The systematic study of mental processes and human behavior has long been questioned why we act the way we do. Human psychology has relatively unknown surprising curiosities. We recommend, if you like to read about this type of curiosity, that you take a look at our old installments:
Surprising psychological discoveries
In this article that we present today, we propose to expose a total of five impressive psychological discoveries that give answers to some enigmas of our psyche.
Are you ready to meet them? By clicking on the links you can access more detailed information about each of the discoveries.
1. The Halo Effect
The Halo Effect is one of the concepts that have attracted the most attention from social psychologists and groups. It is a cognitive bias whereby the overall impression on a person (for example: “he is nice”) is generated from judgments that concern certain specific features (for example: “he is smart”). To further exemplify the phenomenon of the Halo Effect, we could bring up the case of the stars on the big screen.
The famous actors who appear in the highest-grossing films are usually people with great physical attractiveness and people skills. They are one of those people who know how to captivate with gestures and eyes, they master the image they project to perfection. These two traits (physical attractiveness and sympathy) make us suppose, through this curious psychological effect, that they are also intelligent, generous, friendly people, and so on. The Halo effect also happens in the opposite direction: if a person is not physically attractive we will tend to think that he is an unpleasant or uninteresting person. That is, we will tend in this case to attribute negative specific traits to it.
2. The dark energy of the brain
Although it seems counterintuitive, when we freeze without thinking about anything in particular or are about to fall asleep, our brain consumes only 5% less energy than when we try to solve difficult puzzles.
Not only that: when this happens, large regions of the brain begin to emit signals in a coordinated way, causing hundreds of thousands of neurons to work together for … it is not known very well for what. The fact that these areas of the brain, which are part of what has been called the Default Neural Network, stop working together when we are paying attention and we use our focused attention to solve tasks or reflect on specific things has made this pattern of electrical signals have been called “the dark energy of the brain”.
3. Cognitive dissonance
Why do we deceive ourselves? This is another question that psychologists and philosophers have asked over the centuries. In the study of human psychology, cognitive dissonance is described as discomfort or the contradictory sensation that we experience when our beliefs conflict with what we do, or when we defend two discordant ideas at the same time.
Psychologists of the stature of Leon Festinger and James Carlsmith demonstrated something surprising and that marked a before and after in the study of cognitive dissonance. If a person is asked to lie and does not consider himself a person who usually lies, he will succeed in telling the lie and will continue to think of himself that he is an honest person. Curious, huh? But how is this possible? The human mind resolves these types of cognitive dissonances by persuading yourself that the lie you just told is true. Although this may operate on a non-conscious level, the truth is that our brain tends to think well about us.
4. The effect of false consensus
The effect of false consensus is another cognitive bias that is studied in all schools of Psychology. The false consensus effect makes many individuals tend to overestimate the degree of “agreement” that others have towards their views or opinions. Certainly, we tend to perceive that our opinions, values, beliefs, or habits are the most common and supported by the majority of people around us. This belief causes us to tend to overestimate the confidence we have in our opinions, even if they are erroneous, biased, or minority.
From now on, remember: the false consensus effect can make you believe that your opinion is shared by other people … and maybe you are the only one who thinks so
5. The Westermarck effect
Incest is one of the most universal taboos and, curiously, it is difficult to justify its existence rationally by adhering to the values of “as long as it does not harm anyone, it should not be prohibited”. However, from the point of view of evolution Yes, reasons can be found to avoid incest, since it can result in the birth of individuals with health problems or difficulties to living independently.
Based on this idea, the researcher Edvard Westermark went on to propose that human beings have an innate propensity not to feel sexual attraction to people with whom we have had frequent contact during childhood. This translates into a lack of sexual desire for people who are statistically very likely to be part of our family.
This phenomenon, known as the Westermarck effect, has been found in numerous studies on the subject, the best known being an investigation in which it was found that people who had been raised in the same kibbutz (a typical agrarian commune in Israel) have much fewer chances of marrying each other.