Author Archives: avchamp

Confirmation Bias and Fake News

In the text book, confirmation bias is defined as a family of effects in which people seem more sensitive to evidence that confirms their beliefs than they are to evidence that challenges their beliefs.

In a shorter version, it can also be defined as the “tendency to seek out information that confirms what we already know or believe to be true”, according to an article written by David Braucher. In his article he talked about fake news and biases. Specifically about confirmation bias, he brought up a meme he came across with Trump saying if he were to run for president, he would do so as a republican, because republican voters are dumb and believe anything. This image was quoted to  from 1998. Braucher was quick to believe it, however, he admitted to overlooking the fact that the image from the meme was taken 10 years prior to the time of this quote. In addition he stated that “publishing such a statement would be obviously counterproductive for a Presidential bid”. The meme confirmed what he thought, and therefore he believed it.

In addition to talking about confirmation bias, he also brought up implicit bias. He defined it as “the idea that as humans we have a tendency to group people into categories”. He mentioned that he received the meme of Trump from a member of his political affiliation (liberal) so he trusted it; and that as a liberal he has an implicit bias against republicans.

Braucher then goes on to talk about the combination of confirmation bias and implicit bias:

“When implicit biases and confirmation biases work together, their potential to lead us astray increases exponentially. As our implicit bias leads us to trust and view more positively those of our own group, we become more insulated, only hearing from people of our own group. As those of our own group share our beliefs, they share “facts” that confirm our beliefs. It is a feedback loop, and we end up living in a bubble.”

I thought this was an interesting perspective, as I had never thought of the interaction of confirmation bias and implicit bias before. However, the most interesting take on this article was when Braucher brought up social media into the mix. The most well known example being of Facebook: when all your Facebook friends consist of people who identify in the same political affiliation as you, all you will see is news that supports your confirmation bias. No liberal is going to share an article that supports Trump.



concussions and amnesia

As I was looking for memes I searched for concussion memes (in hopes of finding something I can tie into cognitive psychology, likely amnesia) which was when I stumbled upon this gem. Right off the bat there were a few things I noticed that I found to be quite comical. First, all over his jersey, there are signs saying “handle with care” and “keep upright”. Seeing these reminded me of a movie where there was a football player who constantly got concussions and they would poke fun at him, saying one more hit and you will be out, better be careful… I also noticed that the grammar was wrong. Instead of I’ve it says Iv’e. This may have been an error but I like to think it was done on purpose.

I found an article from Medial Daily online and it had a video that talked about concussions and memory loss an how it can lead to memory problems. In the video they showed a clip of Hank Green (known for his crash course videos). Many posts I have seen talk about movies where a main character got amnesia from a car crash or some other accident. This article goes in depth about concussion induced amnesia and how they are real and are extremely serious. While the most common causes of amnesia include strokes, brain surgery, and brain infections; concussions are just as serious. A concussion occurs when “a bump to your head or body rattles your brain around in your skull, damaging delicate tissue” according to Green. He then goes on to explain how blows like this may make you feel minor headaches, or tired, but the effects are more serious. When you take a hit to your head, the fragile neurons in your brain are “sloshed” around and can lead to post traumatic amnesia. After that he goes in depth about the biology of it all. Towards the middle of the video Green begins to talk about the two types of amnesia: retrograde and anterograde, both of which can be caused by concussions. Just to refresh your minds, retrograde amnesia is when you forget things that have happened in the past, aka before the injury. It is fairly common for athletes who get concussions to forget what happened in the moments leading up to their injury. In more severe cases, athletes can forget days, weeks, or even years, leading up to their injury. Green explained that as the brain tissue heals, some of the moments can begin to come back. This is actually something I did not know until I watched the video. Then you have anterograde amnesia. This is when you are incapable of creating new memories (Ex: Dory from Finding Nemo). Concussions can also cause you to have troubles paying attention following the injury.

Watching this video gave me a better understanding about how serious concussions are. Also I learned about the biological reasoning behind concussions and amnesia in a way that actually made sense to me.

If you would like to watch the video in full you can click the link below:

Concussion And Memory Loss: Amnesia From Head Injury Rattles Brain Chemistry, Leads to Cognitive, Memory Problems-

Cognitive Illusions

For this blog post, I decided to go with a meme about cognitive illusions, one of the topics we discussed in class. I chose this specific image because we did not talk much about this one in class, however, it was probably one of the first images I came across in psychology.

In this illusion, depending on how you look at the image, you can see either a young woman or an old lady that looks like a witch, almost. The old lady is a profile view, and the young lady is looking over her shoulder. Where the old lady’s mouth is, the young lady is wearing a choker or necklace. Where the old lady’s eye is, the young lady’s ear is.

Ironically, my sensation and perception class with Professor Mailloux also went over optical illusions and topics including figure/ground perception and rules of segregation (in perception) which are similar to topics we discussed about in cognitive. Segregation rules include: depth, surroundedness, parallelism, convexity (edges that curve outwards tend to create figures), meaningfulness, orientation, and simplicity. Another process involved in recognizing visual objects is perceptual organization. Steps for this involve represent visual edges, represent regions bound by edges, identify regions as “figure” or “ground” (aka segregation), group similar regions, and lastly fill in missing edges and regions. As an example specific to this image, the convexity of the old lady’s nose can imply that she could be the main figure of the image. However, someone seeing the convexity of the young lady’s jawline can infer that the young woman is the main figure of the image. Although these steps and rules are not specifically relevant to this type of image, and mostly applies to patterns of cognitive/optical illusions, I still found it very intriguing and decided to share.


Cognitive Dissonance

Throughout the election season and President Trump’s term, there are many people to point out his flaws. One of them being the recurrence of cognitive dissonance. I have never been more fascinated as to how many times someone can have inconsistent beliefs on so many different topics. Therefore, I decided to combine that with my passion for memes. Many people are familiar with the evil Kermit meme, for those who are not, in the Muppets Most Wanted movie, there is a scene where Kermit the frog is seen interacting with his evil lookalike Constantine (who wears a black coat). From that someone created a meme out of it that went viral. The meme that the user created quoted “me: sees a fluffy dog… me to me: steal him.” This meme is quite popular in the world of memes and I thought it fit my topic of cognitive dissonance very well. When I was creating the meme, I was stuck between writing about the Megyn Kelly topic and a nuclear weapon topic. I decided to go with the Megyn Kelly one because it was a little less controversial. If you are interested in seeing the other one, let me know in the comments!

In this meme, specifically, I am referencing when President Trump had an interview with Megyn Kelly in 2011 where she asked him if he thought he was better than her. He replied saying that he did not have a chance, etc. Then, in 2016, Trump ranted about how she is a nasty woman and not very good at what she does.

Cognitive dissonance, according to Merriam-Webster is a psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously. Cognitive dissonance is interesting to me because, is ironically is very relatable at surface level. Especially as displayed in the original meme: sees dog, steal him kind of way. A very popular example of cognitive dissonance is when people smoke regardless of knowing that it is highly linked to lung cancer.

Cognitive dissonance was first studied by Leon Festinger. He came out of an observation study on a cult which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to the members when it didn’t happen. The cognitive dissonance theory suggests that people have an inner drive to hold their attitudes and beliefs in harmony and avoid dissonance; which can also be known as the principle of cognitive consistency. It also represents a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions. When dissonance arises, there are three ways it can be reduced: Change one or more of the cognitions to make the relationship between the two elements, one constant; seek new information to outweigh dissonant beliefs; or reduce the importance of the cognitions.

I am not the most creative, artistic, or inventive person, so if you have any tips or pointers on improving meme-making skills let me know!

DISCLAIMER: this is in no way to offend anyone, it was used as an example to display cognitive dissonance, using current events.