Biases of the Day


Through various and assorted internet consumptions, biases that have come into my awareness again today:

The Mandela Effect

The Mandela effect is the situation where a large number of people believe that an event occurred, when it, in fact, did not. It is the large-number-of-people version of the false memory phenomenon:

In psychology, a false memory is a phenomenon where someone recalls something that did not actually happen or recalls it differently from the way it actually happened. Suggestibility, activation of associated information, the incorporation of misinformation, and source misattribution have been suggested to be several mechanisms underlying a variety of types of false memory.

The Mandela part comes from the large number of people who believed Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s while in prison, though, in fact, he survived, was released, and went on to help South Africa reduce its apatheid (while abolish is supposed to happen, we know that biases and political change don't happen overnight, and I don't actually know if South Africa's system of discrimination on grounds of race is actually gone - given my understanding of racism through the lens United States' inability to see beyond gender and race and age, I'd be surprised if SA managed the removal of apartheid in fewer than two generations).

Sadly, the one oft quoted about the Fruit of the Loom is actually wrong: there was a horn on the logo for a short bit, though the company denies it.

The Michelangelo Phenomenon

The Michelangelo phenomenon is an interpersonal process in which close, usually romantic, partners influence or 'sculpt' each other. Over time, the Michelangelo phenomenon causes individuals to develop towards what they consider their "ideal selves," as their partner sees them, and therefore acts around them, in ways that promote this ideal.

One could argue that, "the Michelangelo model suggests that close partners sculpt one another's selves, shaping one another's skills and traits and promoting versus inhibiting one another's goal pursuits" works only if one is in a relatively stable relationship where at least one partner is able to model this behaviour. Said modeling would need to be strong enough to overcome the resistence of the other partner's beliefs about themselves if both partners aren't able to positively affect each other.

A good reason to stick with the partner that makes you want to be a better person.

Golem Effect

The Golem effect is a psychological phenomenon where low expectation placed on people causes a poor result or performance.

The Golem effect is a psychological phenomenon in which lower expectations placed upon individuals either by supervisors or the individual themselves lead to poorer performance by the individual. This effect is mostly seen and studied in educational and organizational environments. It is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yeah, assuming the worst will make the worst appear: "if I'm being punished for this, I might as well do it." In families, parents having no expectations for children definitely affects long-term quality of life of the children. This phenomenon just sucks everywhere is exists.

The Golem effect is not quite the opposite of the Michelangelo Phenomenon. The Michelangelo phenomenon sculpts positively. In relationships, the Golem effect is giving up, not trying in a relationship, assuming the worst in a partner. Actively sculpting negatively, though, pointing out everything bad, and focusing on all the disappointments, thereby sucking all the joy out of a relationship and destroying it, probably has a different term which hasn't surfaced for me yet today.

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