The Spotlight Effect by Matthew Landeen


The Spotlight Effect is a way to describe someone that feels like the whole world is watching them.  This is intensified when they feel like they did something unusual or anything that drew the attention towards them.  The faulty thinking of the spotlight effect is that in reality they are not watching you any more closely than the next person.

The faulty thinking comes because typically we are self conscious about the reason we feel people are looking at us.  Embarrassment or anxiety tends to make things a bigger deal in our head than they are in reality.

To illustrate the spotlight effect I will tell how I actually felt the effect during the class discussion today and why I think I felt it.  Professor Holt-Lunstad had us write on a piece of paper, I am…. and we could fill in the blank.  She asked some of the students to say what they wrote down.  I, without thinking, just blurted out “I am single.”  For the rest of the time in class I felt like every time a fellow student saw me they were thinking “hey thats the kid that announced to the class that he is single.”  I don’t make a lot of comments in class so I feel that thats the only thing people are going to remember me by.  This is the spotlight effect in action.  In reality, I hope, people will forget about it and hopefully I will make some more comments in class that are intelligent to quickly replace the comment that I hope people don’t remember me by.

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