Psychology is the science of commonsense that most often than not confirms what we already know in our minds to be true. According to Jeremy Dean, a psychology and master of ceremonies PhD candidate, we can battle misconceptions by simply thinking.
Hallucinations are common
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For decades, it has been always believed that hallucinations are associated with serious mental illness. But according to a study done by Ohayon, in year 2000, hallucinations are more common to normal people. The study shows, one third of the population has experienced hallucinations, 20% experienced them once a month while 2% once in a week.
Healthy individuals similarly have paranoid thoughts. In a recent study, 40% of the population experienced paranoid thoughts during a virtual study. Apparently, the gap between the ‘sane’ and the mentally ill is narrower than we imagine.
The placebo effect
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You are having a headache. You take some aspirin and a few seconds later, you are feeling so much better. Have you experienced this? Well, it can’t be a result of the drug because the drug would need at least 15 minutes for it to kick in. This is what is called the Placebo effect. Since your mind knows you have taken a pill, you think feel better. This effect is mostly strongest in medicine where pain is involved. A placebo of salty water (saline) would work just as powerfully as morphine would.
The word Placebo is Latin for ‘I shall please’. In another study done, 80% improvement from taking drugs like Prozac was placebo. They could as well have taken the sugar pill. The placebo effect can be considered counter-intuitive because the body and mind are not separate.
Obedience to authority
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We consider ourselves independent minded. We would not harm another unless we are undergoing a serious duress. But if ordered to electrically shock another by an authoritative figure wearing a white coat, would we?
Stanley Milgram did the experiments to test obedience to authority. He wanted to find out how far people would go if an authoritative figure orders them to inflict harm on another person. 63% of the participants continued administering shock even when the victims cried in pain. They continued administering until the victims grew silent. The participants were just ordinary people like you and me.
Situations in life dictate how much control we have on our behavior. It’s a power we find hard to notice however until it’s revealed dramatically in studies like this one.
Fantasies reduce motivation
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We mostly motivate ourselves by fantasizing about the future. We have this idea that if we fantasize about the future, we will be motivated towards reaching our goals. Psychologists however have found that fantasizing about our success is bad for motivation. In a series of experiments by Gabriele Oettingen and colleagues, 2001, they notice that when a person fantasizes, there’s a higher chance for him to face difficulty in committing to his goals. It is because when a person fantasizes, he/she thinks less about failing and therefore has a higher chance of being disappointed. They do not consider the alternatives to the goal. For us to achieve our goals effectively, Psychologist suggests that we use mental contrasting, where a person should fantasize about his/her future first then he/she visualize the negative aspects by thinking about reality. With this method, one is forced to decide whether a goal is achievable or not. If it is, commit and if it’s not, let go.
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Do you have a reason for every decision you’ve made? Like, why you are attracted to a certain person? Don’t be quick to say yes. According to a certain study, people were tricked easily into justifying choices they had not made about those they found attractive. We sometimes exhibit, choice blindness. We tend to have very little or no awareness at all about the choices we make and the reasons as to why we make them. We then proceed to rationalize to fill in the gaps. We apparently have very little access to the inner workings of our minds.
More heads are not always better than one
According to psychologists, brainstorming with others is not always the most effective way to solve problems. When people brainstorm in groups, they tend to be lazy, forget their ideas when others are talking and often worry too much about what others are thinking of their opinion. It would be more productive if the members within the group were allowed to individually go aside and return with their own unique ideas, then the group evaluates each and incorporate them.
Suppressing thoughts is counterproductive.
*image source: spring.org.uk
Remember when you were worried about something and everyone kept telling you to ‘put it out of your mind’? Well, this is bad advice. It is counterproductive to deliberately suppress your thoughts. When you purposely suppress thoughts, you experience an ironic rebound effect. Whatever you were thinking about becomes even stronger than it was before. In article of American Psychologist, Daniel Wegner, 2011, better way to solve it would be through distraction. For example, you concentrate with a piece of music, or find a new hobby.
We all have incredible multitasking skills
We can train our minds to do incredible things despite all limitations we may have. In fact, with practice, one can be able to read and write at the same time. In a multitasking study, two volunteers were trained for a period of 16 weeks. By the end of training, they could read a short story and categorize a list of words at the same time. In time, they could execute as well on both tasks using the same time they could on each of the tasks individually before they started the study.
The little things are what matter in life.
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We consider big events like, graduating, getting married or getting a baby as most important. However, the major events in your life are not often directly important to your well-being; little uplifts and hassles of everyday life are. The major events affect us mainly through the uplifts and hassles they produce daily. For example work satisfaction is mostly achieved after one is hit by everyday hassles. Things like quality sleep, little ups and downs at work and friends and family relationships are what affect our happiness: the little things in life make us happy.