Five Surprising Facts About Human Psychology

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Human psychology may seem shallow, predictable and like it’s all common sense to those who don’t study it, but there is plenty to be fascinated about when it comes to human psychology. Psychology is known as the study of the mind and behavior, and there’s so much more to learn about it than originally assumed.

1. The memories we have aren’t set in stone.

Our memories are reconstructed each time we think of them. The way things actually happened back then can be mixed up or changed based on things that have happened since then. For example: If you are thinking of a memory involving an old significant other whom you’re no longer seeing, the bitterness of that breakup can alter what you remember or have you fill in gaps of the pieces you don’t remember with things that made him or her look bad. You may also remember them being unpleasant, which wasn’t originally how you felt. As years pass and we slowly forget details of a certain memory, it’s easy for our minds to start adding things that didn’t really happen to the moment to try to make it complete.

2. Brainstorming isn’t the best method to develop ideas.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually less productive to brainstorm in a group of people. As you try to come up with ideas together, you start to worry about what other people think, about their ideas, and can sometimes lose motivation if they have better or more ideas than you do. You feel less compelled to contribute to the group because they seem to already have the situation under control. It’s actually better to try to come up with ideas on your own, when you can motivate yourself to do your best without having to worry about being judged.

3. When offered a set of options, we frequently choose the first.

Whether it’s a shopping dilemma where you think you’ve found the perfect item and then stumble upon another or are about to circle an answer on a multiple choice test and start to second-guess yourself, we’ve all been at a point where we start to question our first choice or wanting the first option that was presented to us. The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business conducted a study in mid 2012 to determine if the first option is still our primary choice after several offers. In one experiment, those who participated preferred the first car salesman over the second. In another experiment, the participants were asked to choose between two different kinds of bubble gum that looked similar. About 60 percent chose the first gum they were presented with when they had to make a quick decision.

4. The mind looks for patterns.

Our brains like to organize information into simple patterns to make it easier to remember. Information placed into categories or a specific order are easier to remember because of this behavior from our mind. Studies have shown that it’s easier to recall information when it’s been neatly organized in our minds.

5. It’s easiest to retain information given in the form of a story.

Stories give people a sense of imagery; a chance for them to imagine characters, a setting and a situation in their minds. There is a beginning, middle and end to the story and hearing a story from start to finish makes it easier to remember in our minds. Lessons in school are sometimes put into story form to give students a chance to break down the situation easier and retain the process better.

We won’t ever know everything there is to know about the human mind because each brain behaves and reacts to certain situations differently. Because of this, there will always be so much left to learn and question when it comes to human psychology, and new facts to fascinate us will develop and make us realize more about the way we think and act the way we do.

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Rachel Drummond is a psychologist and guest author at School Psychologist Files, where she contributed to the guide to the Top 10 Online Master In Psychology Degree Programs.

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