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Category — Psychology

Black Friday Bystanders And The Diffusion Of Responsibility

or No One Raindrop Thinks It Caused The Flood


Almost every year we hear about scenes of consumer chaos and lunatic stampedes as shoppers knock each other down while trying to snatch up quality deals on Black Friday. This year an unfortunate man in New York was trampled to death in a Wal-Mart by a bastard herd of sub-humans who didn’t even look back at his body after they crushed him to death with their very nice shoes.

They have to be sub-humans, right? That’s the only way we can rationalize something like this. This has to be a one-of-a-kind incident where a group of sociopaths were all at the same place at the same time. Real, well-adjusted people would have stopped and helped that man. You would have taken charge of that situation and helped that poor man up and scolded the people who didn’t. Everyone thinks that. But no one ever does that.
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November 28, 2008   2 Comments

Be Prepared For Black Friday and Cyber Monday


If you’re unaware, have forgotten, or have been living in Soviet Russia for the past decade, step out of your time machine and onto the fertile ground of faux-capitalist America… it’s almost BLACK FRIDAY. The time of great discounts is nearly upon us. Prepare, prepare!

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s generally considered the first day of the holiday shopping season when stores start their special deals and discounts, and when you can usually get some of the best deals of pre-Christmas season. Cyber Monday, on the other hand, is the online shopping equivalent of Black Friday. It’s the Monday right after Black Friday and is really more of an advertising gimmick than an actual heavy shopping day. Either way, there are deals to be had on both days, and they’re fast approaching, so you need to get yourself together and make sure you’re ready for the traditional ultra-feast of American consumerism.
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November 27, 2008   Comments Off

Facts and Interpretation: The 2008 Election Result Maps


Every day, you’re assaulted with advertisements and news and non-stop information. And every single person spewing that information has an agenda, even the “unbiased” journalists and news anchors and political pundits and survey takers. Everyone has a mind, and each mind has it’s own opinions, and those opinions make their way into the information being spewed. That’s just how it is.

So when you read articles or hear reports with seemingly hard, indisputable facts, you have to take it all with a grain of salt. Consider the recent election.

Scientific American ran an article with 6 different maps all showing the election results across the United States, all in a different way. It’s the way they’re displayed that determines everything. Check it out:
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November 11, 2008   Comments Off

Understanding The Human Herd Mentality


Researchers at Leeds University, led by Prof Jens Krause, performed a series of experiments where volunteers were told to randomly walk around a large hall without talking to each other. A select few were then given more detailed instructions on where to walk. The scientists discovered that people end up blindly following one or two people who appear to know where they’re going.

The published results showed that it only takes 5% of what the scientists called “informed individuals” to influence the direction of a crowd of around 200 people. The remaining 95% follow without even realizing it.
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November 11, 2008   31 Comments

Who Are The Real Monsters In The Monster Years?


I don’t generally agree with Paul Krugman. Most people in his own profession don’t generally agree with Paul Krugman, but he has a voice and it’s loud in the American scene, so I’ll address it.

He says we just ended “the monster years“; 14 years of monster rule, in fact. I agree with him there, partially. Although I think he completely misses the point. What he fails to address is what caused those monster years. He fails to address the (ir)rationality of the American voter.

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November 10, 2008   2 Comments

The Power Of “Framing Effects” And Other Cognitive Biases


Human beings tend to think they’re rational creatures, and that they make sound decisions based on all the available facts. They think their memory is an accurate record of things that have happened to them. But the reality is that we all have a slew of cognitive biases that can alter our thinking… and even our memories.

Psychologists have names for all the different fallacies and biases that influences our thinking: cognitive dissonance, inattentional blindness, blind spot bias, better-than-average bias, introspection illusion, self-serving bias, attribution bias, representative fallacy, availability fallacy, anchoring fallacy, hindsight bias, and the one I’ll be talking about here: framing effects
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November 6, 2008   6 Comments

Philip Zimbardo: How ordinary people become monsters … or heroes

This is a great talk by Philip Zimbardo about what evil is. Evil, he says, is not a individual condition, it’s the result of circumstances. He cites the Stanley Milgram’s experiment on human behavior, and the Stanford prison experiment and the problems at Abu Ghraib, all leading up to the conclusion that all humans are equally capable of evil.

What does this have to do with advertising? Advertising is social psychology. To understand how advertising affects people, you have to understand why people follow the group and how the brain works. This is a wonderful video on that subject. Check it out.

October 27, 2008   2 Comments

The Power Of Conformity: How To Actually Change A Persons Thoughts With Advertising

In the 1950′s, psychologist Solomon Asch performed a series of now famous experiments on social conformity. In the re-enactment video above, you can get a good idea of what they were about.

All of them involved a group of participants answering some very simple questions about their perception (for example: which line was longer than the other?, which lines were the same length?, etc.). All but one of those participants were “confederates”, meaning they were in on the experiment, and were asked to give the same incorrect answers. Asch wanted to see how the remaining subject would react to the rest of the participants behavior.

The results were startling: When they were surrounded by participants giving an incorrect answer, 75% of the subjects followed along and gave the same incorrect answer at least once, and 37% of the subjects followed along and gave an incorrect answer the majority of the time.
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October 25, 2008   Comments Off