Spotlight on the Spotlight Effect by Caitlin Randall

As you learned in class today, my favorite chapter 2 topic is the spotlight effect. The spotlight effect is an individual’s tendency to assume everyone’s world revolves around them, just as their own does. Thus, people mistakenly assume that people pay more attention to them than is actually true, and one may believe they are always in the spotlight from any individuals point of view. In class, Dr. Lunstad described the spotlight effect as a potential to increase one’s nervousness or errors because they believe everyone is watching them, which I didn’t mention in my brief presentation.

The clip I used to illustrate the spotlight effect is the following sketch from Saturday Night Live:

As the party begins, Kristen Wiig’s character (in the green dress) is basically requesting to sing for the other partygoers as they plead for Jon Hamm’s character to play the piano. She repeatedly remarks “Don’t make me sing….” under her breath, and continues to get louder – a sign that she was assuming they had heard her, but continued to get loud until they certainly did. The partygoers acknowledge that no one is making her sing, and no one asked her to, but she can if she wants – Kristen simply assumed that everyone wanted her to sing, and that her activity and performance was at the top of everyone else’s mind, just as it was on hers. Kristen continues to illustrate the spotlight effect as Jon Hamm finishes playing, by apologizing for missing her cue while others are congratulating Jon on his phenomenal piano skills. Kristen’s overcompensation and concern for others’ opinions are almost embarrassing, when the other partygoers could not have cared less about her and her performance.

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