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Target fixation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Target fixation is an attentional phenomenon observed in humans in which an individual becomes so focused on an observed object (be it a target or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object. It is associated with scenarios in which the operator is in control of a high-speed vehicle or other mode of transportation, such as motorists, fighter pilots, race-car drivers, paragliders, and motorcyclists.[1] In such cases, the observer may fixate so intently on the target that they steer in the direction of their gaze, which is often the ultimate cause of a collision.[1] The term target fixation was originally used in World War II fighter-bomber pilot training to describe pilots flying into targets during a strafing or bombing run.[2]

Cause and effect[edit]

Target fixation is caused by becoming focused on one thing that is usually distracting, dangerous, or rewarding.[3] Focus can be caused by "anticipated success", such as when trying to arrive at a destination in a certain amount of time while driving.[3]

While experiencing target fixation, a person can be very susceptible to dangerous situations due to lack of awareness of one's surroundings.[4]


To avoid this phenomenon, one can be aware and in control of vision when in a panic mode or in a reward mode.[5] A person should think about what they see and be aware of their environment before making any decisions.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Edmunds, Glen. "The Phenomenon of Target Fixation & How To Avoid It". Glen Edmunds Performance Driving School. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  2. ^ Colgan, William B. (2010), Allied Strafing in World War II: A Cockpit View of Air to Ground Battle, McFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-4887-6
  3. ^ a b "Do You Have "Eyes on the Prize" or "Target Fixation"?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  4. ^ "Safety Check | Target Fixation". United States Parachute Association. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  5. ^ a b "How to Avoid Target Fixation | Riding Skills Series". Cycle World. Retrieved 2020-04-08.

Further reading[edit]