Tag Archives: Psychology

Psychology Phenomena {42} ~ The Ringelmann Effect

The Ringelmann effect is the tendency for individual members of a group to become increasingly less productive as the size of their group increases. This effect, discovered by French agricultural engineer Maximilien Ringelmann (1861–1931), illustrates the inverse relationship that exists between the size of a group and the magnitude of group members’ individual contribution to the completion of a task. While studying the relationship between process loss (i.e., reductions in performance effectiveness or efficiency) and group productivity, Ringelmann (1913) found that having group members work together on a task (e.g., pulling a rope) actually results in significantly less effort than when individual members are acting alone. Ringelmann discovered that as more and more people are added to a group, the group often becomes increasingly inefficient, ultimately violating the notion that group effort and team participation reliably leads to increased effort on behalf of the members.

Psychology Phenomena {41} ~ The Rashmon Effect

The Rashomon effect is a term used in film related to the notorious unreliability of eyewitnesses. It describes a situation in which an event is given contradictory interpretations or descriptions by the individuals involved, and is a storytelling and writing method in cinema meant to provide different perspectives and point of views of the same incident.

Psychology Phenomena {40} ~ Suicide Contagion

A copycat suicide is defined as an emulation of another suicide that the person attempting suicide knows about either from local knowledge or due to accounts or depictions of the original suicide on television and in other media. The publicized suicide serves as a trigger, in the absence of protective factors, for the next suicide by a susceptible or suggestible person. This is referred to as suicide contagion.

A spike of emulation suicides after a widely publicized suicide is known as the Werther effect, following Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Suicides occasionally spread through a school system, through a community, or in terms of a celebrity suicide wave, nationally. This is called a suicide cluster. Suicide clusters are caused by the social learning of suicide-related behaviours, or “copycat suicides”. Point clusters are clusters of suicides in both time and space, and have been linked to direct social learning from nearby individuals. Mass clusters are clusters of suicides in time but not space, and have been linked to the broadcasting of information concerning celebrity suicides via the mass media.

Psychology Phenomena {39} ~ Pluralistic Ignorance

In social psychology, pluralistic ignorance is a situation in which a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but go along with it because they assume, incorrectly, that most others accept it. This is also described as “no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes”. Pluralistic ignorance is a bias about a social group, held by the members of that social group.

Pluralistic ignorance may help to explain the bystander effect. If no-one acts, onlookers may believe others consider taking action to be improper, and may therefore themselves refrain from acting.

Psychology Phenomena {38} ~ The Lady Macbeth Effect

The supposed Lady Macbeth effect or Macbeth effect is a priming effect said to occur when response to a cleaning cue is increased after having been induced by a feeling of shame. The effect is named after the Lady Macbeth character in the Shakespeare play Macbeth; she imagined bloodstains on her hands after committing murder.

A painting by Gabriel von Max depicting Lady Macbeth attempting to clean her hand with the folded edge of her dress
In one experiment, different groups of participants were asked to recall a good or bad past deed, after which they were asked to fill in the letters of three incomplete words: “W_ H”, “SH ER” and “S _P”. Those who had been asked to recall a bad deed were about 60% more likely to respond with cleansing-related words like “wash”, “shower” and “soap” instead of alternatives such as “wish”, “shaker” or “stop”.

In another experiment, experimenters were able to reduce choice-supportive bias by having subjects engage in forms of self-cleaning.

The effect is apparently localized enough that those who had been asked to lie verbally preferred an oral cleaning product and those asked to lie in writing preferred a hand cleaning product over the other kind of cleanser and other control items.

Other researchers have been unable to replicate the basic effect using larger samples. Replication difficulties have emerged for three out of four of Zhong and Liljenquist’s original studies. A meta-analysis of 15 studies examining the relationship between primes related to moral threat and cleansing preferences found a small effect, with no significant relationship evident across 11 studies conducted by researchers other than the original ones.

Psychology Phenomena {37} ~ The Missing Letter Effect

In cognitive psychology, the missing letter effect refers to the finding that, when people are asked to consciously detect target letters while reading text, they miss more letters in frequent function words (e.g. the letter “h” in “the”) than in less frequent, content words. Understanding how, why and where this effect arises becomes useful in explaining the range of cognitive processes that are associated with reading text. The missing letter effect has also been referred to as the reverse word superiority effect, since it describes a phenomenon where letters in more frequent words fail to be identified, instead of letter identification benefitting from increased word frequency.

The method in which researchers utilise to measure this effect is termed a letter detection task. This involves a paper-and-pencil procedure, where readers are asked to circle a target letter, such as “t” every time they come across it while reading a prose passage or text. Researchers measure the number of letter detection errors, or missed circled target letters, in the texts. The missing letter effect is more likely to appear when reading words that are part of a normal sequence, than when words are embedded in a mixed-up sequence (e.g. readers asked to read backwards).

Despite the missing letter effect being a common phenomenon, there are different factors that have influence on the magnitude of this effect. Age (development), language proficiency and the position of target letters in words are some of these factors.

Did You Know {172} ~ Smiles Are Innate, Not Learned

It’s heartening to know that your most joyful reaction is something you’re simply born wanting to do. “Individuals blind from birth could not have learned to control their emotions in this way through visual learning, so there must be another mechanism,” San Francisco State University psychologist David Matsumoto said in a statement. “It could be that our emotions, and the systems to regulate them, are vestiges of our evolutionary ancestry.

Psychology Phenomena {35} ~ Naïve Realism

In social psychology, naïve realism is the human tendency to believe that we see the world around us objectively, and that people who disagree with us must be uninformed, irrational, or biased.

Naïve realism provides a theoretical basis for several other cognitive biases, which are systematic errors when it comes to thinking and making decisions. These include the false consensus effect, actor-observer bias, bias blind spot, and fundamental attribution error, among others.

The term, as it is used in psychology today, was coined by social psychologist Lee Ross and his colleagues in the 1990s. It is related to the philosophical concept of naïve realism, which is the idea that our senses allow us to perceive objects directly and without any intervening processes. Social psychologists in the mid-20th century argued against this stance and proposed instead that perception is inherently subjective.

Several prominent social psychologists have studied naïve realism experimentally, including Lee Ross, Andrew Ward, Dale Griffin, Emily Pronin, Thomas Gilovich, Robert Robinson, and Dacher Keltner. In 2010, the Handbook of Social Psychology recognized naïve realism as one of “four hard-won insights about human perception, thinking, motivation and behavior that … represent important, indeed foundational, contributions of social psychology.”