What could you do?
I am afraid of spiders.
On a cognitive level, I know that they are harmless little creatures. But if I see a spider web in my basement, I am immediately on the alert for the dangerous intruder. And when I spot one of them, I am overcome by fear. Because of this mild phobia, the word "spider" catches my attention whenever I see it in print. Such was the situation when, during the course of unrelated research, I learned that if we have a fear of spiders, we are more likely to notice them. This is exactly what happens in my household. I am always the one who discovers the lone spider in the basement, while others are oblivious to its peaceful existence.
If we are anxious about something, we are more likely to notice what we perceive as a threat than those who are relaxed. In other words, whatever we focus on, we see. This is a powerful concept with significant implications for both our personal and organizational lives. What we see is deeply influenced by what we expect.
Over the years, many scholars have worked on variations of this concept, such as...
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