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Archive for the ‘Cognitive Bias’ Category

It’s on the Ttt….Tip de mi Lengua: Differences in the Tip of the Tongue States for Bilingual and Monolinguals

April 26th, 2018 No comments

Picture this: you run into someone you met last week. You remember you had a great conversation with them and got along well. But, there’s one problem. You can’t, for the life of you, remember their name.  You know it started with an “A” and was a relatively short name, but you can’t quite say the name out loud as you greet them. It’s RIGHT there though, on the tip of your tongue. Luckily, another mutual friend comes up to both of you and says, “Oh, how do you know Abigail?” Ah, yes, Abigail Rhodes. You remember now.

We all know that feeling that accompanies not being able to articulate something we are confident we know or should know. And, there’s a name for that feeling: it’s called the tip of the tongue phenomenon (TOT).  The TOT occurrence is a cognitive bias that is named after the colloquial phrase “it’s on the tip of my tongue” and helps to provide insights into why, even if we know something, we are sometimes unable to verbalize our answer.

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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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“Everyones an Idiot Except for Me” Naive Realism

April 26th, 2018 No comments

“How could anyone think this way?”

Political polarization between members of America’s two major political is a common topic of discussion in modern America. People from opposite sides of the political spectrum no longer seem to view each other as having a different opinion, but as being either stupid or in some way morally contemptuous. A quick foray into a social media platform like twitter can demonstrate this. In a typical political argument on twitter there is very little debate and many more accusations of selfish motives and moral posturing. Has one side really become corrupted and the other’s loss of dialogue simply a response to that or are many Americans suffering from the cognitive bias “Naïve Realism“.

Naive Realism is commonly defined as the belief that one’s way of looking at the world is based on the objective interpretation of the world and therefore anyone who thinks differently must be misinformed, stupid, or morally dangerous. Experiments have been done that show the effects of naïve realism across a diverse range of areas, from sports to politics and beyond. One study commonly referred to as the “They Saw a Game Study” had students from Dartmouth and Princeton watch the same recording of a heated football game between the two schools. The footage was the same for students from both schools. Despite this, students from each school reported seeing very different events. Princeton students believed Dartmouth had made twice as many infractions as Princeton while students from Dartmouth believed the teams were equally violent and both were to blame (Hastorf & Cantril, 1954). These findings, while for something as simple as a game of football, are certainly very important. Perhaps a similar effect exists in politics. Issues that seem to have a common sense resolution to you may be viewed entirely differently by someone else down to the level of perception of the problem itself. All this might lead you to ask how could this be.

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Hop on the Bandwagon…. or Don’t!

April 26th, 2018 2 comments

Would you ever jump off a bridge because everyone else is? Have you ever bought a product because “everyone” has it and you feel left out? If so, you have fallen into the trap of the bandwagon effect. This cognitive bias is defined as  people’s tendencies to quickly conform to popular trends or beliefs within their society (Simon, 1954). This cognitive bias is one that is frequently seen within everyday behaviors. Whether it is seen in social media, advertisements, politics, fashion, or any other trends, people are always trying to jump on this metaphorical bandwagon. One question about why people choose to conform, even if it is not in line with their own personal values or opinions, can be partially answered by the bandwagon effect. Conforming to social norms is something that the Millennial generation has continued to do as a result of pressures from prior generations.

Bandwagon Effect Meme

Although the bias was proposed in 1954, nowadays, the constant pressures to always be up to date with the different trends will only continue to grow as social media continues to take over our lives. The recent creation of social media and other forms of communication only help such cognitive biases flourish. The image to the right is a meme that is mocking the bandwagon effect. Nowadays, people’s eating habits are changing purely because things like “not eating gluten” are cool. People are ignoring actual evidence about different product’s true purposes, and hopping on the bandwagon. People’s desires to consume, buy, and use certain products are not always influenced by the product’s usefulness, but rather by what trend setters are doing. For example, extraneous items that are not necessities of life, such as iPhones, are typically bought based on consumer reviews. Think about things you have purchased in the past. Can you think of any good examples of products you bought because it was advertised as, “everyone’s favorite,” or “America’s best?”

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That Perfect Person Isn’t Quite So Perfect: The Halo Effect

April 26th, 2018 2 comments

Have you ever been frustrated by that one classmate or coworker who always seems to have the right answer? Whenever you’re in class or a meeting together they always seem to be excelling. Even though you have never hung out with them outside of the school or work environment you also think of them as social, outgoing, and a great family member. They occasionally wear shirts with running logos on them, so they must also go for runs on the weekend, and they’re probably faster than you. People who run are usually healthy eaters as well, so the chocolate bar you saw them eat yesterday afternoon must have been a special treat.

The Halo Effect can make people seem like devils or angels after one short interaction.

Does this description remind you of anyone? Even though you only know the person from one class at school, because they do well in that class you assume all these other positive characteristics about them. This tendency to generalize qualities from one specific instance to the person’s entire personality is called the Halo Effect. When a person does well in biology, other classmates assume that they must also do well in English and calculus. If a person is energetic and outgoing, they are also assumed to be intelligent and hardworking. This also applies to negative qualities, where if someone is rude to us in a meeting we assume they are lazy and untrustworthy.

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Are you SURE that happened or was that that just a (false) memory?

April 26th, 2018 3 comments

Imagine this. You’re in a convenience store and are getting ready to pay for some delicious Toll-House cookie dough (YUM). Suddenly, a man runs in wearing a mask and brandishing what appears to be a gun, so you decide to quickly hide near the front of the store behind some of the shelves. He demands for the cash in the register and the terrified workers quickly hand over the cash. You are so well hidden that the robber does not realize that there is anybody else in the store, and so as he is on his way out, he quickly removes his mask so that he can better see to escape. For a brief, fleeting couple of seconds, you get a perfect view of the man’s face. A few days later, the cops bring in some pictures of potential suspects to identify, and you are adamant that it was definitely a certain man in the pictures. However, the cops later realize that the man has an air-tight alibi from that day, which means that your identification of the criminal was incorrect. How could this happen?

This would’ve been a less scary robber to identify.

Well, thanks to cognitive psychology, we know that this misidentification probably happened due to the phenomenon called false memory. A false memory is when somebody has either a recollection of an event that did not actually occur, or when somebody remembers an event very differently from how it actually occurred. Essentially, no matter how sure you are that you remembered something correctly, there is a still a chance that you could be wrong. Crazy, right? So, next time you’re promising someone you are remembering some event correctly – just think and wonder how solid this promise actually is! Read more…

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…

All I need are my own expectations

April 25th, 2018 No comments

You are an avid fan of experiments and the scientists behind those experiments. Your whole life is dedicated to researching, learning and understanding the results and what that means in the science world. It comes to your attention that the experiments you were deeply obsessed with are being criticized and questioned for lack of truth and transparency. Very curious as to why everything is being questioned, you start t look deeper into the scientists and the experiments and found out they were experiencing a phenomenon called Expectation bias which is also known as experimenters bias.
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Unraveling the mechanism behind “a lie repeated a thousand times becomes truth”: A cognitive account

April 25th, 2018 No comments

Lies are lying in TRUTH.gif

What is the boundary between lies and truths? I bet this question is among the first philosophical queries sprouted during our “younger and more vulnerable years” and is securely seated on the top of the list right next to “what is the purpose of life” and “is death a start or an end”. Take a moment to hark back to your teenage theory about truth and lie before cognitive psychologists swoop in and kill the romanticism like wiping the tender mist off the window pane…… You’ve done reminiscing? Ok, I’ll start.

Lies and truths do not seem to be that different, much like you might have concluded as a teenager. Despite of a difference in their objective compatibility with reality, both truths and lies are just information to be processed. In fact, lies could be seasoned to come off as more truthful, and the recipe is very simple— repetition. You might have heard the pop wisdom that “a lie that is repeated a thousand times becomes truth” at some point in your life. This actually has a well-founded cognitive basis. Read more…