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Bilinguals’ twisted tongues: the Tip-Of-the-Tongue phenomenon in other language systems and bilingualism

December 8th, 2020 No comments

My friend is not a native English speaker. I still remember his most funny yet embarrassing moment when we were both freshmen. He was introducing himself in front of the whole dorm, and I know he wanted to say he’s hard-working or diligent, because I almost heard him uttering “di”. But he seemed to be suddenly forgetting the word. Instead, after a long pause, he said something like “I’m a detergent person”. Everyone looked confused, and I couldn’t help laughing. I totally feel him. As a bilingual, I’m just too familiar with this tip-of-the-tongue state. From time to time, I lose the English word I was trying to say (especially during a zoom meeting, ah, guess how embarrassing it could be), and I would burst into a silent cry, not again! I know I know it; I know the corresponding word in my first language, and I can almost see it in the printed form in my mind. Yet I just can’t pull it out from my memory. 

A comic illustrating the tip of the tongue effect…it’s just so annoying!

When you are reading this blog, does it come to your mind that you have experienced this Tip-Of-the-Tongue (TOT) effect in your own life? You are nodding and smiling, because even if English is your native language, you know that annoying feeling as well as I do. In cognitive psychology, the TOT phenomenon refers to when people fail to retrieve a target word, yet the feeling of retrieval is imminent. In other words, you are 100% sure you know it somewhere in your mind, and you can even give the first few syllabus or letters, but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t remember it. You might even feel painful and anxious, because you are just so eager to know what it is exactly. Why are we interested in this topic? Well, the TOT states may not influence a native speaker’s life too much, but that unsatisfying feeling is still bothersome; For bilinguals and second-language learners, on the other hand, TOTs not only bring embarrassment and hurt confidence, it also happens more often. So it would be useful to ask why we experience it at all, how it would affect us if we are going to learn a second language, and what it reveals about our fundamental cognitive system.  

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Rhymes and Reasons, why Poetry is Treason

November 26th, 2019 5 comments

Tale as old as time, why we believe rhymes. Does the truth reside or it is a lie? From childhood to adulthood,

Apples are good for you, but that doesn’t mean that you can avoid going to the doctor altogether! (https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-illustration-apple-day-keeps-doctor-away-funny-version-proverb-motivational-inspirational-poster-representing-sayings-simple-image49903569)

we are surrounded by rhymes of all kinds. First, they were nursery rhymes and now they take the forms of aphorisms and commercial slogans. Though we might not realize it, these rhymes have the ability to affect how we perceive the world. Given the choice between “woes unite foes” or “woes unite enemies,” participants generally found the former more accurate although the two phrases have similar meanings (McGlone & Tofighbakhsh, 2000). Why is that? The answer lies in a phenomenon called the Rhyme as Reason Effect, which means that we are more likely to believe something to be true if it rhymes. Think about it, how many times have you been told “i before e except after c” or “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and thought that they were sound advice? Though these phrases are not necessarily correct, they are often repeated and believed to be true.

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Why You Should Take the Time to Rhyme: The Rhyme As Reason Effect

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

We’ve all been here…

Think back to your time in elementary school: you are having a running competition with your friends, and you have just won first place. However, your best friend, who got second place, is unhappy with the outcome and blurts out: “First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest!” Immediately, any feelings of pride or accomplishment from winning the race vanish from your mind, and all you can think about is your friend’s outburst. You even start to believe that she is right… maybe getting second place really is better than getting first place.

 

Why do the presence of rhyming words in a sentence or phrase change our perception of the information received? Is it possible that we are more likely to believe information when it is presented through a rhyming aphorism, or concise statement, rather than when there is no rhyming at all? The Rhyme As Reason Effect seeks to answer this innate yet captivating phenomenon by suggesting: yes, using rhymes in sentences and phrases actually increases their perceived accuracy and trustworthiness when compared to sentences with the same semantic meaning, but without rhyming words.

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It’s on the Ttt….Tip de mi Lengua: Differences in the Tip of the Tongue States for Bilingual and Monolinguals

April 26th, 2018 No comments

Picture this: you run into someone you met last week. You remember you had a great conversation with them and got along well. But, there’s one problem. You can’t, for the life of you, remember their name.  You know it started with an “A” and was a relatively short name, but you can’t quite say the name out loud as you greet them. It’s RIGHT there though, on the tip of your tongue. Luckily, another mutual friend comes up to both of you and says, “Oh, how do you know Abigail?” Ah, yes, Abigail Rhodes. You remember now.

We all know that feeling that accompanies not being able to articulate something we are confident we know or should know. And, there’s a name for that feeling: it’s called the tip of the tongue phenomenon (TOT).  The TOT occurrence is a cognitive bias that is named after the colloquial phrase “it’s on the tip of my tongue” and helps to provide insights into why, even if we know something, we are sometimes unable to verbalize our answer.

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I can’t remember her name… is this a sign of dementia?! The tip of the tongue effect and aging

April 24th, 2018 No comments

It’s a parasite. Small. Drills its way into unknowing individuals’ feet and proceeds to circulate their bloodstream. Common in areas with poor sanitation. I know this parasite from my global public health presentation from just last year. It starts with an ‘S’, maybe even a shhh sound? How could I not remember this? “Schistosomiasis”, my professor stated after what seemed like several frustrating minutes of attempting to recall the name for this parasite.

Why couldn’t I remember a word with which I am very familiar? One with which I spent hours researching on various databases, the CDC, even Wikipedia? It’s called the tip of the tongue (TOT) phenomenon, and if you’re anything like me, you likely experience this ever so maddening effect more frequently than you’d like. I’ve long since wondered about this phenomenon as whenever it happens to my Mum, she claims that she’s “losing [her] marbles” or is developing dementia. Does this mean that I’m developing dementia, too? Cognitively speaking, what is going on when you experience a TOT? But seriously, what is a TOT, anyways? Read more…

False memories in native and non-native English speakers

December 14th, 2017 1 comment

Memory – a simple word consisting of six letters. Memory – a term we frequently use to encompass a broad range of concepts. Memory – the thing that’s left after an event has long passed. But what happens when memory fails us? What happens when we fail to remember the past as accurately as we thought we would?

False memory

In cognitive research, false memories describe memories of events that did not take place or they happened quite differently from how they are remembered. The most common technique to induce false memories in a laboratory setting is a word learning paradigm called Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM), in which people study a list of words (such as bounce, throw, basket, bowling, and golf) that are all related to a common item (in this case, ball). When given a memory test people will often indicate that the non-presented common item (ball) was on the list with high confidence (Deese, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995).

This is what researchers described as false memory: remembering something that did not happen.

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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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Presidential election vs bilingualism: how does the framing effect impact our decision-making

April 17th, 2017 2 comments

Are you a logical thinker?

If you are a human being with a healthy dose of confidence, your answer is most likely “Sure, I use logic most of the time.” Or, if you identify with the virtue of modesty, you would probably say, “No guarantees, but I make my best effort.” If either of the above describes you, at one point or another the election of the 45th U.S. president was probably among the biggest mysteries for you. Hillary Clinton sure has had her fair share of scandals and hypocrisy, but so do many seasoned politicians; Donald Trump, on the other hand, had no political experience, more than a handful racist, sexist, and xenophobic statements, and multiple alleged sexual assaults. Furthermore, because of his background, Donald Trump is also under a lot of suspicion of abusing power for personal gains. How on earth did Donald Trump turn out so much more appealing in a presidential election?

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Why can’t I remember the name of the actor in my favorite movie?…I know I know it…it’s on the: Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon

April 17th, 2017 5 comments

mercercognitivepsychology.pbworks.com A accurate depiction of of TOT happening in our daily lives (minus buying tongues)

Remember that time when you were trying to recall the celebrity who plays the main character in your favorite movie? You knew that their name began with the letter L, that they were in another movie about dreams, and that they finally won an Oscar. You may even say, “it’s on the tip of my tongue”. But for some reason you just can’t recall their name (by the way it’s Leonardo Dicaprio). It is something we’ve all experienced, and it is called the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon (TOT).
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