A visual cocktail party effect : the role of meaningfulness in perception : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)
According to the "cocktail party phenomenon" (Moray, 1959), a personally meaningful stimulus, like one's name, has a special ability to capture attention when presented in an unattended auditory channel. The present study was an attempt to replicate this effect in vision with a highly ecologically valid variant of the induced change blindness paradigm. Ninety students participated in a facial expression recognition task. In the final trial, the word on the model's shirt unexpectedly changed from time to either house or the participant's first name. Change blindness, or failure to notice the change, was significantly higher in the house condition (66%) than in the first name condition (24%), indicating the presence of a visual cocktail party effect. Surprisingly this effect occurred only among females. Results support the argument that meaningful words, such as names, are inherently able to unexpectedly grab our attention in visual as well as auditory contexts.