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Posts Tagged ‘Attentional Bias’

When ‘Just Cheering Up’ Isn’t Possible- the cognitions behind depression may be the key to ending misconceptions

December 7th, 2020 No comments

Your friend reveals to you that she suffers from depression. When she hangs out with you and your other friends, she always sees things negatively and seems to bring the whole group down. Why can’t she just think positive? Does she even have a real condition? Everyone gets sad sometimes. You don’t understand why she can’t just cheer up, especially because you always eventually cheer up when you’re sad. You’re confused because there is nothing she needs to be sad about anyways; she has a good life! Besides, it’s all in her head. She just needs to change her mindset. 

Depressed people are all too used to the unhelpful advice to ‘just cheer up.’ The cognitive processes behind depression mean that those suffering from it are simply unable to ‘just cheer up.’ They would cheer up if they were able to.

A multitude of misconceptions surround depression. The stigma surrounding depression often leaves individuals who suffer from it to be perceived as lazy, negative, sad, and dramatic. Depression can be very difficult to understand for those who have not suffered from it. This leads to the perpetuation of misconceptions and a lack of the effective support that depressed individuals need grately. If you’ve ever had thoughts similar to the ones above about someone in your life, while you may have good intentions and want them to get better, you are lacking a basic understanding of depression itself and the cognitive processes behind it. Here’s the thing: Platitudes such as, ‘just think positive!’ ‘snap out of it!’ and ‘you need to cheer up!,’ which are all too commonly used as advice for depressed people, completely miss the mark. Because of the various cognitive processes underlying depression, it is impossible for depressed individuals to fix the issue in the ways that are suggested. It’s not that simple. Believe me, if it was that simple, they would surely be free of their depression by now.

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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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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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So You Had A Bad Day… Or Did You?

November 20th, 2020 No comments

I wish I hadn’t overslept. Now I’m late to class and I didn’t get to eat breakfast. That reading I meant to finish early this morning? It’s sitting in my backpack, untouched. My socks don’t match, I forgot my hat, and my dorm room is a mess from scrambling around this morning hurrying to get myself together. Today’s going to be the worst day. Or is it?

Some people have a natural tendency to notice the bad over the good. For example, in the situation above, these “bad” things may have happened, but why place so much weight on them? Why let them consume our thoughts, even dictate how the rest of our day will go? It is likely that a few good things happened throughout our day, too, but we sometimes tend not to notice the good as strongly as we notice the bad. Oftentimes, this negativity bias comes into play during our judgement and decision-making processes, causing the experiences we have to feel more negative than they may really be (i.e., I woke up late so now my whole day is ruined) (Ito et al., 1998).

(The bad seems to outweigh the good). https://twunroll.com/article/1267492380703428614

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Bad News Sells: How our ‘Negativity Bias’ chooses Bad over Good

December 27th, 2019 No comments

Think about the last time you had a great day. Just kidding. Think about the last time you had a bad day. Then try and think a little further: was it really all bad, from the moment you got out of bed? Probably not; one bad thing happened, and then the good lunch you had with your friends and the job interview you aced just didn’t seem so important anymore. Or maybe you were at work, and your boss is gave you some well-deserved praise. Then she told you there was one line on your paperwork that needed to be tweaked, and before you knew it, you were beating yourself up for that one mistake for the rest of the week. Or maybe you went home after work and turned on the news. The coverage never surprises you: war, crime, disaster. Maybe you wonder why this is. Your answer? Negative news attracts more consumers (Nguyen & Claus, 2013).

Our brains tend to focus on and prioritize negative information, even when there is just as much (or more) positive information.

If you’ve had a bad day (that with a different perspective, could’ve been a great day), taken criticism a little too personally, or found yourself transfixed by a car accident on the highway, chances are you’ve experienced a cognitive bias called the Negativity Bias. The Negativity Bias refers to how we pay more attention to, and care more about, negative negative information than we do positive information. Read more…

Face it, You are Not THAT Important: The Spotlight Effect

November 26th, 2019 5 comments

Have you ever eaten alone in your college dining hall?

Now picture this: You walk into the dining hall alone, and you realize that most of the seats are already occupied by those sports teams, girls’ squads, and study groups… Everyone seems to be around with a bunch of people, except for you. You walk into this situation as if you break the “harmony”, and you feel like that everyone is staring at you or even secretly laughing at you — “Oh, she/he eats alone? Pathetic!” “Poor thing.” … But in reality, probably no one is actually watching you. They may not even notice that someone just came in. The feeling of “all eyes on you” occurs in other scenarios as well: when you answered a question wrong in your class, when you had a bad hair, or when you got a zit on your nose tip, etc. If you find these situations familiar, please don’t worry — you’ve just run into the Spotlight Effect! Read more…