Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You've Gotta See This: Relax, Mom. Seriously!

We're discussing heuristics in my cognitive psychology class, and I was tasked with finding online demonstrations of such for a recent assignment.  For those not in the know, a heuristic is a little trick your mind uses to help you make decisions quickly.  For instance, if you walk into a room and your spouse is lying in a pool of red liquid, the thousands of hours you've spent watching every incarnation of CSI and Law and Order will tell you he's been brutally murdered, even if he's actually just unconscious after tripping over the cat and spilling half made jello.  (I can see why you would think that.  Men don't make jello on purpose.)

The above is an example of the availability heuristic.  The more you have of one type of information, the more easily you will draw on that information when judging a situation.  It's why moms rush to their children when everything suddenly gets quiet.  They've experienced many a disaster in similar situations.  But heuristics can be inaccurate, which is why moms sometimes find their kids have not conspired to destroy the house but are peacefully sleeping on a pile of laundry.

The video below was likely made for a school project, and I think it demonstrates the availability heuristic pretty well.  Moms, listen to Laura.  She is wise beyond her years.


Julia said...

I can relate: when my child is 20 minutes late walking home from school, I still find myself fighting off that knot in the stomach and keep telling myself "it's ok, he just got distracted" and only 1/2 believing myself.