See­ing how I han­dled the exer­cise, then dis­cov­er­ing its true pur­pose has helped me to bet­ter con­cep­tu­al­ize what is hap­pen­ing when I become over­ly focused on details.

    Some­times indi­vid­ual details are impor­tant enough to mer­it one’s entire focus. But only some­times, and it is impor­tant to have a feel for which details to focus on at what times, I think.

    Thank you for devot­ing so much of your time to this site. I’ve found it to be much fun, very use­ful, and easy to use!

  3. Jhon says:

    Wow, i was con­cen­trat­ing hard on the counts when the goril­la appeared and it was just so ran­dom, i start­ed crack­ing up, i watched it a sec­ond time and ignored the goril­la and count­ed 27 pass­es

  4. P-Rod says:

    yo sup

    i count­ed like 30 pass­es

  5. Eric, thank you for your great com­ment. That’s the right les­son: being aware of how our minds work can enable us to choose the right focus for our very scarce resource — atten­tion.

  6. tak says:

    tried three times and count­ed 27, 35, 30.…and did notice the goril­la but if you waste time notic­ing the goril­la your score will drop any­way. too many peo­ple ‘block­ing’. What IS the right answer

  7. jules says:

    I can’t believe nobody saw the giraffe and I count­ed two pass­es.

  8. dawn riggs says:

    25 + goril­la

  9. Seyran says:

    I saw the Goril­la, and i count­ed 34.

  10. manan says:

    i saw the goril­la… n count­ed 38 passes/// wats the rite answer???

  11. LILI says:


  12. patrick says:

    it was 33 times

  13. jean says:

    Iwa too tired to wait for it to load so I start­ed read­ing. I think there must be S’s on the wall, a goril­la, not sure on whether I believe about the giraffe and there were abunch of yahoos throw­ing a ball. The thing I don’t under­stand is what is the big deal about pass­ing only to the same shirt col­ors? Duh isn’t that what bas­ket­ball is all about? Now if the white shirts were pass­ing to the black shirts that would have been all wrong. They’d nev­er win the game! Who cares how many pass­es there were, it got alot of peo­ple talk­ing to each oth­er with­out yelling and even laugh­ing God for­bid. This was rather enlight­en­ing even though I didn’t watch the clip.

  14. April says:

    I am get­ting my Master’s in Adult Ed. and I was tak­ing a class called Learn­ing the­o­ries and we were dis­cussing per­cep­tion and atten­tion that the stu­dent receive from there mate­r­i­al based on the objec­tives. The instruc­tor of my class showed this video when dis­cussing this sec­tion of the class. Before play­ing the video she instruct­ed us to count the num­ber of times the ball passed between the peo­ple in the white. (this was our objec­tive) and so as the stu­dent all I was focused on the first time she played the video was the white shirts, so I did not notice the goril­la. 95% of the class had the same response. This was dis­coverd after she played the video again and told us to focus on the num­ber of times the ball passed among the peo­ple in black. This is when the goril­la was noticed. In the first show­ing of the video the class was only try­ing to obtain the infor­ma­tion that the teacher request­ed. This was a very inter­est­ing activ­i­ty and I wish the pre­vi­ous peo­ple would have had that same expe­ri­ence. I know that this exper­i­ment will not work once youv’e seen the video.

  15. N says:

    I count­ed 33 pass­es and noticed the goril­la — I find it hard to believe that so many peo­ple would not notice it.

  16. Deloris says:

    29 — 30 times

  17. Deloris says:

    I only saw the goril­la after I went back to watch it with­out count­ing the pass­es. The first time I watched it twice and count­ed 24 then 29 times and nev­er saw the goril­la. So I guess with watch­ing the ball I did not see the goril­la and with watch­ing for the goril­la I couldn’t count the num­ber of pass­es. One thing at a time, I guess.

  18. Brian K says:

    Man I feel like such a tard for cheat­ing and look­ing at the answer first, but I count­ed 34.

  19. Nessy says:

    my teacher loves this site, i like the guril­la, how many times did tyhey actu­al­ly pass the ball i got like 30 times.?

  20. ricardo says:

    i count­ed 31 pass­es but at the end of the video 1 pass is about to hap­pen but the video stops so its 31

  21. sorcha says:

    got dis­tract­ed by the goril­la could­nt keep count of the bas­ket­balls

  22. Gaurav says:

    I count­ed 27 for the first time and didn’t noticed the goril­la how­ev­er after read­ing the com­ments i saw that video again and noticed the goril­la and noticed 29 pass­es.

    Just want­ed to know Per­son­al who observed gor­ri­la first time are less stressed? Wats ur view on this.?

  23. Margaret says:

    I total­ly lost count when the goril­la came in. Then I just watched the goril­la and stopped count­ing. lol

  24. Karma says:

    I count­ed 29 pass­es and briefly noticed the goril­la… but I want­ed to count the pass­es so I didn’t watch him much. I’m not even sure if he got the ball :p

  25. Hedin R Joensen says:

    I count­ed 32 hand-offs and 1 raged goril­la.
    I count­ed the hand-offs by focus­ing on both bas­ket­balls at the same time and remem­ber­ing who had the ball the last time I checked…

    I can­not assume that I count­ed cor­rect­ly. Does any­one know the ‘actu­al’ num­ber of hand-offs ?


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