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Posts Tagged ‘Attention’

Shopping Through the Eyes of the Attentional Bias

The mail man delivers the mail for the day, and sitting on your kitchen table is the new Amazon catalog filled with everything you could imagine, including all of the latest electronic products. The front cover is the latest Iphone you have been wanting, and now that you see it in the catalog, you have never wanted it more. You scroll through the pages quickly, and scan for good deals. You see so many great devices you would love to have. So how could you possibly see all of the products offered when briefly flipping through the pages? It’s simple, you didn’t. Although you closed the catalog, there is no doubt that there are many products inside it that you did not even notice. This is because our attention capacity is limited. We can not be aware of all of our surrounding stimuli. 

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Laser Focus: How Meditation Can Improve Attention

April 27th, 2022 No comments
The Rangers Offseason is Turning into the Galaxy Brain Meme - Blue Seat  Blogs
Could meditation do this to our brains? Source: knowyourmeme.com

Doesn’t meditation just seem great? If you’re anything like me, you have tried it a couple of times but never got the habit to stick. Maybe you’re already meditating regularly, and if so, you have my respect. For us failing meditators of the world, we’ve all seen the glorious images of peaceful meditators with pristine lifestyles. It’s nice to romanticize ourselves sitting and being one with the moment. And sure, we know that it might be great for our mental well-being, but who has the time? You may ask yourself: why would I sit there and focus hard when I could not do that? And fair enough, you don’t really have to, and I’m not going to try and convince you. But I want to lay out the science for myself because I’m curious about how powerful meditation can be. I wonder how realistic the romantic images of monks and yogis are. Maybe, just maybe, if nothing else can get me to meditate, the wonders of science can! I’m looking for the cold, hard facts on what meditation can do. Specifically, since I’ve become aware of the importance of attention: I want to know if I can get outrageously good focus from meditating—laser focus.

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Consumerism and the Spotlight Effect: how our minds convince us to spend

April 27th, 2022 No comments
https://theswaddle.com/the-spotlight-effect-is-when-you-think-people-are-noticing-your-flaws-more-than-they-really-are/

What is the spotlight effect?

The spotlight effect envelopes our everyday lives, something that we all experience and unique for every person. It is the fact that we believe we are being perceived and seen by others around us on an exaggerated scale, and that those people take a more conscious and meaningful critique.

The spotlight effect makes a great deal of sense, for our entire lives we are the center of our own universe, and we know nothing else. We experience everything through our own perspective, which makes it difficult to remove ourselves from this and accurately think about how others might perceive the world, or more specifically, yourself. Changing from person to person, this we each may have different aspects of ourself that we believe are on display. They may revolve around self-conscious aspects of our person, or around things we take pride in.

We simply fail to comprehend that other people are too preoccupied with their own thoughts and actions, and in a consumer society, this can be taken advantage of and lead to big consequences.

What cognitive psychology components are at play?

It is clear why we might assume others take such notice to our actions, but why don’t they? The main reason is that in the human brain, we sift through the vast amount of incoming sensory data with the cognitive function of attention. We have the ability to direct our attention, focusing our actions and thoughts, allowing us to not be overcome with the infinitely large amounts of raw data we could perceive.

Because of this, attention must be thought of as a limiting factor, as we cannot attend to every stimuli that we receive, we rather use attention to block out much of the other stimuli that would cause interference. In the case of the spotlight effect, often when we believe that others would be perceiving us, they are rather using attention to attend to actions that are currently meaningful or important to them, making our existence and actions irrelevant and therefor unattended too.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-effects-consumerism-society-riwa-karanouh

How does the spotlight effect influence consumerism?

It is well known that the USA us a consumerist society. Everyone scrambles for the newest clothes and phones, and while doing so quickly lose interest in past fixations for the next down the line. But where does the spotlight effect come into all this?

Companies know well the effects of the spotlight effect, and often use them to their advantage to sell their products. They use celebrities to market their products, preying on our wants to be similar and seen with such stature.

It is helpful to break down why we consume; do the products really get any better month to month? Probably not, in most cases one could argue that it would be very possible for some of these changes to be simply added to the old products. Phones are a great example of this, often much that is promised by getting a new phone, such as the newest software and capabilities, could simply be added to your existing phone in a software update.

So if not that, then is it for our own personal gain? Would we feel the same enjoyment if nobody else could see our new items? Arguably not. Often times the only enjoyment that is felt comes from the validation from others, a friend telling you how cool something is for example. This validation is what we crave and pursue, and where the spotlight effect comes into play. Because we believe that others are seeing us and caring about how we look and what we have, this pushes us to want to have the best, look the best, and present a false persona about ourselves. We buy expensive clothing because we believe that others will see us and care. Then, once more and more people have what we have, we begin to feel less in the spotlight, and pursue the next thing. We buy the expensive phones because we believe others will care if your number is green in their phone and not blue. These phones don’t work any better, but we believe that others live to view and judge ourselves.

After a deeper look, the spotlight effect is deeply…deeply integrated in our consumerist society. 

How can we combat the influence of the spotlight effect?

So, we after reading this far, we can see that we all have suffered from the spotlight effect is some way, shape, or form. But what now? How can we learn from this? Much of the spotlight effect lives unconsciously in our brains, it is a learned process which we do not consciously uphold, an automatic process. So, to combat this, we must consciously reflect in moments of vulnerability. Ask yourself questions that remove yourself from the subject of the situation. Something like, if I saw someone with this, would I really care, or even notice? Questions like these can help to combat the spotlight effect in consumerist settings, which can be both helpful and calming.

Literature Citations

Czarnecka, Barbara; Schivinski, Bruno (17 June 2019). “Do Consumers Acculturated to Global Consumer Culture Buy More Impulsively? The Moderating Role of Attitudes towards and Beliefs about Advertising” (PDF). Journal of Global Marketing32 (4): 219–238.

Gilovich, T.; Medvec, V. H.; Savitsky, K. (2000). “The spotlight effect in social judgment: An egocentric bias in estimates of the salience of one’s own actions and appearance” (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Gilovich, Thomas; Kruger, Justin; Medvec, Victoria Husted (2002). “The Spotlight Effect Revisited: Overestimating the Manifest Variability of Our Actions and Appearance” (PDF). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Matthew James Hall (2020) ,”Are You Paying Attention? Consumption-Related Antecedents and Consequences of the Spotlight Effect”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 48, eds. Jennifer Argo, Tina M. Lowrey, and Hope Jensen Schau, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 383-384.

Chewing Gum May Help You Remember That Last Bit of Information Before an Exam

April 25th, 2022 No comments

What is your favorite flavor of gum? Mint? Bubblegum? Tropical Twist? None? Turns out, chewing gum may have more effects than simply making your breath smell good, or giving you something to do when bored. In fact, some studies show chewing gum can actually increase feelings of relaxation, increase attention, lower stress levels, and improve memory. Now, this is not to say that simply chewing gum while studying will get you an automatic 100% on an exam. But it may help enough to bump your grade up and boost your confidence!

Chewing gum is something a lot of researchers have recently realized might help students out, especially those who are in a cram session! Studies have been conducted to see whether chewing gum actually has an effect on recalling information and keeping us awake. In 2018, authors Ginns, Kim, and Zervos looked into seeing if chewing gum affected alertness and test performance. Participants were split up into two groups: one that chewed gum while studying and another group that studied without gum. It was found that chewing gum did in fact impact learning for the better – people who chewed gum and studied performed better on an exam given after the fact and felt much more alert and awake during the exam than the non-chewing gum group.

While portrayed in this image as someone not paying attention in class, chewing gum can actually increase alertness and attention!
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Let’s Talk About Your Feelings: They Change How You See the World

April 24th, 2022 No comments

Have you ever been so stressed about an upcoming assignment that it’s all you can think about? Consumed with procrastination, you find yourself thinking about it while eating dinner with your friends—what were you talking about again? You were too busy thinking about your calculus midterm. If that doesn’t ring a bell, maybe this will: imagine relaxing in your home, making dinner, and watching television, when you see a cockroach scamper across your kitchen floor (eek!). If you’re like me, you would jump on the table and become all-consumed with how to get rid of the intruder. In your preoccupation, you severely burn the chicken you were cooking for dinner.

Our emotions are mentally taxing! (source)

While I can’t save your spoiled meal or ensure a good grade on your exam, I can explain the origins of the narrow-mindedness we experience when we are stressed or scared. Let’s talk about an idiom for a second. When you are stressed out, a cognitive psychologist might say that you “can’t see the forest for the trees.” In other words, you’ve become too focused on the details to see the bigger picture. You have a paper due tomorrow, but you spent all day deciding what font to use.

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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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Did you really know it all along??

November 26th, 2019 No comments

Your sibling’s face…

“I KNEW IT!!!!!” your sibling gleefully exclaims after the clock hits 0:00 and your favorite team has just lost to your least favorite team. You start thinking, how could they possibly know that team was going to win? The teams had similar records with equally talented players and you are left glumly wishing you hadn’t bet $10 on the game. This kind of scenario happens all the time and is pretty hard to avoid.  For instance, you may be amazed that your friend who walks carelessly across the ice is surprised when she falls. Of course she was going to fall! The key pattern in these instances is that the feelings of frustration or foreknowledge occur after the event. Often times, we believe that we knew something would happen because we assess the situation after it occurs and reflect upon it with information we did not previously have. This common phenomenon is known as the hindsight bias. 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…

Get Ready…You’re Next.

November 24th, 2019 2 comments

“When will I get to speak” – Instead of attending to Mr. Know-It-All, they wait in anticipation for their turn to speak next.

Imagine that you are in class and your teacher has split the class into multiple groups, assigning each group different chapters of your reading to summarize for the class. In your group, you collectively brainstorm with your other group members about chapter four and write down the main topics and themes that pop up throughout your discussion. When your teacher signals that it’s time for each group to share what they talked about, all your group members assign you to be the spokesperson since you have jotted down some general notes. “Yeah, sure. It’s no big deal,” you think to yourself. “It’s not a formal presentation or anything, I just have to summarize what we talked about.” The group’s spokesperson for chapter one goes first, followed by the group’s spokesperson for chapter two and then chapter three. As it nears your turn, you start to think about how to present a clear and concise summary to the class as your classmates have just done. All of a sudden, you’re up next, so you stand up and tell the class about the main topics your group discussed. When you sit back down, the group for chapter five begins to share, but you look back over your notes making sure you did not forget to include anything important. At the end of class, your teacher gives a mini quiz about the chapters the class just summarized, and you realize that you can’t really remember anything from the presentations on chapter three or five. What happened? You were subject to the next-in-line effect.

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There is a monster under your bed, and I have evidence to confirm it.

April 24th, 2018 2 comments

Not all princesses need saving, it has been confirmed. (Image 1)

You are a hero, off on an adventure. Riding on horseback, glorious as you are, you see a dragon in the distance. It is wrapped around a twisting tower and a fair maiden gazes down from the window up above. This is your chance, you know she needs saving, so you ride closer to get a better look. Exactly as you thought, the maiden looks sad, almost wistful, and you know she is dreaming of escaping this terrible beast. With a flash of your sword and the pure strength of your muscles to climb the tower, you kill the beast and finally reach the princess. To your surprise, she does not look pleased. You explain that you have saved her from the terrible dragon which kept her imprisoned, as if this really requires explaining. Astonishingly, she admonishes you! She tells you with great anger that the dragon was her beloved pet and she did not need saving. You look back on the events which occurred and explain to her that she did, in fact, need saving, because she looked so sad and wistful in the tower, clearly longing for sweet escape. Yet, as she soon points out, she was not sad due to imprisonment, but because her “Do Not Feed The Dragon” sign had fell from the castle wall, which you could now clearly see was laying on the lawn in visible sight the entire time. Yet even after she points out this contradictory information, you stick to your guns and tell her she must be delusional from the time she has spent in the tower, and saving her was the only option. So, what caused you to vindicate your decision by addressing only the evidence which made you believe the princess needed rescuing while completely disregarding the clear information which demonstrated otherwise? It is the real monster that needs slaying, and its name is Confirmation Bias. Confirmation bias affects our decision making by facilitating our attentional resources towards evidence confirming what we already believe to be true. When one demonstrates prejudice towards a certain outcome or decision prior to gathering all of the information available on this topic, one is inclined to only address the information which confirms their predictions while ignoring conflicting evidence which may hold more gravity. Therefore, confirmation bias results in a disregard for contradictory evidence and reasoning (Jonas et al., 2001). Read more…