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Have You Fallen Prey to the "Spotlight Effect"?
You are probably the only one who realizes you're having a bad hair day
Part of the human experience seems to be finding ourselves in highly embarrassing situations. At some time most of us have tripped on the stairs in a crowded area, spilled our drink on a stranger, put our foot in our mouth during an important conversation, or simply had to face the world on a really bad hair day. When I find myself in one of these situations, such as the last time I tripped over my own feet in the middle of campus (a bi-monthly event, at least), I instantly blush and put my head down, hoping to avoid the pity and humor that I’m sure is on the faces of all those who witnessed my moment of embarrassment. But, according to social psychology research, I shouldn’t be so quick to blush and look away. It turns out that the number of people who noticed my mishap are likely to be much fewer than I’d imagined, as we tend to overestimate how much our actions and appearance are noticed by others, something social psychologists call the “spotlight effect."