mInD BoggLInG PsyChOloGicAL FaCts

I was going through this video last week, and I was taken aback by some of the psychological facts. So, here I have compiled a list of seven of those interesting facts with their psychological explanations and underpinnings.

1. If you announce your goals, you are less likely to succeed.

Although the popular belief is that sharing your goals helps you achieve them, a study conducted in a German university proved otherwise. The research illustrated that telling people created this false sense of completeness and evoked a fictitious sense of pride, which failed to motivate the participants into actually actualizing their goals.

Rather than confiding in people, writing down your intentions acts as a better motivator because it highlights the wide gap between where you are and where you want to be. The compelling need to close this gap helps you to act on your intentions. But when you let others know about it, the gap closes because you (artificially) feel the same way you should after completing your intentions.

Makes you wonder, should politicians persistently share their goals and future plans? But if they don’t, then it is a breach of democratic values…

2. Convincing yourself that you slept well tricks your mind into thinking that you did.

A study by psychology professor Kristi Erdal has argued that the amount of sleep you think you get may be more important than how much you actually get. Erdal conducted an experiment on 21 students from Colorado College. He began by giving them a lesson on what constituted good and bad sleep, after which the students were asked to report how long they had slept the night before. Then, Erdal measured their brain frequency using Biopac equipment and told the participants whether they had a good or bad nights sleep, and then asked them to perform in a series of tests. Interestingly, the results of the tests showed that the students who were told they’d slept well did better than those who were told they’d slept badly. In other words, participants who were told they’d had below-average sleep quality tended to perform worse on the test – regardless of how well they had actually slept.

This phenomenon is explained by ‘classical conditioning’ – a phenomenon which may also explain why another study concluded that drinking a fake coffee had a similar effect on brain function as a cup of real coffee.

3. Being with positive, happy people keeps you happier.

The environment you live in has a direct effect on your mood. When you surround your yourself with optimistic, joyous, positive people, it instantly reflects on your mood and way you look at life.

4. 90% of people text things they can’t say in person.

The best explanation of the phenomenon, Dr. Alan Manevitz of New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical CenterManevitz says, is Oscar Wilde’s well known quote:

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

The masks that texts give us can make us refreshingly honest, mildly annoying, or pushed further, they let us be a little bit deviant. It also puts some extra space between us and our recipients. It removes us from reality just enough so that we get up the chutzpa to say these things we’d normally be too anxious to reveal or ask of another.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 4.02.59 PM

The benefits of texting have been employed at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where they encourage patients to text message what’s happening in their lives in real time. Texts also allow patients to be more comfortable opening up about their experiences than they tend to be in person. They’re more willing to reveal the thoughts they’ve had, says Manevitz, or the choices they’ve made, which is particularly true for teens who are experimenting with new activities and substances that they might be ashamed to reveal on the couch.

On the other hand, the liberation of texting is also abused – A couple of recent studies have found more people using texts for not-so-great things, like bullying and “sexting,” which can border on harassing if it’s undesired. A study found that “text-bullying” has become much more commonplace in the last few years. The rates of “victimization and perpetration” on the Internet steadied, but the text versions of these acts rose significantly.

Texting without thinking, says Manevitz, like firing off an angry one to your ex or boss is common since there’s a satisfying immediacy involved in this method of communication. But, if used well, the very nature of texts also allow us to check ourselves since we see the words before they are sent – which cannot happen in verbal communication.

5. Smarter people underestimate themselves. Ignorant people think they’re brilliant.

This phenomenon can be explained by the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The 1999 paper that launched the Dunning-Kruger Effect was called “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.” Across 4 studies, Professor Dunning and his team administered tests of humor, grammar, and logic. And they found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. For example, in one of the studies, Cornell undergrads took a 20-item grammar test. After completing the test, the students estimated how their ability to “identify grammatically correct standard English” compared with others. And as you might expect, the lowest scoring students grossly overestimated their abilities. Those who scored at the 10th percentile (i.e. they scored higher than only 10% of others) rated their grammar abilities at the 67th percentile. In essence, their actual grammar ability was really poor, but they thought they were in the top third of people.

Interestingly, the irony of the Dunning-Kruger Effect is that, Professor Dunning notes,

the knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task.

So, people who lack the intelligence are also unaware of their incompetence because the two traits go hand in hand. In other words, Kruger and Dunning’s interpretation is that accurately assessing skill level relies on some of the same core abilities as actually performing that skill, so the least competent suffer a double deficit. Not only are they incompetent, but they lack the mental tools to judge their own incompetence.

Moreover, the lower IQ people underperform simply because they don’t know that they could be doing better or what really great performance looks like. It’s not that they’re necessarily being defensive, rather they just lack the knowledge. In fact, research subjects from the study willing to criticize their own previous poor skills once they were taught and could see the difference between their previous poor performance and their new improved performance.

6. Singing reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.

Over the course of the years, researchers have discovered that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits. According to Dr. Björn Vickhoff, researchers at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, singing makes the musical vibration moves through the body, therefore altering the physical and emotional language.

Moreover, the elation that comes from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure.  Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness.

7. Some of us are actually afraid of being too happy because of the fear that something tragic is going to happen.

If you have Cherophobia, you suffer from fear of gaiety or happiness or fun. You literally have an aversion to happiness. People with Cherophobia believe that if they become happy, they are inviting something negative in their lives.

It seems that people with depression often steer away from activities that could bring about feelings of happiness. A sort of spiral develops in which the social withdrawal that’s a common symptom of depression can reinforce the worry that if they experience some joy, fun, or happy feelings from a holiday party or summer barbecue, it will inevitably lead to a disappointment, a recognition of loneliness, or other letdowns.

And people with a tendency toward perfectionism may fear feeling happy because they’ve associated happiness with laziness or unproductive activities. Even absent any mental disorder, people may have had life experiences in which positive and joyful events were all too often followed by a bad event. Many times such people have filtered their perceptions to exclude the times when nothing remarkable followed a happy time.

Traumatic events, physical or emotional, can create such a powerful memory that it overshadows other important but evocative events. When strong emotional memories develop around the experience of happiness and a subsequent disappointment or pain—again, physical or emotional—then perceptual filters develop that contribute to avoiding opportunities for joy out of the fear that something bad lurks around the corner.

Singing Changes Your Brain


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s