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Archive for the ‘Pattern Recognition’ Category

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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Never Doubt The Power of Patterns

November 30th, 2020 No comments

Imagine starting every day being dropped in a maze you have never seen before and having to find the exit. Nothing is familiar. Nothing is recognizable. Success is determined through trial and error, and every day starts from ground zero. Frustrating? Yes. Inefficient? Absolutely! This is a world without two cognitive processes called pattern recognition and unconscious inference. These cognitive processes influence real-life behaviors, activities, and outcomes. It is because of these processes we take many things we do effortlessly every day for granted.But what is pattern recognition and how does it play an important role in our everyday lives? Pattern recognition is a cognitive process that refers to our ability to recognize the large amounts of objects in our environment and then label and identify these objects. Pattern recognition is our ability to identify myriad different patterns, transform these patterns into individual, unique, and respective mental representations stored in memory, and then be able to retrieve this information and apply it to new incoming environmental stimuli to recognize new objects (Michaels & Carello, 1981).

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A Stereotypical Blog Post

November 27th, 2020 No comments

During my sophomore year of high school, my once favorite teacher, Mrs. Kahler, looked at me and exclaimed, “You’re lucky! God taught you Jews how to handle money well! It’s in your blood.” At the time, I actually didn’t mind. I had heard my fair share of jokes about Jews and, perhaps naturally, something about me—be it my nose, financial status, or diet—always seemed to be the punchline. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but inform her that those “Jews are great with money” jokes aren’t funny—nor are they particularly accurate. Unfortunately, this kind of experience is common. In fact, even Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has to deal with harmful, pejorative stereotypes. Most recently, Harris experienced these stereotypes from President Donald Trump himself, as he appeared to weaponize the classic trope of the ‘angry Black woman,’ labeling her “nasty,” “mad,” and “angry” after an impressive cross-examination of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. More recently, Harris faced public criticismoften from conservative men, and supporters of President Trump—following her debate against Vice President Mike Pence, after she faced repeated interruptions and simply attempted to keep the discussion fair by saying, “I’m speaking.”

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Toast and a side of Pareidolia all for the bargain price of $28,000!

November 19th, 2020 No comments

Imagine yourself on a chilly day cooking up a nice golden-brown grilled cheese sandwich. You go to take your first bite, when all of a sudden you see the Virgin Mary staring back at you imprinted in the char of the toast. This is how Diane Duyser started one of her days back in 1994, thinking that she had been blessed by the Virgin Mary because of this imagery on her toast. This grilled cheese sandwich ended up being sold for $28,000 because Duyser was able to market it as having mystical powers. However, mechanisms of cognitive psychology would reveal that the true power at work in this story is pareidolia.

Diane Duyser and her famous piece of toast. (https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/ article223937640.html)

Pareidolia is the tendency to perceive an often meaningful entity in a random or ambiguous stimulus like a cloud, cabinet, or mountain. I will be focusing on face pareidolia, which is the most common form of pareidolia (Taubert, Wardle, Flessert, Leopold, & Ungerleider, 2017). Face Pareidolia can be specifically defined as seeing face-like features in everyday objects. Some additional examples of face pareidolia can be seen below with the flower meme and trashcan meme examples. (Here are 30 more examples!) Now that you’ve had a few laughs about these often hilarious faces, it is time to answer the question: how and why do we experience pareidolia? Read more…

It was him! He committed the crime! So I thought….

November 27th, 2019 5 comments

Imagine that you have witnessed a crime where a burglar broke into your neighbor’s home and committed assault on the people present in the home. As the burglar left your neighbor’s house, you catch a quick glimpse of the burglar’s face. You are brought in the following week to choose from a list of suspects who potentially committed the crime. You notice that the suspects are all the same race as the burglar from last week, and to you, these suspects all look the same. As you are examining all the suspects in the room, you believe that suspect #3 committed the crime; Suspect #3 is then taken into custody.

No one is safe from the cross race effect.

You leave the police station thinking that the person you identified was the criminal. Justice has been served to the burglar, and he will pay for his crimes. Without your help, the law enforcement would have never caught the criminal. Well, Surprise! The actual criminal was actually absent from the police station and was never taken in as a suspect. The person responsible for the crime is still out there somewhere roaming the streets as an innocent person How could this be? (If you want to try to see if you can beat the effect, watch this video.)
This phenomenon is known as the cross-race effect, which has been notoriousfor convicting innocent people through both false memories of the description of the person and the failure to recognize other races’ faces. Read more…

Read this a FEW times… I Promise You’ll like it: The Mere Exposure Effect At Work

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

Sometimes when you hear a song for the first time you do not like it. The mere exposure effect may cause you to like it after hearing it so many times!

     When Party in the USA comes at a party, there is nothing stopping me. I know every word, every beat, and every guitar strum of that song. The energy in the room is wild, and I can confidently say that everyone is enjoying themselves, maybe not as much as I am, but nonetheless, enjoying 

themselves. I mean, what else can you expect from a 2009 banger that has been played on repeat since its debut on Disney Channel? But what happens when the kid on AUX switches to one of his soundcloud mystery raps that no one knows? I find myself enjoying the time much less, and everyone seemingly starts to mingle instead of dance. Why would Party in the USA have better success at a party over a new soundcloud rap? Cognitive psychology and the mere exposure effect can explain this.

     The mere exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to prefer things that they are exposed to more often, compared to things that they have normal exposure to (Van Dessel, Mertens, Smith, & Houwer, 2019). People are more likely to be in favor of certain things that they have repeated exposure to and are more familiar with, even if they are unaware of it. This can explain why Party in the USA is such a hit at parties compared to the soundcloud rap.The mere exposure effect is used by artists, having their songs played on the radio repeatedly for people to develop positive feelings towards it, by brands in their constant advertising to make you want to buy a product more, and can even explain why you like the person that sits next to you in two classes every day over somebody else. Reflecting on this phenomenon, it is easy to see why this can be true. In general, we do not like to go to unfamiliar places, spend time with unfamiliar people, or put ourselves in unfamiliar situations. The comfort of familiarity drives us to do the same things over and over again, which eventually increases our liking if it. Investigating the mere exposure effect can tell us why familiarity is so important to how we judge something and make us realize how influential it can really be in our lives. So how does it really work?  Read more…

Elude the Illusion: Understand The Illusion of Validity So You Don’t Fall Victim To This Common Decision Making Bias

April 27th, 2018 2 comments

The illusion of validity will often cause people to make risky bets on a roulette wheel

Have you ever placed a bet that a certain number will appear on dice or a roulette wheel? Maybe a number has come up repeatedly so you assume that there is less of a chance that this number will appear in the next roll or spin, even though every number has an equal probability of coming up. Many people fall victim to this bias and end up losing money at casinos. This phenomenon can be explained by the illusion of validity. Defined as a person’s tendency to overestimate their accuracy in making predictions given a set of data, the illusion of validity is one common source of bias in decision making (Einhorn, 1978).

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Is there truth to the Hot-Hand Fallacy?

April 27th, 2018 2 comments

Have you ever been playing a game of basketball with friends and then you make a shot, and then you make the next one? Did your confidence suddenly go up, despite the fact that the chances of you making the shot again are exactly the same as they were before? You, my friend, have just fallen victim to the hot hand fallacy.  The hot hand fallacy is the belief that because a person has had a successful experience with one event they will be able to reproduce the same event with success again or vice versa where if they miss they are more likely to miss again. The hot hand fallacy has been accepted by the psychology community as a cognitive illusion. A mistake in processing and in pattern recognition, but what if the hot-hand fallacy is not a fallacy at all?

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Shoot to get hot, shoot to stay hot – or not?

April 26th, 2018 1 comment

Picture this: you’re watching your favorite professional basketball team on television
when suddenly their best player gets fouled again—that’s already the sixth time tonight, and he
hasn’t missed a free throw yet! You watch eagerly as he steps to the free throw line for the first
of two shots. He bounces the ball, once, twice, stares down the rim, and shoots—swish—a
perfect shot once again. The referee hands him the ball for his second and final shot while you
think to yourself, “There is no way he will miss this shot, he’s hot and having a great night. He
hasn’t missed a single free throw all night, and he just made the first shot, so this one has to go
in.” But your confidence is shattered when the ball leaves his hands and soars just a bit too far,
bricking off of the backboard

Nothing but air.

and into the hands of the other team. If this situation sounds
familiar to you, then you’ve fallen victim to what psychologists call the “Hot Hand Fallacy,” or
the erroneous belief that someone’s performance in a sporting event or similar life circumstance
is expected to occur in significant “streaks”—in other words, good outcomes are more likely to
occur in conjunction with other good outcomes, and, likewise, bad with bad.

Yes, that’s right, the erroneous belief, as there exists significant research that tells us that
the state of a player “being hot” is nothing more than a figment of our imagination. If you have
trouble believing this, then you’re not alone. Gilovich et al.’s extensive 1985 study found that
91% of college-aged basketball fans believed that one is more likely to make a shot after just
having made a basket as opposed to missing a basket. Furthermore, the participants, on average,
estimated a player was nearly 20% more likely to make a shot after having made one compared
to after having missed one (Gilovich, Tversky, & Vallone, 1985).

So, if this belief is so ingrained in people’s minds, how can it be wrong? Read more…

Do You See What I See? I See Jesus in Toast!

April 25th, 2018 2 comments

Have you ever gone to hang up your coat and thought, “An angry octopus is staring right at me!” Did you wonder afterwards if this is common and if everyone was seeing what you were seeing? This is known as a phenomenon called pareidolia, where external stimuli (such as coat hangers) trigger perceptions of non-existent entities (such as faces) presenting an erroneous match between internal representations and sensory inputs (Liu et al., 2014). Face pareidolia is the most common form, which is where humans tend to see faces in non-face objects (Ichikawa et al., 2011). Some examples include seeing a face in the clouds, Jesus in toast, or the Virgin Mary in a tortilla (to see more cool examples of pareidolia, click here!) How and why does this happen?

Washing Machine Pareidolia Example

Angry Octopus Pareidolia Example

To examine these questions, we must delve into the process of pattern recognition and face recognition in cognitive psychology. Pattern recognition is the process of constructing a mental representation and assigning meaning to it. Pattern recognition relies tremendously on top-down processing, which is the idea that we use prior knowledge, context, and expectations to aid our perceptions.

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