Monday, October 23, 2017

CranioRectal Inversions Cheering Us On (The Cheerleader Effect)

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 a bit lighter, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Another very human trait with which perspective can trick us is most commonly known as the Cheerleader Effect. Some of it owes to the way that we process visual information against contrasting elements in a field of view, but we also have deep psychological wiring that also affects how we interpret what we see. Some of that might also involve the suggestion that if a person is photographed with other people, they must have relationships which include activities that are enjoyable enough to wish to photograph. At the most simplistic level, people look more attractive to us when they are in a group with others. No one seems to know exactly why, but ongoing research continues to validate that the Cheerleader Effect influences all of us.

The Seeing Brain

These 'rules of thumb' serve us by orienting us quickly, and some of them reveal just how much 'seeing' we actually do with our brains and not as much as what our eyes actually see. One of the most basic optical illusions involves our tendency to see same sized objects as larger or smaller, depending on the context in which we see them. Two dots of the same size and color can appear larger or smaller, depending on the size of other dots in the background. Context becomes everything as our mind compares one thing against another, a part of the process of tagging memories to make them, well, memorable.

We appear to have a penchant for quickly determining off the cuff assessments that narrow things down to an average which also comes into play when looking at people's faces. I remember watching a TV magazine show that showed how even very young infants have a preference for looking at faces, even if they are simplistic ones drawn on a piece of paper. I found it fascinating, and that study suggested that it is an innate human trait because of the preference found in the youngest of infants. Unlike the illusion created by contrasts of size and spacing, the way we see faces differs from other shapes and objects.

Putting all of that together, studies show that we also see faces differently when that face is pictured with other people. When subjects view individual faces separately and then view those same faces with others in a group, they rate the same faces as more attractive when pictured with others. It is speculated that we human beings automatically assess those faces by developing the idea of the average face amidst the crowd, and we prefer faces that resemble the average.
The jump in the level of likability of the face when seen in a group is not dependent on attractiveness in genera. Those extra points are freebies. The unconscious process of comparing one face to what the brain calculates as an average ideal in a photo automatically increases the attractiveness of the individual that is singled out. Similarities among the faces in the group seem to have an equalizing force that plays against our attention to an individual distinguishing traits. Who doesn't like a cheerleader?

The moral of the story is that if you're choosing a photo for a dating website, you're better to pick one what features you with other people. It's probably also a good idea to get some input from trusted friends when choosing someone to date.

But, of course,
there are even more CRIs that play on these same influences
that can make us prone to manipulators and spiritual abuse.

For Further Reading: