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Talking on the cell phone? Spot the clown

[ 2009-10-23 13:19]     字号 [] [] []  
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Pedestrians who talk on a mobile phone are slower, change direction more, have difficulty navigating - and are less likely to notice obvious distractions like a unicycling clown, a study said this week.

Researchers observed 317 pedestrians as they crossed the main square of the campus of Western Washington University using the 114-meter-long main diagonal pathway.

The people observed were either talking on a mobile phone, listening to a personal music player, in conversation with another pedestrian, or walking alone, without any electronic devices.

The researchers noted the time it took them to cross the square, whether they stopped, zig-zagged or stumbled; how many times they changed direction and whether they collided with another person or nearly did.

The pedestrians were also monitored to see if they noticed the "unusual stimulus" the researchers had placed just off the walking path: a brightly-colored unicycling clown.

Only 25 percent of people using their mobile phones noticed the clown, while more than half of people in the other groups noticed him.

Failure to see the clown could not be blamed on the use of an electronic device per se, because 61 percent of people using a music player saw the unicyclist, or on having a conversation, because chatting couples were the most likely - 71 percent - to see the clown, the study said.

Instead, the study suggested that mobile phone users fail to notice what is going on around them, a phenomenon called "inattentional blindness".

This means that they may miss more than the unicycling clown and experience difficulty recognizing and using information needed to navigate through a complex and changing environment.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Talking on the cell phone? Spot the clown

About the broadcaster:

Talking on the cell phone? Spot the clown

Casey Chin is an intern at the China Daily's website. When he's not shooting or producing videos he's trying to learn Chinese. He's from Sacramento, California (no, he doesn't know Arnold Schwarzenegger) and he just graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in journalism.