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Posts Tagged ‘Social Cognition’

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…

Don’t get too personal when it’s the all about the situation: Fundamental Attribution Error

April 17th, 2017 2 comments

Fundamental attribution error (FAE) happens when people explain a behavior of another by drawing inferences about that person’s personalities, dispositions or other internal factors, but underestimate the effect of external factors such as the situation the person is in (Gilbert & Malone, 1995). People often make FAE without realizing it. What are some examples of FAE, why does it happen so often outside our consciousness, and how can we avoid it?

Let’s starts with some examples of FAE. Imagine you are traveling in a foreign country and want to buy souvenirs for your friends. After careful selection, you decide to buy seventeen homemade chocolate bars; each is thirteen dollars. Before checking out, you want to know how much do they cost but you are having a hard time calculating the exact number. Then, the little boy next to you says immediately: “Hey, that’s 221 dollars.”

So you take out the cell phone to check the total; you find out that the boy is correct. What would be your first reaction? Read more…

From cocky and conflict ridden to conscious: Causes and implications of the bias blind spot

April 17th, 2017 No comments

“You are extremely average with extremely mediocre talent” my sister tells me every time she thinks I get overly confident and cocky. Why might she say this to me? In order to “plateau” me. “Plateauing,” as my sister would define it, involves dosing out a few insults in order to counteract the effects of excessively high self-esteem.

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Or, as a cognitive psychologist might say, dosing out a few insults in order to counteract the self-enhancement bias (i.e. viewing yourself in a very positive way). My sister (as many siblings tend to do) easily recognizes when I act on the self-enhancement bias- and thank goodness she does! Why? Because I don’t.

Before you start feeling bad for me and the fact that I don’t have the ability to recognize my own biases, I’d like to introduce another type of bias, called the bias blind spot. The bias blind spot is the inability for people to recognize a bias in themselves, even if they can see it in others. Studies show that people of all ages and backgrounds are likely to notice biases in others, but do not notice biases in themselves (Pronin, 2007; Pronin & Kugler, 2007; West, Meserve, & Stanovich, 2012). So guess what? Research says that you too are susceptible to be blind to the effects biases play on your thoughts and actions. Not so cocky now, aren’t you? Read more…

Either you’re in or you’re out: The power of in-group bias

April 16th, 2017 1 comment

Have you ever seen someone wearing a shirt with a political candidate you don’t like, and automatically assumed the worst about him or her? Or perhaps you have been at a sporting event, and felt a strong connection towards fans cheering for your team. Why do we make judgments about people we know nothing about based on their group identification? Why do we assume good things about strangers who are more similar to us, or bad things about anyone who differs? What justifies this behavior?

In-group biases 

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Hop on the Bandwagon: Examining the Cognitive Processes Behind Why You Simply MUST Have That

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Walking around Colby College campus on a rainy day, one often sees a  dizzying number of Hunter rain boots and Timberland boots. It seems that everyone is wearing the same style of boots. Why are these boots so popular? Who started wearing them? Why are these boots everywhere? In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell examines social epidemics, such as fashion trends and smoking, and the moment they take off. It’s an excellent read that strives to explain how seemingly sudden social epidemics start and are sustained. While Gladwell never explicitly uses the term ‘bandwagon effect’, his case studies in the book concerning fashion trends hint at this phenomenon.

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Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater. Or So You think.

 Ever met someone you just don’t trust? Maybe it’s something about their face. Maybe you heard something about them from a friend that made you wince in disgust. Research shows that this distrust tends to be a stubborn figment in our imaginations—even when we learn that our reasoning for distrusting someone is unfounded, we have a hard time accepting that the person in question is trust-worthy. A group of cognitive psychologists from Japan wondered why this is the case. Their question: why is it that we’re so good at remembering people who are “cheaters?” Given that we’re social animals cooperatively working to make this thing called society work, is it possible that we’re hard-wired to explicitly identify others who take nefarious advantage of our cooperation? Perhaps evolution is at play, and we need this ability to continue to make society viable (Suzuki, Honma, and Suga, 2013). They wondered just that and decided to study this question with a series of experiments testing the durability of stigma participants held in their study.

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