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Archive for the ‘Attention’ Category

Beyond the black box: Unpacking performative activism

December 8th, 2020 No comments

If you didn’t see a single black square in your timeline, feed, dashboard, or any social media or news platform this summer—well, I’m not sure whether I’d be impressed or horrified. On June 2nd, Instagram feeds and social media platforms were flooded with black squares. Most of these were captioned with #BlackOutTuesday. Some included resources to take action through links to donate, sign petitions, or inform people about current issues. And then there were the ones captioned with #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM.

Black lives matter. That’s not up for debate. Yet the inclusion of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #BLM in the captions of posts with black squares, whether well-intentioned or not, was entirely destructive.  Read more…

Famous or Not: the Competition between Familiarity and Recollection

December 7th, 2020 No comments

Do you know Brett Cohen? Sounds familiar? Even if you answered no, just keep reading. Let me show you how he made himself “famous” in one night.

Brett Cohen was a YouTuber who dreamed of being famous. One day, he decided to do a celebrity prank in the busiest streets in New York City and to see what it feels like to be at the center of attention. Brett dressed like a typical celebrity: a striped shirt with top buttons unbuttoned, sunglasses (classic!), and combed hair. He also hired some people to pretend as his bodyguards, personal assistants, and even paparazzi and reporters. Off he went, on this exciting journey. Once Brett walked from the NBC Observation Deck into the public, guess what? The crowd went nuts. People formed circles around him, yelled his name, and rushed to get a picture with him. When people were asked where they knew Brett from, they all responded with Spider-Man. One of the conversations went like this:

Common Cohen (up) vs Famous Cohen (bottom) How did he trick people into thinking that he was a celebrity? (pictures from Cohen 2012)

The “reporter”: Do you know Brett Cohen? 
The guy: Yea.
The “reporter”: Where do you know him from?
The guy: Well, when he was in Spider-Man? 
The “reporter”: Yea?
The guy: Yea. Very good actor.
The “reporter”: You liked him there?
The guy: Yea.
(Cohen 2012)

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Why You Should Stop Multitasking…Right Now

December 5th, 2020 No comments

Multitasking is often thought of as a magical tool that will help people be more productive.

About ten years ago the Internet became flooded with articles about multitasking and its potential benefits for productivity and time management. Now and then you can stumble upon articles, written for entrepreneurs, employers, or people who want to increase their productivity, promoting multitasking. A lot of people face the issue of not having enough time due to the fast pace of modern life, having a lot of commitments, or not being good at time management, so they choose to multitask, hoping it would allow them to save some time. However, what people don’t realize is that multitasking can be harmful, both for the quality of their work and their productivity.

Attention is a limited resource so if we multitask, we have to divide it between the tasks.

What is exactly multitasking? Cognitive psychologists define multitasking as performing multiple tasks while constantly switching between them. A key feature of multitasking is that a person focuses on each task over a short time span (Oswald et al., 2007). Multitasking can take a lot of forms: it can be listening to a podcast while walking, watching a TV show while doing your homework, or texting while driving. Some tasks mix well, like listening to a podcast while you are walking because walking is an automatic process that does not require a lot of cognitive resources. However, most of the time it is impossible for us to focus on two tasks simultaneously, especially if both of them are controlled processes, which require a lot of attentional resources, so we have to divide our attention between them, which comes at a cost.

 

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Why Can’t I Stop Eating?

December 5th, 2020 No comments

Can you ever imagine that you can finish eating all forty cookies, one bucket of pretzels, two packs of chips, one pot of boiled milk, one jar of nuts, half of the pomelo, and two chocolate pies just in an hour without a second of rest? And can you also imagine even after you finish all of that food, your brain still craves for food though your belly is so swollen that you are about to puke? You may think that the person who can eat all of these must be a monster. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case

Kung Fu Panda ate 103 dumplings

Kung Fu Panda ate 103 dumplings

(though you may recall the scene Kung Fu Panda ate 103 dumplings). Or you are probably going to think of those competitive eaters. They can shovel so much food into their stomach in a short period of time. However, what might surprise you is that many people, myself included, even including those skinny, ripped athletes, can finish the amount of food all at once, roughly equivalent to nine meals for an adult. And this behavior is neither normal nor beneficial for people’s mental and physical health. So, what is this uncontrollable, torturous, and unstoppable action of food-intaking? The answer is binge eating disorder (BED), which is defined as the uncontrollable consumption of a large amount of food. Then what led to the creation of “glutton”? Why can’t these people control themselves from eating normally and healthily? And what are some treatments for the abnormal cravings and intaking of food?

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I don’t want to think about it—Oh wait.

November 27th, 2020 No comments

Do you ever find yourself driving somewhere or walking to a place without even thinking about it? Take this for example: Your friend invited you over to their house to hang out. So you get ready to leave, jump in your car, and make your way there. As you begin to drive, you take all the normal turns you would to regularly get there until you realize you are five minutes away from their old address. They recently moved to a different house about 20 minutes from their old one, and what was going to be a 10 minute trip has turned into a 30 minute one. You’ve been to their new house before but for some reason you unconsciously still drove to their old address. Over time, you continuously begin to remember that your friend does not, in fact, live at their old address until the association with them and their new address remains in the forefront of your mind while the old address is locked away in your archives of “things that are a distant memory”.

https://marketscythe.blog/2018/12/21/youre-looking-in-the-wrong-direction/

Inhibition is used to help block out things that we don’t necessarily want to remember.

This happens to people all the time in different scenarios during our daily lives, but why does this happen even when we know the correct route to take or decision to make? One of my favorite singer-songwriters, Olivia O’Brien, made me wonder, briefly, this same thing after listening to her song “Inhibition” as it came on my playlist.

All this liquor in my system 

I ain’t got no inhibition

Always end up crying on my way home 

Drunk or sober what’s the difference 

Still ain’t got no one to listen 

Always end up crying on my way home

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Is 2020 Making Us More Stupid?

November 26th, 2020 No comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened fear, social isolation, and economic anxiety across many communities around the country.  In a recent survey of roughly 300 American workers, about 40% said they feel less productive than usual during the pandemic (Ducharme, 2020). College students, including those at Colby College, are not immune to similar feelings such as a lack of productivity, inability to pay attention, and an overall decrease in work performance. When talking to students at Colby College there is a general consensus that one’s ability to focus on one’s work has decreased in addition to overall cognitive performance. This general belief of decreased productivity and ability got me thinking about possible reasons for this widespread feeling. I began to wonder, “have students become lazier?”, “have Colby College students become less intelligent?”, or “have classes become harder?”. Logically thinking through these questions, I conclude a reasonable answer to these questions is “no” to all. But what could be driving these changes in cognitive performance across the Colby campus and beyond? Thinking back to my own peaks in academic performance, I think about the times in which I have seen the greatest success. Overall, I have found that my academic performance seems to be positively correlated with my level of happiness. These observations from the world of the pandemic, my own life, and the general trends on the Colby campus this year has led me to wonder, how do emotions affect one’s cognitive performance? Due to the magnitude of studies varying by different moods and cognitive processes, this blog will primarily focus on positive mood’s effects on learning and memory.

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Moving From Autopilot Towards Mindfulness

November 24th, 2020 No comments

https://memebase.cheezburger.com/tag/zoning-out

Have you ever been carrying on a conversation with a friend when you realize you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about–let alone how you’re still talking? Or, maybe you’ve been driving when you blink and an entire hour goes by leaving you wondering where your mind went… and how your car is still intact? I could just be a bad friend, or a slacker driver, but I suspect I’m not alone. It’s likely that you’re zoned out a lot more often than you realize, and this isn’t without negative repercussions. In 2010, Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert used a phone app to randomly record what 2,250 participants’ minds were focused on in a specific moment in relation to what they were doing and how they were feeling. They discovered that the average person spends about 47% of their day on “autopilot,” following automated behaviors while their thoughts wander from the task at hand. Equally intriguing, when the participants reported their mind wandering, they also reported being significantly less happy in that moment. It may be unsettling to realize that you aren’t consciously aware of your behavior for half of your day, and that generally the more time we spend directed by automated behaviors, the less happy we’re likely to feel (Killingsworth and Gilbert, 2010).
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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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The Space-Time Continuum: How & Why to Space Your Time

November 22nd, 2020 No comments

We’ve all been there, even me. You might even be there right now.  You know the deal – it’s 10pm on a Sunday night.  You promised you would leave yourself time to study for your psychology exam, but you got caught up in weekend plans, the latest election news, and all of the other midterms you have to study for.  And let’s not forget about the two problem sets you also have due in the morning!  It seems that the hope you had when you first made that promise is slipping further and further down the drain.  Now, the exam is mere hours away, and it seems there’s nothing left to do but cram.  You stay up all night, attempting to review every single concept your professor introduced this semester.  You go through the motions of studying: rereading, highlighting, and underlining terms, as if to make up for the hours and days of lost time that you should have devoted to preparing for this exam.  

https://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/demi-examcram-comic.png
Staying up late the night before an exam to cram is not an effective study strategy.

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Your Horoscope for Today: You may download or delete a horoscope app on your phone

November 21st, 2020 No comments

Real footage of exhausted, Gen Z college kids acting flabbergast at zodiacs predicting their lives

Link to meme:https://images.app.goo.gl/Y4Kmu1R9xujSdmeP9

Maybe you have read somewhere that those who take astrology seriously are suckers(the meme world has verified this information as you can see in the image next to the this post) and are prone to a variety of biases. Maybe you yourself have made fun of that one friend in the group who seems to take the “star sign thing” way too seriously and who is ready to choose a life partner by their chart compatibility. And maybe despite that, like me and countless other people, when you come across a “reading” or a horoscope prediction, you read every word intently to see if it matches you. And maybe you have done this a few times: sucked your teeth when you read the horoscope for a day that has just ended but see that not a single thing on it lines up with the day you have just had. And maybe after that, you swore never to read the damn things again. But if I checked right now, it has probably just been a few days since you opened the notifications from an astrology app like Costar or ran a google search for character traits of others like you who were born within the month-long interval that determines your shared “sun sign. Life right now is so unpredictable so we hold on to sources of predictions because SOME idea of what is going to happen would be nice. But astrology’s hold is not due to that reason alone. Humans are susceptible to many biases in our thinking and in this blog post, I’ll break down our shared mental weak links that have even science majors picking out partners and friends according to their sun sign compatibility.

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