Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Consequences Without Awareness

Consequences are everywhere--sometimes when we don't even realize it!  The Science of Consequences includes a number of examples of research demonstrating how we can be influenced by consequences for what we do without our awareness.  (Another reason why it's helpful to know more about how they work.)

File:Hugh specs.jpgThis fact was recently brought home to me in an unexpected way.  I was at my optometrist's office, getting my vision checked with one of those eye charts--you know, the standard one with the big E on top, and rows of letters that get progressively smaller and harder to read as you move down. 

The optometrist asked me why I was tilting my head. Was I?  I was!  I hadn't even realized it, it was so well-learned and automatic an adjustment. Tilting my head back a little brought the letters into slightly better focus, as I verified when I experimented, trying to read different rows on the eye chart with my head at different angles.  It wasn't a large effect, but under the pressure of struggling to make out the tiniest letters, tilting definitely helped.  It's almost spooky.

1 comment:

  1. The first thing I thought of when I read this is "squinting". About twice a week, one of my dogs will wake up in the middle of the night and make a high pitched bark (I swear, he is manding! Haha). Anyhow, without fail, I jump up out of bed and let him outside to go to the bathroom. I never sleep with my eye contacts in, and he is a dark (nearly black) dog. I watch him the entire time that he is outside. He will often go to the back of the yard, and is completely out of focus for me. So I always "experiment" a bit with squinting my eyes and tilting my head, and when I find a perfect position, I keep it there until he comes running back. It is so funny to think about these everyday occurrences in terms of consequences! I am sure, over time, some angles or squints will be selected, and others will or have fallen by the wayside due to not contacting reinforcing consequences.

    Anyhow, thought I would share! It really is a pleasure to take a minute out of the day and examine the lawfulness of our own behavior!