Posts Tagged ‘Emotion’

No One Ever Understands Me! Ah, yes – The Illusion of Transparency

April 17th, 2017 5 comments

Your world is collapsing. Okay no it’s not, but you are extremely stressed, sad, and worried. Do you ever wonder why no one seems to care that you’re feeling these things, or wish that someone would only ask if you’re okay? We all feel like this sometimes! But see, everybody else is not the problem. It’s not that people don’t care or don’t want to help (most likely); it’s just simply the fact that they may not even know you’re feeling like this. Think about the last time you gave a presentation in one of your classes or to a group of people. You’re standing up there, fidgeting, sweating, and you feel like your thoughts are jumbled and that your speech reflects that. You look into the crowd and see a girl twirling her hair – I must look like an idiot. You see someone else staring right at you and smiling – I must sound so stupid that he can’t help but stare directly at me. False! The girl is just bored and the boy is trying to show the teacher that he’s paying attention – so stop sweating and remain calm, you’re fine. These feelings are not out of the ordinary, in fact, they’re quite normal, and they can be attributed to the illusion of transparency.

That feeling when no one understands you…

The illusion of transparency is the tendency to believe that one’s internal states are more obvious to others than they actually are. We believe that the outside world can see and understand what we’re feeling and thinking, because we feel like we show our feelings, thoughts and emotions explicitly. However in reality, we overestimate the extent to which other people can tell what’s really going on inside our heads or what we’re trying to say. To test the theory out for yourself, watch this video to see if you can guess the song behind the rhythm! Or, to learn more about this illusion (after you’ve finished reading this post, of course), check out this other awesome post from the CogBlog! Additionally, many studies have been conducted that aim to look at why this happens, and to see if this illusion actually holds true when tested. Read more…

Reader, Do People Actually Know How You Feel? Welcome to Your Tape…

April 17th, 2017 6 comments

I recently got into this Netflix original called 13 Reasons Why. It’s an adaptation of a book with the same name that was probably on your summer “to read” booklist in middle school. It tells a story of a high school girl named Hannah who commits suicide and releases a set of cassette tapes to the people who were “instrumental” to her death. I put instrumental in quotation marks because we don’t really know what happened and we all know that memory could be untrustworthy; but that’s for another blog (This link will take you to another blog that talks about Confabulation). The question is why is this relevant in a blog about cognitive psychology?

Hannah from 13 Reasons Why

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Have a Little Empathy: How to Overcome the Empathy Gap and Understand Each Other

April 17th, 2017 4 comments

Road rage is an example of a common emotional reaction that we might not understand in others

Picture this: you’re driving on a busy street with your friend. All of a sudden, a car comes out of nowhere and cuts you off. You’re in a hurry to get somewhere, and this makes you angry. So, you take the first opportunity to zoom into the left lane and speed past the car that cut you off, looking at the driver as you pass. Its not until your friend shouts “Watch out!” that you slam on the brakes and realize you almost hit the car in front of you at a red light. Your friend chastises you for overreacting and driving recklessly. They don’t understand why you would do what you did, and after calming down, you don’t either. Sound familiar?

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If I could just stop thinking about it! The effect of emotional input on working memory.

November 24th, 2015 7 comments

An overtime loss. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t all your fault. Now you sit in the image001library trying to finish your research paper due in an hour; you can’t concentrate as visions of the puck slowly sliding through your goalie pads into the awaiting net behind you consume your thoughts. Do you ever find yourself helplessly replaying events that you’re upset about while trying to focus on something else? But why do we have so much trouble thinking when something is bothering us, yet we can work so productively the rest of the time?

If only we could effectively think about multiple things at the same time. You could process the events of the game last night while writing your paper; you could replay that upsetting fight you had with your boyfriend while studying for your Spanish vocab quiz. Essentially, our lives would be that much more efficient, if only we could process multiple thoughts at once.

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Is it just me or is that athlete really aggressive looking?: The importance of context in the memory of faces

November 24th, 2015 2 comments

Remember back in high school, the last basketball game of the season against your biggest rival? You were guarding the best player on the other team, let’s call her Chelsey. The teams were going back and forth in points. As the seconds ticked off the clock the game picked up in intensity. There was a lot of pushing and shoving that was going unnoticed by the refs. You personally were being elbowed and pushed out of the box by Chelsey. The look on her face was pure determination and aggression; a desire to win the competition. Unfortunately, your team lost, and it was a long bus ride home. During it, all you and your teammates could talk about were the other players and how aggressive they looked.

Later, you see Chelsey again at the All-star game. This time, the two of you are on the same team. You play alongside Chelsey for the entire game, feeding her passes and rebounding her misses, working as a real team. After the game, you hear someone from the other team talking about how aggressive looking Chelsey was. This makes you think back to how you remembered Chelsey’s face as aggressive as well. But thinking back to the playing in the All-star game you don’t remember Chelsey as having an aggressive face.

Why did the way you remember Chelsey’s face change? The answer is context. Read more…

Categories: Memory Tags: ,

Effects of Divided Attention on False Memories: Good News for Children, Not So for Adults

May 3rd, 2014 2 comments

Memory is an indispensable tool in our everyday lives, yet it is not perfect. Sometimes our own memory systems fail us, we remember things that we have never seen or recall events that have never happened. Such memories are called false memories, which have served as the topic of a large body of psychology research. Studies on false memories usually use the DRM paradigm (Desse, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995). This paradigm requires participants to study lists of words that are related in meaning to each other and to a critical lure (CL) that do not appear in the lists. After that, participants take a memory test. Results show that people tend to remember or recall the CL as frequently as they do the studied words, and each time the CL is recalled is considered a false memory. Read more…

Think like a Makeshift MacGyver rather than a Negative Nancy: Exploring the Influences of the Survival-Processing Memory Advantage

May 1st, 2014 1 comment

Imagine that your plane has crashed into the ocean, and you are forced to swim to a deserted island located hundreds of miles away from civilization. All your luggage and the plane’s survival kit have sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and you only have the clothes on your back and the few knickknacks in your pockets. As you sit on the beach exhausted and anxious for a future rescue, you begin to fear that you won’t survive.


Don’t worry! The unfortunate LOST-like situation described above is just an example of the kind of scenario that participants are asked to imagine during the survival-processing paradigm task, which is used to observe some of the complex and adaptive functions of memory. During the task, half of the participants are asked to imagine themselves in a survival type situation like the described plane crash whereas the other half are asked to imagine themselves in a non-survival based situation like moving to a foreign land. While envisioning, all Read more…

Your Eyes Can Give You Away

May 1st, 2014 7 comments


That face. I know that face. How do I know that face? Do I wave? Do I know them that well? Everyone has had that experience where they recognize someone’s face, and you may know absolutely nothing about the person, but you know you’ve seen their face before.

How can we recognize people’s faces so easily? Facial recognition is a highly specialized process, and is incredibly accurate. Facial features such as the eyes, nose, mouth, the distance between features, and the shapes of features help us to identity a person’s face.  But when we are in a very emotional situation, are we still as good at facial recognition as we are in regular situations? Read more…

Power of Emotions on Memory

November 26th, 2013 3 comments

Have you ever had a moment or event in your life that was so significant that even though it happened many years ago you are still able remember vivid details of that day? This type of memory is called a flashbulb memory. Many Americans have developed a flashbulb memory for September 11th, 2001 because it was such a shocking and significant event in their lives. Are you one of the many people who have a flashbulb memory of this day? Where were you when you first heard the news of the plane crash? What were you doing when you heard the news? These questions were adapted from questions asked in a study on flashbulb memories conducted by Bohn and Berntsen in 2007. If you can answer these questions, then you have a flashbulb memory. Congrats!


Flashbulb memories are an interesting topic for many reasons. Though people tend to be very confident in the validity of their flashbulb memories, the truth of the matter is these vivid memories are just as susceptible to alteration and degradation as normal memories. Flashbulb memories tend to include inaccurate details. But what if the quality of your memory could be altered simply by your mood? That is precisely what Bohn and Berntsen set out to test in their study.  They tested the differences in your mood at the time of the event, affected your flashbulb memory.

For such a study, the experimenters needed a surprising and significant event that would have been experienced by many people. Bohn and Berntsend ended up choosing the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall fell on November 9th, 1989 reuniting East and West Germany after being divided for 28 years! This single event had a great impact on the lives of Germans living on either side of the Wall. Thus it was a great event for the experiment!

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

Hiding Your Emotions: Useful, But Also Hurtful

April 30th, 2013 10 comments

In many social situations, it is necessary to hide what you are feeling.  Take, for example, that you hate your boss.  Just because you hate him doesn’t mean you can openly express your feelings of dislike for him, because that would leave you, in all likelihood, jobless.  In this situation, suppressing your emotional expressions is beneficial to you. Decreasing your outward expression of felt emotions is called emotion suppression.  Many adults are very good at suppressing their emotions and do it frequently in their day-to-day lives in order to avoid controversy or in order to stay within social norms.  Emotion suppression is beneficial for people in many social contexts, but does using emotion suppression have any other benefits besides its social advantages? Or are there any harmful effects that come with using emotion suppression?

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,