16 Astonishing Things Psychology Tells Us About Ourselves

What psychology tells about thinking in a foreign language
The field of psychology involves the study of mind and behavior, and the link between them. It aims to understand individual as well as social behavior. While some behavioral patterns and the reasoning behind them seem obvious, a few others are quite astonishing to observe.
Self Sabotage!
Often, people sabotage their own happiness, in the event that something good happens to them, on account of a sense of low self-worth.
One of the greatest mysteries of mankind is the vital and enigmatic organ called the brain. It is extremely interesting, not only because of its mysterious structure that is still unexplored and unknown to a large extent, but also because of the fascinating way the human mind works. An attempt to divulge these mysteries is made by the application of the field of psychology. Psychological studies and experiments aim to elaborate the mechanisms employed by the brain to function normally and carry out day-to-day activities.
Psychology helps in explaining and understanding why we do what we do, why we believe what we believe, why we act the way we do, and why we are what we are. It enlightens us about what motivates our behavior and what hinders it, and also explains how we define and perceive the world around us, and the implication this has on our actions and behavior (verbal as well as non-verbal). It explores concepts such as emotion, intelligence, perception, cognition, motivation, personality, etc. In essence, if one was able to fully map someone's psychological and subconscious state, one could in fact predict all possible behavioral patterns of that individual. However, this supposition still remains something of an urban legend, and there is a very long way to go before even a part of this theory can be actualized. But this brings with it its own can of worms, namely, the human moral code or ethics, which dictates the extent to which one can experiment or apply the findings of an experiment. However, since this occurrence is quite far into the future, as the phrase goes, lets cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, here are a few interesting psychological facts that explain human behavior.
16 Astonishing Facts about Human Psychology
Announcing your goals decreases the likelihood of them being accomplished.
Studies prove that goals that are announced publicly are often abandoned, as the act of announcing them causes a loss of motivation. This happens because, once the goal has been made public knowledge, it satisfies ones self-identity such that actually doing the work is no longer necessary. In other words, if you consider your goal to be losing 10 pounds, and if this goal is told to people around you, you are perceived by yourself and others as a person trying to lose weight, and this perception persists whether you actually lose weight or not; unless you tell people you are not trying to lose weight anymore. The persistence of the perception allows the person with the option of not pursuing the goal. However, the validity of this phenomenon also depends on the goal in question.
Music affects our perception of the world.
Ever noticed how rainy weather puts us in a contemplative state with a craving for hot chocolate and slow melodious songs? Just as the weather affects our mood, our music choices affect the way we see the world. This is probably why when we are disappointed or have pent-up rage against someone, it feels good to sing along some loud, fast-paced music, perhaps from the rock or rap genre. According to a study conducted by the University of Groningen, it was found that listening to sad or happy music conditions our perception in such a way that we perceive a higher number of the corresponding faces. In other words, listening to sad songs enables us to recognize more sad faces in public, and happy music makes us see happy faces.
Happy friends, happy you.
Like music, the company we keep has an effect on our perception as well. Studies show that people who surround themselves with happy and positive people are themselves happier and positive, while people surrounded by stressed, unhappy, or negative people are unhappy themselves. This implies that stress, happiness, and other such states of mind are contagious. Hence, if you want to be happy, be around happy people!
Experience trumps possession.
Research suggests that while the act of spending does have a therapeutic effect on some individuals, the degree of derived happiness depends on the object that is bought. In such a case, the buying of experiences is more pleasurable and rewarding than the buying of any possession, i.e., on a scale of gratification, an experience ranks higher than any trinket. Buying possessions merely offers a temporary elation of owning something new, but buying an experience in the form of a holiday, musical concert, adventure sport, etc., offers a more prolonged happiness, as it forms memories and enriches a person's life, while also allowing one to relive the elation by revisiting those memories.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect.
This effect is seen quite commonly among all populations. It is the phenomenon where unskilled or unintelligent people believe themselves to be far superior than their contemporaries, while intelligent or skilled people believe themselves to be as competent (if not less) as their fellow beings. Therefore, the unintelligent overestimate their capabilities and competence, whereas the intelligent people underestimate themselves and exhibit self-doubt. This lends credence to the common phrase 'empty vessels make the most noise'. This effect is the reason why stupid people often do not realize their own ineptitude, despite it being obvious to everyone around them.
Thinking in a foreign language produces rational decisions.
A study conducted at the University of Chicago observed American and Korean citizens and their decision-making abilities. It revealed that the decisions taken are considerably more rational when the decision-making process is carried out in a foreign language. The reasoning behind this is that, language is a fundamental part of any culture, and hence, is subject to all the misconceptions, biases, prejudices, and stereotypes associated with the culture. So when one chooses a foreign language, the culture related biases do not apply anymore, and hence do not have any interfering effect on the decision, making it a more rational process.
We blame people's personalities for their faults, but blame the circumstances for our faults.
This is an extremely common phenomenon, but hardly anyone recognizes it. It basically refers to the fact that, when someone else is at fault, we persecute them with all our might and judge them for their actions. But when we are the guilty party, we make any number of random excuses that shift the blame onto anything or anyone other than us. In other words, if you have done something wrong, it's probably because you are a bad person, but if I have done something wrong, it's because I was in a bad situation, but not because I'm a bad person. A common example is that of road traffic, when someone else suddenly overtakes you, you scream and call them names, and even question their ability to drive. But if the roles are reversed, and you are the one doing the overtaking, you excuse yourself by saying that it's alright since you are in a hurry to reach your destination. Hypocrite, much?
Anticipation ruins the experience.
Ever had an experience where you've been fantasizing about eating that last piece of chocolate cake waiting in your fridge at home, only to later be disappointed when you actually eat it and find that it's not as good as you remembered. This a classic case of reality not living up to the hype. In our anticipation, we overestimate our reaction to future events, and hence, when the event actually occurs, we are left disappointed. Therefore, we set ourselves up to take the inevitable fall.
Humans can't multitask.
Every person claims to be a hard worker capable of multitasking, when giving a job interview. But the truth is that, humans are actually incapable of multitasking. Yes, that's right. You may contest this with anecdotes of your own relevant abilities. However, scientific research has proved that, at any given point, the brain is able to focus on only one thing. We might be doing various things physically at the same time, but mentally, we focus only on one action at a time. Hence, when a person is listening to music while working, the brain is actually focused on the work, and is ignoring the auditory stimuli. Every time the person switches over to a new activity, that activity is the sole focus of the brain, making it impossible to simultaneously think about two or more things at the same time, hence making multitasking impossible.
Shorter lines of text are preferred, but longer lines of text are read faster.
This might sound confusing at first, but if you time yourself while reading a paragraph that is stretched across a page, as compared to it being in the columnar format, you will notice that the spread-out paragraph is actually read faster,
despite the assumption that the columnar format would be faster to read. This dissonance is nothing but the result of a visual illusion. We incorrectly associate the short layout with a short reading time, and don't 't actually notice the actual reading time.
More choices, more problems.
When faced with choosing between different variants of a particular item, for example the different types of jams, one believes that a better decision could be made if presented with a variety of choices. But when the person is presented with multiple choices, the increased options render the person indecisive and unable to make a firm decision. On the other hand, if a person's choices are limited to a small number, it is observed that he/she makes decisions and chooses an option considerably faster. This happens because our brain can only store a very small amount of information on our short-term memory for the purposes of processing. At a given time, the brain can only store 5 - 9 pieces of information in the short-term memory for processing, also called the 7 plus/minus 2 phenomenon. Hence, we are unable to process the inclusion of multiple options.
Delayed gratification equals more success.
When faced with receiving a reward, one doesn't think twice before reaching out to take it, i.e., when offered free sweets, no one refuses. This is what is called immediate gratification. However, recent studies suggest that, individuals who are able to delay their desire for gratification (people able to control their impulse of reaching out and grabbing the candy), perform better in school, achieve better grades, are better at their jobs and dealing with stress, and develop into more successful individuals. For those who lack this self-control, fret not, since researchers are now trying to find ways to induce the capability of delayed gratification.
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The Third Person Effect.
This effect is manifested in our belief that, while advertising has a significant effect on our peers, it has no effect whatsoever on us. However, this is not true, as Ads equally affect the moods, desires, and attitudes of all viewers, only with varying degrees. If one were to logically examine the claim, Ads would be completely eliminated, since if every person believes they are immune to advertising strategies, then that leaves no one who actually is effected by the Ads, therefore sales are drastically reduced to a minimal level, making the Ad useless, which is not the case in reality.
Perceiving things is not the same as seeing things.
According to research carried out at Cambridge University, the order of the letters in a word do not matter, as long as the first and last letters are the same for our brain to be able to recognize and understand the words. For example, the sentence 'Tihs is a toatl mses but you can sitll raed it wthiuot a prelobm', could be read and understood without any difficulty, despite the horrendous spelling mistakes. This is because the brain does not read each letter, but reads entire words at a time, allowing you to recognize words even if they are misspelled. Similarly, other varied information is also perceived and processed by the brain, despite its scrambled visual nature. Makes you wonder why your elementary school teacher put so much emphasis on spelling, right?
The Groupthink Phenomenon.
This effect explains that two heads are not necessarily better than one. In fact, groups of people generally tend to make bad decisions based on the phenomenon of hyperemotionalism (heightened emotions). Not only are they responsible for bad decisions, but large groups are also easily swayed by dominant external forces. The most commonly given example of this is the rise of Adolf Hitler through the political ranks of Germany, where his dominant personality caused him to be accepted as the dictator, and for the public to be swayed into doing his bidding.
More competition, lesser motivation.
Studies have shown that when an individual is faced with multiple competitors, the motivation to out-compete the others decreases as the number of competitors increases. When groups of students were observed taking standardized tests, scores were higher in case of the groups with fewer students in the room. This is due to the fact that, we are more motivated to out-compete a smaller number of competitors, because there is a higher chance of winning, which steadily declines if the number of competitors is increased.
These astonishing facts present the truly mystical ways in which the mind works and perceives various stimuli. These things that psychology tells us about ourselves are just a few of all the psychological mysteries that scientists have been able to unravel, but they still have a long way to go in order to fully elucidate the human mind.
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