A new study by psychologists at the Royal Holloway University in London reveals that closing our eyes enables the brain to process the sensation of the kiss better. When we open our eyes, the visual task of looking at one another overrides the brain’s ability to sense the tactile stimulus of the kiss.
The research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance adds that the brain cannot effectively handle one activity while doing another at the same time. This also explains why we cannot feel phones’ vibrations when we are busy looking for someone.
Psychologists Sandra Murphy and Polly Dalton asked volunteers to help them understand how the visual task lessens tactile sensation. They tested the participants in a letter search task and observed their responses to the vibrations delivered to either one of their hands. They found out that the respondents did not notice the vibrations while doing the task.
“These results could explain why we close our eyes when we want to focus attention on another sense,” says Dalton. “Shutting out the visual input leaves more mental resources to focus on other aspects of our experience.”
“If we are focusing strongly on a visual task, this will reduce our awareness of stimuli in other senses,” Dalton asserts. “It is important for designers to be aware of these effects, because auditory and tactile alerts are often used in situations of high visual demand, such as driving a car or flying an aircraft.”
“Our research extends this finding to the sense of touch,” Murphy says.”This is particularly important given the growing use of tactile information in warning systems. For example, some cars now provide tactile alerts when they begin drifting across lanes – our research suggests that drivers will be less likely to notice these alerts when engaging in demanding visual tasks such as searching for directions at a busy junction.”