Would you remember a pretty face?

There's a good chance that even if you picked a pretty face out of a lineup, you wouldn't remember it seconds later. Even if you thought it was the most memorable face in the world.

We are almost never paying as much attention to things as we think we are. This comes up time and time again. We walk a particular route every day of our lives, and one day we stop and wonder if that house was always there. We are asked to describe the specific details of our office and realize we don't know whether it was the third or fourth door down from the elevators. We constantly realize that we don't know as much as we thought we did.

But that's just the objects we chance to encounter throughout the day. We are assigned an office. We have to walk a certain route to the nearest grocery store. Why should we pay special attention?

We shouldn't. Because it wouldn't matter, even if we did. One experiment shows that, even when we pick out certain things, we don't pay as much attention as we thought we did. We experience "choice blindness."

One study asked a group of young men to look at pairs of photographs of young women's faces. They were asked to pick the one they thought was more attractive. The photo they picked was then immediately given to them, so they could explain why they thought the woman they chose was prettier. They went through this about fifteen times. Three of those times, they got the wrong photo. The person interviewing them performed a simple sleight-of-hand trick to switch the photos. Remember, this was a face they had just picked out seconds ago. In about 75 % of the trials, the men didn't know that they'd been handed the wrong picture. They even made up explanations that would have excluded the picture they chose - for example, saying that they preferred blondes when the photo they'd chosen was a brunette, but had been switched for a blonde.

So even when you pay attention, even when you make a choice, you are not as attached to your choice as you think you are.

[Via Explorable.]