Category Archives: Social Media

These posts describe and review mentions of cognitive research in the media.

Can you draw the Apple Logo from memory?

In class, we discussed a study conducted in 1979 that examined whether or not people would be able to correctly identify the most accurate version of a penny when shown a series of similar but slightly different pennies. In this particular study, it was found that people were unable to correctly pick out the real penny despite it being an object they saw frequently in their day to day life. These findings were important in establishing the importance of active encoding in successful memory retrieval, suggesting that work must be done in order for something to be stored in your memory, even if that object is in frequently in front of you.

While obviously compelling, these findings left me with some questions after lecture. Sure, the penny is something people see quite frequently, but it’s also a pretty detailed piece of currency. It wasn’t designed to be easily memorized, only to be distinct from other coins and currency, so is it all that surprising that we aren’t able to recall exactly which way Lincoln is facing? What about things we see everyday that are meant to be remembered? Are things that are simple and designed specifically to be recognizable and memorable any easier to recall without active encoding?

... pres/White_Collaborators_Judy/Collaborators logos/Industry/Apple logo

Thanks to a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, which was recently reported on by Buzzfeed, those questions and some have now been answered. Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium asked 85 participants to draw the apple logo from memory. They then had those participants identify the true Apple logo from a series of similar, but slightly different, versions of the famous logo. Like the penny study, majority of the participants were unable to accurately identify the correct logo from the options given, supporting the idea that active encoding is necessary for successful retrieval later on.

More than half of the 85 students who took this test as part of research conducted by a team from University of California, Los Angeles, got it wrong.

What was interesting about this study were the additional conclusions drawn by the researchers. While the Buzzfeed article stated that the experimenters believed their results stemmed from the fact that people might not bother to remember the logo because it’s so prevelant that we have no need to do so, the original study discusses it’s findings in slightly different terms. As we learned in class, people often use schemas to fill in missing information. Researcher’s in this particular case believe, based on the drawings done by participants, that people used their schema of what an ideal apple logo should look like (e.g. apple shape, stem) instead on relying of their actual memory of the logo, resulting in recall errors.  Even in cases where the logo is simple, in your face almost daily, and designed to be remembered, it is still possible to have an inaccurate idea of what something looks like.

 

Impacts of Technology: Digital Amnesia

Everyone uses technology in one form or another, from sending an email to a professor to posting on this blog. Although we enjoy the benefits and many uses of technology daily, we often don’t realize how technology can negatively impact the brain, memory, or our thought processes. I found this study particularly interesting in light of all the recent controversy surrounding “false” memories.

An article from the TechTimes, entitled, “Don’t Lie on Facebook, Other Social Networks. It causes ‘Digital Amnesia’” describes a phenomenon where an individual lies about personal details of their lives on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter but then end up essentially rewriting their own memories. This phenomenon which psychologists are calling “digital amnesia” is a result of anxiety, shame, or paranoia that some people feel about keeping up their social media image. This can cause memories that are stored to be less accurate and more conforming to a certain image. Alarmingly, the article notes that 68% of people said they “regularly lie, exaggerate, or embellish” when posting on social media with 1 in 10 people saying that the original memory of the event has known become skewed when trying to retrieve it. Unsurprisingly, the 18-24 age bracket is the group most affected by this phenomenon with 16% reporting “completely compromised memories.”

There has been only one study, “The effect of Twitter exposure on false memory information” that specifically looked at the effects of Twitter on autobiographical memory published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review in May 2014. However, this study was focused on whether or not Twitter could alter a person’s perception about real news events they saw while scrolling on their feed. The experiment was carried out where they showed “participants pictures that depicted a news story. Then they were shown false information about the images in a feed that either highly resembled a Twitter feed or one that did not at all. The confidence for correct information was similar across groups but confidence for suggested information was significantly lower when false information was presented in a Twitter format.” The results depicted that it is likely people will have trouble determining whether or not information is accurate on social media and incorrectly remembering what was accurate and what was not. They repeated this experiment using Facebook as well as information read from a book. Twitter prompted higher false memory rates than Facebook and information from a book.

I personally found this fascinating as this is something I see a lot on social media. Some people definitely have a tendency to recall or talk about things they’ve seen on social media without being sure the information is accurate and I find that scary. I personally take things I see on social media sites like Facebook at face-value until I can check another source. In an age where people enjoy sharing every little detail of their lives on social media, it may be a good idea to hold back and share only essential details to prevent “digital” amnesia.

Prove your mom wrong: Gaming is beneficial to cognitive development.

Do you remember when you were a child and your mom would limit your television watching time, or when she would take away your Nintendo DS, or not let you use the computer for those addicting games? As a normal child your response was always “WHY MOM?” but she always had a better answer and it almost always include something like “You could be spending this time reading, or playing outside, those video games are only making you dumber.” Do you remember? Well I am here to tell you that there is a possibility that your mom was wrong. Research has demonstrated that video games can be beneficial to cognitive development.

When people talk about video games they focus on the negative effects it has on gamers’ lives: social isolation, violence, and addiction; but very rarely do you hear anything about beneficence. As I scrolled through my twitter feed, I saw an article that Psychology Today called Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games. It automatically caught my attention, but the context was even more interesting.

The underlying theme of the article is to explain what aspects of the video games has a positive effect on our intelligence and why. When you engage in the activity to play video games, you are signing yourself up for a multitasking adventure, faced with obstacles that require you to overcome them in matters of second, while keeping in mind your goal and the best ways to achieve it. With this being said research has suggested that this process demonstrates long-lasting positive effects on: perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. It has demonstrated that gamers test higher on visual attention, executive function and cognitive flexibility.

When it comes to visual attention, research specifically focused on Sustained attention, impulsiveness and vigilance. This accounts for the amount of time you spend looking at a specific stimulus, while also improving your selective attention, in that sense that you are able to pay attention to many things at once. Impulsiveness accounts for ability in which you respond to the stimuli in a certain way without putting much thought into it, while also knowing that perhaps that was the best option. Also, when you play video games, and have this visual attention, and make a certain move, you need to keep an eye out for any new stimuli that may appear as a result of a past action. After all, your vision is being over stimulated in a way that games believe to be compensatory. Yet while your visual sense is being stimulated, Eichenbaum believes that gaming also has a positive effect on executive functioning, specifically in frontal lobe and the ability to make decisions, plan ahead, switch tasks, and multitasking.

I believe that a lot of these benefits can be traced to the very basic cognitive definition of elaborative rehearsal. I thought of this automatically primarily because it has been primed, but also because when I think about gaming, I think about the fact that these people are playing the same game over and over again. So they are repeating the information but in a way that is meaningful: learning what to do from previous experience. On another note, I thought about unintentional learning, the idea that they do not think they are learning, much less sitting in front of a book on how to successfully accomplish the goal of the game. Instead, they are thinking they are engaging in this activity for fun and not doing any precious research on how to accomplish the goal. In my perspective, gaming can help you to think faster on your toes, while taking into consideration the best available option.

If you are anything like me, you like to prove people wrong. So take advantage of this opportunity, call your mom, and tell her that she was wrong. Also keep this in mind, when you have kids of your own. Save yourself from that call from tem telling you that you were wrong.

If you want to read some more about this topic, here are the links.

Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201502/cognitive-benefits-playing-video-games

Research: http://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/7-1-article-video-games.pdf

Brian Williams possible case of misremembering.

 

While covering a story on the Iraq War in 2003, NBC news anchor Brian Williams was a passenger in a helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. His story has since changed. Recently, after being questioned on the validity of his story reporters found out that it didn’t really happen – that he was in a following aircraft not impacted by the grenade. Many think that he purposefully twisted the story and lied to his viewers. This however, may not be the case if looked at from a psychologist’s perspective. In many past cases, people have misremembered events big and small. This article by the New York Times http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/09/was-brian-williams-a-victim-of-false-memory/?ref=health&_r=0 uses psychological research to counteract the argument at hand. According to this article, Mr.Williams may have actually misremembered this traumatic event.

The phenomena of misremembering happens to millions of people on a regular basis, including famous figures such as Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. It never occurred to me that this problem could be something so controversial because it seems like a natural part of the brain’s processing. The brain performs so many tasks at any given moment that it’s nearly impossible to remember every event and detail correctly. I often find myself recalling childhood memories one way when they may have unfolded another.

These false memories, according to Harvard Psychologist Daniel Schacter, happen because our brains mean to tell stories about the future. “If memory is set up to use the past to imagine the future, its flexibility creates a vulnerability — a risk of confusing imagination with reality.” This may be an explanation for Brian William’s case because he imagined the rocket-propelled grenade striking the helicopter which would in turn justify the flexibility proposal. It did indeed create vulnerability mostly because according to Taylor Beck, author of Making Sense of Memory http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/08/making-sense-of-memory/, emotions are the basis of memories. This situation created intense emotional arousal which would have made it simple for Williams to think the rocket struck his helicopter directly.

The part of the brain responsible for these emotional attachments to events is the hippocampus. Beck describes it as a “simulator”, creating movies in the mind of memories, drawing from a memory store to build new episodes. However, the brain does not store memories in just one part – it stores them in scattered fragments, which is why it is so difficult to gather all of the correct information for every memory. After several iterations of memory retrieval, the brain may mistake the original memory with newer memories from factors in the environment such as media. This may lead to the storage of false memories that can be told time and time again as if they happened in real life. The biggest issue here is that the individual thinks these memories are true. This is yet another explanation as to why Brian Williams’ false memory account for him supposedly twisting his story to mislead his viewers.

Although I am in no way certain what truly happened in Brian Williams’ case, countless sources support the fact that this may have been an instance of misremembering by the brain that happened subconsciously.

 

Gaming and Cognitive Functioning

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For my first blog post I decided to look for something that is of interest to the general public, but also has some sort of interesting connection to cognitive psychology. One of the first things that came to mind was video games. They are literally everywhere. If we are not playing one at home, most of us tend to have a game or two on our phones. I was interested in seeing if any articles had been written, or any studies had been done to connect these two different subjects. So, I started searching the internet and to my surprise I found a few articles on the topic that seem to be legit.

This article started off discussing how enhancing cognitive function of our brain, through gaming, we can be more effective learners. They aren’t just talking about any ordinary video game. They call the technique gamification. Gamification uses the element of games to motivate and engage the user. The theory itself is that you can use game techniques to have people learn and solve problems in a non-gaming setting. This concept first came out in 2002, but only started receiving recognition in 2010. Although it is becoming more and more popular, it is still being criticized for only being able to work half of the brain. It is said that these game will have some benefit, but it is impossible to optimize brain connectivity, and grow new neurons playing a game on a two-dimensional screen.

 

There is a belief that there are types of gamification, structural and content. This belief comes from award winning training professional, Karl Kapp. Structural gamification is the application of game-like elements but with no alteration to content. An example of this would be an employee doing training for the company they work for. As they complete the training they are rewarded by points. The game-like scoring system will help distract the person from negative thought they may have about completing that task, by engaging them and enhancing cognitive functions. The second type of gamification is Content gamification. This type of gamification applies game-like elements to the content. An example of this would be when instructors add practical challenges and tasks to programs to maybe help with team-building sessions.

Even with the criticism gamification is becoming popular in the workplace.  In the workplace environment these games can increase optimism, enhance social skills through multi-player scenarios, and create meaning by making it possible for participants to achieve success. It also works as a distracter for some employees. If you are earning points for completing a work activity more like a game, you will be more willing to finish the task, and do it with a good attitude. With these positive outcomes it is clear why some many companies are experimenting with this new concept. Even the Ford Motor Company of Canada used gamification for their employees and saw benefits. It is still a growing concept, but it is thought to be something used a lot more frequently in the near future.

 

Sources: http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/blogs-post/enhancing-your-cognitive-function-through-gamification/188303

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201403/eight-habits-improve-cognitive-function

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2013/10/07/adam-penenberg-how-gamification-is-going-to-change-the-workplace/

Technology and Cognition: Helpful or Harmful?

 

Personal Technology in Class

The availability and practicality of technology has increased drastically in the last few decades alone. As the development of personal devices has progressed, and social media has increased in popularity, young people are increasingly sucked into a virtual world. This begs the question, is technology hampering or helping us? Especially in a class setting, is it problematic that students are continually “plugged into” their devices and networks? Is it distracting them or providing new and unique ways for them to connect with information?

An article in the student newspaper of Texas Tech connected with students and professors to assess their opinions regarding technology and learning. There are two basic positions. First, the article discusses the negative aspects of technology in class. Several students say that having their phones available to them in study time is detrimental to their attention and efficiency. Not only do students misjudge their own ability to multitask, but they also find themselves going to their phones for distraction when they’re bored in class, or between ideas in an essay. Secondarily, the article discusses the way that personal technology can be helpful to learning. It can provide helpful study tools, such as providing music (although studies looking at music and studying have mixed results, music can often increase positive mood while studying). More significantly, it connects students with a vast pool of information. With just a few taps, students have a world of data and research at their fingertips. Overall, the article doesn’t pass judgement on technology in the classroom, but simply interviews and presents various opinions.

The cognitive ideas behind this article include the idea of parallel processing vs. serial processing. We know that the human mind is capable of doing multiple things at once on a neural level. However, this does not mean that we are good at multitasking. Research has shown that it is very difficult for us to focus consciously on multiple things at once. A specific study cites how those individuals who were heavy media multitaskers (those who use more than one type of media at once were not actually able to multitask on cognitive tasks. Another issue with technology in the classroom addressed in this article is it’s effect on how we relate to others. This study discusses the social distancing that occurs when individuals make excessive use of the internet. Could this have something to do with the lack of involvement that occurs with technology-addicted students? Students who are already prone to social anxiety or shyness seem more likely to be addicted to the Internet. Perhaps these students are the ones that “hide” in their technology instead of participating in class discussions.

Adaptive Communication Technology in the Classroom

Adaptive Communication Technology in the Classroom

While I think that this article prompts interesting discussions, I was concerned that the article didn’t bring up several important aspects of technology in the classroom. First, it did not discuss the use of technology for adaptation and accessibility in communication. How we communicate is certainly an important aspect of cognitive psychology. My younger brother has autism and Down syndrome, and he has made progress in his communication since he began using iPads, Smartboards, and other adaptive technology. The use of images and switches and recorded voice to assist him in communicating in class has been incredibly helpful. Second, the article doesn’t mention the use of technology as a memory aide. I have known many students who use flashcard apps to practice memorization. These apps quiz you on information and cycle through the ones you struggle with. It would be interesting to look into the effectiveness of technology such as this, and how students feel about it.

What do you you all think? Does having access to technology help or harm your cognitive functions in class?

Spritzing – Sprinting through reading

After we discussed object recognition and letter recognition in class, I was reminded of an article I had read a year or so ago on Facebook about speed reading. I remembered going through this stimulation where words were flashed at you one by one creating a sentence, and one letter of the word was red (the rest of the text was black). From what I could remember, the article asserted that it could increase your reading speed to ~1000wpm (roughly 1000 words per minute) through using this version of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP). I had a strong feeling that this phenomenon would connect greatly to our in-class discussions.

Read faster

I attempted to find the original article in order to write my blog post, and was surprised to see that “Spritzing” is already taking over. Since this article emerged, the latest version of the Huffington Post has adopted Spritz, which allows you to read an article using the Spritz technology and method in order to decrease time spent reading. Other partnerships include, but are not limited to, Samsung, Intel, HP, Cengage Learning, Financial Times, and Harvard University. Spritzing has also been featured by over 1,000 publications across the globe, many including Fox Business, CNBC, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal (http://www.spritzinc.com/press-gallery/). They have also developed software to download on your computer for you to “spritz” (Spritzlet). There are also apps you can download on your phone for Spritz. The Spritz webpage has an application where you can “test yourself”, seeing how well Spritz works for you (you can try multiple reading speeds, seeing which works best for you). Spritz is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Russian and Korean. The Spritz website itself has only been recently copyrighted, making it clear how new this particular technology is.

I believed prior to reading information on the Spritz website that “spritzing” would have a lot to do with cognitive studies regarding letter detection and recognition, involving perhaps word superiority, visual search, and overall increasing accuracy and efficiency. It turns out, I had the right idea. On the website, the science behind Spritz(ing) is discussed. According to the website, the traditional style of reading (reading text in a line, moving your eyes sequentially from one word to the next) is inefficient. Each word has an ORP, or an optimal recognition point, and the ORP for each word (depending on word length) is different. During reading, your eye moves from ORP to the next ORP (eye movement = saccades), reading comprehension and retention then following the processing of the word for meaning and context. This takes a significant amount of time to do, with 80% of the time spent just moving your eyes word to word, seeking out the ORPs. Spritz highlights the ORP instead, and places the word in the right ORP spot, making it so your eye does not have to move in order to process the word. This decreases the time spent searching for these ORPs (decreasing visual search) and thereby increases your reading speed.

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The following video demonstrates the difference in eye movements (saccades) between traditional reading, Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, and Spritzing.

I honestly found all of this very interesting. I liked how the website discussed the science behind “spritzing” on its webpage, making it easy to understand the processes behind its application. I tested myself however, and although it did increase my reading speed, my reading comprehension and retention decreased a bit. I could understand what I was reading, but its 40 minutes later now and I barely remember what I read (although I do remember the general idea). Spritz seems like a useful way to save time in the long run when reading for fun, or for the general idea of things. However, if you are reading to remember (*cough cough* for cognitive psychology), I do not recommend “spritzing”. Then again, I did not test myself at every wpm level. Perhaps if I did I could find one that is just right!

http://www.spritzinc.com/

Left Brain / Right Brain

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For my January blog post, I took to Twitter to see what the “Twitterverse” had to say about Cognitive Psychology. From there I found an article called “Left Brain vs. Right Brain: The Surprising Truth” (http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/left-brain-right-brain.htm). I picked this article because I remember being in high school psychology and taking little tests and questionnaires to see if I was either Left Brained or Right Brained. Later on in college psychology classes Left Brain/Right Brain was mentioned again. Not until this semester in Dr. Rettinger’s Cognitive Psychology class, I was told the whole theory of Left Brain/Right Brain was completely inaccurate.

From the article I found, it states that the Right Brain-Left Brain theory is only just a myth. It is now believed that brain function is not just in one hemisphere or the other, it is the whole brain functioning and working together. Prior theory of Left Brain or Right Brain dominance said, if you were Left Brained you were more logical, analytical and objective or if you were Right Brained were more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. It is true that certain areas of the brain control certain functions for example language occurs on the left, and attention on the right side. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that people have a stronger left-side or right-side brain network.

During my research, I googled left brain/right brain tests and it directed me to this website, http://testyourself.psychtests.com/bin/transfer. After taking the test I received got a score of 50. According to the website “Both your right and left hemisphere seem to have reached a level of perfect harmony – rather than trying to dominant each other, they work together to create a unique and well-balanced “you”. I had the previous theory in my mind of receiving a Left or Right brain result but in reality my results were correct in that the whole brain works and functions together.

A Cogntive Review of “Memento”

Nobody in their right mind would ever accuse Hollywood of being a halfway decent source of scientific information. Understandably so, facts are twisted to service the plot, real science merges absurdly with pseudoscience, and the laws of physics are largely ignored as action heroes perform feats that defy gravity and logic. Which is completely fine- Hollywood is an entertainment business, and nobody comes to an action movie to gain a deeper understanding of the human brain. However, once in a while a movie will be both entertaining and surprisingly accurate.

Memento is a thriller that takes us inside the mind of Leonard Shelby, a hero suffering from amnesia as he single-mindedly pursues the man who killed his wife. Amnesia is great dramatic fodder for Hollywood, although its portrayal is usually improbable at best. Heroes are bopped on the head and wake up remembering nothing of their past- until another head trauma or plot convenience miraculously gives them back their memory. In most movies, amnesia is simply another plot device.

 

However, Memento is different. Unusual for Hollywood, the hero suffers from anterograde amnesia, where he remembers with perfect clarity his life before the attack that left his wife (in his recollection) dead and his brain damaged by blunt force trauma. However, Leonard cannot form any new memories, and spends the entirety of the movie in this state- leaving himself notes on his own body to give himself clues, and forgetting character reveals and betrayals midway through a scene. Several scenes show him frantically jotting down something important on a photograph before his amnesia forces him to forget. The film has a fragmented, twisty feel that actually does a lot of justice to real cases of anterograde amnesia.

 

In Latin, the word for “seahorse” is hippocampus. Located under the medial temporal lobe, the hippocampus is highly involved in long-term memory. It is hypothesized that the hippocampus serves as a “gateway” for new memories- they must travel through the hippocampus before being stored permanently as long-term memories in the brain. Damage to the hippocampus, whether by injury, infection, or chronic alcoholism (Korsakoff’s syndrome) can result in anterograde amnesia. Like in Memento, people with anterograde amnesia may be able to access old memories already laid down in long term storage. However, they will not be able to form new memories, due to failures in encoding and storage. A famous case of anterograde amnesia is patient H.M. – apparently an inspiration for the director of Memento.

 

Before he became a vigilante hunting down “John G”, Leonard was an insurance investigator. In light of his amnesia, it seems unlikely that Leonard would be able to maintain any of the new skills he learned hunting for John G. However, even this can have a cognitive basis. Research has shown that people with retrograde amnesia can retain their procedural memory, which is involved with learning skills and habits. This is because the hippocampus is not involved in procedural memory the same way it is involved in declarative, or autobiographical, memories.

 

On top of being a stellar movie in its own right, Memento has the additional value of being an atypically cognitively solid movie by Hollywood standards. In fact, the most improbable thing seems to be why Leonard wasn’t under hospital care or study, instead of being free to track down a rapist.

Horrorscopes

If you ask someone what their blood type is, a fundamental aspect of what their body is comprised of, odds are they might not know. However, if you ask them something important, like what their Zodiac sign is, they’ll answer with no hesitation. For example, I’ll be able to tell you that I’m a Leo without a second thought. Some people live under the false notion that their zodiac sign is a major determining factor in their overall personality, but could this be true? Is it possible that there are only 12 different types of personality in over 7 billion people? And is it likely that you’ll be having the exact same kind of day with 1/12th of the population based on an arbitrary assignment? According to horoscopes, yes, you and 1 in every 12 people will find love today in the place you least expect it.

But why do people believe that the cosmos have an effect on personality? There’s this thing called subjective validation which basically states that two completely unrelated events are connected because a relationship is demanded. In other words, we find a way to make our horoscope apply to us. This “relationship” between the stars and personalities was put to the test by psychologist Bertram Forer. He gave a “unique” personality assessment to a group of students based on  a personality exam that they took and asked them to rate the accuracy of their assessment on a scale from 0 to 5, 5 being the most accurate. The average score was 4.26/5, meaning that everyone thought their personality assessment accurately captured how they view themselves. But here comes the plot twist:

Every student’s “unique” result was actually the exact same one.

What Forer basically did is he took a line or two from each horoscope’s description and compiled them into a single paragraph. This is where subjective validation comes into play. Odds are, people paid more attention to the “hits” rather than the “misses” in this paragraph and tried to make the traits apply to them. This unique paragraph also consisted of a number of Barnum statements, or statements that could apply equally to anyone. For example, “you have a great desire to be liked by everyone around you.” Well yeah, I haven’t met anyone whose sole goal in life was to be hated by everyone in their life.

To further debunk the astrological myth, all you have to do is look around you. The 25% of people who rely on “compatibility” to find destiny’s one true love for them are living under the world’s greatest delusion. My best friend is a Sagittarius and I’m a Leo, so apparently we’re supposed to be enemies. My parents are also supposed to remain as friends. 40 years of marriage and 5 kids would all beg to differ. Does compatibility largely rely on personality? Of course it does! But does personality rely on the stars? Not at all. This is one of those moments where A = B but B C, so it should logically follow that A C.

But what are some of the factors that make horoscopes so convincing? First of all, the subject believes that the unique description of how their day/week/month/year/life will pan out applies only to them, hence the term unique. However, as I’ve said before, this “unique” description applies to 1 in every 12 people. This is where you have to keep in mind that snowflakes are the only things that are abundant yet still remain unique, unlike humans. What’s more, people tend to believe what’s being told to them if they’re being told by a veritable source of authority, such as a psychic with a turban, a crystal ball, and maybe some incense burning in the back room to set the mood. So with this divine being forecasting your future and your love life, of course there will be some sense of credibility to it. But again, this is where people tend to make their own self-fulfilling prophecies.

Another experiment was carried out by French astrologist, Michel Gauquelin. He provided readers of a French newspaper with a free horoscope so long as they provided feedback of the accuracy of the prediction. Lo and behold, over 90% of the readers said their prediction was accurate. This is where the next trick comes in: the horoscope was exactly the same for all readers, much like Forer’s experiment.

What’s more, personality may change but not as quickly as some people may think. In 2011, the planet underwent some slight realignment, which meant that the stars realigned as well and therefore changed everyone’s zodiac sign. I was a Leo before this change and apparently now I’m a Cancer (a change I refuse to accept because I liked being a lion and I don’t know how to feel about being demoted to a teeny little crab). But this means that everyone’s personalities will change as a result, making those who were introverted before relatively extroverted because their date of birth fell within a different range. Just because the signs changed, that doesn’t mean that personalities changed overnight.

So when determining your personality, don’t rely so much on horoscopes. Consult a psychological examination backed by a credible institution or just ask the people around you and obtain some Informant Data. Better yet, do some introspecting and ask yourself rather than the crystal ball.