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Archive for the ‘Pattern Recognition’ Category

Own-race Bias: Why Some People Might Look The Same to You

April 16th, 2017 4 comments

As someone who is a fan of true crime podcasts, I couldn’t help but to binge-listen to the episodes of Wrongful Convictions–a podcast by the Innocence Project detailing stories of people who were convicted for crimes they did not commit. In one of the stories, a person was convicted due to the misidentification by one of the victims of the crime. This eyewitness testimony was enough to carry a 30-year-old sentence in prison.

Pattern recognition of faces of other races can vary according to the cross-race bias.
PC: The Guardian

There are several cognitive errors that could make of this eyewitness testimony (and others) unreliable. Daniel Schacter described in the Seven Sins of Memory (2001) different cognitive errors that the memory is sensitive to, including memory biases. In the case of the person wrongfully convicted, a cross-race or own-race bias could have influenced the misidentification. An own-race bias refers to the tendency of being more accurate at recognizing faces of your own race than faces of another race (Malpass & Kravits, 1969).  The bias is not exclusive to the context of eyewitness testimonies and the criminal justice system, however; you can stumble upon the own-race bias during a trivial day. For example, have you ever had a feeling that people who don’t belong to your racial category look “all the same” to you? Or have you wondered why you are very good at recognizing faces of your own racial profile yet can’t make the same accurate distinctions cross-racially? Or maybe, have you ever confused two people from outside your race because you couldn’t distinguish certain individual characteristics to make them apart? Then you’re in the right place to learn about this cross-race phenomenon! In this blog, we discuss possible mechanisms behind the cross-race bias.

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How Well do You Really Know Your Acquaintances? The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

April 16th, 2017 1 comment

Have you ever found yourself questioning the decisions of those around you, perhaps as if you had better insight into the thoughts and emotions of a person than they did themselves? Or do you ever catch yourself making internal judgments towards others in a way that pushes aside the legitimacy of one’s own self-understanding? “Why is she doing that? She should know herself better!” These are behaviors that can be understood through a phenomenon commonly referred to as the illusion of asymmetrical insight, a cognitive bias that describes our tendency to think we understand other people better than they understand themselves and us. To put it into other words, Kathy (person #1) would be experiencing the illusion of asymmetric insight if she thinks she knows Kathy (herself) better than Jake (person #2) knows Jake (himself) or Kathy (person #1).

The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight in Action

This bias can be seen in individuals throughout varying contexts, and is also very common among social, political, and religious groups. Multiple studies have explored the manifestations of the illusion of asymmetric insight, many of which attribute the bias to reasons outside our level of consciousness. In other words, we do not have full awareness of when this phenomenon is occurring due to the fact that it is an automatic processes (a process that is quick, easy, requires little cognitive resources, and has the ability to occur without full attention, as opposed to controlled processes, which are slow, difficult, and require cognitive resources and full attention).

So why do we experience this phenomenon so frequently without even realizing it?

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The Halo Effect: Swiping Right For the Wrong Reasons

April 14th, 2017 1 comment

www.akns-images.eonline.com The Tinder logo

 

Have you ever used the incredibly popular dating app called Tinder? The app presents users with pictures of singles in the area, prompting the user to make a snap decision to either swipe right “to approve” in hopes of matching with the individual or left “to decline”(more information about how tinder works is available here if you’re so inclined). Very little personal information, if any, is listed about the individuals, so most of the time judgments are made based off pictures alone. You could swipe through hundreds of different people in a short amount of time, because the information is so limited, and the basic principles behind the app are so simple and user friendly. If you’ve ever used Tinder, you might have swiped right on a person that you find to be incredibly attractive, because if they’re hot they must have other great personality traits right?

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Squad Goals! Why Attractiveness is a Team Sport

April 14th, 2017 No comments

 

From time to time, science puts its nerdy inquiries on hold and answers pressing questions. One such universal concern is attractiveness. Recent research in psychology is looking at how being part of a group affects how others see you. Can walking around in a group make you more attractive? Can you figure out how attractive a group is by averaging the attractiveness scores of each member? Thankfully, cognitive psychology is here to shed light on these mysteries.

The namesake: http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/cheerleader-news.html

The Biases

 

The Cheerleader Effect is the tendency for individuals in groups to be rated as more attractive than if their photo were seen by itself (Walker and Vul, 2013). Let’s say that when people see Benjamin by himself, he is typically a 6 out of 10 on the attractiveness scale. The Cheerleader Effect is the tendency for Benjamin to be a 6.20 when he is seen next to three other people. In the Cheerleader Effect, the size of the group is not important. The benefit of being in a group of 4 people is similar to that of being in a group of 16 people. If you want more information on how Walker and Vul went about finding this bias, check out  this blog post on the CogBlog. 

 

The Group-Attractiveness Effect has two meanings. The GA Effect could refer to the Cheerleader Effect, or it could refer to the tendency for people’s assessment of the average attractiveness of a group to be higher than the average attractiveness of each member when they are by themselves (van Osch, et al., 2015). If you’re not a math professor, this means that when Aisha (8), Eduardo (8), Aiko (8) and Sam (8) go out to town, people may rate the average attractiveness of their squad as higher than an 8.

 

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The Cheerleader Effect: How You Can Actually Seem More Attractive With a Little Help From Your Friends

April 12th, 2017 No comments

Imagine you’re sitting in a restaurant, walking through the mall, or even scrolling through social media, and you notice a really good looking group of guys or girls. Maybe you admire them, maybe you’re attracted to them, maybe you’re envious of them, or maybe you even resent them. Regardless of exactly how you react to their attractiveness, you may want to reassess their looks. Research suggests that people are perceived as more attractive when they’re seen in a group than they are when they’re seen individually (Walker and Vul, 2104). So, that glorified group of guys or gals I asked you to imagine before? They might not be just as attractive as they appear. 

http://splitshot.com

If you’ve ever seen the show “How I Met Your Mother,” you might be familiar with this phenomena that is commonly referred to as “the Cheerleader Effect.” In season four, episode seven, main character Barney Stinson coined the term. He explains the phenomenon when he encounters a group of seemingly attractive women at a bar. He explains, quite discourteously, that, just like cheerleaders that look stunningly gorgeous as a squad, but like the average girl next door individually, “They seem hot, but only as a group. Take each individually? Sled dogs.” This phenomenon has also been referred to as the Bridesmaid Paradox, Sorority Girl Syndrome, or even the Spice Girls Conspiracy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDzkMXpDZfc). Regardless of how superficial and shallow some of these phrases are, there is, in fact, psychological research backing the “How I Met Your Mother” hypothesis.

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Deaf Individuals Read More Efficiently

December 9th, 2015 4 comments

Have you ever wondered if when one sensory module is impaired, other sensory systems learn to develop other means to counteract that deficiency? Past studies have shown that deaf individuals have a larger capability to focus on simple visual stimuli in the parafovea. The parafovea is a region in the eye that surrounds your fovea, the central pit of the eye that is responsible for sharp, central vision. Large rates of Macula_lutea.svgilliteracy in the deaf population have caused people to question whether deaf individuals wide range of focus in the parafovea, causes reduced processing in the fovea. A recent study done at the University of California San Diego has shown that deaf people’s parafoveal vision does not cause reduced vision on the fovea and they actually have a wider range of sharp vision which researchers found and can actually aid them in complex visual tasks such as reading (Bélanger et al. 2012).

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Sisterhood in the face of it all!

November 24th, 2015 5 comments
female faces

female faces

What is your thought process when you see someone’s face for the first time? This is a tough question, and quite honestly I could not think of anything specific myself. Upon perceiving a face, it only takes us a few seconds to cognitively process it and gather all the necessary information about it. For something so seemingly easy and quick, one would not expect any difference between how different people perceive and process faces, right? Wrong. What if I told you that women processed males and female faces differently? If you are a woman like myself, you are probably puzzled, as you probably never had a difficult time recalling and identifying faces of your peers regardless of their gender. Evidence suggests that women are better at remembering female faces than they are at remembering male faces. In the paper titled “Women Own-gender Bias in Face Recognition Memory: the role of attention at encoding,” researchers investigated the role attention played in women’s ability to better remember faces of fellow females than faces of males. Read more…

Do your political mental representations differ from mine? If you’re a Republican, they probably do.

November 24th, 2015 4 comments

 

Have you ever wondered if people picture others differently in their minds? Is the picture of Barack Obama in your mind different from that in your brother’s mind? Research suggests that depending on the attitudes you have, it might be. A recent study has proposed that political opinions can change the mental pictures we have of politicians.

Image source: http://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/01/30/us/politics/presidential-candidate-tracker-1422646394170/presidential-candidate-tracker-1422646394170-articleLarge-v9.jpg

In cognitive psychology, the concept of pattern recognition is commonly understood as assigning meaning to some incoming stimulus. One example of pattern recognition is face recognition. There are two main systems used for face recognition: analytic and holistic. The holistic approach assigns meaning by using top-down processes. These processes are those that are generated from knowledge or experience that we have about the stimulus. Bottom-up processes, which use the features of a stimulus to ascribe meaning, are prevalent in the analytic approach to face recognition. However, it is the top-down approaches that can help explain why Young, Ratner, and Fazio (2014) found that mental representations of Mitt Romney depend on political affiliations.

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Keep Calm and Encode this Face… Then Panic and Freak Out while Retrieving It!

November 23rd, 2015 2 comments

Unknown

Imagine that you are sitting in a coffee shop, peacefully eating your cannoli and sipping your latte. As you look out the window, you notice someone approach
a parked car, smash the window, and steal something out of the front seat of the car. Your calm afternoon quickly becomes anxiety-ridden: your leg bounces, your voice shakes, your heart pounds, your stomach churns, and your mind races. You catch a glimpse of the criminal’s face as they are running off, and you promptly call 911. But did you know that the anxiety that you experienced when witnessing the crime could impact your ability to remember the criminal’s face later? We tend to recognize faces pretty easily, especially when someone is familiar to us, so you’re probably thinking that you would also be able to recognize the criminal’s face without a problem. After all, you did just watch them commit a crime right in front of your eyes. PAFF_090513_anxietyperception_newsfeature Your anxiety about the situation may have impaired your ability to recognize that person’s face, though, and a recent study conducted by Curtis, Russ, and Ackland (2015) sought to determine why and how this happens. Their research wanted to see how a spike in anxiety impacts someone’s ability to remember a face. More specifically, they wanted to know when the time of onset of anxiety is most impactful (before or after seeing a face) and whether or not anxiety increases stereotypes, or assumptions about the thoughts, actions, and behaviors another group of people, when someone is recognizing a face that is a different ethnicity than their own.

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Can I Touch Your Face?

November 23rd, 2014 3 comments

Stepbrothers: click the image

Imagine feeling around in your kitchen’s miscellaneous junk drawer in the dark—among rubber bands, lighters, pencil sharpeners, and notepads—for a ballpoint pen. Not a pencil, and certainly not a highlighter. But that specific shape of pen. You know what a pen feels like, having felt them and seen them many times before, so the dark gives you no issue and you pull out exactly what you are looking for.

Our bodies have many ways of interacting with surroundings and objects. All senses powerfully work together to interpret what an object is based on its size, weight, texture, color, even smell. Sometimes these senses are isolated, so we rely on solely on sight or exclusively on touch, seemingly very different methods we employ. Having great visual interpretation, as if you have a keen eye for painting styles, seems to not necessarily make you better at identifying a sculptor’s work by touching and feeling the art. (Make sure to wait until the docent has their back turned!) But much like training your body to run faster can help you swim better, training one sense could improve another.

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