Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gossip changes the way we see the world

Everyone loves a bit of juicy gossip, but have you ever stopped to think about how hearing who is having an affair or who made a drunken fool out of themselves at least year's Christmas party affects you? A new study in Science finds that gossip actually influences our vision, making us highly attuned to people we’ve heard negative information about.

The research is based on a visual process called "binocular rivalry." Scientists show subjects two images at once, one presented to the right eye, and the other to the left eye. The images battle for our attention—one comes into our field of vision while the other is suppressed, then the images switch. The image that our eyes focus on for longer is considered dominant. An image may be dominant because of its inherent properties (it’s brighter or bigger), or because of a subconscious bias in our brains.

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