There are few things in existence more fascinating than the human mind. In fact, apart from the depths of space, it is probably one of the least understood objects in the universe. That is not to say, however, that we haven’t learned a lot about it. We know enough that psychologists can even make predictions about your behavior based on certain “rules” that more or less hold true. So, although you may be one of those countercultural break-the-mold types we are still willing to bet that the following 25 things psychology tells you about yourself would make for a pretty good biography.
You read faster with longer lines but prefer shorter
Although you prefer reading text that is separated into relatively narrow columns, you read much faster if the text takes up the width of the page. Interestingly enough, however, you believe that you are actually able to read through the column layout faster but this is only because you prefer it visually.
7 plus or minus 2
You may have heard about the 7 plus or minus two rule. Psychology tells us that you can only store between 5 and 9 chunks of information in your short-term memory at a time. A chunk, however, can consist of several pieces of related data. Consider your phone number. It has a country code, area code, and then one or two more sets of numbers. Although this can be over 14 numbers long, it is usually grouped into several “chunks” and therefore falls well into our short memory range.
You imagine things from above and tilted
If you ask someone to draw a glass, for the most part, they will draw it from the angle demonstrated to the left. But what is to stop them from simply drawing a circle? This would be a valid overhead view. The reason is that our brains, when left to their own devices, imagine objects in this format.
Most of your decisions are subconscious
Although you like to think that all of your decisions are carefully controlled and thought out, research tells us that most of our everyday decisions are actually subconscious. There is a reason for this though. Every second our brains are bombarded with over 11 millions individual pieces of data and because there is no way we can consciously sift through all of it our subconscious mind, following certain “rules of thumb”, helps us out.
You reconstruct your memories
Because we experience our memories as mini “movies” that play in our heads we tend to think that our memories are stored away as complete little files much the same as a video on your computer’s hard drive. This, however, is not the case. Every time you think back to your third-grade classroom that memory is reconstructed by your mind. This leads to the obvious conclusion that no two recollections are ever the same. In fact, our memories change over time and can influence one another.
You can’t multitask
We know, you are a professional multi-tasker. Unfortunately, if you really believe that, you are also overly self-confident, because the truth of the matter is that humans cannot multi-task. At least not in the sense of the term that we often use. While you can certainly walk around while talking to your friend, your brain can only focus on one higher level function at a time, which means you cannot be thinking about two things at once.
Red and blue is hard on your eyes
Although they are used in numerous national flags, the colors red and blue are actually very hard on your eyes whenever they are directly adjacent. This is due to an effect known as Chromostereopsis, which causes certain colors to “pop-out” and others to recede. While it is strongest in red and blue it affects other combinations as well, notably red and green.
You want more choices than you can process
In a study done outside of a supermarket not too long ago, researchers set up a tasting table with 6 varieties of jam. They then alternated this table with a much larger selection of 24 jams. What they found was that although more people stopped for a taste at the 24 jam table, almost 6 times as many made a purchase at the 6 jam table. This can be attributed to the fact that although we think we want more, our brains can only handle so much input at a time (#24).
The ability to delay gratification starts young
Evidently, the ability to delay fulfilling your desire for immediate gratification as a kid leads to more success in school, better grades, and a greater ability to deal with stress and frustration. Fortunately for those of you how a lack in this regard, researchers are developing methods to teach people ways of distracting themselves while they wait.
Your mind wanders 30% of the time
Are you a daydreamer? According to scientists, we all are, at least 30% of the time. Some of us though, wander a bit more than others. That’s not always a bad thing though, as researchers have pointed out that people with a high predisposition to mind wandering are generally more creative and better at solving problems.
Others are more easily influenced than you
At least that’s what you think. Known as the “third person effect” this psychological phenomenon tells us that while we acknowledge the effect of advertising and other influences upon our peers, we deny them upon ourselves. The effect is compounded when the source of influence is something we don’t care about (an ad for a TV when you already bought one). In reality, though, many advertisements subconsciously affect your mood, attitude, and desires.
You see things differently than the way you perceive them
Aioccrdng to a rcseaerh sudty at Cmiadrbge Usvteriiny, it deosn’t mtetar in waht oredr the ltertes in a wrod are. The olny iomnrtapt thnig is taht the fisrt and lsat leettr be in the rhgit pcale.The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wthiuot prelobm. Tihs is busacee the huamn mnid deos not raed erevy letetr by iletsf, but the wrod as a wlohe. Your brain is constantly processing the information it receives from your senses and the way you end up percieving this information (as words) is usually vastly different from how you sense it (as scrambled letters).
Your brain is just as busy when you sleep
If you have read our article on 25 things you didn’t know about sleep, then you are probably already a professional in this field, but for the rest of you – its true, your brain is just as active during sleep as it is while you are awake. So what’s going on during sleep then if your brain isn’t just shutting down? Well, scientists hypothesize that during the night your brain is consolidating information and making new associations.
Groups are bad at making decisions
Labeled “group thinks” by psychologists this effect essentially tells us that more heads do not necessarily mean more smarts as large groups of people tend to make decisions based on hyper-emotionalism.
Groups are also easily swayed
Not only are groups poor at making decisions, they are also easily swayed by dominant self-serving personalities who manage to play off of the group’s “spirit”. In spite of this, however, studies still tell us that two heads are usually better than one.
Anticipation trumps experience
Unfortunately, our perception of a future event is usually far overblown and many times the anticipation leading up to an event is more exciting than the event itself.
On average it takes you 66 days to form a habit
We all have them, some good and some bad, but just remember that next time New Years rolls around if you can make it to day 67 with your resolutions then your probably in the clear.
More people means less desire to compete
In one interesting study scientists found that students scored higher on standardized tests when there were less people in the room. Evidently when there are fewer people competing you are more motivated to perform because there is a greater chance of coming out on top.
Repetition physically changes your brain
Every time you access or store information in your brain electrical impulses fire between neurons, strengthening old connections and forging new ones. It’s the result of these new circuits forming that causes your brain to physically change and grow.
You can sustain a high level of attention for approximately 10 minutes
You might think that you are really good at paying attention in class, but the truth is that your attention span maxes out at around 10 minutes, even if it’s something that interests you. After that, you typically revert to #16.
Your most vivid memories are often flawed
Known as flashbulb memories, whenever something traumatic happens in your life your brain takes an emotionally charged “photo”. For example, anyone old enough to remember 9/11 or the Challenger disaster could probably describe in vivid detail where they were and what they were doing when the news broke. The only problem is that a lot of those vivid details would be completely wrong and several studies have shown that the strong emotions associated with the memory often skew your recollection.
You choose and vote for the first person on the list
Of course, we know you don’t always do this, but people generally favor the first item in a list regardless of whether it’s a menu or a ballot. In fact, it has been shown that having your name listed in the middle of a ballot decreases your chances of winning by 2.5%
You overestimate your reaction to future events
You are terrible at predicting the future. To be more precise, you are terrible at estimating your reaction to events in the future, both positive and negative. It has been shown that people tend to believe positive events like landing the perfect job or getting married will make them much happier than they really will and the same goes for the negative events. The truth of the matter is, however, that your happiness levels will generally stay about the same and they always revert to a steady norm.
You have a friend limit
While you may be social media fiend who has 4,000 friends on Facebook, the hard truth is that you don’t really have that many friends, at least not close friends. Psychologists and anthropologists will tell you that the maximum number of close ties a human can have hovers somewhere between 50 and 150.
You blame a person’s behavior on their personality…unless the person is you
Think back to the last time you got cut off in traffic. Did you say to yourself, “Man, what an idiot”, or did you think,”Gee, she probably had a bad day.” Chances are that you went with the former. In psychology circles, this is known as the fundamental attribution error and it essentially states that while we blame the behavior of others on their internal attributes, we blame our own on the external (I had no choice, I had to cut her off to avoid a collision). Sadly, even if you are aware of our predisposition towards making unfair judgments, it is notoriously hard to stop doing, so you will most likely continue making this fundamental error.
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