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Posts Tagged ‘Automatic Processes’

The Identifiable Victim Effect: Why you should reconsider donating to the child on GoFundMe

April 15th, 2017 2 comments

What kinds of charities do you give to? What spurs you to give to them? Is it images on GoFundMe of your friend’s neighbor’s child suffering from cancer, or the story of an exploited woman finding refuge and employment through a non-profit? Do you get a feeling of satisfaction when you type in your annual donations as deductibles to send to the IRS?

These are questions that can be answered and understood through the Identifiable Victim Effect, which says that people are more willing to give aid when they can identify a specific victim who will benefit from their donation. That is, when you or I hear a suffering child’s story or see their picture, we are more likely to whip out our wallets.

Why is this? It isn’t a rational or effective strategy for doing the most good for the most people. People donated $700,000 upon hearing the publicized plight of Baby Jessica who fell into a well in 1987, an amount of money that was probably not necessary to save Baby Jessica and perhaps should have been shared with other necessary causes, such as the thousands of nameless babies who are abandoned and dying around the world (Small, Loewenstein, & Slovic, 2007). The Identifiable Victim Effect does not rely on logic, so its explanation certainly isn’t going to be found in the sensible decisions of kind citizens.

What a cute child! His story of suffering from cancer raised more than twice the amount of the original goal. Source: GoFundMe.

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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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Are you falling victim to the bandwagon effect?

April 5th, 2017 2 comments

Do you ever find yourself wondering what clothing to buy? What TV series or movie to watch? Or even where to eat? These are common dilemmas all of us run into on a daily basis. If you selected the movie or item that had the most stars or likes attributed to it or the majority of people chose it previously, then you may be falling victim to ‘the bandwagon effect’.

The ultimate decision – which one do you choose and why?

Everyday people are making decisions of various levels of importance, however few stop to seriously analyse and understand the underlying cognitive processes involved. Often decisions are influenced by a phenomenon called the ‘bandwagon effect’ whether this occurs consciously or unconsciously. Bandwagon effect is the idea that people align with or follow the opinions, beliefs and/or actions the majority of the population follows. An example of this phenomenon is illustrated in a study conducted by Sundar, Knobloch-Westerwick and Hastall (2007). When people were given a choice between reading an article recommended by a journalist, website or by crowd support, people were more inclined to choose the crowd option. This is despite the journalist being an acknowledged expert in the particular field. 

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The Mind of a Champion

November 24th, 2015 1 comment

Going in to the 2012 Olympics, gymnast McKayla Maroney was considered to be the best vaulter in the world. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that McKayla would win the Olympic gold medal. After contributing a nearly perfect vault to help her team win the gold medal, she was ready to do it again for event finals. She did her first vault and took a hop that would likely cost her 3/10 of a

mckayla maroneypoint. Nothing major, but she knew that she could do better. When she went back to the end of the runway and prepared for her second vault, all McKayla wanted to do was to stick the landing like she had done so many times in practice. She wanted it so badly that she overthought what should have been automatic, she did not rotate enough, and she ended up landing on her butt, causing a full point to be deducted. McKayla choked, costing her the Olympic gold medal.

Mental toughness is a key aspect in all sports. Every athlete knows that no matter how strong you are, how skilled you are, or how much time you have put into practice, when you are in a pressure situation, it all comes down to how mentally tough you are. It is one of the most frustrating things as an athlete to mess up on a skill that you can normally do in your sleep, especially when that one mistake costs you the game or competition. Read more…

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Fidget Less, More Success!

November 23rd, 2014 5 comments

You’re sitting in class trying to scratch down notes as your professor drones on and on. In the midst of the monotonous task, you begin to think of the busy day ahead of you. Lost in thought, you shift in your seat, and soon your notes have become little more than a few random words on a page, and you realize you’ve missed the last five minutes of the lecture.

Bored-Britney-Spears-Class-Fidget-Fidgeting-Boring-Nothing-to-do-School-sucks-GIF

We’ve all been there. We all find our minds wandering off from time-to-time, and we’ve all experienced that feeling where your leg starts shaking, fingers start tapping, and you just can’t seem to sit still and focus on the task at hand.

It makes sense that if your mind is elsewhere, your performance on the current task will be largely inhibited, but why is it that the deeper we fall into this trance, the less control we have over bodily movements too? What is the connection between this occurrence of motor and mental restlessness—that is, how do fidgeting and mind wandering relate?

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To cheat, or not to cheat? The cognition of relationship maintenance

image source: rm magazine

image source: rm magazine

Why stick with the girl/guy next door when a supermodel moves to town?  Long-term romantic partnerships are difficult enough to maintain on their own, without the temptation of alternative mating partners.  Why then, do people in committed relationships tend to stay faithful to one another?  Or rather, what psychological processes do people exhibit to help protect their relationships in the threat of desirable—especially physically attractive—mating alternatives?

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Who’s That Chick? How You Identify and Recognize the Hotties Around You

April 30th, 2014 5 comments

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It happens to everyone: you’re walking around campus when all of a sudden you see “Hottie Number One” or “Hot Girl Number Three,” or “Hot Dude From Dana.” We are students on a small campus; therefore, we start to recognize people after just a few weeks of being here. But why do we recognize some people more than others? Based upon personal interactions, people from all aspects of the sexuality spectrum seem to say that they run into “Hottie Number One” more often than they do other people. Perhaps even more interesting is that people seem to recognize potentially compatible hotties – straight people tend notice straight hotties whereas gay people tend to notice gay hotties. What makes us recognize the hotties better than we do other people? And how do we manage to focus on potentially compatible hotties? What about the hotties with non-compatible sexual orientations?

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Stroop Interference and Reading Ability

April 8th, 2013 3 comments

If you have ever taken an introductory level class in Psychology, chances are you learned about the Stroop task.  For those of you who haven’t, try this activity out for yourself; look at the list of words written below. Simply name the color ink the word is written in. It sounds easy enough, but is actually much harder than you might think.

REDBLUE, BLACK, ORANGEPINKGREEN

BLUEORANGEGREENREDPINKBLACK

Undoubtedly you were able to read the first line with ease, but the second line, well that was a different story. Chances are you find yourself inclined to read the word initially and then must pause to actually say the color ink instead. This task can be frustrating! Why is it so hard? Why is the bottom row where color words are written in their inconsistent ink so much harder do than the top row where words are in consistent ink color?

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