Bias and Psychological Influences

This section will be used to reference articles, other websites or sources that will explain exactly what bias someone may have when viewing pictures, audio, video or other so-called paranormal evidence. Clearly, this is still a work in progress and we will be adding more as time goes on.

 

During debating or discussion with other people or teams, you may encounter different fallacies and a full list encountered may be found here. Wonderful resource, and well worth a read.

 

If you have anything to add here, please email us. We always strive to learn more so anything to add would be welcome.

ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE

In science, definitions of anecdotal evidence include:

  • "information that is not based on facts or careful study"
  • "reports or observations of usually unscientific observers"
  • "casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis"
  • "information passed along by word-of-mouth but not documented scientifically"

 

More can be read here.

SUBJECTIVE VALIDATION

Subjective validation, sometimes called personal validation effect, is a cognitive bias by which a person will consider a statement or another piece of information to be correct if it has any personal meaning or significance to them. In other words, a person whose opinion is affected by subjective validation will perceive two unrelated events (i.e., a coincidence) to be related because their personal belief demands that they be related. Closely related to the Forer effect, subjective validation is an important element in cold reading. It is considered to be the main reason behind most reports of paranormal phenomena.

 

More can be read here.

COGNITIVE BIAS

A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input. An individual’s construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.

 

More can be read here.

CONFIRMATION BIAS

Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.  People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.

 

More can be read here.

ATTITUDE POLARISATION

Attitude polarization, also known as belief polarization, is a phenomenon in which a disagreement becomes more extreme as the different parties consider evidence on the issue. It is one of the effects of confirmation bias: the tendency of people to search for and interpret evidence selectively, to reinforce their current beliefs or attitudes. When people encounter ambiguous evidence, this bias can potentially result in each of them interpreting it as in support of their existing attitudes, widening rather than narrowing the disagreement between them.

 

More can be read here.

BELIEF PERSEVERANCE

Confirmation biases can be used to explain why some beliefs persist when the initial evidence for them is removed. This belief perseverance effect has been shown by a series of experiments using what is called the "debriefing paradigm": participants read fake evidence for a hypothesis, their attitude change is measured, then the fakery is exposed in detail. Their attitudes are then measured once more to see if their belief returns to its previous level.

 

More can be read here.

ILLUSORY CORRELATION

Illusory correlation is the phenomenon of perceiving a relationship between variables (typically people, events, or behaviors) even when no such relationship exists. A common example of this phenomenon would be when people form false associations between membership in a statistical minority group and rare (typically negative) behaviors as variables that are novel or salient tend to capture the attention.

 

More can be read here.

WISHFUL THINKING

Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality, or reality. It is a product of resolving conflicts between belief and desire. Studies have consistently shown that holding all else equal, subjects will predict positive outcomes to be more likely than negative outcomes (see valence effect). However, new research suggests that under certain circumstances, such as when threat increases, a reverse phenomenon occurs.

Some psychologists believe that positive thinking is able to positively influence behavior and so bring about better results. This is called "Pygmalion effect".

 

More can be read here.

PEER PRESSURE

Peer pressure is influence that a peer group, observers or individual exerts that encourages others to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform the group norms. Social groups affected include membership groups, in which individuals are "formally" members (such as political parties and trade unions), or social cliques in which membership is not clearly defined. A person affected by peer pressure may or may not want to belong to these groups. They may also recognize dissociative groups with which they would not wish to associate, and thus they behave adversely concerning that group's behaviors.

 

More can be read here.

OBSERVER-EXPECTANCY EFFECT

The observer-expectancy effect (also called the experimenter-expectancy effect, expectancy bias, observer effect, or experimenter effect) is a form of reactivity in which a researcher's cognitive bias causes them to unconsciously influence the participants of an experiment. It is a significant threat to a study's internal validity, and is therefore typically controlled using a double-blind experimental design.

An example of the observer-expectancy effect is demonstrated in music backmasking,[citation needed] in which hidden verbal messages are said to be audible when a recording is played backwards. Some people expect to hear hidden messages when reversing songs, and therefore hear the messages, but to others it sounds like nothing more than random sounds. Often when a song is played backwards, a listener will fail to notice the "hidden" lyrics until they are explicitly pointed out, after which they are obvious. Other prominent examples include facilitated communication and dowsing.

 

More can be read here.

SUGGESTIBILITY

Suggestibility is the quality of being inclined to accept and act on the suggestions of others.

A person experiencing intense emotions tends to be more receptive to ideas and therefore more suggestible. Generally, suggestibility decreases as age increases. However, psychologists have found that individual levels of self-esteem and assertiveness can make some people more suggestible than others, which has resulted in the concept of a spectrum of suggestibility.

 

More can be read here.

FANTASY-PRONE PERSONALITY

Fantasy prone personality (FPP) is a disposition or personality trait in which a person experiences a lifelong extensive and deep involvement in fantasy. This disposition is an attempt, at least in part, to better describe the popular term "overactive imagination", or "living in a dream world". An individual with this trait (termed a fantasizer) may have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality and may experience hallucinations, as well as self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms. Closely related psychological constructs include daydreaming, absorption and eidetic memory.

 

One article can be read in full here, more can be found here.

SPOTLIGHT EFFECT

The spotlight effect is a common form of social anxiety that causes people to have a tendency to overestimate the extent to which surrounding others notice aspects of one's appearance or behavior, and the extent to which they are aware of it. The spotlight effect can lead people to feelings of paranoia and self-doubt.

 

More can be read here.

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