Friday, October 3, 2008

Did you see that?! Stress linked to illusions and superstition

The premise isn't original but the experiment testing it is elegant:
US researchers say feeling "out of control" makes us more likely to misinterpret information as we search for signs of order.

The study in the journal Science found investment decisions of volunteers were adversely affected by these feelings.

Simple psychological techniques might improve their performance, they said.

The researchers, from the University of Texas and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, believe that humans cope with feeling out of control by trying to impose order subconsciously - even in situations where there is none.
At a simple level, they demonstrated the principle by asking volunteers to look for images embedded in "snowy pictures".

Those whose feelings of control had earlier been undermined were more likely to claim to have seen an image, even where none existed.

However, the researchers believe that other kinds of illusion, from conspiracy theories to superstitions, stem from the same basic subconscious problem...


Just another reason to respect fear rather than be ruled by it. And yes, thinking you can reject it is just another indication it still rules you. Living with a healthy attitude towards and an appropriate understanding of fear is not the same as living in fear. This is the true meaning of fearlessness - fear still exists but loses it grip on you. May your life truly be fearless (and selfless, and painless...).

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