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Posts Tagged ‘Automatic Processes’

Famous or Not: the Competition between Familiarity and Recollection

December 7th, 2020 No comments

Do you know Brett Cohen? Sounds familiar? Even if you answered no, just keep reading. Let me show you how he made himself “famous” in one night.

Brett Cohen was a YouTuber who dreamed of being famous. One day, he decided to do a celebrity prank in the busiest streets in New York City and to see what it feels like to be at the center of attention. Brett dressed like a typical celebrity: a striped shirt with top buttons unbuttoned, sunglasses (classic!), and combed hair. He also hired some people to pretend as his bodyguards, personal assistants, and even paparazzi and reporters. Off he went, on this exciting journey. Once Brett walked from the NBC Observation Deck into the public, guess what? The crowd went nuts. People formed circles around him, yelled his name, and rushed to get a picture with him. When people were asked where they knew Brett from, they all responded with Spider-Man. One of the conversations went like this:

Common Cohen (up) vs Famous Cohen (bottom) How did he trick people into thinking that he was a celebrity? (pictures from Cohen 2012)

The “reporter”: Do you know Brett Cohen? 
The guy: Yea.
The “reporter”: Where do you know him from?
The guy: Well, when he was in Spider-Man? 
The “reporter”: Yea?
The guy: Yea. Very good actor.
The “reporter”: You liked him there?
The guy: Yea.
(Cohen 2012)

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Moving From Autopilot Towards Mindfulness

November 24th, 2020 No comments

https://memebase.cheezburger.com/tag/zoning-out

Have you ever been carrying on a conversation with a friend when you realize you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about–let alone how you’re still talking? Or, maybe you’ve been driving when you blink and an entire hour goes by leaving you wondering where your mind went… and how your car is still intact? I could just be a bad friend, or a slacker driver, but I suspect I’m not alone. It’s likely that you’re zoned out a lot more often than you realize, and this isn’t without negative repercussions. In 2010, Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert used a phone app to randomly record what 2,250 participants’ minds were focused on in a specific moment in relation to what they were doing and how they were feeling. They discovered that the average person spends about 47% of their day on “autopilot,” following automated behaviors while their thoughts wander from the task at hand. Equally intriguing, when the participants reported their mind wandering, they also reported being significantly less happy in that moment. It may be unsettling to realize that you aren’t consciously aware of your behavior for half of your day, and that generally the more time we spend directed by automated behaviors, the less happy we’re likely to feel (Killingsworth and Gilbert, 2010).
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A Call to Challenge Categorization (& tune in to When They See Us)

November 22nd, 2020 No comments

If you have not watched Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed production When They See Us, I would tune in now. This four-part series is centered around the Central Park jogger case from April 19, 1989. Five Black and Latino adolescents were wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was running in Central Park in New York City. The four parts present the experiences of the boys from before the accusation, to getting accused and deceived by the police, to the boys falsely confessing to the crimes, to the struggles they experience in prison, and to their eventual release from prison and their lives after prison. After I watched this series, I followed up on another production called Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us Now. In this show, Oprah Winfrey speaks with the Exonerated Five, Ava DuVernay, and the cast of the original series. This production allowed me to see how the nightmare of experiences faced by these five men affected their lives at the time of being wrongly accused and continue to haunt them to this day. When They See Us and the resulting panel with Oprah Winfrey are by far the best programs I have ever watched on Netflix, as the two productions profoundly opened my eyes to the racist practices of the criminal justice system and the dangers of stereotyping. If you haven’t already watched them, then I would definitely recommend.

Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Ava DuVernay, Antron McCray, and Yusef Salaam at the When They See Us premiere. www.chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2019/6/14/18679622/ava-duvernay-central-park-5-netflix-chicago-jon-burge

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I don’t see a difference. Oh, wait. Now I do!

November 19th, 2020 No comments

It’s Saturday morning. I wake up, have breakfast, listen to some music, and pack my bag for what I am about to do. Like many highschool and college athletes, I am preparing for perhaps the biggest day of the week – Game day! As I arrive at the field, I immediately start eyeballing today’s opponent. What type of team are they? Are they strong? Weak? Fast? Slow? My team I already know well, and I am confident that our different strengths will help us to win this game. As a team player on my college’s rugby team myself, I often find myself viewing the teams that we play against differently and less varied than my own team. My own team, of course, is made up of a diverse group of players with different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Other teams, however, I tend to have a more simple opinion of when we take the field. One cognitive phenomenon may be able to partially explain why this occurs.

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Why we overlook our own shortcomings: a description of the Actor Observer Bias

November 26th, 2019 5 comments

Picture this: you are running late to drop your kids off at school in the morning and your children are having a fit in the back seat. On top of this, it is pouring rain outside. While you are driving down the highway, another car abruptly cuts you off as they are merging. As a result of your frustration, you begin to think of how they must be a rude person who is also a terrible driver. You assign internal (personality) traits to this person based on their action of cutting you off. You do not take into account the situational factors that were affecting their driving ability, like the fact that they were late for an important meeting, or they were driving their sick pet to the vet. You automatically attribute their actions to internal factors without even thinking about what else could have caused them to cut you off. A couple of minutes later, you, yourself accidentally cut off someone while trying to take the exit off the highway to your child’s school. Instead of reacting in the same way you did to the previous person who carried out the same action as you did and automatically telling yourself you are a bad driver and rude person, you inform yourself your action is a result of the fact that you are late for your child’s dropoff at school and you cannot see well as a result of the heavy rain. You tell yourself that on a normal day you would be much more careful. You do not think of yourself as a bad driver and rude person, as you thought of the other person, even though they did the same thing that you did. Why is it that we automatically assume others’ negative actions are a result of who they are as a person while being sympathetic and giving ourselves excuses? The actor-observer bias is an explanation for this confusing phenomenon. Read more…

The Real Reason Why Freshmen are Always Early and Seniors are Always Late to School

November 26th, 2019 4 comments

The First Day of Freshman Year

Imagine it is the morning before the first day of your freshman year of high school. You have only visited your new school once before for orientation so the drive there is unfamiliar. After getting dressed and eating your breakfast, you inform your Mom that you need to leave by 7:20am to get to school by 7:50am. As planned, you and your Mom get in the car at 7:20am and drive to school. The drive seems to take forever but somehow you manage to get to school ten minutes earlier than you had originally planned. Embarrassed by how early you are, you ask your Mom if she can wait in the parking lot until it is socially acceptable to arrive at school. She agrees and finds a spot to park. You recline your seat all the way hoping that no one will see you through the car window. While you wait, you wonder why you got to school so early.

The First Day of Senior Year

Fast forward to the morning before the first day of your senior year of high school. Now that you are a senior, you drive yourself to school. The route to school is no longer new and unfamiliar. Sometimes you wonder if you could drive there with your eyes closed. After getting dressed and eating breakfast, you determine that you need to leave by 7:35am to get to school by 7:50am. The drive seems to fly by but somehow you manage to pull in to the parking lot at 7:55 am. With only five minutes to spare instead of ten minutes, you sprint from the parking lot to class. As you slide into your seat just before the bell rings, you wonder why you got to school so late.

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Did you really know it all along??

November 26th, 2019 No comments

Your sibling’s face…

“I KNEW IT!!!!!” your sibling gleefully exclaims after the clock hits 0:00 and your favorite team has just lost to your least favorite team. You start thinking, how could they possibly know that team was going to win? The teams had similar records with equally talented players and you are left glumly wishing you hadn’t bet $10 on the game. This kind of scenario happens all the time and is pretty hard to avoid.  For instance, you may be amazed that your friend who walks carelessly across the ice is surprised when she falls. Of course she was going to fall! The key pattern in these instances is that the feelings of frustration or foreknowledge occur after the event. Often times, we believe that we knew something would happen because we assess the situation after it occurs and reflect upon it with information we did not previously have. This common phenomenon is known as the hindsight bias. Read more…

“I totally nailed it and I am pretty sure I did better than most people”- The Pitfall of Overconfidence

November 26th, 2019 1 comment

Have you ever been disappointed by your exam score when you thought you actually did pretty well on it? Or have you ever overestimated how sufficiently you have prepared for a test and panicked as you read through the actual exam and found questions more difficult than expected? If you have had these experiences, you have been a victim of overconfidence effect.

Although we hardly realize such errors or often feel reluctant to admit them, we are all familiar with the mismatch between self-evaluation and actual outcomes. This phenomenon is called the overconfidence effect, a cognitive bias that occurs when people inaccurately evaluate their own performance as above average or higher in accuracy or quality than it actually is.

Overestimation of Capacity                    [https://advanced-hindsight.com/blog/b-e-dogs-overconfidence/]

People have faith in their erroneous self-evaluation about a variety of topics, including but not limited to application of factual knowledge, as in a college exam scenario. Psychologists have found that people tend to position themselves above others when assessing their own capacity. Overconfidence is explicit not only in self-estimation about skills like safe driving but also in self-positioning within a community when participants see themselves as more popular and sociable than their friends (Svenson, 1981; Sanbonmatsu et al., 2016; Zuckerman & Jost, 2001).     Read more…

Rhyming for a Reason: Why Rhyming Slogans are More Effective in Communicating Big Ideas

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

If you’ve been to a college or interacted with a college student, you know how demanding the academic requirements are. Would you believe me if I said, “C’s get diplomas”? Sure. That makes sense, after a minute of thinking… But what if I had said, “C’s get degrees”? Boom. Got it. You’ve probably heard that one before, and there’s a reason why. The second statement communicates the main idea quicker than the first, even though both convey the same message. 

The Rhyme as Reason Effect (also called the Eaton-Rosen Effect) is the phenomenon that occurs when a person believes that a saying is more accurate when it rhymes. By contrast, a saying that means the same thing, but does not rhyme, is judged as less accurate. Like the example above. A second example that you’ve probably heard before is the saying, “What sobriety conceals, alcohol

“A drunk mind speaks a sober heart” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

reveals.” This is judged as more accurate than, “What sobriety hides, alcohol reveals,” or “What sobriety conceals, alcohol shows,” even though all three statements are saying the exact same thing. So now you may be asking, why does this happen? Is it just because rhyming phrases are more fun to say, or is something else going on? Let’s think about this. 

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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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