Psychology 101: Under the Spotlight

Hello everybody, I would just like to say it’s your lucky day! Why you ask? Because you’re reading a new Psychology 101 post of course! You’re so welcome. Today’s article is going to be about the Spotlight Effect.

Let’s find out what that is:

Have you ever walked into a room and felt that everyone was looking at you? Or realized that your shirt was missing a button and felt that everyone had noticed and was secretly judging your buttonlessness? That’s the spotlight effect at work! Basically this effect talks about how sometimes we feel a lot of people are paying attention to us even though they really couldn’t care less.

But why would do we experience this phenomenon?

Psychology explains that the reason most of us experience the spotlight effect is due to egocentrism. This means we are all stuck in our own heads so all our experiences are only from our own perspective. We know what we’re thinking about but of course we have no idea what other people are thinking. Because of this our brain tells us, “they’re totally all thinking about you right now, this very moment,” because that’s what you’re thinking about.

We also tend to have something called naive realism or a bias blind spot. This means that we don’t think that we are biased and believe what we see is accurate and objective. Therefore we assume everyone else is thinking the same thing as us because our brains tell us that it’s the absolute truth.

Then…if people aren’t judging your buttonlessness, what are they thinking about?

Themselves of course! While you’re worried someone else is judging your clothing or your hair or the way you laugh—they’re worried about you judging them about the exact same things.

Then how do we stop this dreaded spotlight effect?

Becoming aware of the spotlight effect is the first step! Just knowing that everyone probably isn’t paying attention to you should take a load off your shoulders. And now that you know of this phenomenon you can work against it. Even if someone is paying attention to you, try thinking: so what? So what if they’re judging you or looking down at you or think you smell really bad. That’s their problem. Obviously it’s harder said than done—but I’m sure with practice you’ll be there in no time!

Okay enough preachy Petra for today. I hope you all learnt something—and if you did, go tell your mum or your dad or your dog or your neighbour. See you next time!



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