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Thread: Your Snap Judgments Are Spot On

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    Your Snap Judgments Are Spot On

    17:11 09 January 2007
    NewScientist.com news service
    Roxanne Khamsi

    People have eagle eyes when they have just enough time to make a snap decision, a new study suggests. Subjects asked to pick out a single reversed cross on a screen of nearly 660 such symbols did better when they had only a fraction of a second to make a decision.

    The study supports the idea that we should trust our initial instincts in certain circumstances, say the researchers. They add that the findings demonstrate how higher-level thinking can sometimes steer us away from the right answer.

    Li Zhaoping and Nathalie Guyader at University College London, UK, recruited 14 subjects, and asked each of them to focus on a large computer screen. A set of nearly 660 identical crosses, spaced about 2 centimetres apart, would then flash on the screen.

    Out of these 660 symbols, one had a subtly different orientation from the others. Zhaoping asked participants to indicate whether the skewed symbol was in the left or right half of the screen.

    A video camera monitored the movement of participants’ eyes as they looked for the aberrant symbol. The camera was able to track where the subjects were looking by analysing the orientation of their pupils. Once their eyes had pointed at the misfit symbol, they were given different lengths of time to choose left or right.

    When subjects were given half a second, they picked the correct half of the screen 95% of the time. With a second to contemplate an answer, this accuracy dropped to about 80%.

    However, when participants had 2 seconds from when the computer registered that their eyes landed on the target they regained their initial accuracy levels.

    Subconscious re-orientation

    The researchers say there is a biological basis for these findings. An image picked up by the eyes first gets processed by a region at the back of the brain known as the primary visual cortex.

    This area of the brain is thought to be involved in subconscious processing. The information then travels from this visual processing area to both the parietal region – which recognises shapes – and the decision-making frontal cortex.

    Zhaoping believes that the higher-level mental processing that takes place in the parietal region and frontal cortex can initially make us mentally reorient an object to help decide what it is. This is useful when it allows us to recognise familiar objects in unfamiliar orientations. For example, recognising upside-down writing indicates we are holding the book the wrong way.

    In this case, Zhaoping says this re-orienting may cause our minds to classify the oddly oriented symbol as the same as all the others, making it temporarily harder to pick out.

    That would explain why people perform worse when given an intermediate amount of time to do so. When given a short time, they only have their subconscious as a guide; when given enough time they can override the re-orientation.

    Zhaoping speculates that the findings could potentially be useful in diagnosing patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The illness is often associated with a decline in higher-level brain function. People with Alzheimer’s might not show a dip in accuracy in a visual test based on Zhaoping’s experiment, she says.

    Source: New Scientist

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    Senior Member Kurt Steiner's Avatar
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    Judgements Choices Are the Result of Media Conditioning

    The massive, redundant stimuli saturating modern life, are not as intricate and complex as they are competing and repeating. Normal people have to depend increasingly upon shortcuts to handle them. Sir Joshua Reynolds once noted, "There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking." People use a short-hand type of thought-sorting called “stereotyping,” which is employed to rapidly classify people, situations and things.

    Each intricate sequence of a human's responsive behavior could be compared to a programmed tape which is played when a trigger feature is identified. A trigger feature usually appears in the form of a word (or words), an image, or some other stimuli or perception set. Some trigger features are complex mosaics of emotion-charged imagery, yet they are so powerful that perception of one tiny aspect of the mosaic can serve as a trigger feature.

    Trigger features offer clues that a stereotype has been encountered. A sometimes mindless response or near automatic behavior pattern, is then unrolled
    The trigger feature-response action sequence is: (1) A trigger feature is perceived; It causes, click - the appropriate behavioral tape to be activated; (3) Then, whirr - the tape begins to play and a standard sequence of behaviors is performed.

    Although there are many situations in which human behavior doesn't work in a mechanical tape-activated way, there are an astonishing number of situations that invariably produce programmed behavior.

    Advertising experts regularly exploit trigger feature sequences. The trigger features which activate preprogrammed psychological tapes can be used to dupe people into playing their behavior tapes at the wrong time.

    Most advertising deception depends upon verbal and graphic imagery repeated in patterned sequences which first elicit an emotional thought-stopping response. Thought-stopping responses, or stereotyped thinking, place humans in heightened states of susceptibility to suggestion. Such suggestible states also arouse concomitant fear impulses. That is why Soviet deceivers combine war, or some other terror-provoking imagery, with those behavioral directives impinging upon thought-stopping.

    Advertisers frequently mimic trigger features in order to elicit their own brand of automatic responding. For example, they may make their influence message as familiar and believable as religious sermons straight out of the mouth of Jesus. Their seduction phraseology then cuts into automatic psychological tape loops, linked to psychological predispositions or stereotypes which citizens have been relentlessly taught to accept...by the media!!!!

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    Member Crazyhorse's Avatar
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    Agree with the assertion; however, in order to make sound "snap" decisions one must have experiences and education to ensure sound decisions. This is based on the ability to recognize certain dynamics and stimulants which allow for these sound decisions.

    I am in a line of work where decisions are life/death and have been doing it for some two decades now. Read a book several years ago called "Sources of Power" by an author named Gary Klein which espouses the following theory and I concur. It is why newbies don't make very sound decisions in certain stressful/complex situations and old veterans do...

    "Recognition-primed decision (RPD) is a model of how people make quick, effective decisions when faced with complex situations. In this model, the decision maker is assumed to generate a possible course of action, compare it to the constraints imposed by the situation, and select the first course of action that is not rejected. This technique has benefits in that it is rapid, but is prone to serious failure in unusual or misidentified circumstances. It appears to be a valid model for how human decision-makers make decisions."

    This all hinges on whether the decision-maker can recognize, accurately the dynamics of a problem set under stress; otherwise, the individual thinks that he is witnessing one phenomenon when it is actually something entirely different - can lead to disaster; have seen it in action. Thanks for posting - FINALLY a great topic of discussion versus topic of obsession. Think our forum needs to focus on some more constructive topics like this one for discussion.

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    Senior Member Kurt Steiner's Avatar
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    Expert Judgment is Intuition, Analysis is the Tool oF Amateurs

    My title (above) is admittedly a controversial "hook." However, I will be glad to back it up if there is any continued interest. In the meantime consider this example from the history of General Patton. (intuition is based upon experience and reflective studies of such a duration that decisions are made more quickly and more appropriately in the face of chaotic variables.)
    Patton demonstrated vision and intuition in battle, but these qualities were founded upon his professional study. His G-2, Oscar Koch, said: "If one can call anticipation of enemy reactions based on a lifetime of professional training and on thinking and application," Patton had it. He was a professional soldier, a student of history, a planner all his life. Intuition is exactly that: the ability through experience to recognize familiar patterns and to complete them. Patton had the habit of thoroughly studying a situation, and then decisively acting upon available information. Clausewitz referred to this quality as coup d'oeil, the inner light, that quickly recognizes the truth of a battlefield situation. He avoided the unnecessary, quickly grasped the broader implications of the situation, and made rapid decisions. He was remembered by his staff for consistently making the right decisions.
    He had long term vision for operations. To illustrate this, Patton studied the maps of France before going to the continent, memorized them, and anticipated those points where he expected battle. He pointed his G-2's intelligence preparation toward Metz, which is exactly where the Third Army eventually ended up. The best known example of Patton's vision was his anticipation of the need to turn the Third Army to the North in reaction to the German counteroffensive of December 1944. Patton habitually kept his staff planning two operations ahead, all in keeping with his anticipation of events. Patton demonstrated vision and intuition in conducting military operations.

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