You’re invited to our 1st Psychology Speaker of the fall term ~ Thursday, September 20, in Karp 105 at 12:45 pm

You’re invited to our 1st Psychology Speaker of the fall term ~ Thursday, September 20, in Karp 105 at 12:45 pm


The Union College Psychology Department Speaker Series and Honors Colloquium welcome
Christopher Chabris, Ph.D.
Professor, Geisinger Health System and Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study

for a public lecture entitled
The Invisible Gorilla: From the Classroom to the Real World, and Back Again

Thursday, September 20, 2018
12:45–1:50 PM • Karp 105
Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Inattentional blindness occurs when we fail to notice an object or event because we are paying attention to something else. We can fail to notice distinctive, lengthy, salient events that happen directly where we are looking, and people are generally unaware of this limitation on attention and perception. The “invisible gorilla” experiment reported by Simons and Chabris in 1999 has become a standard classroom demonstration of this phenomenon, and of the broader idea that people have poor intuitions about their own cognitive abilities. This talk will review the history of research on inattentional blindness, highlighting two aspects: (1) The involvement of undergraduate students and undergraduate courses in key aspects of our work, including new studies on the question of whether inattentional blindness is a human cognitive universal; and (2) The interplay between laboratory experiments on inattentional blindness and the application of the concept to real-world events, including criminal investigations and distracted driving.


Christopher Chabris is a Professor at Geisinger, an integrated healthcare system in Pennsylvania, and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France. Previously he was Associate Professor of Psychology and co-director of the Neuroscience Program at Union College in New York. Chris received his A.B. in computer science and his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University, where he was also a Lecturer and Research Associate for many years. He did postdoctoral work in brain imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Chris is the co-author (with Daniel Simons) of the New York Times bestseller and Editor’s Choice book The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us, published in 2010 by Crown in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the U.K., with translations published or forthcoming in Japanese, Chinese, Russian, German, French, Spanish, and fourteen other languages. In 2004 Chris and Dan shared the Ig Nobel Prize in Psychology (awarded for “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think”) for the experiment that inspired their book.

Chris’s research focuses on several areas: attention, intelligence (individual, collective, and social), behavior genetics, and decision-making. He has published papers on a diverse array of topics, including human intelligence, beauty and the brain, face recognition, the Mozart effect, genetics in social science, group performance, intertemporal choice, chess expertise, and visual cognition. Chris’s work has appeared in leading journals, including Science, Nature, PNAS, Psychological Science, Nature Neuroscience, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Perception, and Cognitive Science, and it has been covered in major media outlets worldwide. Chris has spoken to audiences at Google, Microsoft, Credit Suisse, Procter & Gamble, PopTech, OneDay University, government agencies, and many other private and public events.

Chris is a chess master, poker amateur, and games enthusiast; for three years he wrote the monthly “Game On” column in The Wall Street Journal. He also contributes occasionally to The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Slate, and other national publications.

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