The field of psychology looks at the science of the mind and behavior. Studies trying to understand why we are the way we are have been going on for decades and will continue into the future. We're learning more and more each day, but there's still so much we don't know. Some study findings are more fascinating than others. Did you know that punctuating your text messages makes you come across as insincere? Strap yourself in. You're in for a wild psychological ride.
The following psychology facts could just explain or confirm some of the things you see in yourself or others!
1: If We Have A Plan B, Our Plan A Is Less Likely to Work
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania studied the performance of volunteers on a certain task and found that participants who thought about a backup plan did worse than those who didn't. They also found that when participants realised they had other options, their motivation decreased. This is related to Expectancy Theory, which was developed by Victor H. Vroom in 1964. The expectation theory basically states that your motivation for something is a function of whether you expect to be successful at it. Inherent in a backup plan is the fact that you're not going to succeed the first time around. Researchers say it's important to think ahead but advise against getting too caught up in the details. You could inadvertently be sabotaging your success.
2: Catching a yawn could help us bond.
The workday has just begun, and you're ready to get lots done. You're sitting in your cubicle during your morning meeting when the guy next to you lets out a big, loud, obnoxious yawn. Before you know it, you're yawning yourself. But you're not even tired! That's a response, yawn. There are various theories explaining why yawns are contagious; one of the leading ones is that they demonstrate empathy. This explains why young children who haven't yet developed a sense of empathy or those on the autism spectrum are less likely to yawn.
3: We Care More About A Single Person Than About Massive Tragedies
In another University of Pennsylvania study, researchers examined people's behaviour as it related to donating to causes based on certain stimuli. One group was shown a starving young girl. The second group was told a statistic about millions of people dying of hunger, and the third group was taught about both. Those who heard only about the statistic donated the least, followed by those who heard about both. Those who heard about the little girl donated double what the statistics group did. Psychologists attribute this to the fact that if a problem feels too big, we feel helpless and insignificant, like our efforts won't have any payoff. In this case, helping save one starving girl seems more attainable than ending world hunger.
4: Beginnings and Ends Are Easier to Remember Than Middles
Have you ever been grocery shopping and forgotten your grocery list? When trying to remember things without it, you can visualise it and remember things close to the beginning and the end. But the things in the middle are a little fuzzy. A study in the Frontiers of Human Neuroscience confirmed this. It's called the serial-position effect. It's also why you might remember the end of your manager's presentation but not the middle. So it really is a thing, and you may not have ADHD after all.
5: It takes five positive things to outweigh a single negative thing.
You might have heard the advice to start and end your day by thinking about a few things you're grateful for. This helps keep us balanced because we have what's called a negativity bias, which makes us focus on the bad instead of the good. It's useless to ruminate on the negative things that bring you down. Shoot for a ratio of five good things to one bad in your life. You just might manifest something wonderful!
6: Food Tastes Better When Someone Else Makes It
Ever wonder why food always tastes better when mom makes it? In fact, food tastes better whenever anyone else makes it, assuming they're a decent chef. Researchers attribute this to the fact that when you're preparing a meal for yourself, by the time you're ready to eat, it's been so long that it's less exciting, and as a result, you enjoy it less.
7: We'd Rather Know That Something Bad is Coming Than Not Know What to Expect.
Have you ever felt a drop in your stomach when someone says, "We need to talk?" Your mind is immediately flooded with a million different bad things it could be about. If it's a romantic partner, you'd probably rather they just break up with you then and there. If it's your boss, you'd rather they just fire you on the spot. Researchers have found that we prefer knowing something bad is going to happen over uncertainty. This is because when our brain doesn't know what to expect, it goes into overdrive trying to predict any possible consequences, both good and bad.
8: When One Rule Seems Too Strict, We Want to Break More
In the psychological phenomenon known as "reactance," people tend to break more rules when they feel like certain freedoms are being limited in an effort to regain the freedom that they perceive as being taken away. This is best illustrated with teenagers. When grounded, not only might they sneak out, but they may end up engaging in other risky behaviours as a form of reaction.
9: There's a Reason We Want to Squeeze Cute Things
Puppies and babies Don't you just want to love them, squeeze them, and cuddle with them? Well, apparently, that's a natural reaction, and it's known as cute aggression. According to an article in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, the idea behind cute aggression is that when we're overcome with positive feelings like those elicited by an adorable pup or baby, a tad bit of aggression balances out those overwhelming feelings so that we don't harm innocent little beings.
10: We Unintentionally Believe What We Want to Believe
Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret facts in a way that confirms what we already believe. This explains why people with certain political views prefer certain news outlets over others. Forget even trying to get Uncle Fred to change his stance on international relations. Not only does confirmation bias lead us to seek out information that agrees with what we already believe, but it also causes us to reject contradictory information.
11: You're Programmed To Most Love The Music You Listened To In High School.
Good music triggers the release of dopamine and other feel-good chemicals. "This is my jam!" said every teenager at a party at some point. Ah, the days of high school... Or, actually, between the ages of 12 and 22, when the importance of everything feels magnified. Music included. Studies show that we still connect to the music we bonded to during our teenage years, more so than we ever will as adults, despite the passage of time.
12: Memories Are More Like Pieced-Together Pictures Than Accurate Snapshots
False memories are something that you recall in your mind but that isn't actually true, either in whole or in part. An example could be believing you started the dishwasher before you left for work when you really didn't. This is because our brains can sometimes inaccurately fill in the blanks when they only remember the gist of what happened.
13: We Look for Human Faces, Even in Inanimate Objects
Pareidolia is the tendency to perceive specific, often meaningful images, such as faces, in random or ambiguous visual patterns. A common example is the man in the moon. Some scientists attribute it to the fact that, as social beings, recognising faces is so important that we'd rather create one where it doesn't exist than miss a real one that does.
14: "People should rise to our high expectations and don't rise if we have low ones."
The Pygmalion Effect is a psychological phenomenon in which high expectations lead to improved performance. In a famous study in the 1960s, researchers told teachers that random students had high potential according to their scores on an IQ test. They found that those identified as high-potential students did end up becoming high achievers, at least in part due to their teachers' heightened expectations.
15: Our Brain Doesn't Think Long-Term Deadlines Are So Important
Yeah, you could probably start on that big project for work or school now, but you've got several months. Before you know it, those months are gone, and you're scrambling to cram months' worth of work into a matter of days. Urgent, unimportant tasks are more appealing. They provide instant gratification because they're quicker and easier to cross off your to-do list. Our brains process short-term deadlines like those measured in days better than long-term ones such as months or years.
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