Banner blindness as the suppression process: No perceptual load effect on web advertising detection
The study represents an application of perceptual load theory to the real-world internet users’ behavior and contributes to the dispute whether banner blindness – a tendency to ignore the banners on web pages – is a special case of inattentional blindness or a separate phenomenon. Perceptual load theory claims that processing of task-irrelevant information can be predicted by the level of perceptual load: the subjects in a high load condition are more likely to ignore the distractors, while with a low load, task-irrelevant information is processed. In four experiments, participants were divided into low and high load groups and asked to find items on a shopping website. In the critical trial, an advertising banner appeared. No significant effect of perceptual load on banner blindness was found. Banner blindness seems to be a result of attentional filters adjustment that adapts to the abundance of information on the web pages.