Posts Tagged ‘Semantic Memory’

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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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Why A Single Incident Can “Make Your Day” – The Peak-End Rule

April 26th, 2018 No comments

You Just Made My Day!

Following an exceptionally pleasant incident, people often use the expression “That just made my day!”. Of course, one single joyful moment cannot really change the nature of a day, but we use that expression because that moment does make us feel better, and will likely resonate with us until the end of day. Similar experience also applies to incidents that upsets us. For example, when we go to a restaurant, if a full bowl of hot soup gets flipped accidentally and spilled all over us at the end of that meal, even if the food and the service are good, it is likely that we would consider restaurant a terrible place and would never visit there again. The way we judge a situation or experience depends highly on moments that are associated with the most intense feelings, as well as what we get from the situation at the end. In psychology, such effect is called the Peak-End Rule, according to which the two points of peak (i.e. intense experience) and end (i.e. conclusion we have), instead of the sum or the average of our experience, serve as indicators which people use to judge their experience. Read more…

All’s Well That Ends Well – At Least That’s What Your Mind Thinks

April 25th, 2018 1 comment

Imagine you are in line at the DMV. Would you rather wait in a long line that moves relatively quickly, or a slower moving line that overall takes less time? Most people would probably choose the shorter line, right? What about if you had a choice between holding your hand in painfully cold water for 60 seconds or 90 seconds? Again, most would assume that no one in their right mind would voluntarily subject themselves to pain for any longer than necessary. Even if I told you that in the 90-second option the water warmed up 1 degree in the last 30 seconds, the 60-second choice clearly seems more bearable, right?

Net satisfaction and duration have little to no effect on evaluations of past experiences. Instead, it’s what happens at the peak and the end that matters.

These “would you rather” questions may not seem that fun, due to their obvious nature. Of course, everyone would choose the shorter option in both of these unpleasant scenarios, right? However, if it were up to the Peak-End Rule, you may actually choose the longer of the two options in both of these cases!

The Peak-End Rule is a mental shortcut people unconsciously utilize when making retrospective evaluations of any experience that had a clear beginning and end. Instead of evaluating an experience based on overall satisfaction or duration, we tend to judge a past experience based on the average of how we felt at the most intense moment (the peak) and at the conclusion (the end). These retrospective evaluations guide our behavior by influencing our future decisions. We use how we felt in the past to tell us how to act in the future.  Read more…

ATTENTION: Tips for Finals Week!

November 23rd, 2013 6 comments

Finals week…both a blessing and a curse. First, you think: “YES! This semester is almost over!” But, then you realize final exams, papers, and projects are still ahead. Awesome. Right after loudness is usually when sleep starts to lose importance and studying takes over. Breaks include Dunkin, Cap’n Crunch at Dana, and funny cat videos. Your bed sees less and less of you as all-nighters and power naps become your routine. This may be a bit exaggerated, but we all know the truth: finals are crazy and exhausting. Climbing into bed is not just the solution for these problems—sleep will also help you remember what you studied! Unbelievable right? The Zzzquil commercials are not lying when they say “Sleep is a beautiful thing.” To prove it to you, I will explain an experiment by Payne et al. (2012) in which sleep benefits were found.

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