The Psychology of Temporary Blindness

By: John-Nicholas Furst Melanie Parnon

John-Nicholas Furst, Melanie Parnon AP Statistics 1/13/09 The Psychology of Temporary Blindness Purpose: Does being blindfolded affect how we solve challenges? The population is Crescent Valley High School Seniors, Class of 2009. We will measure the time it takes the subjects to complete five mind puzzles, with the order of the puzzles randomly selected. We will time each puzzle separately and total all five times. The timer will start after each question has been read and stop after an answer is given, whether the answer is correct or incorrect. Subjects: We took a simple random sample of the senior class of Crescent Valley. We obtained the yearbook’s list of seniors. We then went down the list alphabetically and assigned each subject a number, 001-239. We used the calculator to randomly select thirty subjects. The subjects chosen were Nat Adams (001), Allison Bostrom (021), Don Buenaventura (029), Teresa Chan (035), Cielle Charron (036), Garrison Choitz (038), Lissy Clark (041), Eric DeLander (054), Monica Down (061), Raymond Ehlers (065), Robert Forkner (072), Daniel Fridley (077), Chris Gannon (081), Riti Gupta (093), Alex Huddleston (109), Kelsey Kindsvogel (122), Heather Koenig (126), Katie Landis (128), Kari Lysne (141), Tim Moss (153), Charlie Nairn (156), David Ni (158), Hunter Park (169), Zach Peters (173), Connie Shen (197), Ekaterina Vasileva (219), Noah Wade (221), David Ward (225), Dana Wisseman (233), and Margaret Yeh (238). Out of these thirty subjects, we randomly blocked them into two groups. The test subjects were numbered alphabetically (as ordered above) from 01 to 30. We then used the calculator to randomly choose fifteen numbers for the first group and the remaining subjects were blocked into the second. The first group consisted of Nat Adams, Allison Bostrom, Teresa Chan, Lissy Clark, Eric DeLander, Monica Down, Riti Gupta, Kelsey Kindsvogel, Heather Koenig, Tim Moss, Zach Peters, Connie Shen, Noah Wade, David Ward, and Margaret Yeh. The second group consisted of the remaining fifteen subjects. The first group was tested blindfolded, while the second (the control group) was tested with no blindfold. Experiment:

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Data: Questions: A chicken farmer also has some cows for a total of 30 animals, and the animals have 74 legs in all. How many chickens does the farmer have? 23 chickens A scientist is experimenting with bacteria that are one micron in diameter and that reproduce by dividing every minute into two bacteria. At 12:00 PM, she puts a single organism in a container. At precisely 1:00 PM, the container is full. At what time was the container half full? 12:59 PM At a party, every shook hands with everybody else. There were 66 handshakes. How many people were at the party? 12 You are on your way to visit your Grandma, who lives at the end of the valley. It's her birthday, and you want to give her the cakes you've made. Between your house and her house, you have to cross 7 bridges, and as it goes in the land of make believe, there is a troll under every bridge! Each troll, quite rightly, insists that you pay a troll toll. Before you can cross their bridge, you have to give them half of the cakes you are carrying, but as they are kind trolls, they each give you back a single cake. How many cakes do you have to leave home with to make sure that you arrive at Grandma's with exactly 2 cakes? 2 To paint two white lines dividing a road into three lanes costs $100.00. What will it cost to paint lines dividing a road into six lanes? $250 Conclusion: Our experiment shows that temporary blindness on average decreases the amount of time it takes subjects to accurately solve mind puzzles. The average time for blindfolded subjects to complete the test was 1:24 with an average of 73.33% of the questions answered accurately. The average time for control subjects to complete the test was 1:38 with only 60% of the questions answered correctly. A possible source of error could be the subjects skill at focusing on problems. We asked each subject to focus on the questions at hand, and to complete the question as quickly as possible while maintaining accuracy. Loosing focus could lead the test subjects to take longer or to not answer questions accurately. While the population is Crescent Valley Seniors, we will that our data is representative of high school seniors in general. We understand that the questions we asked to require some more developed problem solving skills and thus we will not extrapolate outside of our age group that is high school seniors. Next time we would recommend investigating and possibly implementing additional questions for more accurate testing of the subject’s ability to solve problems given their situation.

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Summary: The ability to solve problems that do not require vision may be improved by temporarily removing the subject’s sight. This is supported by our data across the board. In every category, both the average and mean of blindfolded subjects are less than those of the control group. As an example, for Test 1, the median blindfolded time was 2:11 while the median control time was 2:43. The medians are over 30 seconds apart from each other. The graph below shows averages of the blindfolded group in blue and the average times of the control group in red. It is easily seen that in every test, the blindfolded group had a lower average testing time.

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