Social Mood Conference  |  Socionomics Foundation

The 2014 Socionomics Conference

By Robert Folsom | February 14, 2014

Psychology has terms like “cognitive dissonance” to describe how our memories of events and experiences can depart from the facts. This kind of faulty memory is not an attempt to deceive: instead, certain beliefs or emotions literally alter an individual’s perception and memory.

Cognitive dissonance is a mouthful, yet all it really means is ‘brain noise.’ Those of us who are painfully honest will admit to having minor (even major) episodes of this sometimes in our lives. Even the best and most objective recall is flawed – and that’s before you add emotions and belief systems to the mix.

But that’s memory — the stuff of the past. What about missing major details in real time? In other words, looking at something and simply not seeing it. How often does THAT happen?

A lot more than you’d probably care to know, according to a growing body of research.

The astonishing lack of attention we pay to our surroundings has been highlighted by research conducted by Dr. Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois and Dr. Daniel Levin of Vanderbilt University…. In one experiment, people who were walking across a college campus were asked by a stranger for directions. During the resulting chat, two men carrying a wooden door passed between the stranger and the subjects. After the door went by, the subjects were asked if they had noticed anything change.

Half of those tested failed to notice that, as the door passed by, the stranger had been substituted with a man who was of different height, of different build and who sounded different. He was also wearing different clothes.

Despite the fact that the subjects had talked to the stranger for 10-15 seconds before the swap, half of them did not detect that, after the passing of the door, they had ended up speaking to a different person.

Yes, it gets worse.

Working with Christopher Chabris at Harvard University, Simons came up with another demonstration that has now become a classic, based on a videotape of a handful of people playing basketball. They played the tape to subjects and asked them to count the passes made by one of the teams.

Around half failed to spot a woman dressed in a gorilla suit who walked slowly across the scene for nine seconds, even though this hairy interloper had passed between the players and stopped to face the camera and thump her chest.

However, if people were simply asked to view the tape, they noticed the gorilla easily. The effect is so striking that some of them refused to accept they were looking at the same tape and thought that it was a different version of the video, one edited to include the ape.

Prof Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire recently repeated this experiment before a live audience in London … and found that only 10 per cent of the 400 or so people who saw the show managed to spot the gorilla.

Nobody wants to miss the obvious. If anything, most of us want to see what most people miss.

Socionomics does this and more. One of our subscribers put it this way:

“I find it impossible to follow the events of the world

without wearing my new socionomic spectacles.”

When I say “socionomics does this and more,” I’m talking about the annual Socionomics Conference this April 5 in Atlanta. We present not only our latest research in the Socionomics Institute, but also an outstanding roster of scholars, writers, researchers and financial professionals – leaders in the field of social mood, behavioral finance, and more.

Put on the right glasses.


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