This Between Friends comic from July 5, 2015 provides a nice example of the spotlight effect. The protagonist is convinced that the fast-food restaurant employee is noticing everything that she doesn’t like about her appearance, everything from her hair color to the stain on her shirt. In the comic, the employee’s expression doesn’t change leading the reader to conclude that the employee notices nothing.
Ask students to think about a recent spotlight effect experience they had. Was there something about their appearance that they were certain everyone would notice but likely no one or very few did? After students share their experiences with one or two people near them, ask for volunteers to share a few examples with the class.
Conclude this exercise by inviting students to yell out ideas about what the fast food employee is thinking about what she is certain others are noticing about her.