Norbert Schwarz: Incidental feelings

One nagging thing I don’t understand about myself is why I’m still fooled by incidental feelings. Some 25 years ago Jerry Clore and I studied how gloomy weather makes one’s whole life look bad — unless one becomes aware of the weather and attributes one’s gloomy mood to the gloomy sky, which eliminates the influence. You’d think I learned that lesson and now know how to deal with gloomy skies. I don’t, they still get me. The same is true for other subjective experiences, like the processing fluency resulting from print fonts – I still fall prey to their influence. Why does insight into how such influences work not help us notice them when they occur? What makes the immediate experience so powerful that I fail to apply my own theorizing until some blogger asks a question that brings it to mind?

Norbert Schwarz is Charles Horton Cooley Collegiate Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and is among the most highly cited social psychologists alive today.

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