Lecture 1 Review: Minimizing Thinking

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Western University
Psychology 3721F/G
Nelson Heapy

Lecture 1: Minimizing Thinking Selling Turquoise  When quality doesn’t seem to work o A problem that was posed by a social psychologist who lived in new Mexico by a friend who worked in the jewelry business – primarily sold semi-precious stones that were local in her area  turquoise o Received a consignment of turquoise that was really high quality  Try this, then that, and finally put it on sale o At first she thought it would sell very quickly but they did not – used straight forward kinds of marketing approaches to move it forward – reducing the price, placing it in a more prominent place within the store, etc. but it still wasn’t selling  Perplexed about why x2 is better than x ½ o She leaves a message for her sales staff on the weekend that will sell it – meant to say something like cut the price in half, but was misinterpreted as double the price o When she returns all of it has been sold o Is puzzled by the fact that the mistaken message made her product sell even thought he price was doubled vs. cut in half  Let’s talk turkey o Turkeys are incredibly protective of their young – something that is so notable because they will take on animals and predators that are much bigger and more dangerous than they are o A slight manipulation of a situation may alter the events of an animals behaviour Fooling a Turkey Mother  The protectiveness of mother  The exclusiveness importance of sound  Stuffing a pole cat with the ‘cheep-cheep’ sound o The bird is seeing an example of its natural predator, but when the turkey sound is played its enough to elicit mothering behaviour towards an animal that is its natural predator o When the stuffed cat was stuffed with a recording of the cats real sound the turkey will attack it and then escape o As bizarre as this behaviour is, it is totally usual and normal for most animals, including human beings o We react in many cases in a situation not in terms of the wholeness of the situation, but what are called signal stimuli – stimuli that are the most associated with the kind of animal is involved and how it elicits reactions o What wild turkeys pay attention to in order to be a good mother is the sound of their chick rather than the physical chick itself – triggers the nurturing behaviour towards their chicks  Fixed action patterns o Stickleback fish – when a female wants to indicate that she is sexually ready her chest turns bright red  You can show a male in an aquarium a red dot and it will act the same way that it would if it saw a female stickleback – even worked with a red mail truck driving by the aquarium window  There are trigger stimuli that tend to elicit a whole strain of behaviour o North American robins have a red chest in the spring that indicates sexual readiness  All you have to do is show the male red feathers and the male reacts in the same way as if it saw the red chest of a female robin  All that is really needed in the wild for really good mothering behaviour or mating behaviour is a specific stimuli  The prevalence in nature o To be efficient in their use of energy – trying to optimize their behaviour in the most efficient way o In the animal world we see this phenomenon as quite common, however the same thing happens with humans Heuristics  Ellen Langer and the copy machine o Some fixed action patterns is thought to be learned, but it is not clear o One example that may be learned, but works the exact same as the animal examples o A professor went to the library of her university and rigged a circumstance when term paper time was occurring - increased use of the library o People would line up at the copier machines around this time of the year o Had someone try to break into the line rather than waiting their turn and offered a reason for doing so o Previous research of hers showed that people would do a lot of strange things if you provide them with a reason or what sounds like a reason o If someone asked you to do something and give you a reason even if it is completely stupid/irrelevant people will be more likely to do it vs. not giving a reason o In one condition, the person said they were in a rush and asked if they could jump the line – most people said no (90%) o In another condition, the person said that they had to pick up their child from daycare and they didn’t’ want to be late – more people let them jump the line (84%) o In the third condition, the person provided something that sounded more like a reason but wasn’t – says that they are in a rush and have only a little bit to copy and if I don’t do it now I’m going to miss an important class – 94% let them cut the line with the faux reason o Listen carefully when people offer reasons for why they want to ‘jump the cue’  The lure of short cut rules o In the animal kingdom we see many examples that single stimuli will stimulate complex behaviour – most are entirely instinctive o For humans, all you have to say is ‘the reason being’ and people will let someone violate the norms of society  High price of turquoise = high quality o In terms of the turquoise, the operation of the short cut rule that we all engage in – the more expensive something is the better it is  Heuristics don’t always work, but… o These heuristics can unleash complex behaviours – long extended explanations are not needed, all that you have to do is provide a stimulus that typically is associated with a complex response to the behaviour o There is some efficiency that comes with following these heuristics – there are very few instances where we are experts in what we are doing/saying o Price usually is a good index of the quality of products o The problem is that there are people who make it their business to take advantage of how unthinking you are in the application of this kind of rule o Once we have a heuristic that we all have a consensus about, we give up thinking and just go along with it – almost unconscious in its character Mimics as Profiteers  Mimics in nature  Some examples – fireflies, a fish dance o There is some nasty business that goes on in terms of fireflies  What is going on when they light up is in terms of mating rituals – when the flash their light they are blinking out a code to other fireflies to indicate the females sexual readiness  There are similar species who use the same kind of signaling but they use a different code – wouldn’t know the fireflies code  There are several species of fireflies with their own uniqueness of coding to indicate their readiness – the flashes continue until they come into contact with other fireflies  One species of firefly is thought to have learned the code of another firefly species – this species eats other fireflies  Knowing the code of the other species, sets up the code to attract a male to them  Rather than being drawn to someone who is sexually ready, they are drawn to their predator  They use the other species’ heuristic to their advantage and take advantage of them o Animals learn something about the short cut rules of other animals and then take advantage of them but to the disadvantage of the other group o A grouper is a big fish who eats smaller fish  There is an interesting symbiotic relationship between one small fish and the grouper  The smaller fish is tolerated and enjoyed by the grouper because it eats the bacteria that appears on the groupers body – it keeps it clean (called a cleaner fish)  Sometimes parasites will get into the mouth of the grouper and the cleaner fish is allowed into the huge mouth of the grouper in order to clean it out  However, there is another fish called a vampire fish that has learned something that the cleaner fish uses as a code  The way that the cleaner fish puts it into almost a trance-like state is not just because of its clea
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