That’s right. You might experience a temporary state of shock after seeing gore, pr0n or… (maybe) a beautiful woman. From the press release from Vanderbilt University:
New research indicates that people shown erotic or gory images frequently fail to process what they see immediately afterwards.
Portions of the research exploring this effect by Vanderbilt University psychologist David Zald and Yale University researchers Steven Most, Marvin Chun and David Widders will be published in the August issue of Psychonomic Bulletin and Review…
Zald and his colleagues set out to determine if the rubbernecking effect carries over into more minute lapses of attention through two separate experiments.
In the first experiment, research subjects were shown hundreds of pictures that included a mix of disturbing images along with landscape or architectural photos. They were told to search the images for a particular target image. An irrelevant, emotionally negative or neutral picture preceded the target by two to eight items. The closer the negative pictures were to the target image, the more frequently the subject failed to spot the target. In a subsequent study, which has not yet been published, the researchers substituted erotic for negative images and found the same basic effect.
“We think that there is essentially a bottleneck for information processing and if a certain type of stimulus captures attention, it can basically jam up that bottleneck so subsequent information can’t get through,” Zald said. “It appears to happen involuntarily…”
In the second experiment, the researchers sought to determine if individuals can override their emotion-induced blindness by focusing more deliberately on the target for which they are searching. In this experiment, the subjects undertook two different trials. In one they were told specifically to look for a rotated photo of a building; in the other they were told to look for a rotated photo of either a building or a landscape.
The research team hypothesized that the more specific instruction-to look for the building only-would help the research subjects override their emotion-induced blindness. After running the tests, the researchers discovered that they were partially right: specific instructions helped some subjects control their attention, but it didn’t help others.
You, animal, you!
The press release…