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Posts Tagged ‘Cognitive Psychology’

Appealing to Authority: From Decision Making to Disinformation

April 27th, 2022 No comments

Debates: you either love them or you hate them. For some, they can be interesting discussions that provoke thought in fields ranging from philosophy to politics to the sciences and everything in between. For others though, they are outlets for pretentious people to engage in pretentious fighting about pretentious topics. Among some of the more pretentious aspects of debate is the calling out of fallacies. 

To someone who has no idea what these debaters are talking about, it can be confusing to hear the words “strawman,” “red herring,” or “ad hominem” over and over. These terms all fall under the category of fallacies, which Merriam-Webster defines as arguments using false logic. By using false logic in arguments, debaters would be able to back up their claims using evidence that, while convincing, is actually deceptive. And by understanding these fallacies and calling them out, debaters would be able to avoid losing their argument – essentially filtering for disinformation. Understanding how fallacies like these work can point towards key cognitive processes that we rely on on a daily basis to decide what we deem as true.

One of these fallacies is what is called argumentum ad verecundiam. On top of being a mouthful, it describes an argument that is based on an appeal to a false authority. We appeal to authority very regularly for information, so one might ask what makes this a false argument. It is a fallacy because the expertise of the authority figure in question does not translate to expertise in the field of the argument. It is like citing an expert painter to make an argument about roadwork. Sure, maybe their fields have some potential overlap, but they are different and require different structures of knowledge.

This is a Palla’s cat. Unlike a domestic cat, it is not a source of authority regarding the intricacies of climbing cat trees nor will it be reliable on topics concerning the theory and practice of litterbox management (Photo by Radovan Zierik for Pexels)
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Why We Pay More to do More Work: the IKEA Effect in Marketing

April 26th, 2022 No comments

How important is it to you to feel like your opinion matters when you buy something? Recently, companies have become popular for their “one-of-a-kind” products that the customer designs themself. People want to buy products that they can take responsibility for, and the IKEA Effect shows that they will pay more for them. The IKEA Effect is a cognitive bias that makes people overestimate the value of items that they themselves have built or added to. Take Build-A-Bear Workshop for example, they market a mildly creepy frog for $22 (already absurd), but the second you cut it open, put a heart in it, and give it clothing that you get to choose yourself, that same frog costs you $45. Yet, people keep paying for it, and you can find a Build-A-Bear-Workshop in every state other than Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota (according to a blurry map on the Build-A-Bear Website). This same effect has been noted in products bought from IKEA, a popular Swedish store that specializes in furniture that the buyer must, in part, build themself. This study showed that people who bought and assembled IKEA products were willing to pay more for their own furniture than other similar products. Although not seemingly very important, the IKEA Effect can make you question why you’re willing to pay so much for certain products.

Rupert the Build-A-Bear frog pictured in cottagecore attire featured on a Pinterest board dedicated to “cottagecore Build-A-Bear aesthetic”.
Eve. “Rupert the Frog.” Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/613756255468480964/.
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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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