Home Random Page


CATEGORIES:

BiologyChemistryConstructionCultureEcologyEconomyElectronicsFinanceGeographyHistoryInformaticsLawMathematicsMechanicsMedicineOtherPedagogyPhilosophyPhysicsPolicyPsychologySociologySportTourism






Psychology in Everyday Life: Cognitive Biases in the Real World

Perhaps you are thinking that the kinds of errors that we have been talking about don’t seem that important. After all, who really cares if we think there are more words that begin with the letter “R” than there actually are, or if bronze medal winners are happier than the silver medalists? These aren’t big problems in the overall scheme of things. But it turns out that what seem to be relatively small cognitive biases on the surface can have profound consequences for people.

Why would so many people continue to purchase lottery tickets, buy risky investments in the stock market, or gamble their money in casinos when the likelihood of them ever winning is so low? One possibility is that they are victims of salience; they focus their attention on the salient likelihood of a big win, forgetting that the base rate of the event occurring is very low. The belief in astrology, which all scientific evidence suggests is not accurate, is probably driven in part by the salience of the occasions when the predictions are correct. When a horoscope comes true (which will, of course, happen sometimes), the correct prediction is highly salient and may allow people to maintain the overall false belief.

People may also take more care to prepare for unlikely events than for more likely ones, because the unlikely ones are more salient. For instance, people may think that they are more likely to die from a terrorist attack or a homicide than they are from diabetes, stroke, or tuberculosis. But the odds are much greater of dying from the latter than the former. And people are frequently more afraid of flying than driving, although the likelihood of dying in a car crash is hundreds of times greater than dying in a plane crash (more than 50,000 people are killed on U.S. highways every year). Because people don’t accurately calibrate their behaviors to match the true potential risks (e.g., they drink and drive or don’t wear their seatbelts), the individual and societal level costs are often quite large (Slovic, 2000). [30]

Salience and accessibility also color how we perceive our social worlds, which may have a big influence on our behavior. For instance, people who watch a lot of violent television shows also view the world as more dangerous (Doob & Macdonald, 1979), [31] probably because violence becomes more cognitively accessible for them. We also unfairly overestimate our contribution to joint projects (Ross & Sicoly, 1979), [32]perhaps in part because our own contributions are highly accessible, whereas the contributions of others are much less so.

Even people who should know better, and who need to know better, are subject to cognitive biases. Economists, stock traders, managers, lawyers, and even doctors make the same kinds of mistakes in their professional activities that people make in their everyday lives (Gilovich, Griffin, & Kahneman, 2002). [33] Just like us, these people are victims of overconfidence, heuristics, and other biases.

Furthermore, every year thousands of individuals, such as Ronald Cotton, are charged with and often convicted of crimes based largely on eyewitness evidence. When eyewitnesses testify in courtrooms regarding their memories of a crime, they often are completely sure that they are identifying the right person. But the most common cause of innocent people being falsely convicted is erroneous eyewitness testimony (Wells, Wright, & Bradfield, 1999). [34] The many people who were convicted by mistaken eyewitnesses prior to the advent of forensic DNA and who have now been exonerated by DNA tests have certainly paid for all-too-common memory errors (Wells, Memon, & Penrod, 2006). [35]



Although cognitive biases are common, they are not impossible to control, and psychologists and other scientists are working to help people make better decisions. One possibility is to provide people with better feedback about their judgments. Weather forecasters, for instance, learn to be quite accurate in their judgments because they have clear feedback about the accuracy of their predictions. Other research has found that accessibility biases can be reduced by leading people to consider multiple alternatives rather than focus only on the most obvious ones, and particularly by leading people to think about opposite possible outcomes than the ones they are expecting (Lilienfeld, Ammirtai, & Landfield, 2009). [36] Forensic psychologists are also working to reduce the incidence of false identification by helping police develop better procedures for interviewing both suspects and eyewitnesses (Steblay, Dysart, Fulero, & Lindsay, 2001).[37]

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

· Our memories fail in part due to inadequate encoding and storage, and in part due to the inability to accurately retrieve stored information.

· The human brain is wired to develop and make use of social categories and schemas. Schemas help us remember new information but may also lead us to falsely remember things that never happened to us and to distort or misremember things that did.

· A variety of cognitive biases influence the accuracy of our judgments.

EXERCISES AND CRITICAL THINKING

1. Consider a time when you were uncertain if you really experienced an event or only imagined it. What impact did this have on you, and how did you resolve it?

2. Consider again some of the cognitive schemas that you hold in your memory. How do these knowledge structures bias your information processing and behavior, and how might you prevent them from doing so?

3. Imagine that you were involved in a legal case in which an eyewitness claimed that he had seen a person commit a crime. Based on your knowledge about memory and cognition, what techniques would you use to reduce the possibility that the eyewitness was making a mistaken identification?

[1] Rassin, E., Merckelbach, H., & Spaan, V. (2001). When dreams become a royal road to confusion: Realistic dreams, dissociation, and fantasy proneness. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 189(7), 478–481.

[2] Winograd, E., Peluso, J. P., & Glover, T. A. (1998). Individual differences in susceptibility to memory illusions. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 12(Spec. Issue), S5–S27.

[3] Jacoby, L. L., & Rhodes, M. G. (2006). False remembering in the aged. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(2), 49–53.

[4] Pratkanis, A. R., Greenwald, A. G., Leippe, M. R., & Baumgardner, M. H. (1988). In search of reliable persuasion effects: III. The sleeper effect is dead: Long live the sleeper effect.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(2), 203–218.

[5] Stangor, C., & McMillan, D. (1992). Memory for expectancy-congruent and expectancy-incongruent information: A review of the social and social developmental literatures.Psychological Bulletin, 111(1), 42–61.

[6] Trope, Y., & Thompson, E. (1997). Looking for truth in all the wrong places? Asymmetric search of individuating information about stereotyped group members. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 229–241.

[7] Darley, J. M., & Gross, P. H. (1983). A hypothesis-confirming bias in labeling effects.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 20–33.

[8] Wason, P. (1960). On the failure to eliminate hypotheses in a conceptual task. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 12(3), 129–140.

[9] Duncker, K. (1945). On problem-solving. Psychological Monographs, 58, 5.

[10] Erdmann, K., Volbert, R., & Böhm, C. (2004). Children report suggested events even when interviewed in a non-suggestive manner: What are its implications for credibility assessment? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18(5), 589–611; Loftus, E. F. (1979). The malleability of human memory. American Scientist, 67(3), 312–320; Zaragoza, M. S., Belli, R. F., & Payment, K. E. (2007). Misinformation effects and the suggestibility of eyewitness memory. In M. Garry & H. Hayne (Eds.), Do justice and let the sky fall: Elizabeth Loftus and her contributions to science, law, and academic freedom (pp. 35–63). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

[11] Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 13(5), 585–589.

[12] Ceci, S. J., Huffman, M. L. C., Smith, E., & Loftus, E. F. (1994). Repeatedly thinking about a non-event: Source misattributions among preschoolers. Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 3(3–4), 388–407.

[13] Loftus, E. F., & Pickrell, J. E. (1995). The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals, 25(12), 720–725.

[14] Mazzoni, G. A. L., Loftus, E. F., & Kirsch, I. (2001). Changing beliefs about implausible autobiographical events: A little plausibility goes a long way. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 7(1), 51–59.

[15] Brown, D., Scheflin, A. W., & Hammond, D. C. (1998). Memory, trauma treatment, and the law. New York, NY: Norton.

[16] McNally, R. J., Bryant, R. A., & Ehlers, A. (2003). Does early psychological intervention promote recovery from posttraumatic stress? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4(2), 45–79; Pope, H. G., Jr., Poliakoff, M. B., Parker, M. P., Boynes, M., & Hudson, J. I. (2007). Is dissociative amnesia a culture-bound syndrome? Findings from a survey of historical literature. Psychological Medicine: A Journal of Research in Psychiatry and the Allied Sciences, 37(2), 225–233.

[17] Loftus, E. F., & Ketcham, K. (1994). The myth of repressed memory: False memories and allegations of sexual abuse (1st ed.). New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

[18] Dunning, D., Griffin, D. W., Milojkovic, J. D., & Ross, L. (1990). The overconfidence effect in social prediction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 568–581.

[19] Wells, G. L., & Olson, E. A. (2003). Eyewitness testimony. Annual Review of Psychology, 277–295.

[20] Brown, R., & Kulik, J. (1977). Flashbulb memories. Cognition, 5, 73–98.

[21] Talarico, J. M., & Rubin, D. C. (2003). Confidence, not consistency, characterizes flashbulb memories. Psychological Science, 14(5), 455–461.

[22] Schmolck, H., Buffalo, E. A., & Squire, L. R. (2000). Memory distortions develop over time: Recollections of the O. J. Simpson trial verdict after 15 and 32 months. Psychological Science, 11(1), 39–45.

[23] MacLeod, C., & Campbell, L. (1992). Memory accessibility and probability judgments: An experimental evaluation of the availability heuristic. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(6), 890–902; Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1973). Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability. Cognitive Psychology, 5, 207–232.

[24] McArthur, L. Z., & Post, D. L. (1977). Figural emphasis and person perception. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13(6), 520–535; Taylor, S. E., & Fiske, S. T. (1978). Salience, attention and attribution: Top of the head phenomena. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 11, 249–288.

[25] Loftus, E. F., Loftus, G. R., & Messo, J. (1987). Some facts about “weapon focus.” Law and Human Behavior, 11(1), 55–62.

[26] Kahneman, D., & Miller, D. T. (1986). Norm theory: Comparing reality to its alternatives. Psychological Review, 93, 136–153; Roese, N. (2005). If only: How to turn regret into opportunity. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

[27] Medvec, V. H., Madey, S. F., & Gilovich, T. (1995). When less is more: Counterfactual thinking and satisfaction among Olympic medalists. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 69(4), 603–610.

[28] Medvec, V. H., Madey, S. F., & Gilovich, T. (1995). When less is more: Counterfactual thinking and satisfaction among Olympic medalists. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 69(4), 603–610.

[29] Miller, D. T., Turnbull, W., & McFarland, C. (1988). Particularistic and universalistic evaluation in the social comparison process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 908–917.

[30] Slovic, P. (Ed.). (2000). The perception of risk. London, England: Earthscan Publications.

[31] Doob, A. N., & Macdonald, G. E. (1979). Television viewing and fear of victimization: Is the relationship causal? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(2), 170–179.

[32] Ross, M., & Sicoly, F. (1979). Egocentric biases in availability and attribution. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(3), 322–336.

[33] Gilovich, T., Griffin, D., & Kahneman, D. (2002). Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

[34] Wells, G. L., Wright, E. F., & Bradfield, A. L. (1999). Witnesses to crime: Social and cognitive factors governing the validity of people’s reports. In R. Roesch, S. D. Hart, & J. R. P. Ogloff (Eds.), Psychology and law: The state of the discipline (pp. 53–87). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

[35] Wells, G. L., Memon, A., & Penrod, S. D. (2006). Eyewitness evidence: Improving its probative value. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 7(2), 45–75.

[36] Lilienfeld, S. O., Ammirati, R., & Landfield, K. (2009). Giving debiasing away: Can psychological research on correcting cognitive errors promote human welfare?Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(4), 390–398.

[37] Steblay, N., Dysart, J., Fulero, S., & Lindsay, R. C. L. (2001). Eyewitness accuracy rates in sequential and simultaneous lineup presentations: A meta-analytic comparison. Law and Human Behavior, 25(5), 459–473.

 

8.4 Chapter Summary

Memory and cognition are the two major interests of cognitive psychologists. The cognitive school was influenced in large part by the development of the electronic computer. Psychologists conceptualize memory in terms of types, stages, and processes.

Explicit memory is assessed using measures in which the individual being tested must consciously attempt to remember the information. Explicit memory includes semantic and episodic memory. Explicit memory tests include recall memory tests, recognition memory tests, and measures of relearning (also known as savings).

Implicit memory refers to the influence of experience on behavior, even if the individual is not aware of those influences. Implicit memory is made up of procedural memory, classical conditioning effects, and priming. Priming refers both to the activation of knowledge and to the influence of that activation on behavior. An important characteristic of implicit memories is that they are frequently formed and used automatically, without much effort or awareness on our part.

Sensory memory, including iconic and echoic memory, is a memory buffer that lasts only very briefly and then, unless it is attended to and passed on for more processing, is forgotten.

Information that we turn our attention to may move into short-term memory (STM). STM is limited in both the length and the amount of information it can hold. Working memory is a set of memory procedures or operations that operates on the information in STM. Working memory’s central executive directs the strategies used to keep information in STM, such as maintenance rehearsal, visualization, and chunking.

Long-term memory (LTM) is memory storage that can hold information for days, months, and years. The information that we want to remember in LTM must be encoded and stored, and then retrieved. Some strategies for improving LTM include elaborative encoding, relating information to the self, making use of the forgetting curve and the spacing effect, overlearning, and being aware of context- and state-dependent retrieval effects.

Memories that are stored in LTM are not isolated but rather are linked together into categories and schemas. Schemas are important in part because they help us encode and retrieve information by providing an organizational structure for it.

The ability to maintain information in LTM involves a gradual strengthening of the connections among the neurons in the brain, known as long-term potentiation (LTP). The hippocampus is important in explicit memory, the cerebellum is important in implicit memory, and the amygdala is important in emotional memory. A number of neurotransmitters are important in consolidation and memory. Evidence for the role of different brain structures in different types of memories comes in part from case studies of patients who suffer from amnesia.

Cognitive biases are errors in memory or judgment that are caused by the inappropriate use of cognitive processes. These biases are caused by the overuse of schemas, the reliance on salient and cognitive accessible information, and the use of rule-of-thumb strategies known as heuristics. These biases include errors in source monitoring, the confirmation bias, functional fixedness, the misinformation effect, overconfidence, and counterfactual thinking. Understanding the potential cognitive errors we frequently make can help us make better decisions and engage in more appropriate behaviors.


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 789


<== previous page | next page ==>
Counterfactual Thinking | Stephen Fry - Making History
doclecture.net - lectures - 2014-2019 year. Copyright infringement or personal data (0.004 sec.)