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Posts Tagged ‘Metacognition’

Are You Smarter Than A Doctor? The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Vaccine Misinformation

December 7th, 2020 No comments

Picture this: it’s a beautiful fall day in elementary school, and one day after you get home from school, your parents tell you to get in the car because you have a doctor’s appointment. You’re not very excited, but you have no choice but to go along with them. When you arrive, you receive some dreadful news from the doctor: it’s time for you to get your seasonal flu shot! You’re terrified, but your parents tell you to close your eyes and that it will be over quickly, and that getting a shot isn’t nearly as bad as getting the flu later on. You hold your breath, and before you know it, you’re out the door with a Pokémon band-aid on your arm and a lollipop in your mouth.

For most Americans, receiving vaccinations against diseases such as the seasonal flu or measles is a common and expected practice. In fact, vaccines are often considered to be one of the greatest medical achievements of the 20thcentury. Although vaccines have been heralded as a medical breakthrough, anti-vaccination sentiments are by no means a new phenomenon. In the past decade or so, this anti-vaccination movement has grown tremendously on the internet. The public’s attitude towards vaccines is shaped by multiple factors, such as scientific, political, and psychological factors, as well as people’s levels of knowledge and exposure to misinformation. Despite overwhelming clinical evidence that vaccinations are safe and effective, there is still a community that stands strong in their beliefs in misconceptions about vaccines. People who hold these beliefs are generally known as “anti-vaxxers“.

Anti-vaxxer’s lack of metacognitive awareness leads often leads them to disregard science in favor of their own opinions.

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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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“Stocks only go up, $TSLA to the moon” — Elon Musk (probably)

December 3rd, 2020 No comments
A graph of $TSLA (Tesla Inc.) stock price going up.

A graph of $TSLA (Tesla Inc.) stock price going up.

I hope that you haven’t put all your life savings on $TSLA after seeing that juicy green graph. Hopefully, you won’t open the Robinhood app on your phone before reading this article. Even if you are one of the teenagers contributing to Robinhood’s 4.3 million daily average trades, I suggest you read this post before you go make another trade from your (or worse, your mom’s) life savings.

Here is a simple game for you. From what you can observe in the graph above, where do you think Tesla stock will go next. Would you buy some stocks? What about if you already had some Tesla stock. Would you hold, buy more, or sell? There is a lot of information missing from the graph, however, this type of graph remains the most important visual information that everyone sees first when. If you are a reader of this blog, you can probably guess that our primate brain isn’t as rational as we would like it to be!

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Moving From Autopilot Towards Mindfulness

November 24th, 2020 No comments

https://memebase.cheezburger.com/tag/zoning-out

Have you ever been carrying on a conversation with a friend when you realize you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about–let alone how you’re still talking? Or, maybe you’ve been driving when you blink and an entire hour goes by leaving you wondering where your mind went… and how your car is still intact? I could just be a bad friend, or a slacker driver, but I suspect I’m not alone. It’s likely that you’re zoned out a lot more often than you realize, and this isn’t without negative repercussions. In 2010, Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert used a phone app to randomly record what 2,250 participants’ minds were focused on in a specific moment in relation to what they were doing and how they were feeling. They discovered that the average person spends about 47% of their day on “autopilot,” following automated behaviors while their thoughts wander from the task at hand. Equally intriguing, when the participants reported their mind wandering, they also reported being significantly less happy in that moment. It may be unsettling to realize that you aren’t consciously aware of your behavior for half of your day, and that generally the more time we spend directed by automated behaviors, the less happy we’re likely to feel (Killingsworth and Gilbert, 2010).
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Your Horoscope for Today: You may download or delete a horoscope app on your phone

November 21st, 2020 No comments

Real footage of exhausted, Gen Z college kids acting flabbergast at zodiacs predicting their lives

Link to meme:https://images.app.goo.gl/Y4Kmu1R9xujSdmeP9

Maybe you have read somewhere that those who take astrology seriously are suckers(the meme world has verified this information as you can see in the image next to the this post) and are prone to a variety of biases. Maybe you yourself have made fun of that one friend in the group who seems to take the “star sign thing” way too seriously and who is ready to choose a life partner by their chart compatibility. And maybe despite that, like me and countless other people, when you come across a “reading” or a horoscope prediction, you read every word intently to see if it matches you. And maybe you have done this a few times: sucked your teeth when you read the horoscope for a day that has just ended but see that not a single thing on it lines up with the day you have just had. And maybe after that, you swore never to read the damn things again. But if I checked right now, it has probably just been a few days since you opened the notifications from an astrology app like Costar or ran a google search for character traits of others like you who were born within the month-long interval that determines your shared “sun sign. Life right now is so unpredictable so we hold on to sources of predictions because SOME idea of what is going to happen would be nice. But astrology’s hold is not due to that reason alone. Humans are susceptible to many biases in our thinking and in this blog post, I’ll break down our shared mental weak links that have even science majors picking out partners and friends according to their sun sign compatibility.

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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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I’m Not Biased… You Are!

November 26th, 2019 3 comments

Us vs. Them

Think about the last time you immediately doubted someone’s actions or statements. Maybe you thought they were only doing it for their own self-interest. Perhaps they stated a political opinion that opposes your own beliefs, or they agreed to complete a survey but only to be compensated with money, at least that’s why you think they did it. Let’s say you and a fellow classmate were talking about whether the new $200 million Colby College athletic complex is reasonable. You say no! The college could spend that money on so many other more beneficial things. However, your classmate says they are all for the new athletic center. You know they’re part of an athletic team so you think to yourself, “Yeah you’re in favor of it because you’re on a team and it would benefit you.” But did you actually take time to think about that person’s reasoning or did you just assume that they were biased and believe that you were the one being objective in the situation? We all may not be aware of it, but we usually expect others to have more personal bias and believe that we are able to judge situations objectively even though that may not be the case, and this is called naïve cynicism. Although this bias may seem really similar to naïve realism, they have some differences. The cognitive bias of naïve realism is the belief that a person can view the world objectively, and so can all the other people who agree with them and are “reasonable”, in their opinion. Naïve realism states that people believe everyone else who disagrees with them can’t help being subjective because they are all biased. Both of these biases are also clearly related to the bias blind spot, which is a phenomenon in which we are able to recognize how other people’s judgments are affected by their biases but fail to see those effects in ourselves. Even though we may be educated on these cognitive biases, we remain susceptible to them and are unable to recognize our personal biases.

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If You’re Reading This You’re Still Biased

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

But you might not be by the time you finish reading this blog post. As you probably know just from the existence of this blog, there has been a lot of talk lately about how biases affect us, and how we can educate ourselves to mitigate the effects of them. Across the internet, you can find countless articles about how to avoid biases in the workplaceclassrooms, job interviews, politics, and the mountains of information on biases continues to rise as more research is published and more psychology students write blog posts about them. Without a doubt, efforts to educate ourselves on biases is more than warranted given the effects they can have on us. The other race effect, for example, makes people less likely to remember faces belonging to people of a different race, and can have serious consequences when using eyewitness testimony to identify suspects of a crime. Further, the illusory truth effect causes us to view information that has been widely circulated and repeated as more truthful, and likely had a major influence when the rate of MMR vaccines to plummet when news outlets spewed out false information about a link between vaccines and autism. And if you want to know about other biases and how they affect behavior, just keep scrolling.

Before we can mitigate our biases, we need to acknowledge the bias blind spot and how it affects our cognitions.

Before you do that, though, I have some bad news.

As research has shown, becoming aware of biases doesn’t actually make you any less susceptible to them. This phenomenon is a result of the bias blind spot, which is our inclination towards identifying how biases affect others, while simultaneously maintaining an inability to recognize how our own judgement is affected by biases. In other words, educating ourselves about biases does not mean we can use this knowledge as a lens granting us unwavering vigilance for all the biases out there which may affect us. Read more…

Who Needs a Crystal Ball to See the Future When Hindsight Bias Makes You Feel as if You Knew it All Along

November 25th, 2019 1 comment

“I just can’t stand it anymore!” For the last two weeks, this has been Katie’s way of announcing to her mother that she is home from school. Why is Katie so upset? I’ll give you a hint- it’s March of her senior year and she is waiting on something…

You’re probably thinking, oh college decisions! That must be what she is waiting for.

Good guess, but this is something much more nerve-wracking.

She’s waiting for her crush to ask her to the senior prom.

“What happened today, sweetheart?,” her mom asked. “Ok, so it was during lunch and I was standing in front of Drew in the sandwich line. I totally saw him checking me out, so I thought, ‘might as well flash a smile his way’, so I smiled AND said hi to him. And you know what he did back? NOTHING. He pretended like I didn’t exist! Can you believe him?!”

“Well, maybe he didn’t see you Katie. I wouldn’t worry about it; I’ve seen the way he looks at you. Drew clearly likes you.” Katie groaned. “Sorry mom, but I think you’re wrong on this one. I’m just going to accept the fact that he NEVER is going to ask me out.”

“Just wait it out Katie; you always try to control the situation, but sometimes matters like this need time to work themselves out.” Katie rolled her eyes. “No, I think I’m just destined to live alone my whole life with only cats to keep me company. The sooner I accept reality the better.”

*One Week Later, Katie’s on the phone while walking into the house*

“Brittany, I know, what can I say, it was only a matter of time before he was going to ask me. Have you noticed the way he looks at me? I’ve known he was going to ask me the whole time.”

Katie may feel as if she knew it all along but she’s not fooling us…

“Katie, is that you? Did I just hear you say Drew finally asked you to the prom? This is so exciting! I told you not to worry.”

“Brittany, give me a second my mom is talking to me. What do you mean, worry? I’ve known he was going to ask me all along.”

*Katie leaves the room*

“Knew it all along huh?” Katie’s mom picked up an advertisement addressed to Katie from the counter. “I guess she won’t be needing this cat poster of the month subscription anymore”.

Like Katie’s mom, you may be confused as to why Katie suddenly feels as if she knew Drew was going to ask her all along when it’s evident she didn’t.

One possible explanation is hindsight bias.

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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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