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Posts Tagged ‘Heuristics’

Finding Reason in Rhyme, Nearly Every Time

April 16th, 2017 No comments

Happiness, health, love, and money — what else would anyone need?  These most universal of human interests are often the center of common phrases, called aphorisms, that express some general principle about how our world works . . . or so they claim.  For example, we all know that great spenders are bad lenders, and surely, what sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals.  Many people are very familiar with these aphorisms through previous, repeated exposure to them.  One critical feature contributing to the popularity of these phrases is their rhyming pattern.  But how about the phrase an apple a day keeps you pretty healthy? Well, maybe not. The botched rhyme in this last phrase makes us question the truth behind the statement.  This is due to the Rhyme-as-Reason Effect.  This effect is a cognitive bias by which people judge the validity and accuracy of a statement as being more true if the statement rhymes.  So, although the aphorisms are very vague, the use of rhyme as a rhetorical device asserts their claim in a more persuasive way.   Read more…

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 Secret to Getting Out of Jury Duty

April 29th, 2014 No comments

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Jury duty: two words that strike fear into even the most masculine of men. Often when people get their jury duty summons they spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to get out of it whether by claiming to be wildly biased (a rather conservative approach) or by creating a whole character of crazy a la Liz Lemon dressing up as Princess Leia and claiming, “I don’t really think it’s fair for me to be on a jury because I can read thoughts.” Either way, these tactics are often unsuccessful and you would most likely be better served by giving truthful answers to the qualifying questions than anything else.

In reality, if you know yourself and your mind, the truth might actually get you out of jury duty while also helping the court avoid a possible wrongful conviction. Although some cases are easily decided, the most ambiguous cases increase chance of wrongful conviction and application of heuristics in damaging ways. A heuristic, which is a mental shortcut that our brain creates in order to allow us to make quick decisions and judgments, is applied automatically when we approach a decision. However, because these heuristics may embody socially unacceptable implicit attitudes and beliefs, these automatic decisions can and often are overridden by controlled thinking. However, these heuristics may still be applied when the individual is using cognitive resources on other tasks. Research has shown that three factors play an important role in the jury member’s determination of defendant guilt: prejudice, working memory capacity (WMC), and cognitive load.

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