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Posts Tagged ‘Priming’

Don’t Let Your Anchor Control Your Shopping: The Anchoring Bias

November 23rd, 2020 No comments

Imagine walking into a clothing store before the holidays. You are on the lookout for a long-sleeved shirt to wear to a dinner party next week but do not have much time due to a haircut appointment in half an hour. While driving there you thought this would be a fairly quick and easy task, but now, while wedged between a mother and daughter, you are repeatedly asking yourself why you didn’t just buy something online. You don’t

Clothing rack during the holidays.

have time for this! Once you finally locate the long-sleeved clothing rack and maneuver through all of the people, you find the perfect black long-sleeved shirt. You hold up the shirt to get a better look and glance down at the price tag. The first two numbers on the price tag are two and nine which are followed by two small nine’s, but you only fixate on the first two and nine. You decide that $29 is too expensive which is fine because the material seems like it would be itchy anyway. As you are putting the shirt back, you notice a big red sign above the clothing rack. The sign reads “50% off” in the middle with sixty dollars crossed out on the top followed by the new price of 29.99 dollars on the bottom. You freak out while thinking to yourself: “it used to be 60 dollars! I must get this!” It becomes a no-brainer and you immediately walk towards the cash register completely forgetting about the possibility of the material being terribly itchy. 

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Are Celebrities Really THAT Perfect? How the Halo Effect Impacts the Way We View and Treat Others

November 20th, 2020 No comments

Have you ever seen a celebrity that you loved and idolized do something wrong? For example, a few years ago the actress Reese Witherspoon’s husband got a DUI while she was driving with him. Reese was quite rude to the police that pulled them over, which caused her to also get arrested for disorderly conduct. She asked the police if they knew who she was, and then when they responded no she warned that they were “about to find out”. She also ignored instructions from the police officer to stay in the car, and resisted arrest.

Chances are, if you were a fan of the actress like I am, you were pretty shocked to hear this story. Despite never having met Reese Witherspoon personally, you assumed she was a kind, respectful person who would never do or say these kinds of things. You may have even been shocked by Reese’s appearance in her mugshot, where she appears disheveled and not like her usual, made-up and presentable self. Why are we so shocked by this, when Reese Witherspoon is literally a stranger to us??

Reese Witherspoon as we “normally” picture her

Reese Witherspoon’s mug shot following her husband’s DUI

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“Ohhh, ‘Cue!'”: Cue-Dependent Forgetting and Study Techniques

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

Picture yourself in a classroom taking a history quiz. You don’t consider yourself a history buff of course, but you feel as if you studied well enough. You breeze through the questions, until you come across one that stumps you a bit: “Which U.S. President served the shortest term?”. You have to know this, of course, because you remember looking over it yesterday. The weight of familiarity is killing you, as you rack your brain and sort through the order of United States Presidents you thought you had memorized. When you studied, you paired the President’s last names along with common words that sounded similar–Lincoln and Linkedin, Kennedy and candy– you thought you pretty much had it down. Your heart thumps as you begin to look around the room, hoping something will strike your memory and soon your attention is drawn to how weird your teacher’s hair looks today. Hair, hair, Harrison! Suddenly you have it, William Henry Harrison was the President who served the shortest term.

Ok, let’s try that scenario again: you find yourself looking around the room for something to spark that lightbulb in your mind, but nothing seems to do the trick. Your professor is bald and always has been. You simply just can’t remember the name you were looking for and accept defeat. You stare daggers at their head as you leave that question blank and go onto the next one.

What made these two scenarios so different? The second scenario describes a cognitive psychology term called “cue-dependent forgetting” where a person is unable to remember information in the absence of a retrieval cue (Chandler & Gargano, 1995). A retrieval cue in this case is something that signals or prompts the memory of something that you associated with it (Chandler and Gargano, 1995). In the previously described scenario, the retrieval cues were the common words that sounded similar to the President’s names. This is why, when the retrieval cue for Harrison (“hair”), was forgotten, you were unable to answer the question. Pairing items as a form of studying may seem like an efficient way to quickly memorize material, but as seen in the example, it isn’t always reliable. Why does cue-dependent forgetting happen? And are there ways to prevent it from having a negative effect on test performance? These questions can be understood with a quick summary of how memory works.

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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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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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Cognitive Processes in Consumer Decision Making About Luxury Products

May 2nd, 2014 1 comment

Have you ever wondered why consumers prefer luxury products? Many luxury products do not offer significantly more features than their standard competitors, yet they command a much higher price in the market. There are a multitude of factors that lead to consumer preference for a luxury brand or product, such as aesthetic appeal or brand status. Researchers in a study titled “Priming Thoughts About Extravagance: Implications for Consumer Decisions About Luxury Products” investigated the underlying cognitive processes that govern our decision-making regarding luxury products. Read more…

Being able to sing along: Semantic priming and familiar songs

April 29th, 2013 3 comments

Sing3Have you ever heard the saying, “If I could remember school work like I remember lyrics, I’d be a genius?” It is true that many people remember an immense number of songs throughout their lifespan. Melodies for popular songs are almost unforgettable, and learned lyrics can stay in memory for a lifetime (Bartlett and Snelus, 1980). Memory for songs is contained in two stores that have two separate functions: episodic and semantic memory. Episodic memory allows you to remember the “when,” and “where,” of things, so recalling the first time you ever heard “Hey Jude” by the Beatles would use episodic memory. Semantic memory refers to remembering the facts and vital information about something – the “what” – but not being able to specifically recall when you learned that information. Remembering the lyrics and tune to “Hey Jude,” uses semantic memory. It is not necessary for you to remember the first (or last) time you heard the song in order for you to be able to sing along.

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