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What Is Functional Fixedness in Psychology?

Functional fixedness is when people can only think of traditional ways of using objects. It is a type of cognitive bias that prevents people from thinking outside of the box and developing creative solutions.  When you have a particular tool, you might look at it in terms of how it is traditionally used.  A screwdriver, …

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What Is the Recency Effect? Definition and Examples

The recency effect is a cognitive phenomenon in psychology characterized by the tendency to remember and give greater significance to the most recent items or information encountered in a series. In other words, when presented with a list of items, people are more likely to recall and emphasize the items that appeared last.  For example, …

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What Is Working Memory?

Working memory is a form of memory that temporarily holds information that a person needs to perform immediate mental tasks. It involves actively processing and manipulating information to perform activities like comprehending information, solving problems, and making decisions. Working memory is an executive function that plays an important role in many cognitive processes. It allows …

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What Is Choice Blindness? Definition and Examples

Choice blindness is a psychological phenomenon in which people fail to notice a mismatch between their intended choice and the choice presented to them. In other words, it is a surprising tendency to be unaware that our choices and preferences have been changed or manipulated after we’ve already made a choice. This tendency suggests that …

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What Is Self-Determination Theory?

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a framework for understanding human motivation that focuses on the importance of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Self-determination refers to individuals’ ability to control their actions and make choices aligned with their goals, needs, and values. Intrinsic motivation is another important component of self-determination theory. It is a type of motivation that …

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What Is the Primacy Effect in Psychology?

The primacy effect is a cognitive phenomenon in which people tend to remember and give more importance to the initial information presented in a series of items, whether it be a list of words, a sequence of events, or other forms of communication.  This effect suggests that information presented at the beginning of a series …

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Short-Term Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It

Short-term memory (STM) is a type of memory that can hold a small amount of information for a limited period of time. The duration and capacity of short-term memory is quite limited, holding between five to nine pieces of information for around 20 to 30 seconds. You’ve probably experienced these limitations yourself many times. Consider …

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Self-Serving Bias: Definition and Examples

The self-serving bias involves taking credit for our success but blaming others for our failures. It’s why we might boast about our talents and hard work when things go our way but focus on external, situational factors when we don’t live up to expectations. For example, it’s why you might attribute your good score on …

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Incentive Theory of Motivation: Definition and Uses

Incentive theory of motivation suggests that people are motivated by a need to obtain rewards or reinforcements. Rooted in behaviorism, this theory suggests that motivation arises from the desire to obtain rewards and avoid punishments. Incentive theory is just one of many theories psychologists have proposed to explain human motivation. Understanding this theory can give …

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Assimilation in Psychology: Definition and Examples

Psychological assimilation refers to the process of incorporating new information or experiences into existing mental frameworks or schemas. When we assimilate new information, we fit it into pre-existing cognitive structures. When we do this, we are able to make sense of the world around us.  It can be contrasted with accommodation, another concept introduced by …

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Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation: Key Differences

Motivation is crucial in how we behave, perform, and feel. At the core of motivation lies the difference between two distinct forces: extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation.  Extrinsic motivation draws upon external factors such as rewards or punishment to drive action, while intrinsic motivation comes from within and involves the internal desire to engage in an …

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Chunking Psychology: Definition and Examples

Chunking is a memory technique that involves grouping information into smaller, meaningful clusters that are easier to remember. Breaking down complex information into smaller, more manageable units can help improve memory retention. By organizing information into categories, such as numbers or concepts, we can make it more memorable and increase our ability to recall it …

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8 Effective Problem-Solving Strategies

If you need to solve a problem, there are a number of different problem-solving strategies that can help you come up with an accurate decision. Sometimes the best choice is to use a step-by-step approach that leads to the right solution, but other problems may require a trial-and-error approach.  Why Use Problem-Solving Strategies While you …

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Types of Emotions: Ways to Describe How You Feel

Emotions are an essential part of human life, but that doesn’t mean that feeling them is always easy. Many different types of emotions influence our decisions, relationships, and overall satisfaction with life. The emotions we feel can feel intense or sometimes even overwhelming. But being able to identify these feelings, talk about them, and manage …

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Anchoring Bias: Definition and Examples

The anchoring bias is a type of heuristic that causes people to use the first they learn as a reference point for making future judgments and decisions. This anchoring effect is highly prevalent across a wide range of situations–and it’s also very difficult to overcome. In this article, learn more about what causes the anchoring …

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Selective Attention: Definition, Types, and Examples

People are continuously inundated with endless amounts of information. External stimulation, internal thoughts, emotions, and other forces all compete for our attention. To deal with this, people utilize selective attention to tune out things they don’t need to focus on and concentrate on the important things. In this article, learn more about how selective attention …

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Cognitive Dissonance: Definition, Examples, How to Cope

Cognitive dissonance refers to the sense of unease and discomfort people experience when there is an inconsistency between what they think or how they act and what they perceive in the world. People tend to prefer it when their attitudes align with their perceptions of the world. When these beliefs don’t match up to what …

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Cognitive Bias: Common Types and How to Avoid Them

A cognitive bias is an unconscious systematic pattern of thinking that can result in errors in judgment. These biases stem from the brain’s limited resources and need to simplify the world to make faster decisions. Such biases are often the result of limitations or problems in memory, attention, and information processing. While such biases often …

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