February 26 2012
-Memory is a story; not a perfect representation that we store in our minds
-It’s a Reconstruction
-Remember the priming effects and stereotyping effects we talked about earlier?
Those examples illustrated how our brains are biased to access certain
information depending on recently activated memories.
The Power of Suggestion
-Researchers have been able to induce people to “recall” complicated events
from early in life that never actually happened, such as getting lost in a shopping
-Fake Disneyland commercials features Bugs Bunny 1/3 recall meeting Bugs at
-Some even remember specific details, such as shaking hands with BB or seeing
him in a parade.
-Remembering the liberation of Holland
-What does this mean for eyewitness testimony?
-The memories of eyewitness can be influenced by:
-The race of the witness and alleged criminal
-Misleading post-event information
Leading questions: Loftus & Palmer
-Participates viewed a video of a car crash
-Control question: How fast were the two cars going when they contacted each
-Leading question: How fast were the two cars going when they smashed into
-In various scenarios, subjects could also be lead to remember broken glass
(where there was none), stop signs and other details, etc.…
Wording can alter memories
More ways our brains deceive us
-We’ve talked about top-down processes, their efficiency gains, and accuracy lost
-Our brain makes related information accessible
-Active one construct related constructs become activated -Another way in which we deceive ourselves (some of the time) is through the
use of HEURISTICS, cognitive shortcuts.
-Stereotypes & social scripts are examples of heuristics
-But there are some common reasoning heuristics that we imply much of the
time, leading to less-than –ideal decisions.
-Because is like a heuristic, it’s a top down process
-A reason is always followed by because- were on autopilot, not truly listening or
concerned what the reason is.
Who is this?
-Let me describe someone I know, He’s short, slim, and likes to read poetry.
-More likely would be a professor vs. a truck driver, because of the stereotype.
-Statistically however, there are way more truck drivers than professors, so it
would more likely be a truck driver
-Answered the question heuristically
Ignoring Base Rates
The representatives heuristic:
-Making decisions based on the extent to which information seems similar to a
category you have in mind..
-E.g., doctors often ignore base rates of illnesses when making diagnoses
-Investors often ignore base rates of business failure in a sector when making
investment decisions (it sure looks like a good business plan…)
-Although not usually thought of in these ways, the fundamental attribution
error involves this basic process-
-See a behaviour; and makes inferences about their behaviour as a result-
ignoring everything else. (situational factors)
The Power of Labels
E.g., framing effects
-Why should you take the stairs instead of elevator?
-“Save the world”? or “Tone your butt”??
-Why would the USA change the name of the War Department to the Defense
-Why do conservatives say “the oil sands” and activists say “the tar sands”?
-Is “global warming” happening? Or “global climate destabilization”?
Exaggerating the Improbable
-The tendency to judge the probability of an event by how easy it is to think of examples of instances (e.g., # words beginning with K or having K as the third
-What’s scarier, smoking or flying?
-Do you know someone who smokes that is afraid to fly?
-Smoking takes, on average, 5 years off your life (50$ chance of early death due
-Flying takes, on average, about ONE DAY off your life(FAR less than 1% chance
of early death due to flying)
Mislead by Availability
-We often use the availability heuristic to out own detriment, without being
aware of it.
-E.g., mood congruent processing (e.g. interpretation, attributions, memories)
-i.e. depression remembering bad thingsincreased accessibility for those
memoriesfeeling that wow, you really are a big loser, because look at house
easily it is to come up with all sorts of examples
The Confirmation Bias
-The tendency to look for or pay attention to information that confirms ones own
-We tens to ask questions that confirm out suspicions, or that are consistent with
the hypothesis we are testing.
E.g. Business managers believe they have a good sense