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Experiencing Psychological Processes and Understanding their Implications
Unformatted Document Text:  9 from each other in a consistent pattern even though the expected value of all 4 options is the same (200 people living). The point to get across is that the way that alternatives are framed can affect what people choose, even when the outcomes are actually identical. People deal with risk and uncertainty in ways that depart from pure cost-benefit analysis, but that are nonetheless systematic and predictable. This has obvious implications for campaigns and media. It has also been applied very fruitfully to international relations. These preference reversals are one of the underpinnings of prospect theory and led directly to Kahneman’s Nobel Prize. By being part of the experience, the students realize that these effects are not something that happens to other people, but their own minds also work in this way. This flu outbreak experiment differs from the interference and accessibility demonstrations in some interesting ways. This task does not ask the students to make a quick decision and does not overwhelm them with information. This point can be very important because it can sometimes seem that `psychology’ only matters when people do not devote their full attention to their decisions. Practical Expectations and Conclusion The Stroop Task and the flu outbreak demonstration have never failed me, but the carrot priming test `works’ (the volunteer answers the vegetable question by saying “carrot’) about two thirds of the time. When it does not work, I explain to the class what I expected to happen and then we discuss what went through the head of the volunteer and through the heads of the rest of the class as well. These experiences allow students to have direct experience with some of the processes that we teach about. They may continue to see them as tricks, but they do realize that these are tricks that `work’ on them. These aren’t things that happen to

Authors: Transue, John.
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9
from each other in a consistent pattern even though the expected value of all 4 options
is the same (200 people living).
The point to get across is that the way that alternatives are framed can affect
what people choose, even when the outcomes are actually identical. People deal with
risk and uncertainty in ways that depart from pure cost-benefit analysis, but that are
nonetheless systematic and predictable. This has obvious implications for campaigns
and media. It has also been applied very fruitfully to international relations. These
preference reversals are one of the underpinnings of prospect theory and led directly to
Kahneman’s Nobel Prize. By being part of the experience, the students realize that these
effects are not something that happens to other people, but their own minds also work
in this way.
This flu outbreak experiment differs from the interference and accessibility
demonstrations in some interesting ways. This task does not ask the students to make a
quick decision and does not overwhelm them with information. This point can be very
important because it can sometimes seem that `psychology’ only matters when people
do not devote their full attention to their decisions.
Practical Expectations and Conclusion
The Stroop Task and the flu outbreak demonstration have never failed me, but
the carrot priming test `works’ (the volunteer answers the vegetable question by saying
“carrot’) about two thirds of the time. When it does not work, I explain to the class what
I expected to happen and then we discuss what went through the head of the volunteer
and through the heads of the rest of the class as well.
These experiences allow students to have direct experience with some of the
processes that we teach about. They may continue to see them as tricks, but they do
realize that these are tricks that `work’ on them. These aren’t things that happen to


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