Tag Archives: bias

Theater Masks

Cognitive Dissonance

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Cognitive dissonance is when you have two conflicting ideas and yet you have reasons to believe both. There are many many many reasons that appealing ideas can conflict, so we are constantly facing the prospect of cognitive dissonance, or more importantly how to resolve it.

What is the neural explanation for this common type of psychological stress? Thanks to advances in imaging methods, especially functional MRI, researchers have recently identified key brain regions linked to cognitive dissonance. The area implicated most consistently is the posterior part of the medial frontal cortex (pMFC), known to play an important role in avoiding aversive outcomes, a powerful built-in survival instinct. In fMRI studies, when subjects lie to a peer despite knowing that lying is wrong—a task that puts their actions and beliefs in conflict—the pMFC lights up.

My life in 10 years

Goal Setting

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In anticipation of all of your New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I would share with you some new ideas on setting goals.

The first example comes from Jeffrey Davis in the Creativity Post. He calls this a radical alternative, but I think his approach makes perfect sense. First, he warns against using a long time horizon for your goals. Not that long term thinking is bad – in fact it is best. But the problem is that long term goals are too easy to forget about or put off for later. And even easier for us to delude ourselves with false progress. Instead, he recommends using vision goals that add meaning instead of milestones. Imagine where you want to be in the long term, and then set a goal for what you can do right now to move yourself towards that vision.

Google Search bar

The Search Effect

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Throughout history, we have relied on other people to reduce our personal memory load, a phenomenon called transactive memory. If we know that someone else knows a particular piece of information, we don’t have to remember it ourselves. We just need to ask them. But there is a significant germane load to do this. We have to remember who knows what we need, find them, hope they are available, ask them, and process the answer. A similar germane load exists when we use reference sources. We have to remember what source has the information, go to the library (or our personal bookshelf), get the encyclopedia/dictionary/textbook, look up the information, and process it.

Transactive memory is a psychological hypothesis first proposed by Daniel Wegner in 1985 as a response to earlier theories of “group mind” such as groupthink.[1] A transactive memory system is a mechanism through which groups collectively encode, store, and retrieve knowledge.

a person and a computer with doves representing peace

Intentional Intuition

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In the cognitive sciences, intuition is described as a way of processing information based on automatic, affective and personal standards, but it is not the opposite of rationality. Designers generate solutions to daily issues, which forces them to make decisions that cannot be always understood rationally. Designing for experiences is a delicate practice in a rational perspective, since the designer’s interpretation on how to trigger particular experiences can be highly influenced by intuition.

Xbox Avatar

Battle of the Bias: Avatar Bling in Multiplayer Games

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The latest Psychology of Video Games podcast has a very interesting interview with Niels van de Ven, who does research on human behavior in video games at Tilburg University. The podcast focused on his recent work on in-game purchases and envy.

Are you jealous? Ever been jealous? Ever been jealous because some other player in a video game had something cool or useful? Or, even better, have you ever made someone else jealous for the same reason?

pac man

Game Training to Reduce Bias

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There has been a long history of movements in the business, psychology, and human factors communities to help people overcome the natural tendencies in decision making that often lead us astray. You know – what we often refer to as biases but that evolved to help us make fast, frugal decisions in the muddy context we call the real world.

If you believe this article in Harvard Business Review, a team of researchers led by Carey Morewedge at Boston University may have discovered a viable approach. They used a serious game to train participants in intelligence analysis.

football fans

The Faith of Football Fans

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In honor of the start of football season, I thought it would be a fun topic for this week’s dip into self-delusion to cover the undeniable faith of football fans. And lo and behold, a new study just out in PLoS One covers this very subject.

Fans, like professionals assigned to cover a team, were overly optimistic about their team’s prospects. The opposite pattern was found for teams that fans disliked. Because success within the NFL is zero sum, these results make clear that bias exists and that collective decision making is inconsistent.

Chubby Noodle and Fat Noodle Logos

Is Fat the Same as Chubby?

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We have discussed the importance of human factors in trademark disputes a few times here on EID. But this one is so good I couldn’t resist bringing it up. Noodles Raw Catering, the parent company of two Chubby Noodle restaurants in the city, is accusing Saison Group LLC of engaging in trademark infringement by picking the name Fat Noodle for its forthcoming Chinese eatery, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The proposed logo for the new restaurant, which shows a stylized bowl of noodles, is also…

skin care cream

Beauty Industry Efficacy Bias

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When I heard the term “Beauty Industry Efficacy Bias” on the On the Media podcast also known as BIEB, I knew I had to share it with you. This is a great example of a whole set of information processing heuristics operating in the wild. Making a whole industry (really several related industries) richer in the process. And all of us a little bit poorer.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a report presents only or primarily the benefits of a new treatment, it’s a bad report. ALL healthcare interventions have trade-offs.

reusable shopping bag

The Entitlement Effect and Indulgence

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This is a simple example of the entitlement effect. At its essence, the entitlement effect is what happens whenever we feel like we have made progress towards a goal (or completed one). We feel entitled to reward ourselves for the progress by indulging. Sometimes the indulgence is directly related to the goal – for example rewarding ourselves after a big workout with an indulgent meal. Sometimes it is unconscious and only partially related – such as the junk food purchases in the @hiddenbrain story.

Researchers ran a couple of experiments, which suggest that when people visualize taking their own bags to get groceries, especially when they are doing it of their own accord and not because of a store policy, they’re more likely to indulge themselves and buy themselves treats.