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Feeling Overwhelmed in Searching for a Home? Ever Heard of Attention Blindness?

I read this great article the other day  Wait! Stop! It's All Too Much, by Martha Beck that pointed out the human brain was not designed to handle the world we inhabit. We are overwhelmed with the increasing demands for our attention. On top of life's day to day demands, for some people, searching for a home can become overwhelming.

Animals survive in nature because they focus intently on well-camouflaged targets and screen out extraneous information and ignore everything else. Human beings do the same thing. Her examples ranged from trying to find a friend in a crowd of people, or multi tasking until you hear something so attention grabbing you lose the thread of the other streams of information. Once your brain assigns equal importance to everything it is reviewing, you go blind to everything else.

I found this article interesting because it occurred to me that this can happen when a buyer is searching for a home and can't find one.  I recently met a young couple who had a list of features they wanted in a home and had been looking for over three months at countless homes in the neighborhood. They were not working with an agent, and after a friend of theirs at work recommended they call me, we started our search together.

At our first meeting I asked if there were any homes they had been interested in, and suggested we tour a few homes they had already seen, so I could verify we understood each other. Well, the day we toured, the first home on our list, was the home they liked best and I could see why. It had every feature they desired. The rest of the day we spent touring the remaining homes on our list. As we moved from house to house it became apparent the first home was the one they wanted but they had a case of attention blindness.

Their attention blindness came from giving equal importance to every house they saw, and comparing the homes, which made them blind to finding what worked for them. Their brains were trying to focus on too much. Adding a Realtor's perspective, helped them to define what was truly important in choosing a home. The good news is they are now happy homeowners and will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for their families in their new home.

For a dramatic demonstration of attention blindness, enter the following link into your browser: http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/grafs/demos/15.html. It shows a click of two teams playing basketball. This is important. When you watch the clip, count the number of times the white-shirt team passes the basketball. This is crucial. After you watch the clip, read on. If you are still reading and you haven't watched the clip, you are going to spoil the surprise.

Did you watch the clip? Seconds into the video clip, a person in a gorilla suit walks into the frame, thumps his chest, and walks off. Most people are so busy counting the white-shirt passes; they just don't see the gorilla.


Published Saturday, November 3, 2007 8:36 AM by Elisa Uribe

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