BEHAVIOR Facts MENTAL psychology

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts

The human brain remains the most complex structure in the known universe – what do you think about that? There’s so much going on inside your head, you can’t know just how much is going on inside your head. I just blew your mind.Researchers are coming up with new discoveries about how our brains work every day, and they’ve still barely scratched the surface. But, even though the information comes in trickles, it’s all worth knowing.

1. Music can change the way you perceive the world.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via DeviantArt / firafunda

Sad songs can make you sad, and happy songs can make you happy – that much we knew. Butresearchers from the University of Groningen found that people sometimes see happy faces when listening to happy music even when there’s nothing to see. The brain creates expectations based on your mood, which is influenced by music – basically a confirmation bias that won’t ruin your scientific reputation.

2. You love your favorite tunes because they’re emotionally connected to your memories.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via flickr / peter.morlion

Research has confirmed what you’ve always suspected. A study out of Keele University in the UK, published in Psychology of Music, found that “Long-term favourites differed from daily favourites, being associated with intense emotional events in listeners’ lives.” Maybe not a huge surprise, but it explains why you find yourself weeping in the corner when “Whiter Shade of Pale” comes on and you can’t help thinking of being dumped in front of the whole school at the dance in eighth grade.

3. If music isn’t doing the trick, money will actually bring happiness – to a point.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via flickr / chensformers

You don’t even need to be a One-percenter: making more money does make you happier, but after an annual income of $75,000, there’s a plateau. Princeton economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman analyzed Gallup polling data and found that lower income “exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone” and that “emotional well-being rises with log income, but there is no progress beyond an annual income of $75,000.” So there you go, you don’t even need a six-figure income to achieve peak happiness.

4. How you spend your money will also affect your happiness.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via flickr / Maciej Dakowicz

Would you really be happier with the dollar, or should you send it to Happy Dude? Authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton parsed years of research to produce their book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, and came up with spending recommendations for happiness. In particular, they emphasized spending on vacations and events rather than material goods, and spending on others. “By giving to another person, you’re…creating a social connection and a conversation with that person, and those things are really good for happiness,” said Norton. Guess Happy Dude is the way to go.

5. The most stressed-out people in America? Young adults.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via DeviantArt / Lau93

Is it really that much of a surprise? It’s a stressful time in life – college, grown-up relationships, entering the workforce or starting businesses, having families – it all happens between the ages of 18 and 33. And it was confirmed by the American Psychological Association in an online survey. So hey, take it easy out there. Breathe. Keep calm and all that. Everything’s going to be okay.

6. When stressed, activities like prayer and meditation can help.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via DeviantArt / galifardeu

You don’t even have to wear pajamas or surround yourself with aromatherapy candles or listen to whale songs. But some studies have associated spirituality and religious activity with lower levels psychological distress. So again, breathe, keep calm, and let the stress melt away.

7. Happiness breeds happiness, so be with happy people.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via flickr / SUNV

It’s not exactly Ebola, but happiness is contagious. And the effect is impressive – happiness can strengthen your immune system, decrease pain and chronic disease, and provide stress relief. One study even found that happiness can lower your risk of heart disease! Yet another reason to ditch the negative jerks in your life and stay positive. Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you!

8. If you believe you had a good night of sleep, your body will feel that way even if you didn’t.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via reddit/u/darkstar6988

Getting into a bad sleep pattern can be a brutal cycle, exacerbated by caffeine and stress. So it’s somewhat comforting to know that it’s possible to break that pattern without even getting a good night of sleep. Researchers from Colorado College published a study examining “placebo sleep” – and they found that participants in the study who were told they had above-average REM sleep did better on tests,  and those told they had below-average REM sleep performed poorly, regardless of their self-reported sleep quality. So the next time you need a boost, try tricking your brain with positive thinking.

9. Today’s kids have the same stress levels as the average psychiatric patient did in the 1950s.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via reddit/u/Death_or_Exile

It’s partly due to changing expectations, partly social disconnectedness, and all the bad news in the media, but there’s no doubt that kids experience more stress, anxiety, and depression than ever before. The good news, as we have seen, is that there are many ways to combat stress, and it’s worth the effort to do so.

10. You don’t remember things – you remember the last time you remembered it.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via imgur / tewksbg

Whoa. That’s…hard to grasp. But, according to a study out of Northwestern, the more often we recall a memory, the less accurate it is. The study’s lead author, Donna Bridge, says that “your memory can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval.” Your brain takes into account context and mood when you remember something, which can distort the memory. So you’re really viewing it through lens and a lens and a lens, adding more lenses over time.

11. Decisions made through the filter of a foreign language tend to be more rational.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via DeviantArt / wikidlia

…and obviously other influences can play roles as well. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that biases fell by the wayside when participants in their study went through their decision-making process in a foreign language. Just putting a problem through the translation process meant decision-makers had to deliberate the problem rather than chance going with their guts. Not all of us have the language ability to translate every important decision we face, but it’s another good argument in favor of learning a second language.

12. Smart people often underestimate their own intelligence, and ignorant people often feel superior.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts
via imgur / ellocin

It’s a cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger effect. David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University produced a study that found “participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability.” The participants who found the tests easy assumed they would be easy for everyone, which was clearly not the case. So ignorance really is bliss. You think you’re on top of the world until you find out how small the world is.

12 Mind-Expanding Psychology Facts


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