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How Shocking Will Others Find Lady Gaga?

In case you missed it, the cameras were rolling at the 24th APS Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Troy Campbell from Duke University presents his research How Shocking Will Others Find Lady Gaga? Desensitization Via Repetition Biases Predictions.”

The more experience you have, the wiser you are, right? Troy Campbell and colleagues at Duke University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago found the opposite was true. Repeated exposure to jokes, pictures of Lady Gaga, sports photography, art, and a painful noise can actually make people worse at predicting how other people would experience the content.

Accurate social cognition often depends on a person’s ability to predict how others will react to emotive content. Yet exposure to certain content does not make one an expert at predicting other people’s reactions, and it can even have a negative impact on predicting how others will react to content. In three studies, Campbell and his team found that desensitization to emotive stimuli via repeated exposure leads people to form biased predictions for how others will respond to emotive content.

“When you hear joke for the hundredth time, you are not as amused by the joke as the first time,” Campbell explains. “If after 100 listens you do not account for how repeated exposure has influenced how you feel about the joke now, then you are going to make terrible predictions for how others unexposed to the joke will react.”

Campbell offers a word of advice: “When asking a local whether the desert sun will be too hot to hike in, remind the local that you are not use to heat. And even after he qualifies his original recommendation, know he still might be underestimating how hot it will be for you.”

If you have questions about the study, please contact Troy Campbell at troy.campbell@duke.edu or visit the Center for Advanced Hindsight website.

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