Spotlight effect: Why we believe that everyone regularly judges us.
An attention bias that leads us to think that everyone lives obsessed with looking at us.
A concern that can reach obsession – Spotlight Effect!
“I’ve made a mistake.” “I have pronounced badly.” “I have an imperfection in my face.” All these phrases have something in common. Many people are very bothered by the idea that others may detect an imperfection in oneself.
The truth is that most people with whom we interact are not even going to look at it. But we can become obsessed with that particular detail that might make us look bad, believing that everyone will see it.
We are facing what is known as the Spotlight Effect, a psychological phenomenon very common in western civilization.
What is the spotlight effect?
The spotlight effect is the overestimation that people make of their behavior or characteristics. In other words. People consider their act or element to be very striking, and everyone will see it and judge it.
It generally refers to harmful elements, such as having done an action wrong, having a pimple, or wearing clothes that create shame.
However, it can also refer to an overestimation of what other people are going to say about their contribution. Or some positive features that others will value and admire.
It is more frequent in very introspective people, or who tend to focus a lot on themselves and their actions.
While we give more importance to a specific element and think that the environment is going to focus on it.
Causing this thought the desire to hide or show it. It depends on whether what we believe of that element is negative or positive.
But we lose sight of and forget the fact that we are not the core of the lives of others, being focused on their affairs.
Experiments performed about
The existence of the spotlight effect is documented and observed in multiple experiments. One of them was that of Cornell University, in which students were asked to wear shirts that they considered shameful.
After that, they were asked to evaluate the number of people who had noticed that detail deemed unworthy.
The contrast of data reflected that less than half of the people that participate thought they had noticed had done so.
The same experiment has been carried out in multiple ways with very similar results. With aspects such as hairstyle, or even in participation in debates.
Not only with physical elements or actions performed. The same effect is observed in the belief that others can guess their emotional state due to the weight of our behaviors or actions.