Spotlight Effect

There is this psychological terminology called the “spotlight effect” that I have been noticing more and more in the real world. The spotlight effect describes the phenomenon that occurs when an individual overestimates his or her own garnering of attention. The reality, though, is that most people tend not to notice or really care much about the appearance / personality of others. So the point the spotlight effect really gets at is that, though we may be internally embarrassed over things we say or how we may be dressed for a particular occasion, the reality of the situation is simple: no one really cares.

It takes some awareness of personal ego to digest the spotlight effect in its entirety.

Another level extended, I find, is the overestimation of “what it means to be embarrassed.” Surely you have found yourself in a situation where you “felt embarrassed.”

Unpacking why you felt that way, though, is rather interesting.

Were your parents loud at a restaurant? In a room full of strangers? Did others really care? And if so, for how long?

The reality, once again, is that very few things you do are picked up by strangers.

I mean…think about it in the reverse…how many strangers’ actions do you notice, care about, and remember?

Not convinced of this…

Spend some time in big cities — NY, Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, etc.

Whenever I go visit these super busy places, I am reminded of how small and insignificant I am.

To me, this is an empowering feeling. It is a reminder that I effectively have a clean slate to try ideas and do things.


Originally published at Jordan Gonen.