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“It’s an acquired taste”: Beer and the Mere-Exposure Effect

April 17th, 2017 8 comments

I remember when I had my first beer…

It was vile.

Whether you’re sneaking one from the fridge in high school, playing pong during your first college weekend, or (rarely the case) enjoying your inaugural brew on the night of your 21st birthday, there is nothing too remarkable about this adult soda striking our taste buds for the first time. In fact, there is a pretty generic response: it simply does not taste good. As we drink more beer we begin to appreciate this canned goodness. This is not the alcohol talking. That first Natty light, a beverage I remember initially resembling a nauseating blend of pinto beans and carbonated water, took every muscle in our bodies to choke down. Now it has become nothing less than a fine pilsner: the most Natural of Light, some would say. Why?

It is pretty common knowledge that most of us do not like our first taste of beer!

Where and when does the transformation occur? How do we go from having a negative opinion about something to having a beer every night at dinner? The classic saying is that beer is an acquired taste, but the real work behind this acquisition is the mere-exposure effect. This psychological phenomenon explains why we learn to like things (in this case, malt beverages) as we encounter them more. According to the findings of psychological studies in the sixties, the more we are exposed to something, the more “likable” it becomes (Zajonc 1968). Read more…

Don’t get too personal when it’s the all about the situation: Fundamental Attribution Error

April 17th, 2017 2 comments

Fundamental attribution error (FAE) happens when people explain a behavior of another by drawing inferences about that person’s personalities, dispositions or other internal factors, but underestimate the effect of external factors such as the situation the person is in (Gilbert & Malone, 1995). People often make FAE without realizing it. What are some examples of FAE, why does it happen so often outside our consciousness, and how can we avoid it?

Let’s starts with some examples of FAE. Imagine you are traveling in a foreign country and want to buy souvenirs for your friends. After careful selection, you decide to buy seventeen homemade chocolate bars; each is thirteen dollars. Before checking out, you want to know how much do they cost but you are having a hard time calculating the exact number. Then, the little boy next to you says immediately: “Hey, that’s 221 dollars.”

So you take out the cell phone to check the total; you find out that the boy is correct. What would be your first reaction? Read more…

Why can’t I remember the name of the actor in my favorite movie?…I know I know it…it’s on the: Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon

April 17th, 2017 5 comments

mercercognitivepsychology.pbworks.com A accurate depiction of of TOT happening in our daily lives (minus buying tongues)

Remember that time when you were trying to recall the celebrity who plays the main character in your favorite movie? You knew that their name began with the letter L, that they were in another movie about dreams, and that they finally won an Oscar. You may even say, “it’s on the tip of my tongue”. But for some reason you just can’t recall their name (by the way it’s Leonardo Dicaprio). It is something we’ve all experienced, and it is called the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon (TOT).
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Are Pictures Really Worth A Thousand Words? When It Comes to Memory They Are

April 16th, 2017 3 comments

Have you ever looked at the coverage map for a telecommunications company, like Verizon, and wondered why a company would choose to spend the money on a colored picture instead of just presenting the information in the paragraph? I mean, wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to just write it all out? Probably, but it wouldn’t be as effective.

Below is a paragraph that describes Verizon’s coverage in the U.S., and a corresponding image that displays the data. When the information is laid out in text, I bet that you, the consumer, would have a much harder time articulating and remembering the information. But by presenting the information in a picture (like that shown below), you can easily discern and remember the differences between the coverage of four telecommunication companies. Why would this be true? It has to do with the way that we encode, or initially learn, information. This is a perfect example of the picture superiority effect, the phenomenon in which people are better at remembering images than they are at remembering words (click here for a quick, fun video that explains this phenomenon).

“Among the four major wireless carriers, only Verizon’s 4G network is 100% 4G LTE the gold standard of wireless technology. Available in over 500 cities, Verizon 4G LTE covers almost 97% of the U.S. population. Experience the speed and power in more places.”

http://www.phonearena.com/news/Which-carrier-offers-the-fastest-mobile-data-and-coverage-4G–3G-speed-comparison_id53828

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Gesturing and Tip of the Tongue: How flailing your arms can cure a TOT state

December 19th, 2015 No comments
tip of the tongue

http://mercercognitivepsychology.pbworks.com/w/page/32859313/Tip-of-the-Tongue%20Phenomenon

Do you ever think of a word or phrase and you know you know it, you just can’t seem to find it? You’re frustrated and want so badly to be able to say the word, one might even say it’s at the tip of your tongue. This feeling is called a tip-of-the-tongue state, or the TOT phenomenon. It’s likely that on top on this frustrating experience, you are flailing your hands around trying to gesture the word at the tip of your tongue. This TOT phenomenon is when information is available in your memory it is just not accessible. When in a TOT state, a person is experiencing blocking, where they are not able to retrieve information that is known. The information is being blocked. Although you may look strange doing so, gesturing may actually be the thing that helps you retrieve that word you so desperately want to access. Don’t worry, you don’t just look like a crazy person for no rhyme or reason! You’re trying to find that nagging word!
Gestures, which are body or limb movements, can be characterized as an element of a word’s meaning in a person’s mental representation. A person’s mental representation is a bank of everything they know; it is what our cognitive procsses are operating on and it is a topic in our mind that represents something in our reality. Humans often pair certain gestures with different words based on possible functions or shapes of a word that is an inanimate object, or actions of a word that is an animate object.

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Gesturing and Tip of the Tongue: How flailing your arms can cure a TOT state

November 24th, 2015 2 comments

Do you ever think of a word or phrase and you know you know it, you just can’t seem to find it? You’re frustrated and want so badly to be able to say the word, one might even say it’s at the tip of your tongue. This feeling is called a tip-of-the-tongue state, or the TOT phenomena. It’s likely that on top on this frustrating experience, you are flailing your hands around trying to gesture the word at the tip of your tongue. Although you may look strange doing so, gesturing may actually be the thing that helps you retrieve that word you so desperately want to access.

tip of the tongueGestures, which are body or limb movements, can be characterized as an element of a word’s meaning in some
one’s mental representation, or bank of knowledge. Humans often pair certain gestures with different words based on a possible function or shape of a word that is an object

For example, for the word ‘brush’, you may run your hands through you hair. This hand gesture is associated with the word ‘brush’ because it is paired with the function of a brush, located in your mental representation. Because of this association, it is possible to find yourself gesturing the functions of a word even though you cannot actually access what that word is. Luckily for those frustrated by TOT states, gesturing can help retrieve the word that is difficult to access.

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Muscle Memory, but Not the Kind You Think

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

The stereotypes of the “nerd” and the “dumb jock” are some of the most pervasive in the media. The nerd is so un-athletic he might hurt himself walking to class, and the jock spends more time in the gym than in the library. While these stereotypes may be well known, the importance of exercise and health has increased over the last decade. Not only does exercise improve short-term mental concentration and mood by the release of endorphins, it is also being studied for long-term benefits. Even mainstream media has commented on exercise benefits, for example in the movie legally blonde displayed in figure 1.

Quote from Legally Blonde (2001) movie

Figure 1. Quote from Legally Blonde (2001) movie

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Categories: Aging, Memory Tags: ,

Getting Old Doesn’t Need to be Scary!

November 19th, 2015 No comments

Do you worry about what will happen to your body as you get older? Do you envision your brain slowing down and your grandkids speaking realllyy slllowwlyyy so you can understand them?

Cognitive functioning—which includes attention (allotting mental resources to notice something), memory (the process of encoding, storing, and retrieving information), and executive functioning (a broad term for the system that regulates many cognitive processes)—tends to decrease with age. However, one of the many benefits of exercise is that it has been shown to improve cognitive functioning. And for many older adults, general fitness as it relates to health is a primary concern. But some forms of exercise can be harmful or painful for older adults who have joint pain. So what kind of exercise and how much exercise should older adults get in order to stay physically and mentally healthy?

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How Survival Instincts Could Help You In Class

November 24th, 2014 1 comment

How good are your survival instincts?

It has been seven scores and sixteen years (or 156 years for people uninterested in the Lincoln reference) since Darwin first outlined “survival of the fittest” in his theory of natural selection and evolution. Even then, the term was taken to apply mostly to animals – and our evolutionary ancestors perhaps, but much less to human beings. Do we care about survival? Definitely; but certainly in a different way than a snake or a hawk might care about survival. Are we selected for? Perhaps, but certainly not in the way peppered moths are selected for in the industrial parts of England. The thing that makes us stand apart from the rest of nature is that other species, for the most part, must adapt to their environments, whereas human beings have made an atrocious name for ourselves for adapting our environments to us.

Thus, nowadays, survival of the fittest, when applied to humans, often takes on a much more socially constructed meaning than the theory it originated from. When an employer chooses a more versatile worker in hopes of getting more work done with fewer employees, we shrug our shoulders at the poor rejectees and say “survival of the fittest”. When someone who is drunk and decides to try and climb a vending machine falls and injures his leg, we laugh and say “survival of the fittest”. The term has come to embody the ideal of being social apt, versatile, and smart enough not to make self-endangering decisions. In any case, for the inhabitants of first world countries who get to sit in class and learn about Darwin, actually having to survive in the wild (as the term was originally about) is no more than a bizarre gag evoked by the flight attendant before a flight across Australia. After all, where is the relevance of “wilderness survival” instincts in a world of supermarkets and movie theaters?

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Do You Ever Say You’re Going To Do Something And Never End Up Doing It?

November 20th, 2014 No comments

goal_puzzle_0

Have you ever wondered why when you plan to do something beforehand, you usually end up getting it done? For example, for something as minuscule as taking out the trash – the act of reminding yourself to do so or envisioning yourself taking out the trash (maybe don’t envision it…) is proven to help you complete tasks. This is called an implementation intention (II), i.e. the act of specifying when, where, and how you will perform a specific task or action. To carry out an II, you use an if-then structure, such as “If it rains, I will put on my raincoat.” The formation of II’s is confirmed to improve prospective memory, which is the ability to remember to perform a specific action at an intended time. As Peter Gollwitzer and Gabriele Oettingen write in their article (2013), “Successful goal pursuit requires solving both of two subsequent tasks: first, strongly committing to goals, and then, effectively implementing them.” However, what cognitive processes do you need to act on an II, and can people of all ages and conditions exhibit excellent prospective memory?

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Categories: Aging, Memory Tags: ,