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The Blue Dot Effect

If you have heard of this song, "Smells like teen spirit," (if you haven't, you are missing out big time), Kurt Cobain says, "I feel stupid and contagious." Correspondingly, the Blue Dot Effect is contagious, and it makes you act stupid.

We live in a fast-paced world, everything around us evolving day by day. Each day, we seem to have new problems to worry about, whether it be work issues, family conflicts, overloaded school assignments, or relationship upheavals.

However, have you noticed that our reaction often deems bigger than the actual problem? When one thing goes wrong in your life, you feel as if other things start to fall apart as well, like a domino effect. For example, you read one bit of dreadful news – let's say that there is a sharp increase in the coronavirus cases in your country. Next, your thoughts and worries spiral out of control, contemplating all the possible worst-case scenarios and stressing out yourselves. Consequently, you tend to look out for more threats to the news. Even if there aren't any, your instincts tell you to expect them anyways. In summary, this is an overview of the Blue Dot Effect.

Let me explicate the origin of the Blue Dot Effect. A team of scientists from Harvard, Dartmouth, and New York University conducted an optical-illusion study in which they displayed a series of 1,000 dots in different shades of blue and purple.(Specktor, 2018)They then simply asked numerous groups of American college students whether the dot on the screen was blue or not. (Specktor, 2018)

It sounds simplistic, doesn't it? You don't have to solve a calculus question under pressure; you just have to distinguish the blue dots. In the first 200 trials, the participants were presented with an equal spectrum and number of blue and purple dots; they efficiently differentiated the dots. Further, into the remaining 800 trials, there was a gradual decrease in the number of blue dots until there were only various shades of purple dots on the screen. Regardless, the participants mistook the purple dots for blue dots as there were lesser and lesser blue dots on the screen. In fact, the dots that they had earlier labeled as purple now seemed blue to them. Even when they were informed that the number of blue dots was declining, they still mistook the purple for blue anyways. (Specktor, 2018)

So, why is this test not as straightforward as it seems? The researchers assume that "the human brain doesn't make decisions based on cold, hard rules, but rather on prior stimuli." (Specktor, 2018)According to the test, the participants redefine their perception of the blue dots to align the results from the previous trials, as the ratio of blue-to-purple dots alters. The takeaway is that our human minds, as spectacular as it ought to be, are easily deceived. When we see fewer blue dots, we try in veins to spot them, obliviously adjusting our perception of what the blue dots look like and hence, changing the way we think.

On the whole, the Blue Dot Effect insinuates that the more we look for something, the more we see it. Likewise, when we seek out more threats, we tend to encounter more of them. (Beware The Blue Dot Effect!, 2020) Regardless of the safety or comfort that surrounds us, we still fear that bad things may happen out of nowhere. If situations occur in our favor subsequently, or things have been smooth in our lives, we begin to suspect if something is wrong or if we are about to be bombarded with some bad news later. We just can't seem to catch a break with all the worries and rumination.

We must be aware of the Blue Dot effect because it messes with our heads. The RAS (Reticular Activating System) is the part of our brains that keeps us alert, notice certain things, and neglect others. (Beware The Blue Dot Effect!, 2020)Basically, it empowers us to see what we want to see and to focus on what we seek for. Therefore, if we persistently think about bad news or negativity, our RAS will alert us to notice more of them. Similarly, if we set our minds to positive things, our RAS will filter out negative things and scope on the positivity.

In the end, it comes down to us. Life is full of blue and purple dots in an uneven proportion. So, do you want to see the blue dots or purple dots? Or, will you accept if you don't see any blue dots at all? Create the picture you want to see – if you want to live happily, attract good vibes and good energy. Do not waste your time and kill your mood, imagining, and anticipating every possible thing that can go wrong. Do not try to find the blue dots if there aren't any.


Beware The Blue Dot Effect!(2020, February 12 ). Retrieved from Doing Life Differently :

Manson, M. (2019). Everything Is F*cked .United States: HarperOne.

Specktor, B. (2018, July 2). Are These Dots Purple, Blue or Proof That Humans Will Never Be Happy?Retrieved from Live Science :

#thebluedoteffect #psychological #science #mentality

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