The 20-Second Psychological Test That Shows How Well You Focus

Photo: Fat Camera / Getty Images via Canva, caseyrosenberg / TikTok
selective attention test

In our daily lives, we are constantly distracted as we move through the day. But when we finally decide to focus on just one thing, it means we ignore other things going on around us.

While you may say to yourself, "I'm very aware of my surroundings — I can stay focused," your brain proves otherwise.

In order to determine just how well you can focus, there's a simple test you can take called the selective attention test. Simply scroll down to take it!

This 20-second test was created to determine how well your brain focuses.

This quick 20-second test is very easy to take.

All you have to do is watch the video below and count how many times the players in white pass the basketball. Easy, right? Take a turn and see how well you do.



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Now that the video is over, how many passes did you count?

Did you come up with 12 passes total? If so, you are correct.

But, even more importantly, did you notice the gorilla? Rewatch the video and see if you can catch him.

If you didn't see him the first time you watched the video, you're not alone. Because more than half of the people who took the test didn't see the gorilla, either.

But why did your brain focus on the task at hand, completely ignoring the gorilla? It's something called selective attention.

What is selective attention?

This particular psychology test was designed by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabristo in 1999 to show how selective attention works.

According to a study, selective attention is "the process that allows an individual to select and focus on particular input for further processing while simultaneously suppressing irrelevant or distracting information."

In layman's terms, selective attention is when your brain lets you focus on certain objects or ideas while ignoring distractions.

For example, you have chores to do. You need to wash the dishes but you have a puppy who wants attention, the television is on, and it's a nice sunny day outside.

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Selective attention allows you to stay focused on washing the dishes instead of going out, playing with your puppy, or watching television. It stops you from seeing/hearing any sort of distractions for a period of time so you can get things done.

There are even some selective attention theories that insist people only use one part of their environment to process information and ignore everything else.

What is the purpose of the selective attention test?

The test is usually performed by measuring the effectiveness of how well participants can manage a source of information and ignore others at the same time.

Selective attention is incredibly important because it functions as a filter that keeps our brains working at their best when we perform tasks.

The purpose of the test is to see how healthy your selective attention is. This is because the loss of this function is critical.

If you have difficulty concentrating, it can demonstrate a breakdown in your mind's ability to engage in this mechanism, which can, in turn, stop you from completing or focusing on anything.

So, while the test can determine if you need help, it's unlikely that yours is out of tune. Still, it's a fun test regardless! Besides, it's not everyday you see a gorilla.

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Deauna Nunes is an associate editor for YourTango who covers pop culture, lifestyle, astrology, and relationship topics. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic and MSN.