While the term plant blindness suggests a perceptual or attentional component to plant neglect, few studies have examined whether there are real differences in how plants and animals are perceived. In this 2014 study, Balas and Momsen test their theory that there are fundamental differences in how humans visually process plants versus animals, and this is one of the contributing factors to plant blindness.
As a result of their findings on the attention we give to plants, they propose strategies in education that can be applied to create greater plant awareness and move away from zoo chauvinism. This is an excellent paper to help us design better programs and find better ways to discuss plant blindness with those stuck in the throes of it.
Topics Covered about attention to plants
- Plant Blindness and Plant Disparity Disorder
- Biases and selective non-attention
- Aristotle’s Scala Naturae
- Cognitively do we see plants and animals differently
Watch and learn about how we “see” plants:
00:20:12 From Ann Ertman : I have also heard “selective inattention” instead of “plant blindness”.
00:20:26 From Veronica Chordas : And … what the heck does it mean?
00:22:01 From Ann Ertman : I do agree that “blindness” is not analagous to lack of awareness so I like that folks are thinking about different terminology.
00:24:50 From Veronica Chordas : In the words of my nephew “I never ever ever heard about plants in school.”
00:25:30 From Veronica Chordas : 7
00:30:08 From Michelle Kirby : I read something a while ago that we are hardwired to track movement. Either to hunt or prevent being hunted.
00:40:07 From Laurie Baker : NDSU is an ag school — very plant focused. also in bed with monsanto.
00:40:31 From Laurie Baker : also my alma mater
00:43:59 From Laurie Baker : Off to my next meeting. Need to know the authors of this study — I could go ask them our questions!
00:58:43 From Michelle Kirby : They need to do the same experiment with 5-6 years old and see if there’s a difference. Then you could draw some conclusions about how education impacts how you see.
01:01:45 From Ann Ertman : Rutgers University has done some impressive research on attention and cognition in infants. I would love to see what that group might do with this question.
01:03:18 From Ann Ertman : Heading out for another appointment. Thanks for the great discussion.
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Episodes related to plant blindness, plant awareness, and attention to plants
View the paper here
Balas, B., & Momsen, J. L. (2014). Attention “blinks” differently for plants and animals. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 13(3), 437-443.
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