Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mature Optimism's Gift of Insight: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part II


This post which discusses optimism as a cognitive bias continues from PART I which can be read HERE. It references examples of ideas that I drew from the musical Gypsy to explain how optimism helped me to cope with less than optimistic circumstances. 

It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships. (I'm clearly learning as I go.)

Little did I realize until last week that I'd lifted my “Mama's little circus freak” moniker directly out a scene from Gyspy. Mama Rose Hovick who becomes jealous of the public attention garnered by her daughter whom she viewed as the least talented tells her that she is little more than a circus freak. Gypsy Rose Lee, the new stage name of her daughter [Rose] Louise, found great success in the Burlesque venue as their family's Vaudeville career evaporated along with Vaudeville itself. To tame the sting that she feels as she transitions out of stage mother mode and as her other loved ones leave her behind, she wields her iron will to force those left in her world to give her that to which she feels entitled. She tries to seize her own worth from the ostrich feathers of her daughter's new, successful career.

Though the musical closes in what seems like a pleasant mother-daughter truce, I know too well that most stories of that intensity don't comfortably end that way. I think that in many ways, Louise (Gypsy Rose) was a better, kinder woman than me. That's not something that I'm proud to declare in my honesty, and the archetypes depicted in Gypsy and different perspectives of what all of that means continue to work on and in me. I hope that I don't need another twenty-five years to reap those benefits.


Everything's Coming up Roses

I never called my mother “Mama,” yet my jaw remained on the floor as I watched the scene where Louise first stands up to her mother. I was “Mama's” circus freak because Louise only calls Rose "Mama." I watched that scene over and over last week in utter awe. This time through, I had done enough healing work to see myself as the daughter instead of the young mother, fighting for her children as she sang about achieving her dreams. How painfully deep did I identify with that hapless daughter who could never make the mark! That wise part of myself that really does know the truth saw myself in that mirror that Louise gave to me. How I longed for the strength to do the same half of my life ago! How could I go on playing a role that caused me so much pain, but how could I stop without losing my mother?

The next scene and song echoed statements that I'd heard from my mother throughout my whole life. She claimed in many ways that I owed everything to her, even my own ideas and my own talents – though she seemed to fear and hate them. And I would have destroyed them for her had I been able, just to win her love. Yet at the same time, she owned them and she felt like she owned me because I owed her for everything. I didn't understand that she just didn't have enough of her own strength of self to view me as separate from her. That's why no matter what I did, I caused her shame. Half of the time, it likely wasn't my shame anyway, and I suspect that a good chunk of what my mother felt and expressed had little to do with me.

Lines right out of the song Rose's Turn could have been lifted right from my mother's very life, just as Sondheim had lifted them from Gypsy Rose Lee's memoir. I do remember well that by what I suspect is no mistake, though daughter “Dainty June” and boyfriend Herbie get honorable mention, Louise is not named in that final (fantastic) song. I felt this same kind of creaturely sense of awe when I read a particular book about dysfunctional parenting, as though my mother had memorized phrases of entitlement from a textbook that she repeated over and over. It seems from this evidence that the language of shame, survival, and rivalry between parents and children transcends circumstances and experience in Twentieth Century culture. At least it did for me. And the saddest thing about it was that I am sure that her intentions were pure. She just couldn't see beyond her own pain.


Rose's Turn

Understanding and compassion for Mama Rose and for my mom came slowly for me over decades of hard, heartbreaking work. Some of it has come just because of the passing of time as I enter my own new seasons of living an older life – which seems so strange because of how precocious I had to be for so long. I spent ages feeling like a neophyte, and I didn't have the broader perspective that I needed to understand things from another vantage. Along with that, I also had to accept that “life wasn't fair” and no amount of optimism that I hurled at my relationship with my parents could change it. (My parents believe that life is fair and that optimism can overcome all.)

I did find some wisdom in the words of Bernadette Peters who speaks of some of the very same feelings that I've had myself about the music and the play. She performed in it as a child with a show mother behind her and then again, later in life, as Mama Rose. Today, she is but a few years younger than my own mother, and I took heed to her words when she spoke about her insight into Rose after performing in Gypsy's Broadway Revival. I must admit that her words of compassion rubbed me in an uncomfortable way when I discovered them last week, but out of love for my mom, I am willing to stretch to understand.

Peters explains how Rose had to build a life for her two young daughters as best she could with basically nothing as she “makes a way in the world for her children.” As her children grow past her and weary of mama drama as they found their own lives, Peters finds Rose asking, “All I did was give them my love, and this is the thanks that I get in return?” During the song itself, we hear Mama Rose consider for a moment that she lived for her children, but along the way, she fell into the trap of living through her children.

It seems that we all end up living our own lives anyway, even if we try to hide under the skirts or the coattails of someone else. Peters describes this moment that she sees in the musical as Rose's realization that she might have had her own rewards if she had found some way to honor her own needs while still caring for her daughters. What might her life been like if she had? She would not have needed to seize from her daughters what honor and rewards – and independence – rightfully belonged to them apart from Rose.



Rose's Struggle

Yet the choices that we take for granted for women today were a mighty luxuries for most people of that day. Rose Hovick was born in 1890, about the time that my mother's family came to the US to escape the abject poverty that they faced in London. My grandfather who was born just a few years after Louise had to hitchhike 20 miles one way to attend high school, and though he earned straight A's and favored chemistry and physics, he barely survived the fate of “owing his soul to the company store.” He mined coal and sulfur and clay and worked on farms in exchange for food until labor laws and work programs provided a job for him as a welder for the Harbison-Walker Refractory Company.

How much harder would it have been for Mama Rose to provide for her girls when my great grandfather who raised his family in the middle of nowhere in the country could barely make a life for my grandfather and his many siblings? I heard similar statements from my mother who would declare over and over that her own parents treated her unjustly, and she did the best that she could. While I resented that this was often offered as an excuse, I did understand that she did all that she could with what she had to give me. (She couldn't see past her own disappointment to understand that I only asked to be treated fairly, hoping that she could see the differences between us as a part of my growing up and not as a rejection of her.)

For these reasons, I believe that an element of this divide rests in the luxuries that each generation enjoys, but as we humans do, we end up taking them for granted. My grandfather who would have loved nothing more than to go to college built his own bubble so that he could create a life that he could both attain and enjoy. Yet as a result of his own fears and struggles, he didn't make the most of the advantages that he could have offered to my mother. I question whether it's possible to overcome these perspectives that divide us so that we might find it easier to love one another through conflict and tension.


[Late Edit:  I deleted the part of this post that I meant to put in the next installment but accidentally put in this one.  You'll see it again soon if you came back to look for it.]


Until I finish Part III of Optimism as a Coping Bubble,
please consider these for further reading:


Monday, March 20, 2017

The Curse of Optimism: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part I


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

As the previous post postulated, in an unbalanced relationship, objectification on each side of that relationship can serve as a means of coping. One person becomes obligated to give if the other party always feels entitled to take from the other without reciprocating support. 

The less powerful party might trade their personal losses for the benefits that remaining entrenched in dysfunction yields for them. This 'secondary gain' essentially rewards a person for maintaining an unhealthy status quo. The illusions created by the party in pain help to preserve the dynamic which finds a stable point amidst its imbalance. By lessening the pain, by making secondary gain the focus of the relationship, motivation to change or exit the relationship drops and makes life more livable.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Using Halos to Cope with Horns? Objectification as a Double Edged Sword


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Here's a radical thought as we continue to consider the trappings of the Halo Effect. (I've dubbed the other side of the idealization coin as the Horn Effect to describe cognitive bias that results in the demoralization of others.)

People don't like to think that thinking very well of a person
or others thinking very well of them
as something negative.


Consider how this might work in light of how abusers treat victims when they're trapped in 'middle management' in a high demand system. As the other side of the coin to Lifton's description of the duality required of doctors under the Third Reich (discussed in the previous post), we might reverse the roles to see how the victim also uses the healing-killing paradox by default. While some may learn to use evil to accomplish good, they would not accomplish much without those who accept that evil, accommodate it, and support it.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Halos and Objectification


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I've spent years reading, thinking, and writing about objectification – to treat someone as if they are a mere object instead of the unique, complex, and valuable person that they are. The cognitive bias of salience describes general aspects of this attribution error which overlaps with some others – that of objectifying people as primarily good or evil by splitting them and their worth entirely into only one one or the other.
[Please take note of the many links embedded in this particular post for background on some of the concepts and history referred to in the post.  This one seems rather dense with them.]
The black and white thinking that high demand groups and relationships use to advance authoritarianism force simplistic assessments by making leaders and model citizens who follow their program as divine and intrinsically good, so the related CranioRectal Inversion has been termed the halo effect. This contrasts a whole range of possibilities when people are viewed in the opposite light – diminishing or minimizing others and their influence. Spiritual abusers love to cast those who fail to follow the informal rules of conduct or the affection of leadership as ranging from problematic to malicious if not demonic. I've dubbed it the horn effect for this discussion.

This blog often explores both concepts as essential components of spiritual abuse but uses the term objectification to describe horns far more frequently than it does halos. Why might that be so?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Deeply Planted Seeds of Cognitive Bias


https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/scandal-evangelical-heart
This is a tweeked excerpt from a post that I wrote a few years ago, prompted by Cindy Foster's reflection on a blog post about a blog post (Rachel Held Evans' The Scandal of the Evangelical Heart)

     Reflecting on my own, consistently repeated cognitive biases, I thought that this might give the reader some insight into how illogical ideas can become so entrenched in our natures and the ways we learn to we see the world. I still find the tendrils of tributaries and branches of these basic false beliefs in different areas of my life, and I still work like a gardener to keep weeds at bay. There's not as much tugging and pulling as there used to be, but it seems that like the seeds of weeds, the scandalous lies about who I am and how the world 'should' work keep popping up. They have shaped who I am, and I am determined to use them to as potent motivators for growth.

And then I felt moved to make what I think might be art.

Christian Language Trigger Warning: I wrote this from an openly religious perspective targeting a Christian audience, for it is how I make sense of the experiences and find meaning and hope despite the hardships they created.

This narrative is known ad nauseum to those closest to me as 
The Saga of Marcy and the Pennies

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kiss Your Monster on the Nose


https://www.amazon.com/Adult-Childs-Guide-Whats-Normal/dp/1558740902/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488144892&sr=8-2&keywords=friel+and+friel+adult+children 


I first encountered this story near the end of the book An Adult Child's Guide to What's “Normal” by Friel and Friel, but beyond that, I have no idea where it originated. 

In many ways, I hope to make the monsters of Cognitive Biases something of friends by what they tell us about ourselves. May we continue to learn from our mistakes and those uncomfortable parts of ourselves that tend to scare us. May they become our respected friends and instruments for fostering healthy growth.




Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a village far from the big city. The village was nestled in a beautiful, sunlit valley surrounded by a tall snow-capped mountain range.

As the little girl grew older, she began to hike in the foothills at the base of the mountains, and when she became a teenager, she asked her parents if she could hike over the mountains to the village on the other side to visit her grandparents.

At first, her parents were very upset and worried, and they told her that she could not go. But the little girl pleaded and begged and argued that someday she would be a young woman, and that she would have to grow up sometime. After several months of debate, her parents finally agreed to let her go.

Strategic Wisdom, Cognitive Bias and Poker

Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I'm not cut out for poker and political games, especially interpersonal ones.  Just the same, I forget (through errors of attribution) that for some people, the drama created by such strategic game paying adds spice to their life. I actually have trouble accepting that it also comes into play when working with others to meet a common goal. I've been in some skirmishes that have demonstrated my desire clarify some matter of logic or miscommunication, but the whole mess quickly degrades into a emotional battle of wills before I realize it.  The cues are there, but I don't want to notice them.  I don't understand what motivates them, but I must learn to respect them and the problematic ways I've coped with them in the past.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Why My Common Cognitive Biases Make Me Lousy at Poker


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

As I walked through this past year (recapped here), I recognized the familiar sense of panic that I felt during my last year in my spiritually abusive (cultic) church. A number of years ago, I'd become involved with a new group of people that aspired to achieve some idealistic causes, but as it unfolded, it became an unhealthy and familiar trap. As was true of my old church, not everyone experiences the discomfort of dysfunction, yet like some others, I found myself in good company.  I think that the familiarity of the dynamics caused me to forget about my competent adult self, and I felt swept up in a deep sense of childhood helplessness.  (As a friend put it, these folks did have a formidable "skill set," too.)  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wishful Thinking and Jello


https://www.pinterest.com/explore/rainbow-jello/
I remember when I was head over heels (sometimes literally) in that Toronto Blessing Movement in Word of Faith, I could feel the disappointment coming. I was probably about ten pounds overweight at the time, and I went on an extended fast. I stopped checking my weight when I was three weeks in, and I'd dropped about 35 pounds. I continued to fast until I “believed” I'd achieved what I'd set out to overcome, but I didn't weigh myself again. I do remember when my weight shot about 35 pounds ahead of my happy starting weight. That was the first of many fasts.

I did have some grand insights as a result of that fast, but they weren't what I'd hoped they would be. My mom was undergoing radiation, and she wanted a miracle, signs and wonders, buzzy, exciting healing. I wanted a magical solution that would halt the spiritual abuse and the abuse suffered by women taking place at my church. I'd done just about everything but an extended fast to achieve that special status through which miracles are supposed to flow. I felt as though I'd exhausted everything else.

Friday, February 24, 2017

When Cognitive Biases Hit Too Close to Home


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).


We don't come with a user's manual for our parents when we're born, and no one gives us one when we head towards adulthood. We are human, and as the old slogan goes, “Children learn what they live.” 

Friday, January 20, 2017

If you haven't read it yet....

https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Business-Essentials-ebook/dp/B002BD2UUC/ref=br_asw_pdt-3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=WXZS7VAG886M05JFGBAX&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=0b72a5cd-ed40-4583-a189-81ed78307c91&pf_rd_i=desktopThe Amazon Kindle version of Robert Cialdini's  
is now available for $1.99.


It's unclear whether this is the new standard Kindle price at Amazon, so if you haven't read it before, it's probably smart to buy the digital copy.  Check out this brief overview which also appears in the sidebar.  Dr. Philip Zimbardo also offers a very nice summary at The Lucifer Effect website.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

More on the Dunning-Kruger Effect

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/11/revisiting-why-incompetents-think-theyre-awesome/
Screenshot of standout quote from the Ars article.


A nice summary  

of this CranioRectal Inversion phenomenon 

at Ars Technica:







Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Peace in the Midst of the Storm


http://survivingchurch.org/



 Please enjoy the reflections of Stephen Parsons as he visits the Island of Crete. (The post in its entirety struck me as so lovely and deep using a powerful analogy that I have not even noted here, it is well worth the visit to Surviving Church to read it.):



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Worthy of Repeating

....in a quote pic (from yesterday's post).



For Further Reading until the next post:

Friday, September 30, 2016

Faith, Feedback and False Consensus


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

The previous post discussed the problem of thinking that people think and do the same things that we do, though this is not true about every kind of belief. Social support plays a role in how we justify ourselves and how we perceive reality, and it works to help bolster our feelings about ourselves and our decisions. But what do we know about what weakens or strengthens a False Consensus Bias?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A CrainioRectal Inversion as Both Nemesis and Insightful Tool


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

The False Consensus Bias refers to a tendency to overestimate the number of people who share our views, beliefs, values, and behaviors. I tend to think of Descartes' “I think therefore I am.” If I start with myself at the center of my understanding, it seems to naturally follow (at first) that most people will be somewhat like me. I think this, therefore a good number of people will think the same thing. You are your own norm, and you can fall into the trap of thinking that you represent most people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pull Your Head Out to Avoid Variations on Attribution Errors


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Many cognitive biases tend to point out the same errors in thought but with subtly different emphases.  I think that these errors in attribution that are also somewhat self-serving are worth looking at because they demonstrate how fragile our perspective can be without a balance of circumspection and introspection.

When learning something new, we start with what we already know and understand, and if we are observant and mindful, we can learn much about ourselves. We can also pick up on cues about how others tend to see themselves and how we all come together in our intersections in the world as well. So we start at the center of our understanding until we have a broader base for comparison and contrast, and we find ourselves at that center of things. We also cast ourselves in a favorable role when thinking about motives and behaviors. We're good people and we like to think that others think of us that way, too.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fascinating False Attributions and Representative Heuristics


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

We've already visited a few biases that concern attribution errors, but I hesitate to address some of them because they can quickly become personally painful. I can trace most of my relationship mistakes and boundary issues directly back to them, and in many ways, I feel as if I never learn – or at least not fast enough. There's a chapter in the Book of Matthew that explains how to deal with harsh critics, and it doesn't promise a happy ending. It was quite influential when I left my spiritually abusive church, but I'm slow to consider it and take no pleasure in it. It explains that you should move on if you're not well-received, and it's not a fun process.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Dunning Krueger Effect in (my own) High Demand Relationships


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I think of this as knowing just enough about something to be dangerous. Basically, people – roughly two thirds of people – who lack training in a certain topic grossly overestimate their skill and aptitude by wrongly assuming that they hold mastery of it.  They project confidence about it because they're totally ignorant of the fact that they're misguided.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Benchmarking and the Secret Knowledge Bias of a Cult Leader


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I've struggled with writing this installment because I hate when a person pulls a Blind Spot Bias subtype out of their hat as cult leaders often do... Or were they in full force all along, but it took time for me to finally get over my own biases so that I am able to recognize them in someone else?  

I find them particularly difficult to bear when used against me. I still haven't figured out how to recognize them in someone else without making the realization a way of morally denigrating someone somehow, but that is an element of life and boundaries that I'm still chewing on. That tie to morality comes about because of my past experience, but it's not necessarily an element of a cognitive bias.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Positive Perceptions and Blame Games: The Self Serving Bias




Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Like the Blind Spot and Confirmation biases, the Self Serving Bias also serves to preserve the ego by painting the self in a positive light. One of many other attribution errors, anything that happens that benefits a person is credited to their achievement and merit. This assumption is sometimes true, but not always. The tendency helps us cope with and manage our fear of failure so that we can find optimism in the face of self-doubt.

In the event of failure or negative outcomes, the Self Serving Bias can also work to preserve ego by laying blame on some source other than the self. If we get a favorable score on a test, we take the credit for knowing the material and performing well. However, if we earn a low score on the test, we can easily blame the test or the teacher or some other factor to assuage our own feelings. We human beings tend to find it easy to assign cause to anything but our own behavior or limitations.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Coming to Terms with Confirmation Bias


The purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

On a practical and personal level, I find that many biases overlap, allowing us to see the world favorably and in a way that paints us in a favorable light. As noted in the previous post, we have to trust our own perceptions as reasonably accurate as a starting point, and from that assumption, we can adapt and adjust them in light of new information. If we are healthy and live in optimism, we must trust in our perceptions until we're given cause to do otherwise. We also tend to give others the benefit of the doubt until they give us cause to doubt them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Cant Be Biased!


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

When I first started to really dig deep into recovery from my spiritually abusive church, I became overwhelmed as I realized all of the things that I ignored. Little things would trouble me, but I would assume the best about those around me, dismissing the dissonance that I sensed as my own inattentiveness. If people I did not know were discussed and I found the discussion to be a bit odd, I would tell myself that I didn't know them and must not have understood their story.
 
I remember thinking this often, but the example that I remember most concerned discussions of people who the pastor claimed had left the church, but the elders didn't think that they should leave. The intensity of the things that he had to say about people seemed a bit disproportionate to me at the time, and he almost seemed as though he expected me to ask more questions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fostering Imagination in Evangelism


Excerpt from How Not to Evangelise by Stephen Parsons 
at Surviving Church (my own emphasis added):
The second word I brought forward as being always needed in any attempt at communication is the word imagination.

The ability to use the imagination effectively is sadly something not always encouraged in the schooling process. It does however develop as a by-product of certain disciplines within the curriculum which are labelled under the title of creative arts. These are not always the ones most valued in a system that places science, maths and verifiable information at the top of the educational tree. While imagination is hard to teach, it is nevertheless naturally built into every growing child and parents and teachers can do much to encourage it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The CranioRectal Inversion of Change-Blindness

Reminder: the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. We've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI) to make things more interesting.

We live in a world that is loaded with more information than we can process. Attention helps us filter out that which is less significant to attend to that which is necessary or expedient. We can take in 30 to 40 images per second in sweeping glance, but our brain can't possibly pay attention to all of them. We only have the ability to retain a few of them, so we (or our brains) select what is significant to us. Sometimes, the objects in our visual field call for attention, but this differs from the manner in which we see by selection.

We tend to notice changes from the norm, but we also tend to miss big ones from time to time. As we noted in The Invisible Gorilla experiment, factors can compete for and divide our attention. Oddly enough, however, though we are very attuned to small changes, we research indicates that we can tend to miss the large ones.