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You’re so Vain, You Probably Think Everyone is Thinking About You: The Spotlight Effect

April 16th, 2017 3 comments

You chugged your normal two cups of this coffee this morning, so you decide you should run to the bathroom quickly before your 10:00 a.m. meeting. You turn on the sink to wash your hands, but as you turn the handle the water sprays everywhere. You stare down to realize the splash has created a huge water stain on the front of your pants. Frantically, you dab the water stain with paper towels, but finally decide there is no way the stain will dry before your meeting. As you walk into the room, you feel like everyone’s staring at you. You look down at the floor and quickly walk to your chair, but can feel your cheeks turning red with embarrassment. You are certain that everyone else in the room is thinking about you. A few minutes later, you might find yourself still worried about what others are thinking, hoping that your colleagues won’t remember this in a few days.
How you might feel imagine everyone is staring at you as a result of the spotlight effect.


Moments like these, when you assume that everyone is thinking about you, are common in everyday life. This phenomenon of overestimating how much other people focus on your own appearance and behaviors is called the spotlight effect. Read more…