Archive for category Blog Entry 3

Counterfactual Thinking by Catherine Dodart

Counterfactual Thinking: is when you imagine different outcomes or endings that might have happened.

I feel that I have experienced this many times. For example, if I do poorly on a test my mind instantly goes back to some of those questions that I was unsure on and I think, “Well maybe if I would have put the other answer down I would have scored better.” Sometimes I will catch myself continually looking back at things like how could I have handled that differently, what if I would have chosen to go this way, or maybe I would have liked that other job. I never knew that there was an actual name to this type of thinking.

The text uses an example of Olympic athletes and how one who receives a bronze medal may be more positive if in his mind he had pictured leaving without a medal, as opposed to someone who won a silver medal and pictured themselves winning a gold medal.


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Priming: A Horror Director’s Best Friend-Ian Hawkes

Priming is an interesting psychological phenomenon where parts of our memory are awakened and make us feel a certain way or jump to certain conclusions. Stimuli in any given situation may subconsciously bring our minds back to previous experiences, and make us feel emotions which we did not expect.

In horror movies, this technique is used literally non stop. Though the actual events in a horror movie may not be that scary, the audience is primed to feel fear. Often there is no music, which sets the audience on edge. Spooky images are thrown in simply to get the audience in the right mind set, such as fog, shadows, skulls, crows etc. Camera movement is also essential in an effective horror film, and the audience’s eyes often move with the camera, priming them to feel confined and easy to sneak up on.

The example below, from The Others, shows all of these elements very well. Though walking into a room full of unused furniture is not actually scary, the movie primes the audience to be terrified. No music is playing, the camera follows behind the actress, and the imagery of white sheets reminds us of ghosts. Using these techniques, a simple action can be turned into a white-knuckling experience, as the audience is primed for suspense.

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Fundamental Attribution Error -Ashley Chambers

When individuals attempt to evaluate and explain the behaviors of others, they are executing the process of attribution. Essentially, attribution is the process of explaining the behaviors of both ourselves and others around us. However, often we are self-biased in our attributions, and tend to differ in self attributions and others’ attributions. Fundamental Attribution Error describes our innate tendency to determine others’ behaviors as personality-based rather than situationally based. Meaning we overestimate personality’s contribution to the behavior and undervalue situational circumstances.

My personal experience with this concept was rather unpleasant. I had been very ill for about a year and required two surgeries and a rather unpleasant treatment. The surgeries were abdominal and I had a tumors excised. Moving around is important within days of the surgery, to boost the immune system and reduce scar tissue. So, with the help of my visiting mother, I was trying to ‘run’ errands. Walking was painful, I was weak, and on morphine. We tried me holding onto the cart in Walgreens, and I fainted and ended up tearing one of my sutures. So, in our next outing, we determined that I needed to utilize my handicap placard. As I was getting into a motorized cart, a woman in a walking cast insisted that I get out. I would have protested, but another cart was being driven up and I just got into that one. I was too weak to argue. Well, this woman said some rather rude things to me as I did. And, leaving the store, she shouted at me (very loudly, drawing attention of others) how ‘rude I was’ to ‘take those carts away from people who actually need them’.

Apparently, because I had no visible deformities, she thought I was a lazy, inconsiderate kid. She had no consideration for what my illness/injury situation was, and assumed that I was being thoughtless. It probably didn’t help that I was so weak and taken aback by her unbelievable behavior, that I did not really try to correct her. Perhaps if I had lifted my shirt and shouted back ‘did you have a tumor cut out this week too?’, she might have been kinder. However, ultimately, she refused to consider any situational circumstances that would persuade me to use a store’s motorized cart. She made broad assumptions about my personality. It was an upsetting experience with everything else I was dealing with, but a perfect example of the fundamental attribution error. She made a gross error in her attribution assessment of my behavior, and regarded my behavior as entirely due to my personality.

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Non Verbal Behavior -Matthew Landeen

Non Verbal Behavior is almost self descriptive.  A lot of what we communicate is actually done with out words.  Our posture, eyes, hands and facial expressions are all behaviors that  communicate how we feel and can be more honest than what we actually say.  In a social context we can learn things about a person through non verbal behavior that we otherwise would not learn from what they tell us verbally.

This subject is very fascinating to me and most of what I have studied is from sources online or from the show “lie to me.”  I fully understand that that program is not completely accurate, but  non the less it is fun to learn about.  Before my mission I read a few books on body language and while I have probably studied more about nonverbal communication that the average person I am in no way an expert.  I am a beginner.

Monday night for family home evening we played and “ice breaker” game to get to know one another.  We played two truths and one lie.  In this game you tell the group of people two truths about yourself and one lie.  This game was really fun to try to observe how people reacted when they told a lie.  Obviously the point was to try to guess which of the three was actually a lie.  I thought I did pretty well, but the easiest to spot was my roommates lie.  I have been around him long enough to know what his baseline behavior is and therefore could tell when his normal behavior changed when put in a stressful social situation.

The night got even more interesting when we decided to play mafia.  Just by chance I drew the detective role and my roommate drew the mafia role.  This was beneficial to me because I eventually asked my roommate point blank if he was the mafia and when he said no I immediately knew he was lying to me and the game was over.

Non verbal behavior is best observed when you already know how the person behaves in his/her natural environment.  When you know this you can easily note the changes when there is social pressure or when their non verbal communication does not match their verbal communication.

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“Belief Perseverance in Jury Prejudice (12 Angry Men)” by Ryan Turner

Belief perseverance is the tendency for human beings to continue to believe in the explanation of a certain phenomenon even when evidence that discredits that explanation is presented.  People desire to uphold the beliefs that they have acquired throughout their life.  Partly due to the bias we hold in favor of our social representations (socially taught beliefs concerning how the world works), humans strive to defend their conclusions about certain phenomena even when contrary findings prove otherwise.

This principle of belief perseverance can be found in the film, 12 Angry Men.  Throughout the film, twelve jurors (all men) discuss the verdict of a teenaged, Mexican convicted criminal.  Partly because of the boy’s ethnicity, many of the jury members are initially in favor of extending a guilty verdict.  However, as they continue to consider further minute details about the case and the evidence presented by the attorneys in the courtroom, they discover that there are many factors about the case that allow for a “reasonable doubt”.  By the end of the film, all jurors – with the exception of one man – accept the fact that there is room for reasonable doubt concerning the boys’ guiltiness.  As an observer of the film, one can clearly see that there are many components of the case that give ample room in the mind for this reasonable doubt.  One jury member, nonetheless, stubbornly – and obviously prejudicially – continues to believe that the boy is guilty, thus epitomizing the notion of “belief perseverance”.

Throughout our lives, we acquire knowledge of the world and the people that live in it.  We desire to believe that the knowledge we receive is correct, partly because of our trust in the people who give it to us.  We all inevitably develop prejudices of one degree to another concerning ideas, instruments, and cultures that are foreign to our own.  The belief-perseverance concept refers to our tendency to uphold what we have been taught, and our tendency to continue to believe certain phenomena true even in the case of their being proven false.  Perhaps the overriding message here is that intelligence lies in accepting what we are told as true only in the event that we prove such knowledge to be true through our personal and empirical research experience. – 0:00-3:21 (excerpt from 12 Angry Men)

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Amy Kankiewicz_False Consensus

False Consensus: False consensus is the belief that one’s opinions, beliefs, and behaviors are more common than they actually are.

One of my friends named Jackie goes to the University of Arizona.  She is not LDS, but follows many of the lifestyle decisions that are suggested in the word of wisdom, specifically refraining from sexual relations until marriage.  She, being a freshman, had an unfamiliar roommate her first semester of college.  As time went on, her roommate found out about Jackie’s refrain from such conduct and thought her odd, so much so that she spoke of such refrain to her friends and even her parents.  Jackie believed this shock very odd.  She thought it was only natural to refrain from sexual relations until marriage, but it was thought uncommon from her roommate.

This is an example of false consensus.  Everyone that Jackie’s roommate spoke to about her situation were shocked by such conduct, yet Jackie did not understand why.  She believed that her refrain of sexual relations were much more common than others at her college.  Jackie overestimated the commonality of refrain from sexual relations before marriage at the University of Arizona.

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“The Overconfident Effect” by Samuel Ramos

Although intuition has a good influence in our decision making aspects of our lives, it is also important to acknowledge its limitations. These can come through the overconfident phenomenon, which is mainly the ability to be more confident than right when making a comment, affirmation or promise. In a study performed last decade it was found that 30% of people were overconfident when asked to tell the air distance between New Delhi and Beijing. This study is not surprising, instead it reassures what we commonly do in our day-to-day lives.

Just recently I caught myself making this same mistake. When on the phone with my brother I was asked how long would it take for me to get to his place. I promptly responded “In half an hour”. But the reality was that I was still in Provo (He lives in SLC) and had just left my apartment. That meant I assumed traffic was going to be clear, road conditions wouldn’t be a problem, construction was stopped for that day. In summary, I consciously didn’t take into consideration these factors and confidently assumed I could make it by the promised time. Truth is, I was wrong. I actually arrived in 50 minutes because of traffic.

Another example comes from the sitcom “The Office” when Michael Scott promises third graders 10 years earlier that he would pay for everyone’s college tuition if they graduate from High School. That day finally came and he had to faced these kids with a broken promise and no reward.

These two examples are perfect to illustrate the lack of thinking ahead by me and Mr. Michael. No executive function of our brains were fully activated when we made those assumptions. We truly thought we knew exactly what the outcome would be simply based on our confidence and current ambition to meet that goal. Willingness is not the only characteristic that will take us where we would like to get in life. Knowledge and competence are two different things that have to be worked on separately to be applied in concert with another.

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