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Archive for the ‘Attention’ Category

Its Official: Mind Reading is a Joke!

April 26th, 2018 No comments

Imagine you are visiting your friend at another college for an event. Because you got into a lot of traffic, you have to go to directly there and meet your friend. All you know is that it is some sort of celebration towards success, and, thinking it’s semi-casual,  you go with your skirt, t-shirt and sneaker look. Once you get there, you realize everybody is dressed up in formal dresses and blazers. You feel embarrassed about your look and feel that everybody is aware of that. You feel that everyone can see how awkward and uncomfortable you feel. In your case you have just experienced the Illusion of Transparency effect: the tendency for people to overestimate the extent to which their inner thoughts, feelings, and attitudes ‘leak out’ and are seen by others. You thought everybody was reading your mind, but in reality they probably never even noticed you were there.
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“Uh sir, pay attention. You’re next-in-line.”

April 26th, 2018 2 comments

Sharing aloud in groups can be a stressful and anxiety-provoking situation. Picture a college classroom, the anticipation of your turn to speak. Your voice is finally going to be heard. “Let’s not mess this up,” you think to yourself. Imagine yourself present in this moment. How much of

what Kevin was just saying on your right could you remember if you were asked to do so? Probably not a lot, and you are not alone. You are not likely to remember the responses of the people who speak right before you do. This is referred to as the next-in-line effect. This effect has implications any time that you are in a group situation in which you are asked to publicly perform.

Attention!

The next-in-line effect was discovered when Malcom Brenner (1973) performed an experiment in which a group of participants read words aloud while trying to remember as many as possible. After each participant read aloud a practice card, they performed four trials. Recall was worst for the words immediately preceding the words that they had read aloud, also called pre-performance items. In conclusion, the next-in-line effect refers specifically to less recall of that precede reading an item aloud to a group when compared to recall of other items read.

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Is the “bad stuff” stronger than the “good stuff”?

April 26th, 2018 1 comment

Imagine that you are out in the city with some friends that you haven’t seen in a while. You have just finished a delicious brunch together and have had a morning full of fun and catching up with one another. You take a walk outside and soak up some sun before heading back to get some work done at home. When you leave your friends and get to the train station, you hear an announcement that the trains are delayed and you are stuck in the crowded station waiting for almost an hour. You become frustrated and upset, and by the time you get home, the bad experience at the train station weighs on your mind more heavily than does your morning with your friends.

Does this scenario seem plausible to you? Do you ever feel like the bad experiences in your life always seem to outweigh the good? If so, you have experienced the negativity bias, or negativity effect. The negativity bias states that negative events are more impactful on an individual’s mental state than neutral or positive events. These negative events could include unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or occurrences. Most of us are susceptible to the negativity bias, but certain conditions can make one even more vulnerable.

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What was I saying? Oh, right, Absent-mindedness…

April 26th, 2018 No comments

It’s a Saturday night. You come home early to catch your favorite TV show. You’re in such a hurry that you throw your keys somewhere carelessly. When it’s time to go out, you can’t remember where you put your keys. It’s not at the regular spot where you usually place your keys. It takes a long time for you to find them. Does this seem familiar? When things like this happen, you might wonder if there’s something wrong with your mind. In fact, it is a common phenomenon called absent-mindedness.

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Absent-mindedness is a cognitive bias that happens when people “zone out” and make mistakes in daily life (Broadbent, Cooper, FitzGerald, & Parkes, 1982). The mistakes can be anything related to a lack of attention, e.g., walking in a room and forgetting why you came in, dropping something unintentionally, or throwing your phone in a trash can and keeping the coffee cup (which happened to me once). Absent-mindedness is where attention and memory come together, even though they seem to be two separate things.

How is absent-mindedness related to attention? Before answering this question, we need to know that our attention has a limited capacity (Sanbonmatsu, Strayer, Biondi, Behrends, & Moore, 2015). One theory suggests that when our limited attentional resource is occupied, the rate of absent-mindedness may increase (Fisher & Hood, 1987). This means that if you are talking to a friend while walking down the street and paying little attention to your surroundings, you might end up bumping into someone if that person is being absent-minded as well!
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Keep it simple, silly. Design and the framing effect.

April 26th, 2018 No comments

Cognitive psychology, the study of the human mental processes, is an area of study that influences many fields beyond just psychology. One specific interdisciplinary field that heavily benefits from cognitive psychology research is user experience design. User experience design is a field that focuses on improving the accessibility (usable by a wide variety of people) , usability (easiness to use and learnability), and satisfaction of using a product. Whether creating an e-commerce website or an artificial home assistant, a well-designed positive user experience is at the forefront of success. However, there are many different ways in which great product, website, and interface designs can be viewed in a negative light by a user. One of the ways that user experience design can be negatively affected is by framing. Imagine that you have an online apparel business and a potential customer encounters two different scenarios:

  • Purchase the item at the full retail price of $100
  • Purchase the item at a 50% discount of a retail price of $200

While both options end up costing the same, customers would more likely purchase the item under the second scenario. Why is this the case? The first scenario frames the purchase of the item as a loss of $100. Conversely, the second scenario is framed so that the customer has the illusion that they are saving $100 by making the purchase. They are more likely to purchase the item because it is framed as a gain. This human bias is known as the framing effect.

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Absentmindedness: Why am I so bor…. oh wait I love this song!

April 26th, 2018 No comments

Do you ever find yourself bored for no reason? Wishing you were somewhere else doing something else? Or how about doing more than one thing at once? For example, you are driving…searching for your favorite song knowing full well that scrolling through your playlist while driving is dangerous. (click here to learn more about the perils of distracted driving).

Taken from imgflip.com

This humorous clip points to how multitasking while driving results in errors. In this situation, you are attending to two different tasks at once. We find ourselves in these situations more frequently than we like to admit. This has a lot to do with how and where we direct our attention. Interests and desires impact attentional control. The more we are interested in a task, the more attention we give to it. Attentional control is affected by how much attention we have to give each task.  We, only have a finite amount of attentional resources, and each task requires different levels of attention. This can lead to the cognitive bias, absentmindedness, which is the failure to attend to a task resulting in mistakes and forgetful behavior particularly when two tasks are being attempted simultaneously. A point of distinction is that multitasking which leads to absentmindedness is not a positive attribute and one we should avoid. Read more…

Isn’t The Weber-Fechner Law The Same As Any Other Equation? Never mind, I Just Noticed The Difference

April 24th, 2018 No comments

https://tenor.com/view/loud-too-loud-cant-hear-sorry-music-gif-5494161

Imagine that you and your best friend are sitting in the back of the classroom during a lecture on a Friday afternoon. All you can think about is the concert  you’re going to tonight that you’ve been excited about for months, so you give up on trying to listen to your professor explain nuclear chemistry. You quietly whisper back and forth with your friend, talking about what you plan on wearing and what time you need to leave. Finally, the lecture ends and before you know it you’re at the concert. The music is blasting and you’re having a great time, but after singing along to several songs you decide you need to go buy something to drink. You start to tell your friend that you’ll be right back, but she doesn’t hear you. You say her name louder a few times, but she still doesn’t notice. Finally, you lean in close and yell in her ear. She nods and says something back but you can’t hear it over the music. You could hear each other just fine a few hours ago in class, but now it’s nearly impossible. What you’re experiencing is a difference in background intensity, and Ernest Weber and Gustav Fechner have a law that will tell you all about it. Read more…

That Band is Really Cool, But I Swear It’s Everywhere

April 24th, 2018 2 comments

Have you ever scrolled through Spotify and discovered a band you like?  Have you ever started listening to all its songs and suddenly you start hearing it all the time on the radio and seeing advertisements for its new album or concert? Or maybe you just found out you’re pregnant and see parents with their kids everywhere you go? While it’s easy to think that maybe you just discover bands that magically and suddenly get really big or that maybe more people suddenly have kids these days, you’re actually probably experiencing what is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon or frequency illusion.

Kids are everywhere! Or so you think.

The frequency illusion occurs when a person experiences something, like finding a song he or she likes on Spotify or becoming pregnant, and then afterwards believes that the experience or phenomenon happens all the time. So why does this occur? Well, there are two cognitive processes that are involved in creating the frequency illusion: selective attention and confirmation bias (Zwicky, 2006).  Read more…

Pay Attention! Divided Attention Impairs Memory Processes

December 12th, 2017 1 comment

Have you ever been certain a friend said something when they’re certain that they didn’t? How about remembering it completely differently from how they actually said it? If you have, chances are you had a false memory! Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. False memories occur when we remember events that didn’t happen or remember them very differently from how they actually happened (Schacter, 1999). Although it may be unsettling to hear, false memories are very common and hard to detect. As far as you’re concerned, these don’t seem like false memories at all! False memories can be very similar in nature to true memories, which makes them all the more difficult to distinguish. Psychologists interested in memory often study false memories to learn more about the underlying processes that drive memory.

thinking.umwblogs.org

Cognitive psychologists have developed a few different methods of inducing false memories. Perhaps the most reliable and widely used is the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM; Roediger & McDermott, 1995) paradigm. In this paradigm, participants are presented with lists of words that are semantically associated, or related by meaning. For example, the words beach and ocean are semantically associated because people typically have strong connections between the ocean and the beach. After studying these words, participants take a memory test in which they have to decide whether they studied certain words or not. The DRM uses these types of associates to create false memories for words that are never presented, but are highly related to the words that are. One typical DRM list includes words such as banner, American, symbol, stars, and anthem, all of which converge upon the word flag. In this case, the word flag is called the critical lure. After studying this list of words, participants frequently remember seeing flag, even though it was never presented, because it is highly related to the words on the presented list.

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Let me google that for you

May 11th, 2017 3 comments

Everyone loves Google, right? All the information you could possibly ever want access to is right at your fingertips – quite literally – with search engines carried around in our pockets. Is Google making us smarter? It should, right? I mean it does provide us with an almost infinite amount of information. Well, here is where things get interesting. Recent studies have introduced a new concept known as The Google Effect, in which we are actually seeing some cognitive deficits caused by our dependency on Google and other search engines.

It is quite counterintuitive that these tools, which provide us with any information we want in just a matter of seconds, would actually hurt and not help our brain’s functioning ability. I know this is confusing, but let me put this into a real-life context that you might relate to a little more. 

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