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Posts Tagged ‘Priming’

“Ohhh, ‘Cue!'”: Cue-Dependent Forgetting and Study Techniques

November 26th, 2019 1 comment

Picture yourself in a classroom taking a history quiz. You don’t consider yourself a history buff of course, but you feel as if you studied well enough. You breeze through the questions, until you come across one that stumps you a bit: “Which U.S. President served the shortest term?”. You have to know this, of course, because you remember looking over it yesterday. The weight of familiarity is killing you, as you rack your brain and sort through the order of United States Presidents you thought you had memorized. When you studied, you paired the President’s last names along with common words that sounded similar–Lincoln and Linkedin, Kennedy and candy– you thought you pretty much had it down. Your heart thumps as you begin to look around the room, hoping something will strike your memory and soon your attention is drawn to how weird your teacher’s hair looks today. Hair, hair, Harrison! Suddenly you have it, William Henry Harrison was the President that served the shortest term.

Try putting down those cue cards and seeing how much you remember. https://i1.wp.com/boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/wally_feresten.jpg?fit=952%2C713&ssl=1

This scenario describes a cognitive psychology term called “cue-dependent forgetting” where a person is unable to remember information in the absence of a memory cue (Chandler and Gargano, 1995). A retrieval cue in this case is something that signals or prompts the memory of something that you associated with it (Chandler and Gargano, 1995). In the previously described scenario, the retrieval cues were the common words that sounded similar to the President’s names. This is why, when the retrieval cue for Harrison (“hair”), was forgotten, you were unable to answer the question. Pairing items as a form of studying may seem like an efficient way to quickly memorize material, but as seen in the example, it isn’t always reliable. Why does cue-dependent forgetting happen? And are there ways to prevent it from having a negative effect on test performance? These questions can be understood with a quick summary of how memory works.

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Rhyming for a Reason: Why Rhyming Slogans are More Effective in Communicating Big Ideas

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

If you’ve been to a college, or interacted with a college student, you know how demanding the academic requirements are. Would you believe me if I said, “C’s get diplomas”? Sure. That makes sense, after a minute of thinking… But what if I had said, “C’s get degrees”? Boom. Got it. You’ve probably heard that one before, and there’s a reason why. The second statement comes across as more true than the first even though both convey the same message. This experience is called the Rhyme as Reason effect.

The Rhyme as Reason Effect (also called the Eaton-Rosen Effect) is the phenomenon that occurs

“A drunk mind speaks a sober heart” — Jean-Jaques Rousseau

when a person believes that a saying is more accurate when it rhymes. By contrast, a saying that means the same thing but does not rhyme is judged as less accurate. For example, the saying “What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals” is judged as more accurate than “What sobriety hides, alcohol reveals” or “What sobriety conceals, alcohol shows.” So now you may be asking, why does this happen? Is it just because rhyming phrases are more fun to say, or is something else going on? Let’s think about this.

 

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This is the best blog post, this is the best blog post, this is the best blog post…

November 26th, 2019 1 comment

 

Read it and weep, Wakefield

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield caused quite a stir in the public health realm after he published a dubious study in a renowned medical journal that suggested the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to the development of autism (Rao and Andrade, 2011). This study terrified parents and, consequently, led to a sharp decline in MMR vaccination rates among children. Shortly after Wakefield’s article was published, numerous scientific studies were conducted that refuted and disproved Wakefield’s fictitious claims. However, it took 12 whole years for the medical journal, the Lancet, to issue a formal retraction of Wakefield’s article on the grounds of deliberate fraud (Rao and Andrade, 2011). In the meantime, as a result of decreased vaccination rates, the measles came back in full force during 2008 and 2009 plaguing the UK, United States, and Canada (Rao and Andrade, 2011). How could such an unfounded claim inspire so much mistrust in vaccinations even after people became aware of the copious refutation studies, the formal retraction, and the fact that Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license over his erroneous declaration? Good question. The culprit in perpetuating the belief in this false claim was repetition.

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The Identifiable Victim Effect: Why you should reconsider donating to the child on GoFundMe

April 15th, 2017 2 comments

What kinds of charities do you give to? What spurs you to give to them? Is it images on GoFundMe of your friend’s neighbor’s child suffering from cancer, or the story of an exploited woman finding refuge and employment through a non-profit? Do you get a feeling of satisfaction when you type in your annual donations as deductibles to send to the IRS?

These are questions that can be answered and understood through the Identifiable Victim Effect, which says that people are more willing to give aid when they can identify a specific victim who will benefit from their donation. That is, when you or I hear a suffering child’s story or see their picture, we are more likely to whip out our wallets.

Why is this? It isn’t a rational or effective strategy for doing the most good for the most people. People donated $700,000 upon hearing the publicized plight of Baby Jessica who fell into a well in 1987, an amount of money that was probably not necessary to save Baby Jessica and perhaps should have been shared with other necessary causes, such as the thousands of nameless babies who are abandoned and dying around the world (Small, Loewenstein, & Slovic, 2007). The Identifiable Victim Effect does not rely on logic, so its explanation certainly isn’t going to be found in the sensible decisions of kind citizens.

What a cute child! His story of suffering from cancer raised more than twice the amount of the original goal. Source: GoFundMe.

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Cognitive Processes in Consumer Decision Making About Luxury Products

May 2nd, 2014 1 comment

Have you ever wondered why consumers prefer luxury products? Many luxury products do not offer significantly more features than their standard competitors, yet they command a much higher price in the market. There are a multitude of factors that lead to consumer preference for a luxury brand or product, such as aesthetic appeal or brand status. Researchers in a study titled “Priming Thoughts About Extravagance: Implications for Consumer Decisions About Luxury Products” investigated the underlying cognitive processes that govern our decision-making regarding luxury products. Read more…

Being able to sing along: Semantic priming and familiar songs

April 29th, 2013 3 comments

Sing3Have you ever heard the saying, “If I could remember school work like I remember lyrics, I’d be a genius?” It is true that many people remember an immense number of songs throughout their lifespan. Melodies for popular songs are almost unforgettable, and learned lyrics can stay in memory for a lifetime (Bartlett and Snelus, 1980). Memory for songs is contained in two stores that have two separate functions: episodic and semantic memory. Episodic memory allows you to remember the “when,” and “where,” of things, so recalling the first time you ever heard “Hey Jude” by the Beatles would use episodic memory. Semantic memory refers to remembering the facts and vital information about something – the “what” – but not being able to specifically recall when you learned that information. Remembering the lyrics and tune to “Hey Jude,” uses semantic memory. It is not necessary for you to remember the first (or last) time you heard the song in order for you to be able to sing along.

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