We think we see things as they are – that we are objective.
But being truly objective is to realize that we are subjective.
We see the world not as it is, but as we are.
This is part 2 – relationship between cognitive / psychological bias and abuse.
The Halo Effect
Human’s nature not only tend to rate people according to physical appearances, but also more likely perceive those beautiful people as smart, have better skills, knowledge, good moral standards and favorable personalities / traits / characteristics. That’s why this bias also known as “physical attractiveness” stereotype.
We are not merely attracted by superstars / celebrities / models etc. because of their beauty but also fantasize them as a more successful, likable, intelligent, wealthy than normal people – one who looks pretty, he / she must be nice too.
This is how victims always foolishly attracted by abusers / narcissistic / toxic people in the beginning. Many great looking guys understand how to deliver a perfect image by saying / behaving what outsiders expected. You will never spot their fake-self until you become their targets of abuse / manipulate / betray, etc.
Social experiments demonstrated when people well-dressed, they can easily deceive people’s perception, e.g. a stranger dressed sloppily and try to help a lost kid to find their parents, there are more passersby feel suspicious then stop him; but when the same guy change clothes become more well-dressed, more passersby ignore his attempt in approaching a kid.
Another research indicated attractive people less likely viewed as guilty of criminal behaviors, one of the reasons why we were shocked whenever we found those so-called successful, charming individuals were finally charged for child sexual abusers, serial killers etc. We were betrayed by their look!
Since they look so great, people will have difficulties to believe they have negative characteristics / hidden agenda / dirty secrets. We oversight the important element : abusers / criminals must use their convincing appearance to attract their targets and earn their trust at the first place, before they carry out any any evil thoughts.
Human nature tend to shorten cognitive process time to make quick decision in daily life, focused only on information that majority of people owned it and neglected other possibilities / choices, even though we may have doubts / uncertainty.
“If everyone do / say / buy similar things, I should also react the same”. Initially, not every individual feel comfortable to step out comfort zone constantly because many people afraid making alternative choices on their own will lead to mistakes / loss. Certain risk are under consideration.
Advertisement is a good demonstration of this bias, we see many ads daily on different media platforms, those recurring ideas / suggestions will influence us to make decision in later days. An experienced ad-agent told me they don’t really care if customers buy their products immediately after advertisements, but want to make a recurring impressions on customers’ brain. One day when they are in supermarkets and look for a product, will less likely searching around but pick up the brand they see from news / media early ago.
This happened when a person who always praised by majority of your friends, you will have a good impression of this person and consider him / her as a nice / fine person, even though you have never met this person before. Your defense system will be lowered and if unfortunately this person is actually a criminal or bad person, we will be trapped in toxic relationship, or even a more terrible tragedy. We have heard stories from news occasionally reported that victims usually attacked by the one they know / trust.
There’s no doubt we will be more caution when communiting with strangers, but if everyone say this person is a good fellow, we tend to underestimated potential risks behind.
This however can make good use of this bias to help our self-growth, e.g. we only focus on positive things / people or surround ourselves in positive environment, all can help and enforce our self-improvement : emotional, physically or psychologically.
There’s a saying “Recurring thoughts become words to ourselves, words become actions, and actions will soon become habits, which as a result benefit to our whole life”.
This bias is fun because personally I tested it out several times and the theory works exactly how I imagined.
People kind of over-praised the importance of group-thinking / brain-storming etc. in fact, we sometimes can’t make rational judgment on our own when we are putting in a group setting, especially when we are bonding to that in-group members tightly, e.g. close friends, loved ones, family members or colleagues.
Strangely, when we are make decision / judgment alone with reference to our own experience, education and intelligence etc. it’s more likely or much easy for us to act / think objectively.
This is because when we were placed in a group, our judgments will be influenced by other group members’ characteristics / opinions / judgments or our relationships with them, e.g. group setting make us become more suspicious, fearful, worry to offend or hope to relate to others. Overall, we tend to overestimate or rely on immediate group members’ efforts, abilities and value.
That’s why it’s difficult to confront with abusers, or ask for supports / helps from family members, relatives or cycle of friends sometimes, because they need to think and react in the same way to protect their so-called inner-circle’s reputation, unity and harmony, at the expense of victims’ benefits and justice. It’s not surprised to discover abused survivors get more supports / helps from outsiders sometimes.
Learning what bias human nature usually made can help survivors understanding how to relax, laugh away when they are dealing with BS / non-sense / injustice. When it happens, stay persistent in your core belief, don’t mislead by the dramas, absurdity and foolishness. If necessary, stay no contact and moved on, to live your own life.
Do you have similar bias that you notice or don’t noticed?
Photo credit : Pixabay : ladybugkreativ