Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Attribution & Heuristics

      One of the things that I found really interesting was the idea of counterfactual thinking, being the "tendency to imagine alternative outcomes that might have occurred but did not." Last semester I was hit by a drunk driver in October. I was sitting in a left-hand turn lane in Dallas/Fort Worth, when this man in a pick-up truck lost control and spun into me. My car was totaled, my boyfriend was in the hospital, and I was in a complete state of shock, and all I could think about was, "WHY DID I WANT PANCAKES SO F'N BAD AT 10:30 AT NIGHT!" I was then rushed to the hospital, my boyfriend and I were stuck in Fort Worth, on the weekend of a big game, staying in the grossest hotel of all time, with severe whiplash and minor head injuries, watching Bollywood soap operas at 6:30 in the morning.
       By the time we got back to SU, we were already trying to just move on from the whole thing, but found the whole process a lot more difficult then originally expected. I couldn't stop looking back and asking why I insisted on going to see my friend's play on THAT weekend, why not the next one, or the one before that? Why did I choose to drive when it was raining? All of these questions were obviously silly, but some how I blamed the entire accident on my stupid decisions.  
         The other thing I wanted talk about were the 6 fantastic heuristics! The first one is definitely something that I do on a day to day basis with celebrities. The representativeness heuristic, meaning that we make judgements based on our schema for the category, person, job, etc. I guess I do this most with people in general, but haven't you ever just seen someone and said, "She should be a doctor, or she looks like a 'Sharon'." I guess those decisions that we make about people and the "category" they "fit" in are, in part, the fault of this heuristic. I think that might be one of the problems in the acting world. For example, the idea of "getting typecast" means that a person plays a certain kind of character and then is always cast in parts that fit that particular cast. 
Look at the TV series "Friends", Joey Tribbiani, one of the male leads on the show for the entire 10 seasons, went on to.... make a spinoff in which he played the exact same character. "Joey" (I know what an amazingly stimulating title) flopped with i
n the year. Now the only times you see pictures of Matt LeBlanc (Joey) are in tabloid magazines in sections picturing the people gaining weight or worst beach looks. 

            The next and last heuristic I wanted to talk about was the availability heuristic, which I think makes the assumption that we tend judge the likelihood based on how easy it is to think of examples of these things. So, for example, if you just left you English class, where you were reading Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," you are much more likely to make comments about it, relate things to it, and even compare people and acquaintances to the many characters in the story, simply because it is on your mind and readily available. 

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