While I am in a Psychology class I learn about many psychological concepts, but it is neat to be able to witness them outside of school. Over Thanksgiving break, I saw several psychological concepts being lived out right in front of me. I never realized how many times a day these concepts are used until now. The psychological concepts that I saw being used were hindsight bias, lack of conservation, authority, and positive reinforcement.
Every Thanksgiving the Dallas Cowboys football team plays and my family gathers to eat food and watch the game. The Cowboys lost and at the end of the game my grandpa said to me, “We all knew that was going to happen.” Frankly, I did not know that was going to happen and I doubt that he did either. My grandpa seemed to be very confident in what he was saying; he was an example of the psychological concept of hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is a phenomenon where people overestimate their ability to predict an outcome. Most people tend to say, “I knew it all along,” when too often we actually did not know it. Hindsight bias tends to make people overconfident in their ability to make judgments and ultimately impacts how they do it.
Speaking of judgments, there is a fun game you can play with children who are typically two to six years old. If you have two balls of playdough and you ask the child which one has more dough or if they are the same, they will usually say that they are the same. Then you flatten one of the balls and ask them the same question, the child will say the one still round has more because of a lack of conservation. I tried this game on my 3-year-old cousin and he told me that when I flattened the playdough, the other one had more even though they both still had the exact same amount. My cousin was experiencing a lack of conservation. Lack of conservation is when people have the inability to understand that quantity of something remains the same even when they change shape. This concept is very common in children, as seen through my little cousin.
During Thanksgiving, my mom is in charge of cooking and always tells my sister and me what we need to do in order to help. My sister was making mashed potatoes and I told her to add an ingredient which she refused to do. Next thing you know, my mom told her to add the ingredient and she automatically listened. Stanley Milgram did a study on authority that concluded that people have a higher tendency to comply with authority figures. In this case, my sister would not listen to me but would listen to my mom who has more authority in the house. A lot of people obey orders from authority because it can lead to rewards and also avoid any possible negative consequences that could follow.
Everyone at Thanksgiving was gathered in the dining room to eat dinner. My dog was going around to everyone eating and begging for food. My mom told my dog to lie down on her pillow in the living room and when she did, she gave her a treat. My dog came back into the dining room, looked at my mom, then ran to her pillow again. Casey, my dog, continued to lay on her bed because she knew that if she stayed there, she would get a treat. Positive reinforcement is used to help increase the probability that a certain behavior will occur again in the future by presenting the desired stimulus. The dog was presented with a treat so that she would perform the same action again later.
All of the psychological concepts mentioned were ones that we learned in class. We learned about how these determinants of behavior are influenced by cultural and social contexts today. Learning about them helped me to be able to pick them out in real life and identify them in action. Although there are many psychological concepts that could be used, the ones that I experienced during Thanksgiving break were hindsight bias, lack of conservation, authority, and positive reinforcement.