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To what extent does first reaction affect people‘s understanding and judgement?


August 30, 2016 by jessicayang

A few days ago, my sister just finished a novel called We were stupid at that time(あの頃僕らはアホでした), which was written by Higashino Keigo, a famous Japanese author. She told me this book is not good at all, and she’s disappointed, but she still kept reading it till the end since it’s by Higashino Keigo. I was surprise to hear that, because Higashino is a great writer. I still wanted to read it because I believed Higashino’s book would be great. The second thought came to my mind is, were we affected by the author name printed on the cover page when we made the first expression to this book? This led to the knowledge question that, to what extent does people’s first reaction affect their understanding of an artwork, and disturbs them making decision?

Memory is an important cause of people’s first reaction. In my and my sister’s case, we enjoyed reading Higashino’s books in the past. Our experience told us the books that were written by Higashino Keigo were always wonderful for reading. That’s how we formed the expression, which affects our first reaction. People tend to trust their memory, especially the one coming from their own experience. Emotional appreciation comes alone with people’s experience, and it helps us to gain knowledge from art. It strengthens people’s feeling and builds a strong base in their mind. This is how people absolutely believe with the feelings in their mind. Obviously, our first expression has made us not to understand the novel of Higashino in a proper way and make the right decision.

First reaction can affect us, in other words, it creates biases. I watched a TED Talk before, the speaker did a small experiment that he invited people to the front of two photographs, one was normal, another one was amazing, and one of them was taken by a famous photographer, but they were not being told who were the photographers. Then were asked to write their first reaction about those two pieces of work, and guess which picture was taken by the photographer. The result shows most of the people first praised the amazing piece and guessed it must be taken by the photographer. The comments about the other picture were apparent much less. In fact, the correct answer is the opposite with most people’s first reaction—-a high school student took that amazing shot. This shows that in people’s common sense, a great artwork should belong to a great artist, following up they usually enlarge the beauty of the work in their eyes. On the opposite, they are not even tending to look at the work of a “no name”. This is how the first reaction creates bias and affects people’s understanding about art.

Furthermore, people’s instinctive reaction is one kind of the first reaction. The simple example of an instinctive reaction is to avoid or evade the oncoming danger.  Instinctive reaction is definitely more accurate since people was born with some basic instincts, which means all the instincts have been proved right by centuries of human activities. For most of the time, people’s instinctive reaction can help people to make the right decision.

In conclusion, our first reaction and expression can be right, but it is not always leading people to the right track. It disturbs us from understanding something and creates bias. It doesn’t mean people’s previous feeling from experience in memory is not true, though it affects us when we have the next expression, and even leads us to make a wrong judgment.

1 comment »

  1. maggiepan says:

    I think the argument you made and the connection between your real life example and your KQ is great. About why people tend to believe that the amazing photo was taken by the famous photographer and why you tend to believe that the Japanese author’s book must be great, I want to say that it is also about the authorities they have since both of them were the authorities in the field they work at. It is the same in other AOK, such as in natural science, human science, and religion. Since the authorities were been proved to be right or been proved to have the ability to create amazing artworks, as you say that we will have the positive memory about the authorities and as that goes on, the trust on maybe that specific person will transfer to the group of person.

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