Why 50% Of People Miss Obvious Changes In This Sneaky Visual Test

Don't be fooled when the scene is manipulated right before your eyes.

woman in sunglasses in green and pink ShotPrime Studio / Shutterstock

Our sense of sight is very important to how we perceive and respond to the world around us. There are vision tests that tell us how strong our eyesight is and others that let us know whether or not we are colorblind.

But you can be afflicted with another type of blindness that has nothing to do with the shades you see.

The change blindness test reveals if you're part of the 50% of the population who fails to notice when something changes before their eyes.

This one particular test is demonstrated on TikTok by Dr. Steve Rathje.




RELATED: The Quick Visual Test That Reveals How You Really See The World Around You

The change blindness test is a way of determining just how susceptible you are to witnessing a change as it occurs, but failing to see the transformation. The results can be caused by not paying attention, where your eyes are focused, or how well your memory works.


In the video, Rathje displays a picture of his room and tells viewers, "Can you tell me which objects in this room are changing?" before explaining that several objects in the room are slowly changing or disappearing completely.

Rathje then says that because the changes are happening gradually, they are difficult to detect and might happen right in front of us without taking notice.

If you're like most people in the comments, either you missed the changes, too many happened to note them all, or you believe almost everything in the room changed.

What is change blindness?

The phenomenon of change blindness happens when something different is introduced into your visual field and you exhibit a failure to detect it. You might view an image that is flashing and never notice drastic changes that are being made to it gradually.


The inability to detect these changes might be due to limitations in humans paying attention to multiple things at once or progressive changes to a picture, and is the subject of much research.

There have been several surprising studies showing that people can be blind to change that happens with and without visual disruption.

Why does change blindness occur?

Change blindness and its causes have been debated since the 19th century when film editing was first introduced. Editors soon realized that viewers did not see changes in the backgrounds of the movies they watched. Psychologist William James also wrote about change blindness in his 1890 book, "Principles of Psychology."

The research into the phenomenon came about as a result of other investigations into working memory and eye movements.


A 1996 experiment had subjects view scenes on a computer as changes took place. At the same time, it measured their eye movement. If the change and the movement of the eyes coincided, observers failed to notice. This led researchers to believe they were related.

However, subsequent research using flickering images raised the possibility that working memory could be involved. When the picture flashed, observers were unable to recall some detail that would have made the changes evident.

RELATED: The Image You Choose In This Test Reveals What Relaxes Your Brain

Inattentional Blindness vs. Change Blindness

With differing views attributing change blindness to inattentiveness, eye movement, or working memory, it is important to understand the difference between having inattentional blindness and bona fide change blindness.


Inattentional blindness came about as a result of a test where people were asked to pass a basketball back and forth, counting the number of times it was passed. While filming the video, a person wearing a gorilla suit walked through the circle of people passing the ball and a surprising number of them never noticed.

In separating inattentional blindness from change blindness, it should be noted that due to their primary focus being elsewhere, people with inattentional blindness miss key changes around them. Those with change blindness miss changes to objects as they happen in real time.

Dr. Steve Rathje demonstrates in this real world experiment where a man asking for directions is swapped out.



Change blindness can also happen as a result of being distracted, having expectations that differ from what you are seeing, and visual manipulation.


Of course, when we are focusing on the wrong thing, it’s hard to notice transformations in our peripheral view.

When it comes to expectations, our minds tend to fill in the blanks when information is limited, causing us to miss changes. Then, there are manipulations like magic tricks and stunt doubles in films, meant to explicitly keep us from detecting changes.

RELATED: The Freaky Visual Illusion That Makes Human Faces Look Like Aliens


NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.