GRCC Psychology Lecture Series –  Dr Jeff Nevid

GRCC Psychology Lecture Series – Dr Jeff Nevid


>>Welcome, I’m
Dr. Frank Conner. I’m Chair of the
Psychology department. Welcome to the
third presentation in this year’s Psychology
Department Speaker Series. It is my pleasure to introduce
today’s speaker to you. Dr. Jeff Nevid is a
professor and director of the doctoral program
at St. John’s University. Dr. Nevid did his undergraduate
work at SUNY Binghamton and his PhD is
from SUNY Albany. He is a
researcher, around the content that
he’s gonna cover today but also many of you
probably know him if you are in a
general psych class or took a general psych
class in the last year. His name is on
your textbook. So he is the author
of your textbook. And one area of scholarship
that is important for him and big for him, and we had
conversations about this at lunch today, is around
the practice of teaching. So please welcome
Dr. Nevid. (applause)>>Thank you, Frank, and thank
you for the invitation to… talk to
you today. And for that lovely
introduction, some of which
was even true. One of the truths
that Frank mentioned is that, among other things,
I am a textbook author. So yes, I’m the guy
that you get to blame if for some reason
that you struggled with your intro
psych class. I teach at St. John’s
University in New York. And I’ve got
to run back… back to New York this
afternoon so I’m prepared to meet my intro psych section
at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning, but I do have an
ulterior motive. I want to get back
to see what happens in the St. John’s-De Paul
game tonight, if you follow
college basketball. St. John’s– we’re probably
better known for basketball than psychology,
but… we’ve had quite the
run in the past week, having beaten Duke and
then beating Villanova and then Marquette
in short order, so got
De Paul tonight. I actually saw some of the
team members at the airport. Wished
them well. I’ll try to carry the torch
for St. John’s here from the standpoint
of psychology. Don’t ask me to shoot
any baskets, though. (chuckling)
You’ll be sorely disappointed. My talk today is going
to be what I call “Unmasking the
Automatic Mind.” Let’s talk about the
human mind for a moment. Serious thought about
human nature itself and about the structure
of the human mind can be traced back well before
the origins of psychology. Certainly to the time of the
ancient Greek philosophers, if not earlier. If you take your
philosophy courses, you may recognize
these individuals. This is a– this
actually is a part of a much larger work, if
you take art history courses, called “The
School of Athens.” This is a fresco that’s
painted on the wall of the Vatican
Museum in Rome. How many have been
to the Vatican? And have you gotten to
explore the Vatican Museum and you go into
the Sistine Chapel and you look at that magnificent
Michelangelo on the ceiling, and you remember that, it
was a wonderful experience and the guards would
hush you, right? You can’t speak above a whisper
because they’re very sensitive.>>Can’t take photos as well.
>>And you can’t take photos. But people are often–
and everybody will go and look at that magnificent
work by Michelangelo on the ceiling of
the Sistine Chapel, but if you venture
through the museum, on one of the
side walls, you’ll see what’s called
“The School of Athens” by the Renaissance
painter Raphael, in which he depicts
representations of all the major
philosophers of the period of
ancient Greece. So want to take
a shot at that? Who is this gentleman here,
the older gentleman? Who do you
think that is? Faculty– no.
(chuckling) The faculty members here,
notwithstanding. Let’s ask the students
if anybody recognizes, so throw it
out– yeah?>>(indistinct).
>>Actually, no, but he actually was his
student– very close– student of
Socrates.>>(indistinct).>>This guy, the younger
man is Aristotle– thank you for that– and
the older gentleman is…? His teacher,
Plato. And what Raphael
was representing, interestingly enough– so systematic thinking
about the nature of what makes us human goes
back at least this far. And Aristotle shown here,
he had a conception of what it is that
makes us unique as among all the animals
that walk the earth. Anybody know what
that is, by the way? What Aristotle would
say is the essence of the human being, the
essence of human nature itself? The ability
to reason. We are the reasoning
creatures. Interesting, Plato
was pointing upwards, if you could see that,
represented by Raphael’s as if to say that knowledge
is not going to be gained– true knowledge that
stands the test of time, that is enduring, it
doesn’t change over time, is not to be found
by using your eyes and observing the
world around you, because anything you observe
in the world is going to change and is changing
still. And he says, “No,
it’s the human mind “where we’re gonna
find true knowledge.” Like the Pythagorean
theorem, which you all learned
in high school. You remember how
that goes, don’t you? How does that go?
Do you remember? I’m sure it was drilled
into you at an early age. You know it– I’ll start you off
and you can finish it for me. A-squared plus B-squared
equals– go for it, go for it,
you got it! C-squared,
yeah. How did he come up
with that idea? Did he measure every
right-handed, right-sided
triangle? No, it came from an
insight that he had using the powers
of reasoning. But Aristotle was going to
be pointing at the world around us–
see, his arms. He’s looking, as if
to say to Plato, “Yes, master, we do learn
from inward reflection “and our pursuit
of truth.” But there’s much to be gained
by looking at the world around us, by learning about
the tides and the animals and all the species
throughout the world. But these early representations
of what human nature and the human mind is about
emphasize the human being as the thinker,
the reasoner. This is– anybody recognize
this gentleman here? We have to move ahead, we
have to move the clock ahead about 2,000 years? Descartes– Renee Descartes,
the French philosopher. Who said, “Yes, what makes
us human is the mind. “We share bodies with–
other animals have bodies “that are mechanical
things… “but the mind is not
a mechanical thing. “It’s of a separate
order altogether.” The ability to think,
the ability to reason. And you recognize
this here? A very famous piece
of art, a sculpture. Anybody know what
it’s called?>>”The Thinker.”
>>”The Thinker,” by the French
sculptor Rodin. And so, you see representations
of what it means to be human, is to be the thinking
animal, the thinker. And for many centuries until,
in fact, recent times, until the 20th century, this
was the predominant view of what makes us human, of our
ability to think and reason. But these very ideas have
been called into question, at first by this
gentleman shown here. You recognize him– most of
you psychology students will recognize him. Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud
posited that… it’s not our rational self
that drives us and guides us and determines what we do,
but there are stirrings from a deeper area of the mind
he called the “unconscious.” And this is a– we could
think of it as a kind of– this area of the mind, it’s a
kind of a subterranean realm where our impulses
and urges live. And in fact, you could
even liken it, as he did, to a battlefield because
within the workings of the unconscious mind,
as he used to call it, there’s a battle that’s taking
place within your very psyche at this very
moment in time, between impulses and wishes
searching for expression. And he was to give
a name to that, and he called
that the “id.” And it was there that we
find our baser impulses, our sexual,
aggressive impulses. Now, they are searching
for expression, and yet, they are held down by
opposing forces of “repression,” as he called it. Kind of tamped down, so that we
don’t act out on our impulses, so either our sexual impulses
or our aggressive impulses. We had a lovely lunch just
before coming here today and I thank you for that–
it was delicious. You have a wonderful program,
this culinary program. That was a
pleasant surprise. But when you go out to
lunch with folks, you know, and you see somebody
that’s eating something that you happen to like,
you don’t just grab it off their plate and
stuff your face with it. You’ve learned, somehow,
to control those instincts, as Freud
would teach. The human mind, to Freud, is
composed of the conscious mind which he says is
rather trivial. It’s basically what you’re aware
of at any moment in time. But there’s a deeper area
of the mind he used to call the “unconscious,”
and in that realm, there’s this battle taking place
between the id on the one hand, striving to express these
urges, the baser urges, the basic
instincts, and the forces of repression
that are controlled by another part of the mind
he used to call the “ego.” And it’s very much
like “Game of Thrones.” It’s a battlefield
within the human psyche where these forces are
battling each other. And he
represented it– he never used, by the way,
the iceberg metaphor. You’ve seen it in
your textbooks or you’ve heard
about it in class. Others have used the
metaphor of an iceberg to represent
the human mind. And in that human mind
are these mental states, he used to call “ego,”
“id,” and “superego,” most of which lies in the
subterranean basement of the human mind called
the “unconscious,” below the level
of awareness. And he used to say the
unconscious is beyond the reach of ordinary consciousness
or awareness. You’re aware of merely a sliver
of your mental experience, he used to say, that which
rises above the surface of the water like the
tip of an iceberg. And if I would ask you–
I would ask my own students, “What are you conscious
of at this very moment?” And that would
be up here. This would be in
the conscious self. It would be maybe listening
to the sound of my voice or maybe, you know,
you’ve got– you ate something for
breakfast or lunch that’s a little unsettled
in your stomach and you’re
aware of that. Freud thought
that was trivial. To Freud, what was
really meaningful, what’s going on
down deep below in the recesses
of the mind? But it’s outside the
range of awareness. So I would ask– I could ask
you, as I ask my students. You could tell me what’s
in your conscious mind. What can you tell me what’s
happening in your unconscious at this very
moment in time? Dig deep down,
inside. You know, that’s no
more accessible to you, what’s happening, he would say,
in your unconscious mind as it would be for you to
be aware of what’s happening in your pancreas. “Hey, pancreas, what’s
going on down there? “You pumping out
that insulin? “Hey, pancreas, wake up,
I want to talk to you.” So there are– there are parts
of our mental experience, he would say, that go beyond
our conscious awareness. And most people, when they think
of the term “unconscious”– I’m not here to lecture you
about Freud, today, actually. I just want to use that
as a kind of prelude. Is most people when they
think of the unconscious mind, this is the guy
that they think of, and that conception
of the mind is composed of these mental states
or entities, the id, the ego,
the superego, battling it out within the
recesses of your inner self. Many psychologists
today… have moved on from this Freudian
view of how the mind works to a better, I think, new,
maybe even better understanding of what I would call and want
to share with you here today… I call it the
“automatic mind.” So we move
from Freud. Just some quotes before
we move on with this. Lots of people think, as
you’ve probably thought about, what it means, what
the unconscious means. Our Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
had this to say, and we’ll talk about
unconscious bias. That’s a real issue
with us today. A physicist had this to say–
a very prominent physicist. And the writer
Stephen King, you may know, the popular writer of
so many horror novels and the movies that were
made based on them. “The unconscious mind writes
poetry if it’s left alone.” That’s a very, I think,
a very interesting way, a poetic way of thinking
about the workings of the
unconscious. What I have to share
with you today– whoop, back here,
back here, back here. Is that there’s
a new unconscious. There’s a new
gunslinger in town. And we can
call it, as I call it, the
“automatic mind,” and it’s, in academic circles,
it’s having a major impact on our basic
understandings, not just of psychology
but also of economics. I have here,
as you see on the screen, this happens to be
the current issue of one of the leading
professional journals in psychology. This is called
“The Observer,” it’s published
by an organization called the American
Psychological… Society. Association for Psychological
Science, rather. And it’s a representation
of the fact, like Freud, that there is, in fact, within
each of us, a bias beneath. Are we really
rational? Are we really thinking things
that evaluate our experiences and come to some understanding
of ourselves in the world? Or do we operate on
a more basic level, whether we call
it “intuition” or we call it a
“gut-level reaction,” or we call it, in this case,
an “underlying bias”? And it’s what I want to
share with you today. What psychologists– and it’s not just about what
psychologists are learning, but these sort of issues
become very prominent in our society
of late. We all are
biased. We all hold certain biases,
certain prejudices. We don’t evaluate people
based on the character– based on the content
of their character. But our first
response to people is often by judging them
based on stereotypes we hold about the groups
that they represent, by judging people on
their outward appearances. These are actually articles
from the “New York Times” that are focused on what’s
called “hidden bias.” “Roots of Implicit Bias”–
this became, even was mentioned by Hillary Clinton in one
of the presidential debates with Donald Trump. I remember this, if you remember
all the way back to 2016, the last presidential
election, and there was talk about
how police officers may have hidden biases that
influence how they interact with members of a
minority community. And she talked about the
fact that we all have these underlying biases that
are products, as I would say, of the
automatic mind. It’s not the thinking self
that’s involved. It’s the tendency
to judge people and act toward them in ways
that rely on stereotypes and basic
prejudices. What is the automatic mind,
as I call it? It’s a different…
(clearing throat) First of all, it’s a
fast, nonconscious form of mental
processing. It allows us to do
so many things. I don’t want to paint
it in negative terms, suggesting it’s only about
underlying biases– no. It’s the automatic mind
that allows you to walk, ride a bike, tie your shoelaces,
type, among other things. It’s a form of
implicit memory, to use the
technical term, that allows us to perform
certain mechanical tasks without thinking
about them. When you’re walking, do you
think about putting one foot in front of the
other as you walk? Or try this,
for example. I’m sure all of you are
able to tie your shoelaces. I would wonder what would happen
if you would try to explain to the person sitting
next to you, in words, try to describe, explain to
her how you tie shoelaces, as if she’s never
tied them before. Would you be able
to do that? You wanna
try it, okay? I don’t wanna put
you on the spot. Not so easy,
really. You see, some mechanical
tasks that we have learned– being a New Yorker,
I’m fond of referencing certain New York
sports figures. The former manager of the
New York Yankees, Joe Torre, used to call this
“muscle memory.” It’s muscle memory. It’s not available to
our conscious self. For example, how many of you–
I’m sure most of you– know how
to type? Okay, so you type often
enough, you often type. You know, what’s the
letter on the keyboard that’s next to the F, on the
right-hand side of the F?>>That’s G.
>>Okay, good. Now could you name all the
characters in the line on that– let’s take a
look at that. Whoop, I missed it. Sorry. My automatic mind
is working too fast. I’m a pretty
good typist, but I couldn’t begin to tell you
how the letters are arranged on the keyboard. I might guess one
or two of them. But I’m able to type, at least
my fingers are able to type, making use of what we would
call the “automatic mind.” Well, these are other
examples, I would say, of the automatic mind– the
ability of a ball player to catch
a fly ball. You know, they have actually
done studies of this– I cite some in
my textbook– that mathematicians have
looked at that problem. How does a left-fielder know
where that ball is gonna land? So he or she is
ready to catch it? In order to compute the
trajectory of a hit ball, you have to know some
very advanced geometry… well beyond the
understanding of most folks, especially most ball players
and myself included. How do
they do it? Do they think
it through? Well, I see what the arc
of that ball is going to be and I can project that arc,
given that velocity, the ball will land
exactly at that spot. It’s amazing what the mind is
capable of doing automatically, without
thinking. Riding a bike– here’s another
one if you want to try this.
(laughing) You know, being a
parent of two kids, one of the tasks you have as
a parent is to teach your kids how to ride a bicycle– I’m
sure your parents helped you. Can you learn to ride a
bicycle by reading a manual? Can you describe to your
five or six-year-old, “Now, son, I’m gonna teach
you how to ride a bicycle. “The first thing I
want you to do–” I mean, you could give
them some preliminaries, but when it comes
down to it, they actually have
to perform and you’re gonna have to
be running alongside them to make sure
they don’t fall. And as they do that and
they become able to master that very delicate
balancing act. That knowledge is gained at
an automatic or implicit level. It’s not something that
can be reduced to words or put in
a manual. It’s not something
that’s available to ordinary
consciousness. So I want you to understand
there are two minds that we all
possess. There’s a verbal,
evaluative mind that you’re using now if
you’re trying to understand what I’m saying. And then, there’s an implicit
mind, an automatic mind, an intuitive mind, that’s working on a
very different level than your
rational mind. Yeah, tying your shoelaces,
riding a bike. And so, the automatic mind
allows us to do many things. It allows us to speak
grammatically correct sentences. You know that children learn
the rudiments of grammar. You all did when you were
two, three, four years– before you ever set
foot in a classroom or before you ever had a
first or second grade teacher teach you how to construct
a proper sentence. You learned at a very early
age to be able to say things like, well, “I went
to the store,” rather than
“Store I went to.” Where did you
learn that? Did somebody– did Mom sit
you down and teach you that? You learned it on the basis
of hearing certain patterns in other
people’s speech. Just as you learned
accents, by the way. If you think
about it. Accents, right? Did you make any conscious
effort to learn to speak in accent– do I
speak in an accent? I’m a New Yorker, you can
hear the New Yorker twang? All right, well,
I don’t hear it. Accents, it’s another form of
how the automatic mind works. It allows us to respond
quickly to stimuli, to classify stimuli,
and make judgments. It may even be the
brain’s earliest information
processing system, before human beings
ever developed the ability to think,
and express themselves, and express their thoughts
through the use of language. It may well have been that we
had this more primitive basis of interacting with
the world around us. I said that modern conceptions,
contemporary conceptions, of what we would call
the “unconscious mind” or the “automatic mind,”
have had a major– are having a major impact
on some of our subjects that we teach in our
academic disciplines. There’s one living Nobel Prize
winner in psychology. You know about
the Nobel Prize? It’s the most prestigious
scientific prize that goes to leaders in
their fields in medicine, and economics, and physics,
and chemistry, and so on. And every year, they
award this prize to a few select individuals
around the world, and on a certain day–
you see a certain day when they make these
announcements, they call the winners
to let them know. And every year, on that day,
I wait for that phone to ring, and I wait,
and I wait. I’m still
waiting. But he didn’t need to wait
because the psychologist Daniel Kahneman from
Princeton University, the only living Nobel Prize
winner in psychology, was awarded– there’s no
Nobel Prize, by the way, in psychology–
he won it in economics. And the reason I bring
him to your attention is because he’s one of those
pioneers who were studying the workings of
the automatic mind. He won the Nobel Prize,
because of advancing the theory that people are not as
rational as we think we are, that our decisions are
very often grounded not in a careful evaluation
of the facts at hand, but based on our
gut impressions. Based on our intuitions, based
on our automatic responses. By the way, I do
recommend this to you. This is a recent book
that he’s written. It’s a good read. It’s called
“Thinking Fast and Slow,” and in this book,
Kahneman is arguing that there are two information
processing systems in the human brain, one that works very fast and
we can call it “intuition,” or the
“automatic mind,” and the other that’s a
slower evaluative process. It’s that slower process
that he calls “system 2,” that allows you to form
evaluative judgments, to make comparisons, to
evaluate your experiences. Allows you to analyze and
synthesize information rather than just
respond automatically. My purpose here is to
talk about system 1, the automatic mind. There are other popular books
that have taken up this theme. These are some of the
leading, biggest sellers in psychology in the
past 5 or 10 years. Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink,”
“Sway,” “Predictably Irrational” and that’s really what it’s
about, that we are less rational than we like to
think we are. And in some ways, we are
even predictably irrational. Well, we’ll get to
him in a second. Okay. I wasn’t sure who the
audience was gonna be today. I thought there’d be folks
of my age or my generation, but I’m very pleased to
see younger folks here. What I want to share with
you in the next few moments is how the
automatic mind influences what we
do with our money. I say that, thinking about
the automatic mind has… has influenced
modern conceptions not only of
psychology but of economics
and finance. Any of you plan on
going into a career in either economics
or finance, or…? But if you’re not,
even if you’re not, you are concerned about
your money, aren’t you? Aren’t you?
Yeah, the heads go up and down. We’re certainly
concerned. We’ve learned that the
workings of the automatic mind can lead even smart investors
to make dumb decisions with their money. Now, I expected to see
a number of older folks and some are here, because
what I have to share with you may relate more
directly to them, trying to manage
their 401(k) plans, trying to manage
their investments so that they preserve
that nest egg of theirs and grow it
over time. I suspect that many
younger people are not yet… entered the
investment community. If you have spare money,
you’re not putting it into the stock market–
well, I might be wrong. But guess what? One day, I think there’s
a reasonable guess, the very fact that
you’re here today teaches me that one day you
may well have that money that you’re
going to invest and want to grow into a
rather sizable nest egg. So if what I have to say to
you in the next few minutes doesn’t really relate to
your experiences today, the very fact that
you’re in college and developing yourself
further in your careers means that, at some
point, going forward, you’ll have some excess money,
that somebody’s gonna say, “Well, why don’t
you invest it “rather than just keep it in
the bank at 1% interest?” And so, maybe something
I have here to say might down the road
save you some money and a lot of
aggravation that many people of my
generation have experienced. Because there were certain
traps, mental traps, that we fall into by virtue of
how the automatic mind works, as for example. Here’s a typical
investor. Might look familiar,
a somewhat younger version. And here’s a
typical investor who’s made dumb
investment decisions. Whoop! The work of Kahneman
and his colleague– Kahneman’s an
Israeli psychologist, worked also with a
colleague, Amos Tversky, recognized– and the reason
he won the Nobel Prize is that he helped us
better understand how investors are not
guided by rational decisions but rather very often
by irrational hunches, intuitions, and just
wrong decisions based on what he called
“cognitive biases.” I’m gonna share some
of these with you. This is kind of a roadmap to
what not to do with your money. So here are
some examples of how the automatic mind
can lead even smart people to make dumb decisions
with their investments. Kahneman wants
to call this– and you read about it in
your psych texts as well– the “representative
heuristic.” It’s the tendency to make
judgments or evaluations based on a small
sliver of behavior that may not be representative
of a larger universe of events or occurrences– that’s
the fancy definition. But you’ve all
experienced this, you know, even when it
comes down to what movie– if you’re going out with
your friends to see a movie this weekend, and you happen to
hear somebody on the elevator rave about a
particular movie. Have you had
that experience? You say, “Oh,
I gotta see that.” And you say– you know,
and you go to that movie and you walk out
of that movie and it was a dud, and you’re
saying, “How could–” you know? “How could that
person have thought–” because what you’re doing
is you’re making a judgment based on a small sliver
of one isolated occurrence of somebody,
whoever it may be, and the fact that it
impressed that person doesn’t necessarily mean
it’s gonna impress people in general. Well, the same is true of
how we work our investments. People may base
their investments– you know, if you go to the wrong
movie and it’s a dud, okay, so you’re out a few bucks
and a wasted evening, but if you invest thousands
of dollars in a stock, in an investment, based on
the fact that it’s gone up a couple days
in a row, expecting that it’s
gonna continue, that that movement in the
stock is representative of that stock’s
future performance, well, you may find that
you’ll be sadly disappointed when it turns
the other way. We should also recognize
that we shouldn’t sell following
bad news. We see something in the
paper about some bad news affecting a company and,
all of a sudden, we decide we’re gonna dump
the stock. By the time you decide
to dump the stock, all the smart– smart–
all the seasoned investors have probably
already pulled out, so you’re probably gonna
sell it at even a lower level, and that stock may
well bounce back because that bad news
may not be fundamental to the stock’s
future prospects. And so, we need to be aware
of our tendency to rely on what the predictive value
of current information. And as any stock broker
or professional will tell you– it’s
almost a mantra in the investment community–
you’ve heard this, maybe. “Past performance
is no guarantee “of future
performance.” So this is a psychological
effect, this representative. So is the “availability
heuristic,” Kahneman calls it, the tendency to base our
decision on what comes to mind. We make judgments all the time,
not on a careful evaluation of all the evidence, taking
everything into account. But we very often
make judgments based on whatever
is in our mind or what we’ve heard maybe
on the news that very day. You know, for example, if
there should be– god forbid– a plane crash, as there was
in Russia just a few days ago, travel agents will tell
you, the next day, people are canceling
their reservations. And losing
whatever deposits they’ve put down,
left and right. They’re basing
their judgment not on a careful evaluation
of all the evidence, but whatever comes
most readily to mind. What they heard on the
news the night before. And that could also be
something that gets us into trouble with
our investments. Positive news triggers
approach tendencies and negative news triggers
avoidance tendencies. I’m giving you kind of a
how-to list, as it were, but it’s not a how-to,
it’s how-not-to. It’s putting
us on notice of these kinds of
cognitive biases. We all have them, even the most intelligent
among us have these biases. They’re built
into us. But being forewarned
is being forearmed, so 10 years from now,
15 years ago, when you have that
extra money to begin to put to work
in the market, maybe you’ll be aware of
what this guy told you, this afternoon back
in your college days. The confirmation bias. And you read about this in your
social psychology chapters or cognitive
psychology chapters. This is the tendency
that human beings, we all have, to stick to
an initial hypothesis, even in the face of strong
evidence inconsistent with it. This is a real problem
in jury situations. Attorneys know this, sure,
because they have to do what they can to
guard against this. But even before
the trial begins, oftentimes from the very first
sight you have of that defendant sitting in that
defendant’s box, you are forming an impression,
you are making a judgment, you are a forming
a hypothesis, “Yeah, he’s guilty, I can look
in his eyes and I tell you.” And whatever evidence
is then presented, if it confirms your
hypothesis “yes,” that’s what you
bring to mind. But if it goes the other way,
you tend to discount it, put it aside, because
we tend to stick to our initial hypothesis, this
stick-to-it-iveness in the face of what is contrary
information. And so, if you, you know,
invested in a stock and you really believe in
that stock, that company, and its future prospects,
despite the fact that all this negative
stuff is happening, and you’re reading
about it day after day, about what’s happening
to that company… the tendency we have is to
stick to our initial impression, regardless, and we
have to be careful and on guard
not to do that. Investment professionals will
tell you this all the time. The mental calculus
that goes into people… That goes into comparing
gains and losses. If you’ve not
yet invested, you haven’t yet
had this experience, but some of the folks
here have been investing, maybe over the years you’ve
certainly had this experience, it hurts much more
to lose money than the joy that you gain
from making money. In fact, behavioral
economists believe that the loss of a
dollar is about twice as painful as the pleasure of– it hurts
that much more to lose a dollar to make a buck, although
it should be balanced, but in our minds, the
losses outweigh the gains. As a consequence, people are
averse to taking losses when stock declines, they
can’t face the reality of a losing
investment. Actually, it’s not a loss
until you actually sell it. It remains, to that point,
only a paper loss, but when you
trigger a sale, all right, then it
becomes a real loss. And people are so averse to
losing their hard-earned money that they will hold
losers far too long and sell winners far too
quickly to minimize this pain. Anchoring bias. Investors very often– I
was interviewed by CN– you know, if you’ve watched
any of the cable news, rather, finance channels, CNBC is one of the major
finance channels. I was interviewed by CNBC
about this very topic. The anchoring bias. The tendency of
the automatic mind to form a mental judgment
about a stock’s value, not based on its real value
but based on a fixed price you have in
your mind. You say to
yourself… that “Because I
bought this company “at, say, $20 a share,
that’s its real value. “I’m gonna wait
for it to come–” and I’ve lost
money on that. “I’m gonna wait for
it to come back “until it reaches
that value.” It may never
reach that value, and you may be better off
selling at $15 or $10 than letting it go all the
way down to maybe even zero. Or this.
(laughing) Would that we knew what would
have happened with Amazon when it was $20 a share
and it’s now over $1,000. But in our mind,
we are not gonna buy it because “I could have
bought it when…” “I won’t invest
in it now. “I should have
bought in then,” because that’s what
it’s worth in my mind. That’s called the– in other
words, that price is anchored in your mind, not in reality,
but in your mind. Gut reactions. The sense that you have
a personal relationship with the companies
in which you invest. And that we somehow feel as
if we are being personally… punished when stocks that we
own begin to fall in value. Maybe it’s an
act of God, maybe it’s because of
something I’ve done that I’m being
punished for. You personalize
something that is a completely
impersonal process. Put it another way– stocks
don’t know that you own them. Stocks don’t have any personal
relationship with you. They go up
and down, independent of whether
you’ve led a good life or a bad life, but if you
believe that it’s a reflection on your self worth,
you may base decisions on whether you feel
you’re deserving of praise or punishment, rather than
the worth of the stock itself. There are a few
more of these. I think I’ll
move on to this. I’ll just
mention this, and then we’ll go on
to some other things. But I want you to get
a flavor for the fact that the way that economists
are thinking these days, and psychologists, is that our
decisions are very often guided not by rational
thought processes, but by
irrational biases, and by characteristic
ways of thinking. You take this,
for example– the tendency of the automatic
mind just to follow the crowd. When you take psychology, you
read about the classic work of the social
psychologist Solomon Asch who did work back in
the ’50s on conformity. You know, Asch, if
you’ve taken psych 1, you probably remember
the name Solomon Asch, or are taking
it now. He did studies
on conformity. Do people follow the crowd
or do they stand up on their own two feet
and speak their minds? When Asch actually began
his studies on conformity, he believed in his heart
of hearts that people were individualists, that they– you know, that
they would not conform just for the sake of
blending in or fitting in. He was wrong. And his own experiments proved
to him that he was wrong, that we as social animals
tend to conform to a much greater degree
than we think we do, right? You think that, you know,
all your choices are guided by your individual
needs and preferences. You wear your hair a certain
way, you dress a certain way, you go to a certain school
or not– to a different school because– but to what
degree are those decisions and judgements
influenced by the tendency we all have
to conform? Because other people are
wearing their hair that way and other people are
dressing that way. And other people
are going to State because– well, you’re going
to State, the Spartans, because other people
go to State and of course you’re
going to State. Well, the same is true when
it comes to what’s called the “herding bias.” We tend to follow
the crowd. If people are buying
Amazon, or any stock, we pile on because if
everybody else is doing it, we should be
doing it, too. But it’s always
worth considering that, like lemmings to the sea,
the herd can be drowned, as it was in 2008 when
people lost more than 50% of their
investments. And even last week when,
if you follow the market, just last week, it went up,
it went down 1000 points, came back up, went down
another 1000 points. What’s it doing today?
I’ll have to check. Yeah, if you rely on
your emotions to– as the basis for
making decisions because it feels
right to you… “Yeah, I really got a
good feeling about Nike, “I’m gonna really
invest in Nike…” Watch out. Feelings should not guide
your investment decisions. Leave them
at the door when it comes to making
sound investment decisions because they can guide
you the wrong way. All right, I’m gonna move
onto psychology here. So I wanted to give you
a flavor for how thinking about the automatic mind
is affecting our investment
decisions, but there are many
other ways in which the automatic
mind operates. The automatic mind– and this is a model of how
the brain processes fear. You may have seen this
in my own textbook or in other
textbooks. It teaches us
that the– that there are two
pathways in the brain that process
fear-related stimuli. So if you’re walking
in the woods, as this young lady, say,
is walking in this– you’re walking in the
woods and you encounter– out of the corner of your eye,
there is this crooked object. Now, it could be a stick
or a twig of some kind, a branch that fell down,
or it could be a snake. You know? How do you
respond to that? Do you say to yourself,
“Oh, that’s interesting. “Let me take a closer look at
that,” and that snake pops up and bites you. No, we are
programmed. Our brains are wired–
hardwired, clearly– to take that signal,
whenever you see something that might be a threat,
to take that signal and to send it down to
an area of the brain, comes in through the eyes,
goes up to a place called the “thalamus” which
is kind of a relay station in the brain. The thalamus is that
part of the brain that works like
a traffic cop. And so, if you’re
a visual stimulus, it sends that stimulus back
to the occipital cortex– you remember
from Chapter 2? It sends it back to the
occipital cortex for processing as a visual image. If it’s an
auditory stimulus, that traffic cop is
gonna send that stimulus to the temporal lobe where
we process auditory signals. And so, the signal
comes to the thalamus and the thalamus actually,
according to this model by NYU psychologist
Joseph LeDoux, he proposes that when that
signal gets to the thalamus, it goes two
different ways. There’s a high road that
brings it up to the cortex, the thinking centers
of the brain, and there’s a low road that
goes down to the amygdala, a part deeper in the recesses
of the brain, the amygdala. That’s kind of like a
sentry, always on patrol, always alert to
any sign of danger. Now, that amygdala,
even at this very moment, is on guard. So if I was to
suddenly lunge at you– I’m not
gonna do it. You smile now because you
know I’m not gonna do it, but if somebody was to
suddenly lunge at you, even though you know it’s this
rather mild-mannered professor standing here, but still, your
amygdala doesn’t know that. When that signal,
visual signal then goes down
to the amygdala, the amygdala treats
that as a threat, and you cringe. You have an immediate
fear response. That’s the workings of
the automatic mind. That happens
without thought. That happens before
thought enters the picture. That same stimulus goes
up the chain of command to the cortex, where
your thinking center evaluates and says, “He’s just
playing– he’s not a threat. “He’s just playing with
you,” and you smiled. That was your
cortex thinking. But it takes a
couple of seconds, and those couple seconds could
spell the difference between, you know, an innocent twig
or a stick on the ground and a dangerous snake. And so, we respond
first in fear, a response that’s preprogrammed
in us and we all have it whenever we encounter a
stimulus that looks threatening. And that’s again, the
workings, thankfully, of the automatic mind,
a part of the mind that works without
conscious awareness. It only takes a few
seconds further for, then, the cortex to
kick in and to evaluate it. How about this? How many of you– you may have
seen this in my textbook, for example, but
maybe not– how many have seen the FedEx
symbol, countless times? How many have seen the
hidden arrow in the FedEx? I’ll put it another way–
how many of you have not seen the hidden– that’s okay,
that’s all right, no embarrassment–
have not seen– should we help you
out with this? You’ve all seen the symbol, the
logo countless times to be sure. This is a kind of
“wow” experience, it was for me when I
first learned of this because I wasn’t
aware of it, and so maybe you’re not yet,
but once you see it, you’ll never
not see it. Should we help ’em
out with this? Who’s struggling
with this? Come on, we’ll help you out–
who’s struggling, struggling, struggling,
okay, okay? You’re good with
the shoelaces, but you’re struggling
with this, all right. That’s okay. Okay, so can somebody
help him out with this? Can you see– do you
know where the arrow is? Who knows where the arrow
is– where’s the arrow?>>(indistinct).>>Between the E and the X.
>>Ohhh.>>Oh, see– did
I get the “wow”? (laughing)
I live for that. I really– you know,
I live for that, that “wow.” I got the
“wow” or “oh.” Okay, thank you. In other words, there’s
your arrow, right? It’s in white. You see it if
you see that… arrow is set against
an orange background. But typically, the way
we perceive the logo is that we see the colored
elements of the figure as the figure set against
a white background. If we look at
it that way– and we very often will typically
look at it that way– we don’t see the
hidden arrow, unless we reverse
the relationship between figure
and ground. And I mention this because
the ability to perceive figure-ground relationships
is part of the workings of the
unconscious mind. We’re not
thinking about it. You’re not looking
at that and saying, “Well, should I treat the
white as the background, “against which
the colored– “or should I treat the
colored parts of that object “as the foreground against
a white background?” You’re not thinking
it through. You are responding
to it automatically. By the way, Dan Brown–
you read Dan Brown? You like Dan Brown?
“The Da Vinci Code”
among others? His latest work–
I read this recently. If you read Dan Brown,
“The Da Vinci Code,” you read this one,
his most recent work, he actually talks
about this, about the hidden arrow
toward the end of the book. But I was surprised
he doesn’t explain it. He just kind of dumps
it there and moves on. I’d expect that he
would explain it. Figure-ground
effects are– there are these implicit
messages around us, like the hidden
symbol there. By the way, another
example of the workings of the automatic mind is
what psychologists call “classical
conditioning.” You all learned about classical
conditioning, all right? Pavlov and
his dogs. I’m not gonna go
through this. When I teach and write about
classical conditioning, actually, I don’t
start with this. Students tend to tune this
out when they see this. We get to it, but we
tend to tune this out. I don’t start
with this. I actually– I don’t even start
with Pavlov and his dogs… Collecting
the saliva– we’re all familiar with that
paradigm, or should be. No, what I start with is the
fact– well, there it is. I hate eggs. I hate the smell of them,
I hate the sight of them, and the runnier they are,
the more disgust I have. It’s not just
a distaste. It’s an
aversion. And if we were to go
to lunch, as we did– thank you for that– and
somebody were to order an omelet or something,
or runny eggs, I wouldn’t
say anything, but I hope you wouldn’t
take it the wrong way if I kind of back
a way a little. Don’t take it
personally. I hate eggs. I start with that
because, you know… (sighing)
I wasn’t born that way. My mom told me that,
as a young lad, I very happily
ate my eggs. Something happened
along the way. This was a
learned behavior. I can’t recall those early
conditioning experiences in which I developed
what’s called a “conditioned
taste aversion.” By the way, as I do this
with my students, I could do
this here. To me,
it’s eggs. And it’s not just a distaste–
it’s an aversion. It’s a conditioned response,
and conditioned responses are learned reflexively,
they are elicited, they are products of the
unconscious or automatic mind. Anybody else– I’m always
curious to know, anybody have these kinds
of taste aversions? For me, it’s eggs–
what might it be for you?>>Sweet potatoes.
>>Sweet potatoes! Innocent little
sweet potatoes, but that really
disgusts you. Were you always like that,
or was there something along the way?>>(indistinct).>>Yeah.>>(indistinct).>>It was spoiled
or something? Rotten, no?>>(indistinct).>>Mmm.>>(indistinct).>>But does it make you
really sick to your stomach? Are you really
repelled? I want to get at that feeling
that’s really an aversion– okay, you and me
both, yeah?>>(indistinct).
>>Scallops. Had a bad experience
with ’em?>>(indistinct).>>Well, okay, I’m
glad you raised that, because you may have dislike
for certain kinds of foods.>>(indistinct).>>Okay, interesting, so it may
actually be an aversion, maybe. Yeah?
>>Frank’s RedHot sauce. (indistinct).>>Yeah. Really sick to
your stomach.>>(indistinct).>>Okay, so you
invite this guy over, don’t serve Frank’s hot sauce,
that’s what I learned. Yeah, good example,
thank you. The idea that our– and I
move now to consumer behavior, to what we purchase,
to marketing. I asked before if maybe you’re
gonna go on to a career or an interest in
finance or economics. Some of you– I suspect
that many of you will go on to a career
in marketing. You may not think
of it that way, but you’ll be
selling stuff. You’ll be trying to get people
to buy the stuff you’re selling, whatever you’re
going to be doing– and that’s applied psychology,
by the way, marketing. Back in the 1950s, there
were influential books that talked
about this– in particular, “The
Hidden Persuaders”– that talked about the hidden
motivations that drive people to buy what
they buy. I’m wanna talk a little
bit more about this. Ernest Dichter was
one of the pioneers of this “motivation research,”
as it was called. And when you take your
marketing classes, if you go into business and
take courses in marketing, you’ll learn about Dichter
and Vance Packard. One of the thing that Dichter
was to say, for example– famous maxim of Dichter was, you
know, “If you’re selling shoes, “you’re not
selling shoes. “You’re selling
pretty feet.” Remember that. And so, there are underlying
motives that we have to– if we’re going to be effective
in marketing or sales that we have
to connect to, well, but I’m gonna talk to you
about some work I’ve done, using a test called the
“implicit association test” or task. You could look this up online,
there are tens of millions of people who have already
taken the IAT, as it’s called. “Project Implicit,”
if you google it, you can test your
own hidden biases. Your own racial biases,
your own gender biases, and many other
kinds of biases, weight biases. And what this does,
basically, is.. that it’s a
reaction time test, that’s measuring
your reaction time. You get to sort–
it’s a sorting test. And so, it says,
“When a word comes up “or a picture of a white person,
or a bad word comes up, “you hit one key
on the keyboard. “If it’s a black
or good stimulus, “you hit another key
on the keyboard.” And then,
they reverse. And the idea is that if
you pair black and good versus white and bad, you
get faster reaction times… to white paired with good
than white paired with bad, and black paired with bad
versus black paired with good. That suggests
that you may have what are called
“implicit biases” because when
this is primed, when you see
a black face, if you have these
underlying biases, you’re gonna be slower at
sorting out good and bad words. Because you have a tendency
to associate bad words if you have these
kinds of biases. And so, when a police
officer is in a situation where a suspect, they
may be flashing a gun, you can see how these
kinds of racial biases can lead to what are
terrible, tragic results. Will that police officer be
more likely to pull his own gun if that person that he’s
seeing is white than black? The developer of the IAT–
I won’t spend much time here. I’ll move on from here,
but is a gentleman named Anthony Greenwald,
and he’s just won– as I say, this movement toward
recognizing the significance of the automatic or
unconscious mind is really
taking hold, not only in economics
but also in psychology. Anthony Greenwald,
University of Washington, developed this test and is the
leading expert in this area. He was recently given the
highest scientific award the APA, or American
Psychological Association, can bestow. This gentleman is the most
recent Nobel Prize winner, Richard Thaler. He is what’s called
a “behavioral economist” in the tradition
of Daniel Kahneman. He looks at irrational
economic decisions, what people do, not just
with their investments, but also with their
everyday purchasing behavior and how that’s influenced
by underlying biases. Just won the Nobel Prize
based on his work. He’s written a wonderful
book called “Nudge.” “Nudge,” I should say,
“Nudge,” that I recommend
to you. There it is, “Nudge–
Improving Decisions “about Health, Wealth,
and Happiness.” Nobel Prize winner,
Richard Thaler. Let me tell you about a nudge,
and how this comes into play in our
regular lives. I use this in my
textbooks as an example. Clean scent, clean hands–
this is an actual study that was done in a
hospital in Florida, where they wanted
to encourage people– nudge them into using
the hand sanitizers. And so, they put the
hand sanitizers outside the patient–
a patient ward where patients were
being treated, and visitors, as they came by,
they wanted to encourage them to use the
hand sanitizer before they entered
the medical unit. But what they did,
unbeknownst to people– you’re walking by, you’re
visiting your sick relative in the hospital, and at the
door that you need to enter to get to the patient’s rooms,
there’s this hand sanitizer. Do you use it? Can we get you
to use it? Can we
nudge you? What they did was to,
unbeknownst to them, to infuse a clean citrus smell
in that area of the hospital. As it turned out, that
people that were exposed to that citrus smell more
often washed their hands, used the
hand sanitizer. They also wanted to see,
would people respond to these observing set of
eyes, “We’re watching you. “Are you gonna use the hand
sanitizer before you walk “into the
hospital ward?” Turns out that people
responded more to the stern-looking
male eyes than to the gentler-looking
female eyes. We are all prone to these
kinds of implicit responses, unconscious responses,
unbeknownst to us. I’ll tell you about
some of my own research, might be of
interest to you. Me and
my Apple. Just curious– I mean, you
probably all have computers or laptops– how many of
you use Apple computers? How many of
you use PCs? Okay, so we’ve
got a mix. A few years back– and
maybe you remember this– there were a set of
commercials about the Mac guy and the PC guy–
remember those? As for example, there were
a whole series of these. You remember the Mac guy
and the PC guy? How many remember the
Mac guy and the PC guy?>>Hello!
>>Whoop.>>(man sneezing)
>>Gesundheit– you okay?>>No, I’m
not okay. I have that virus
that’s going around. (blowing nose)
You better stay back. This one’s a doozy.
>>That’s okay, I’ll be fine.>>No, no, do
not be a hero. Last year, there were 114,000
known viruses for PCs.>>PCs, not Macs. So, let me just grab this–
>>I think I gotta crash.>>Okay, if you feel like…
that’ll help. Good. Hello, I’m a Mac–
>>Okay, and I’m a PC. Do you want to be this guy
or you want to be this guy? You want to be the
fuddy-duddy guy, or you want to be
the cool dude? This was one of the most
successful advertising campaigns in the history
of advertising. Again, applied psychology
called “marketing.” You remember that? You remember these types–
this was one of a series. So I got to
thinking… you know, are there
personality differences between Mac users
and PC users? You know, are Mac users
cooler, hipper people? Do they have different
personality traits? We tested
it out. In my university,
we have a program which every
incoming student… is not given
a computer… you know, that’s
part of the tuition. It’s included in
their tuition. You should know
it’s not a gift. But they get to choose whether
they want a Mac or a PC. In my classes, like here,
about half of them chose PCs, half chose Macs–
I was wondering, “Are their
personalities–” and I was also
wondering, “Does this operate at
an unconscious level? “Are you somehow more
psychologically connected “or identified with a Mac
than you would be with a PC?” And we tested
it out. We measured them in terms
of their personality traits, and we also put them
through an IAT, an implicit
association test, to measure their
implicit responses. Basically, I was looking to
see whether the Mac owners were more psychologically
identified with their Macs. That a Mac was not simply
a computer they used, it was part
of them. They were attached
to those Macs. It was somehow part of
their collective identity as opposed
to PC. So we put them through
both a personality test and we put them
through a set of– tested their
implicit responses. Whoops. (mumbling). Sorry. We’ll get to this
guy in a moment. What do you
think? Are there personality
differences between Mac users– some of you raised your
hand, you’re a Mac user– are your personalities
different than the person sitting next to you
that’s a PC user? Does it correspond to those
guys– the cool guy– does it? What do you think? Actually no. Couldn’t find any
personality differences between Mac users and PC,
but what we did find, at an implicit
unconscious level, we showed that Mac owners were
more personally identified with their Macs than PC users
were with their machines. In other words,
for a PC owner– PC user,
or owner, you know, they like the
features of the computer, they use the computer,
it’s a tool. It’s not part of
who they are. But Mac owners– we
find in our research– are more psychologically
identified. The iPhone, the Mac, is part
of how they see themselves. Somehow Apple,
brilliant as they are, were able to pull this off
that they created a product that’s not just something
that you find useful but something you
psychologically identify with. But I wouldn’t know,
I’m a PC user. By the way, I was interviewed
about this article. The guy who was
interviewing me, he said– you know, he turned
around to me, he said, “So what kind of
phone do you use?” As it happened– it
was a few years ago– I was using an iPhone at the
time, so I said, “iPhone,” but I said,
“I also use a PC.” So, you know, I just
wanted to balance that out. Now, I’m back
to an Android. Recognize
this guy? Are you more likely to
trust the guy on the left or the guy
on the right? Back in 2008, I
conducted a study to measure implicit responses
toward images of Barack Obama when he was running for
president for the first time. And the reason that I
was interested in this was because I noticed
during the campaign that there were some newspaper
articles and magazine features in which the image of
Obama was markedly darker than in other
images. Some were lighter,
some were darker, and I began to wonder,
“Would that affect how voters “would respond to Obama
as a candidate?” And so, we
decided to do– (clearing throat)
pardon me. An IAT study– we decided to
test out to see if people had different
implicit responses to what we might now term
“skin tone prejudice.” Now, we’d like to think
we’re above all this, right? We’d like to think that
we’re making an evaluation based on the content
of his character, not on the darkness
of his skin, but like Solomon Asch,
we can be wrong. And so, we had students
like yourselves, intro psych students,
and we tested ’em out. We put them in conditions
in which some of them saw this image and some
of them saw this image, and they then sorted out
good and bad words, and we measured
their implicit biases. And then, we did
one other thing, which I’m glad that we did
because it allowed us to drill deeper and dig
deeper into the data. We had students
identify themselves as either being
conservative or liberal. And what we
found… in my mind is somewhat
shocking and concerning. We didn’t find any difference
in implicit responses, no evidence of bias, for
lighter images of Obama between conservative
and liberal students. It was a wash. But when we darkened the
image, the same image, just darkened, conservative students
showed a more negative bias than liberal
students. And that, I think,
is very concerning. So your own
political attitude can affect your
implicit responses in ways that can
affect how you vote and how you respond
to images like these. A few more things and
we’ll call it a day. Other implicit responses,
I just kind of want to raise your awareness about
this stuff is happening in our everyday experiences
all of the time. We just don’t process
it like this. Evidence shows us– get this–
that people tend to post gloomier or more negative
Facebook postings when it’s rainy outside
than on sunny days. You can actually
tabulate that. We’re affected by
atmospheric conditions, by the weather
itself. People feel cheerier in the
spring than the winter– that’s a well-established
scientific finding. Even how a room is lit
affects such things as food– oh, there’s a
culinary institute here. Take it to heart. How well the room is lit can
affect how something tastes. Exposure to bright
light has been shown increases preferences
for spicier food. This is not happening
at a conscious level. This is happening at an
automatic or unconscious level. Bright light may intensify
emotional responses, either positive
or negative. If we raise the lights, we’re
going to– if you’re angry, you’re gonna
be angrier, if you’re sadder, you’re
going to be sadder. Positive or negative,
lighting affects us. The temperature
affects us. What does
the nose know? The nose is also
responding implicitly. I use these examples
in my textbook as well. This is a recent or
relatively recent study. That men who are
sniffing a woman’s tears, turns out to be a
sexual turn-off, even if the woman
is not present. I mean, if a woman is
crying in your presence, you could understand that that
could be a sexual turn-off but if you as a male are
exposed just to her tears and she’s not there, but
you’re just sniffing her tears, that has an effect on your
sexual arousal, sexual interest. It’s a downer. All right, you want to
try this after our talk, kinda get together
here today? Volunteers?
(scattered laughing) Men who sniffed an
ovulating woman’s t-shirt showed higher levels of the
sex hormone testosterone than did men exposed to control
t-shirts of non-ovulating women. We are being influenced
by these subliminal, unconscious types of responses
and cues, all the time. We may not be processing it
or aware of it. And not just what goes for
men, goes also for women. Women– yeah, they’ve
done studies of this. (laughing)
I mean, would you volunteer for one of
these studies? Women exposed to male sweat tend
to feel more relaxed afterward. They actually feel more
relaxed afterwards. They don’t know they’re actually
being exposed to male sweat, they’re just asked to
sniff certain substances, controlled substances, and it
turns out one of the substances is male sweat, and the women
that were exposed to it said they felt more
relaxed– what’s going on? It’s not
conscious. These are unconscious
reactions we have to various
kinds of stimuli. Okay, I’m gonna end– so I’ve
given you kind of things to think about
of how the new– our new concepts of
the unconscious mind influence so many different
aspects of our behavior. What we purchase, what
we do our investments, who we may even vote for,
whether we buy a PC or Mac, many of these things
are influenced at a deeper
unconscious level. I’m gonna share
something with you– I thought it was gonna
be mostly faculty and I wanted to
share this with them, and some faculty here,
but what the hell, I’ll share with the
students as well. So this is, you know,
basically, for the faculty that are in
the room. You may find this– and
the students as well. Three common problems
instructors often face. Students don’t
come to class. Am I right,
faculty? Sometimes? They come late to class,
am I right, even here? Or were you all
perfectly punctual? And this?
(laughing) Nodding off,
inattention. Hey, look, I’ve been
teaching long enough that I certainly know,
as all instructors know that these are common problems
that we face in the classroom and I’m gonna offer faculty
members a suggestion. It’s not an implicit
suggestion– making this
explicit. This is something that
I do in the classroom, that I’ve been talking
about, the faculty groups around the country, and people are really
picking up on it. It may be helpful to you
and even to students some day, even if you
become a teacher, or you might suggest this
to some of your instructors. I don’t have a panacea,
a cure that I can offer for these three common–
but I can offer a suggestion that I find
very helpful. I call it the
“mastery quiz,” and I do this in my introductory
psychology classes. A mastery quiz is
a kind of pop quiz, and I know those are
the most hated words in the student’s
vocabulary, “pop quiz.” But these are quizzes
students actually like and what we do is, in class,
is I pop a question up on the screen,
very first thing. Very first thing, and
it’s gonna be a question based on a topic I’m gonna
be talking about that class. All right? What makes this different
or makes it a mastery quiz is that students
have the opportunity to answer the same
question twice… at the beginning of
class and at the end. And they
get credit. If they get the right answer
either at the beginning, or at the end, or
on both occasions, they get a credit that
goes to their final grade. So if you didn’t know
the answer walking in, you’re gonna know the
answer if you pay attention walking out, and
so what this does is it uses psychology
to teach psychology. It creates
incentives. What are the
incentives? You have to be
in it to win it. You have to be in class that
day to earn that credit. This is an
in-class quiz. You have to be on time
to take the pre-quiz. And you have to pay attention
if you didn’t know the answer, because all who are
paying attention, you’ll learn
the answer. and we find that this helps
students grasp the concepts that we’re trying
to teach, at least the one concept
here that we are targeting. Mastery quizzing is an
effort to provide incentives for coming to class,
coming on time, and paying
attention. I want to thank you
for your attention… either conscious or
unconscious-wise. (chuckling)
It’s been fun. Thank you all. (applause)


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