Understanding ourselves can be harder than understanding our surroundings. While humans do have a lot of similarities to one another, we are still vastly different. There are some facts about psychology that are common to all people, and others that are about a more select group.
Below you will find some psychology facts that can help you gain a deeper understanding of who you are and how you work. For example, have you ever noticed how something going wrong in your daily life just makes the entire day feel like it’s been bad? Perhaps that’s because of fact number 6 – one bad thing can cancel out five good things in your mind. Sure something went wrong, but it makes you forget all that went right that day. This hardly seems logical, but it is a fact and one that people can absolutely relate to.
Most of these things are hardwired into humans, but maybe understanding what they are can help you to either use the knowledge to our advantage, such as dressing better, adopting a more positive outlook, or try to not let that one negative thing that happened not outweigh the good things going on. Read on for more fascinating facts about psychology.
Catching a Yawn
It happens to us time and time again, whether we’re sleepy or not, someone around you yawns, and the next thing you notice is that feeling in your jaw like you are about to yawn.
Humans are social and empathetic creatures. Therefore, the reason why yawns are “contagious” is that we, as humans, want to display empathy.
The Cost of Keeping Everyone Happy
Nobody likes to see those around them unhappy. However, people-pleasers, or those who try to keep everyone happy, often find themselves paying the price for it.
These people typically end up feeling more lonely than most other people around them. Likely, this is because they are so busy with everyone else’s happiness that they forget or don’t have time to pursue their own.
Surround Yourself With Happy People
Happiness and positivity can be somewhat contagious. It’s been found that when the people around you are positive and happier, you end up being happier, too.
Liars – It Takes One to Know One
If you know any convincing liars, they probably aren’t very high on your friendship list. However, it might be good to have one around to serve as a biological lie detector.
It seems that people who are convincing at lying are also good at detecting lies from other people.
Breaking All The Rules
Studies have found that when a rule is too strict, it’s bound to be broken. However, it won’t just stop there. People will find that breaking the overly strict rule can help them justify breaking other rules as well.
Negative Feelings Outweigh Positive Ones
Have you ever had a bad experience at a coffee shop or in traffic and it just ruined your whole day?
It’s human nature to forget all the things that went right and focus on the one negative thing that happened. In fact, one negative thing can outweigh five positive things.
Sarcasm is Good
You read that heading right – sarcasm is good. Just about everyone practices sarcasm on a daily basis, and it’s a good thing. This is because being sarcastic is a sign that you have a healthy brain. Yeah, right!
Dress the Part
There’s a reason why so many clothing companies exist and that trends seem to come and go in fashion. How you dress can affect your mood. It’s not just the color either, dressing nice can make you feel happier. There’s a reason for the saying “dressed for success”. It’s also been said that wearing sexy underwear, even if nobody sees them, can make you feel sexier and you will project this through your attitude.
Setting the Mood
Ever been in the mood to just listen to some classical music? How about some heavy metal?
Music can be a very important part of creating a mood for the environment you live in. In fact, the type of music you listen to can influence your perception of the world.
Dreams Are Important
So many people go to sleep and may wake up remembering some weird dream or bits and pieces of the dream before it fades.
Many just write it off as your brain just doing the human equivalent of disk defragmentation on a PC and never concern themselves with it again. However, what you’re dreaming about is probably more meaningful than your conscious thoughts.
Baked With Love
Nearly everyone loves it when they receive home-baked goodies from a friend or relative. Dining out is a huge part of American culture as well. Did you know that food prepared by someone else is more delicious to you, even if you follow the same recipe?
There are a couple of thoughts behind this fact. One is that the food is prepared with love, so that makes it taste better to you. Another theory is that while you are cooking, you are smelling and often tasting as you go so that by the time you are done cooking, you’re a bit tired of being around it already.
While it’s possible to have entirely false memories from hearing a story over and over of what happened when you were actually too little to remember, this isn’t entirely what is meant here. It’s that memories are a lot easier to manipulate than you think. Moreover, your brain tends to “fill in the gaps” in some memories with people or things that aren’t accurate.
For example, you may have forgotten everyone who attended the office party five years ago. However, your brain will fill in with people you know you worked with assuming they were there because they attended the previous or later ones when, in fact, they missed the party you are remembering. Yet somehow, you can clearly see them in your “memory”.
Self Motivation Through Questions
Simply put here, phrasing matters – even when you are talking to yourself. Asking yourself, “Will I?” is more motivational than saying, “I will.”
You have posed yourself a question and you will try to make the answer become what you want or need out of the situation. It also provokes the thought process on how to achieve the desired outcome.
Bilingual Decision Making
When you are contemplating a decision, such as a large purchase, the decision will sound more rational if you think it out in a different language than your native tongue. When it comes to money, thinking about currency in less familiar terms makes the amount seem “more real” to you, whereas using a familiar term can make the impact of the cost seem less significant.
When it comes to decisions with high emotional impact, thinking them out in a different language can make you come to terms with how you actually feel about the situation. Having a bit more clarity when emotions are involved can help you make the best decision for yourself.
No Plan B
Knowing that you have a proverbial safety net such as a backup plan can make your original plan more likely to fail. You will work harder to make the original plan to succeed if you haven’t made alternative plans. So for success in your plans, don’t make a Plan B.
Empathy for the Individual
While as humans, we do still have empathy for those involved in mass tragedies. However, you will tend to care more about individual people than you do about mass tragedies.
So when there’s an incident that claims the life of a single person, it has a stronger impact on you emotionally and empathetically than when mass tragedies happen.
Obsessing During Scarcity
It’s common to find yourself obsessing over things during a scarcity.
One great example of this is when money is tight, people tend to obsess over it. Another example of this is the shortage of toilet paper during COVID-19. Due to hoarders stockpiling large amounts, many people found themselves unable to purchase this basic staple resulting in large amounts of memes being circulated about toilet paper.
You can always find a problem to work on. It’s a normal part of human nature to look for another problem when you resolve one. That’s one way we always stay busy.
Love and OCD
When you are in love, your thoughts frequently drift to the object of your affection. This is normal. What you probably didn’t know is that biochemically there isn’t much difference in being in love and having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Maybe that’s why the term “lovesick” came to be.
Belief in What You Want
We all know stubborn folks who just believe whatever they want regardless of the facts. The truth is, you only believe what you want to – and this is unintentional.
Your brain tends to look for “confirmation bias” to support what you already believe rather than question a belief. This is probably how the whole round Earth versus flat-Earth debate started up again.
This goes hand-in-hand with the fact above. Not only will people believe whatever they want to and look for confirmation bias, but some may even go as far as altering facts. People find it easier to alter facts to suit their perspective than change their opinion about a person.
If you don’t like someone, you might find your brain altering some facts about them to support your dislike. On the other hand, if you like someone and they may have done something a little underhanded, your brain may find a justification or alter the scenario of how it played out to suit your opinion of them.
Brain Shut Down
When you die, it takes seven minutes before the brain is no longer active. During this time, it is replaying life memories as if in a final slide show. This is likely why we say “my life flashed before my eyes” after a close call or brush with death.
Rising to Expectations
The power of positivity is a real thing, at least psychologically. When people are counting on you or believe in you, you are much more likely to succeed and rise to their expectations.
It’s common to have a fear of failure which can make you try harder to accomplish your goal. However when there are a number of people who are cheering you on or believe in you, it can amplify this and help to push you toward success.
Everyone has heard of people seeing the face of Jesus Christ on their slice of toast or his mother Mary found on a tortilla chip. The reason why comes from pareidolia.
Pareidolia is the name for finding faces in inanimate objects that aren’t meant to have faces. So the next time a plank of wood seems to be staring back at you, or that slab of granite has a grin, you know why.
You Scratch My Back…
and I’ll scratch yours. This is a prime example of the rule of reciprocity. The rule of reciprocity is why you seek to return favors to others. It’s simply a part of human nature.
Large amounts of negativity can affect your immune system. The reason for this is that everything in your mind can influence a reaction from the cells in your body. Talk about the power of positivity!
This can be another great reason to practice #3 and surround yourself with positive and happy people.
Meaning of Tears
Tears can indicate joy, emotional pain, frustration, or physical pain. Did you know that a study by Dr. Ad Vingerhoets suggested that if the tears are from happiness, they will spill from the right side first?
Having a Good Cry
Crying can be good for you and has other benefits that are still being studied. It’s known that usually you feel better after a cry since it does help reduce stress promoting physical health.
Why do people often hold hands at the bedside in hospitals? When you hold the hand of a loved one, you worry less and physical pain is slightly dulled.
Healthy Dose of Fear
Fear is good – if you aren’t in danger! Scary movies and thrill rides boost your adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine which make you feel good after the initial shock is gone. Enjoy that next jump scare.
The Pain of Being Ignored
Nobody likes to feel like they are being ignored. But did you know that being ignored causes pain which has similar chemical effects on the body as physical injuries cause? So, essentially, your brain handles both pains in the same way.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Did you know that it’s bad for your health to be lonely? A connection between extreme loneliness and the levels of the blood-clotting protein that causes heart attacks or strokes has been found by a study by Harvard University. So hanging out with your friends can be good for your health, and theirs too!
The Heartless Ruler
Nearly everyone knows the stereotype of the heartless ruler that no longer cares about anyone except themselves. There is a little bit of psychology behind the cliched portrayal.
The fact is that sadly, the more power a person has, the less empathy they will demonstrate. Hollywood tends to exaggerate this in many of the stories told on the silver screen in order to create cold and powerful villains.
Many people have very strong beliefs. One of the more interesting facts though is that you are able to feel certain about something without having any facts or reasoning to support it. You may only have a notion about something, but if you believe it to be true, you simply do, regardless of if you have any facts to back up your belief.
Testing 1, 2, 3
Testing doesn’t only show what you know and don’t know, but that pop quiz is probably doing you more favors than you realized. The fact is, you remember things better if you are tested on them.
What’s in the Middle?
Most people are likely to remember the beginning and the end, but not so much the middle. So if you were to be remembering items on a list, those are the most likely to be forgotten. For many, it is the same with stories they’ve read or perhaps films as well.
Everyone Can Be An Optimist
Maybe some people are born to be more optimistic than others. However, the fact of the matter is that you can learn to be optimistic.
Most people have seen someone indulging in positive training, such as listening to affirmative and optimistic speech through headphones whether in a movie or in real life. This can be one way people train themselves to be more optimistic.
Fun and Rewarding
If you are rewarded for a boring task, you may believe it was fun. Studies have been performed confirming that while all the test subjects were set up to do the same boring task, those who were rewarded for doing the task found it to be more fun.
Your brain will try to rearrange a boring speech to make it more interesting. If you are listening to a rather boring speech, you will rephrase the words you hear to make it more appealing to yourself.
While the orator may not have you riveted to your seat and hanging on every word, at least you will find a way to make things more entertaining for yourself, and probably won’t even be consciously trying to do that!
All About Me
You are your own favorite subject. Talking about yourself lights up the reward centers of your brain more than if you speak about others according to a study done by Harvard University. So maybe when you finally get that first date with your crush, you can be sure to ask them more about themselves and maybe score a few brownie points that way.
Fear of the Unknown
It’s a fact that more people prefer knowing something bad is happen versus facing uncertainty. Having a vast array of options, both good and bad can be too overwhelming for some. If you know that something bad is going to happen, you can prepare for it. Not knowing leaves you unprepared for whatever is coming your way, and nobody likes being caught with their pants down, as the saying goes.
It’s typical for your brain to give less importance to a long-term deadline and pay closer attention to more immediate tasks. Some may rationalize this as prioritizing instead of procrastination because it all does need to be done.
However, it becomes easy for the long-term deadline projects to become cast aside so much that it can become a problem as the date gets too close for comfort. This is something probably everyone has experienced whether in school or in their work.
Smart people are more likely to depreciate themselves while less intelligent people will think that they are wonderful.
It’s pretty common to hear someone highly intelligent to make a simple mistake and blurt out, “Oh, I’m so dumb!” Meanwhile on the other hand, a not-as-smart person might do something clever and then have to tell everyone all about it and how great they are.
Am I Wrong
It’s normal to second guess yourself when someone disagrees with you. Think back to the last time someone disagreed with you about a certain fact and you turned to Google to confirm you were correct. This is a trait that nearly all of us share, that little seed of doubt being planted to grow uncertainty.
Around the world, a large number of people suffer from clinical depression. It’s not uncommon for at least one of your friends or someone you know to be taking medication for depression or anxiety.
Studies have shown that France is currently the most depressed country with 1 in 5 residents being affected.
More Anxiety Than Ever
Over the years the amount of anxiety that is considered normal has steadily increased. Studies have shown that high school students today now have more anxiety than their great grandparents would have considered normal as an adult.
It seems that with changing times, anxiety increases and is presenting at earlier ages.
Overwhelmed by Choices
Having too many choices can cause a person to be paralyzed with indecision. This is somewhat akin to sensory overload. With too many options, it can be difficult to focus on each one in order to make a decision, so instead, the person succumbs to a state of confusion, resulting in the inability to make a choice.
Music from your younger years, such as ages 12-22 is going to be music you love due to the levels of dopamine and other chemicals released when you listened to it. Another reason for these tunes being your favorite could be associated with spending time with friends and making good memories associated with the music.
Think about your favorite song and memories associated with the song – were you in this age group when the song was popular?
Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop
Simply put, some people are afraid to be too happy and fear something bad happening. It can be difficult to embrace a blissful moment for these people because they are so afraid of an impending disaster to ruin their happiness. In the end, the fear of something bad is what ruins their happiness.
Learning to live in the moment can be difficult for those who suffer from this.
Troubled Artist Stereotype
While this stereotype is just that, a stereotype, it may have its roots in fact. Artists working in creative fields have an 8% greater chance of suffering from bipolar disorder than others who aren’t in a creative field.
It’s important to understand as much as you can about yourself and how you relate to others as well as your environment in order to keep a healthy relationship with all. It’s also valuable to realize that you aren’t alone in some of the quirks or qualities that you might have. Human psychology is an interesting subject with many fascinating facts to find once you dive in.