Cryptomnesia

Woman sitting on the typewriterCryptomnesia refers to a memory bias by which a person recalls a memory but misidentifies it as a new thought. This eerie process causes a forgotten memory to return without being recognized as a memory. The person does not consciously engage in plagiarism but he or she experiences the recollection as if it were a new or his own original idea. In social situations, cryptomnesia often comes up as an annoying idiosyncrasy, but it has far greater relevance for, and may result in serious consequences, in the art world. For instance, an artist or an author may commit plagiarism without even realizing what is happening. According to psychologists, cryptomnesia is a source-monitoring error which happens when we fail to register the source of information. As human brain amasses memories, details are ranked. In this filtering process, the origins of facts often fall secondary to the facts themselves. Cryptomnesia may, in fact, be a byproduct of an otherwise efficient memory system.

The McGurk Effect

The-McGurk-Effect written on black backgroundThe McGurk Effect is a perceptual phenomenon named after Scottish psychologist Harry McGurk, who was also co-author of the first article on the phenomenon, titled “Hearing Lips and Seeing Voices” which was published in Nature journal in 1976. The phenomenon involves an interaction between visual and auditory perception in speech. This occurs when sound of a speech does not match with the shape of the lips that produce that sound, thereby leading to perception of a word that actually has not been spoken at all. The best example would be when the video image of a person saying bay is dubbed with a sound corresponding to the usual pronunciation of the word gay causing the listener to perceive an intermediate word day. The brain, in this case, combines the auditory part of one sound with the visual perception of another sound, which ultimately results in the perception of a sound that was not even uttered. The phenomenon takes place when the listener is in a crowded room or when the speaker is speaking very softly and the former cannot hear the sound that well. The McGurk effect demonstrates that visual channel sends critical information not just to the people who are deaf but also to the listeners who can hear normally.

The Baader–Meinhof Effect or Frequency Illusion

Text written on grey backgroundThe BAADER–MEINHOF EFFECT, also known as frequency illusion, is a cognitive bias and refers to a phenomenon where things or objects that an individual has recently noticed like a name, a word, etc. suddenly seems to appear with strange frequency afterwards. In this phenomenon, the person who has recently paid attention to something obscure or unfamiliar begins to encounter that newly learned information in unanticipated situations. It gives an impression that out of nowhere, the new information is rapidly surrounding him. The reason is that the brain starts noticing the thing, which was once unfamiliar. One interesting thing about this phenomenon is that it is not named after the linguist who did research on it. Rather it is named after a West German militant group which was founded in 1970. However, the militant group has nothing to do with the phenomenon. It was named after the group when a reader of St Paul Pioneer Press first noticed the mention and then randomly heard two references within 24 hours out of nowhere. The phenomenon is a result of two cognitive processes namely selective attention and confirmation bias.

Fregoli Syndrome

Fregoli syndrome is a rare psychological disorder in which the person affected believes that different people around him or her are in fact same but appear different because they are in disguise. It is also called delusional misidentification syndrome where strangers are perceived as familiar people in disguise. It can be said that it is a delusion of over-identification, in contrast to Capgras syndrome, which is a case of under-identification. The disorder was named after an Italian actor, Leopoldo Fregoli, who was famous for his ability to impersonate famous political personalities. It is believed to be caused by serious injury to parietal and temporal regions of the brain or neural pathways.

Jamais Vu

The term JAMAIS VU in psychology is borrowed from the French language and means ‘never seen’ in English. It refers to the phenomenon in which the observer experiences a situation, which is although familiar to him or her, suddenly seems very unfamiliar as if being seen or experienced for the first time. Jamais vu is often described as the opposite of another phenomenon called deja vu, which refers to the feeling of having already experienced what is happening at present. Involving a sense of strangeness, Jamais vu gives the observer an impression of seeing something for the first time in spite of being rationally aware of having seen or been in the situation before. This phenomenon can be easily created by writing or saying a specific word out loud several times. After a few seconds one will feel that the word sounds weird and unfamiliar and that it makes no sense.

The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect (BFLP)

The concept of BIG-FISH-LITTLE-POND was first observed by Australian educational psychologist Herbert W. Marsh and colleague. The effect was published in an article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1984. The findings were substantiated in a survey of 4,000 15-year-olds, carried out in 26 countries by Marsh and associate. The findings were published in the Journal of American Psychologist in 2003.

The big-fish-little-pond effect refers to the propensity of equally able schoolchildren to show lower academic self-esteem when attending a school in which the average ability level of other children is high than when it is low. The phenomenon is believed to be the outcome of social comparison processes, and it means that children who attend academically selective schools have a low level of academic self-esteem as compared to when they attend academically non-selective schools.

According to the theory, children who study in higher-achieving schools compare themselves with their peers and consider themselves less capable, while equally performing students in lower-achieving settings have more confidence. The effect is evident across all subjects, be it math or science or history, and at all levels of education. Students from both low-income and high-income background exhibit it. And countries all around the world see it.

Researchers have observed that when you are a “big fish” (high-achieving student) in a “little pond” (lower-achieving school), you have a more positive academic self-concept. Conversely, when equally talented students (little fish) are in high-achieving environments (big pond), they compare themselves with their peers and conclude that they don’t measure up.

The Cocktail Party Effect

The COCKTAIL PARTY EFFECT is the phenomenon of being able to focus one’s auditory attention on a particular stimulus while filtering out other simultaneous stimuli. Due to this effect an individual can concentrate on a single source of auditory stimuli among the multiple sources of noise. The cocktail party effect was defined by Colin Cherry, a British scientist, in 1953. This effect enables people to converse in noisy settings such as in a cocktail party or a musical concert.

The phenomenon is related to our perception, attention, and consciousness and it indicates that there can be different levels of consciousness which makes it possible for an individual to be more or less aware of sensory inputs even when he/she is not paying attention to them.

This is due to cocktail party effect that when someone hears a word or phrase important to him/her, such as one’s name, it immediately catches his/her attention and shifts the focus even when he or she has not been paying attention to that auditory stimuli.

Imposter Phenomenon or Imposter Syndrome

Imposter phenomenon, also known as imposter syndrome, refers to a subjective experience of phoniness in individuals who think that they are not capable, intelligent, or creative despite evidence of high achievement, and who are highly motivated to achieve but live in perpetual fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds. The sufferer feels that the success is the result of just luck and not because of his/her qualifications or talent. It was first explained in the year 1978 by two US psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzzane A Imes in an article titled ‘The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention.’ According to the article, women were more susceptible to the phenomenon. However, recent researches have shown that it affects both men and women equally. In other words it is a pervasive and persistent feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence inspite of often overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The phenomenon affects people who are smart and intelligent and often at the time of some big achievement. As per the International Journal of Behavioral Science, about 70 % of individuals suffer from this phenomenon at some point in their lives.

Pica (Disorder)

Pica is a term that refers to cravings for substances that are largely non-nutritive or rather non-foods, such as hair, paper, ice, glue soil, stones, drywall or paint, sharp objects, metal, glass, chalk, etc. The word pica is derived from the Latin word for the bird magpie that feeds on whatever it encounters.

According to the current estimate of the Handbook of Clinical Child Psychology the prevalence rates of pica range from 4% to 26% among institutionalized populations. Pica is more common among children and pregnant women. People with certain mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder may also develop pica as a coping mechanism. It is usually temporary but is often more severe and long-lasting in people with severe developmental disabilities.

There’s no single cause of this eating disorder. In some cases, it may be related to mental retardation or mental illness, while in others, it may be associated with a deficiency in iron, zinc, or another nutrient resulting from malnutrition. Pica has also been found to be associated with decreased activity of the dopamine system in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that aids relaying the transmission of nerve impulses from one neuron to another. Due to this association, some researchers think that there may be a connection between abnormally low levels of dopamine in the brain and the development of pica. However, no specific underlying biochemical disorders have been identified.

The following four criteria have been posited by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition that must be met to diagnose a person with pica:

1. Person must persist in eating non-nutritive non-foods for at least one month.

2. This eating must be considered abnormal for the person’s stage of development.

3. Eating these substances cannot be associated with a cultural practice that is considered normal in the social context of that person.

4. For people who currently have a medical condition such as pregnancy or a mental disorder like autism spectrum disorder, the action of eating non-nutritive non-foods should only be considered pica if it is dangerous and requires extra medical investigation or treatment on top of what they are already receiving for their pre-existing condition.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Self-fulfilling prophecy refers to a prediction that becomes true as a consequence of having been made. In other words, the expectancy becomes a cause, so that what is expected comes true because it was expected. A self-fulfilling prophecy can be directed at oneself, another person, a group, or even inanimate objects. The process involves three steps:

1. An individual forms an expectation of a situation or target person

2. That individual’s expectations affect how he or she behaves in the situation or treats the target person

3. The situation or the target person is affected by that individual’s behavior in a way that validates the individual’s initial expectation

Therefore, if a teacher of a class predicts a fall in the students’ grades, then the prediction is likely to bring about a fall in the students’ grades irrespective of any other factors, because students will be more likely to perform poorly in the assessments. Hence, expecting a particular outcome from somebody will bring change in the behavior, and this, in turn, will influence other’s response which will ultimately reinforce the former’s behavior and that’s how self-fulfilling prophecy works.

Diogenes Syndrome or Senile Squalor Syndrome

Diogenes syndrome, also known as senile squalor syndrome, is a behavioral disorder that affects older adults. It is characterized by extreme self-neglect, poor personal hygiene, severe domestic squalor, excessive hoarding of trash, and social withdrawal. It occurs in both men and women.

The syndrome is named after Diogenes, the ancient Greek philosopher who showed ‘contempt for social organization’ and ‘lack of shame.’ People with this syndrome also show a lack of shame. They are often unaware that anything is wrong with the conditions they are living in and remain unconscious of their self-neglecting behavior. They usually live alone and may also displays symptoms of catatonia.

Diogenes syndrome is often linked to mental illnesses, such as dementia, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and addiction. Research suggests that it is most common among people with average intelligence, who are over 60 years, and are living alone.

The Pratfall Effect

Originally defined by Elliot Aronson, the PRATFALL EFFECT is a phenomenon in Social Psychology that states that an individual’s perceived likability increases or decreases after he or she makes a mistake, depending on that individual’s perceived competence. Thus, when brilliant people err, they appear more attractive or likable as compared to those who don’t commit any or are “perfect” in every sense. On the other hand, a person who is perceived average in terms of competencies would be considered less attractive and likable after committing the mistake.

This means that while the likability of an individual whom people admire or really look up to increases after he or she makes a mistake, the reputation or attractiveness of a perceived average individual would be adversely affected by it.

Pratfall effect occurs because perfection appears threatening to most people and they find it hard to associate with others who are highly competent, perhaps more so than themselves. Imperfect or flawed individuals, on the other hand, seem approachable and a lot less intimidating. Since competent people making mistakes appear more human, they seem to be more attractive and likable.

The Zeigarnik Effect

Named after a Russian psychologist, the Zeigarnik effect suggests that incomplete or interrupted tasks are better remembered. The phenomenon was inspired by Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin’s observation of waiters who had better recollections of orders that were unpaid. However, the waiters were unable to remember the details of the orders after they were paid. Zeigarnik took interest in the phenomenon and undertook a study to analyze the processes behind. His findings “On Finished and Unfinished Tasks” were published in a journal in 1927. In the experiment, participants were given a series of tasks like puzzles, or flat-pack box to complete. During the task, half of the participants were interrupted subtly by the supervisor, while half of the participants performed the tasks without any interruption. After the experiment was over, Zeigarnik interviewed the participants about the details of the tasks. The findings confirmed the observations of Lewin’s. Participants who were interrupted during the task were better able to recall the details as compared to those who were not interrupted.

The benefits of interruption can be explained by Lewin’s field theory, which states that a task that has already been started creates a task-specific tension; this tension, in turn, improves cognitive accessibility of content that is relevant. This tension, however, is relieved when the task is completed. In this way, when a task is interrupted, mind is unable to relieve the task-specific tension. This constant tension makes the content more readily accessible and easily remembered. This phenomenon has an application with students who are studying. It has been found that students who perform unrelated or irrelevant activities (studying different subject or playing sports) during studies, remember the content better than students who continue studying one subject without any interruption.

Delusional Parasitosis or Ekbom Syndrome

Delusional parasitosis, also known as Ekbom syndrome, is a delusional disorder which causes an individual to believe that he or she is infested with parasites or bugs without any infestation in real. The other name, Ekbom syndrome, came from Swedish neurologist Karl-Axel Ekbom, who wrote seminal accounts of the disease during late 1930s. Contrary to the cases of actual parasitosis, such as scabies etc., in which a skin infestation is present and identifiable through physical examination or laboratory tests, patients with this rare mental disorder have the delusional conviction that small organisms such as mites or insects have infested their skin. Individuals suffering from this condition report a sensation similar to insects crawling on or under their skin. Sufferers may injure themselves in attempts to be rid of the “parasites.” Delusional parasitosis is observed more commonly in women, and the prevalence is much more past the age of 40.

The Pygmalion Effect

The Pygmalion effect refers to the phenomenon in which a person’s performance is enhanced when greater expectation is placed on him.  The phenomenon is mostly seen in children, students or employees. It is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby an individual behaves the way others expect him or her to and thereby making the prediction to become true. Robert Rosenthal and Lenore F. Jacobson conducted the famous experiment on this phenomenon and published it in a book entitled Pygmalion in the Classroom (1986). In the experiment, experimenters conducted standard IQ test on children of an elementary school at the beginning of an academic year, and selected 20 per cent (about five children per class) at random, and told their teachers that the tests suggested that these children were potential academic ‘spurters’ who could be expected to show unusual intellectual gains in the year ahead. When the children were retested at the end of academic year, the ‘spurters’ showed massive IQ gains relative to the other children, especially in the first and second grades (6-7-year-old children). These gains were presumably due to subtle effects of the teachers’ expectations on the way they handled the children.