You know your favorite color, your birthday, and what foods you prefer, but wouldn’t it be interesting to learn psychological facts about yourself and how your mind works? Well you’re in luck! It’s always fun to learn new things, and this article will teach you 15 psychological facts about yourself that you probably didn’t already know! Keep reading to find out!
1. You Can’t Multitask
This is one of the psychological facts about yourself mentioned in a few previous articles. Many people believe they can do more than one thing at a time, but studies show that the mind can only attend to one task at a time, with the exception of a few physical tasks such as walking. You may be able to shift from one task to another very quickly, but it’s impossible to focus on more than one task at a time.
2. You Don’t like Reading Text Online
It’s true. You’re reading this article right now, but you’d prefer reading it on paper. Text on screen is hard on the eyes and tires them very quickly. Unless the information is interesting or in an easy to read font, your eyes and brain lose focus very quickly and you’re more likely to skip over the text.
3. When You Read, You Anticipate
Are there ever times when you read aloud and you end up saying a word that isn’t there? It’s because you anticipate the upcoming letters and say them before you actually see them. For example, you’d probably read and say, “The little children play outside,” but the actual text would say, “The little children played out and about.” When our minds put words together such as “children play outside,” we anticipate it, it’s not until after we actually read it that we realize it says something other than what we’re used to such as, “children play out and about.” Try reading this: I pledge allegiance to the flag to the United States of Amsterdam. Many of you caught it, but some of you said “America” because that’s what your mind expected to see. Cool, isn’t it?
4. Synchronous Activity Bonds Your Group
Did you know that doing things together bonds your group together? Have you ever wondered why cliques are so strong and close together, even if some of the members don’t like each other? It’s because they sit together, eat together, laugh together, and move together in time! Research shows that when people do things at the same time, they are more socially attached, more likely to make personal sacrifices for that group, and desire to be around members of that group.
5. You Perform Worse under Too Much Stress
This is a psychological fact you should keep in mind! If you’re under tons of stress, your brain does not perform optimally. You actually perform worse! That’s why it’s so important to take a day off before a big test! Give yourself a break for the good of your health and your work.
6. You’re More Likely to Blame People Rather than the Situation
Did you know that when undesirable events happen, humans are more likely to blame another person rather than the circumstance? If you’re late for a meeting, you’re more likely to blame the driver rather than the construction on the way. Because the mind works this way, it’s important to remember it, and take into account when you encounter these situations.
7. The Illusion of Progress is Motivating
The illusion of progress is extremely motivating! According to research, if you believe that you’re progressing toward a goal, you move faster toward achieving that goal. Example 1: You go to IHOP and you’re given a card with 10 empty boxes representing how many times you’ve visited. On the 10th visit you get a free meal. Example 2: You’re given a card with 12 boxes and 2 already marked. Studies show that even though you need to visit 10 times with either card, people are more likely to complete the card with the 12 boxes faster, because of the illusion of progression. Now that you know this, you could make up some strategies that’ll help motivate you and push you toward productivity!
8. You Know How to do Things You've Never Done before
Knowing how to do something you've never done before kind of sounds like a cool superpower, but we're all capable of it. For instance, your friend tells you that can scan the bar codes of food and drinks with her smartphone to find out their nutritional value. Even though your phone might not have the capability or you've never tried it before, your brains forms an idea or picture of how to do it and how it works, it's called a mental model. A mental model is described as a person's mental process on how something works. So, the next time you're presented with something new whether it's technology or something else, you'll automatically form some assumptions on how to use it!
9. Your Brain Doesn't Rest when It's Sleeping
When we think about sleeping, we often think of shutting down for the night. We sleep to take our mind off of things or help us make a decision, but in reality, our minds are quite active while we're snoozing. Professor Matthew Wilson of MIT studied sleep in rats and humans and found that during sleep, we are merging new memories and making new connections. So give yourself some credit, you are always working!
10. You Can Only Remember 3-4 Things at a Time
Professor Alan Baddeley of the University of New York conducted a study on memory and found that humans are able to remember 3-4 things at a time for about 20 seconds or you'll forget them unless you repeat the information over and over. The next time you need to remember something, break it up into chunks to make it easier.
11. Your Mind Wanders
I think we're all aware that our minds wander at times, but do you know how much? According to Professor Jonathon Schooler, our minds wander as much as 30% and sometimes even as high as 70% depending on where we are. Having a wandering mind has its pros and cons because we can miss out on information but it also encourages creativity and allows us to keep important info in mind while doing something else. So the next time your mind starts to wander, embrace it, it can be a good thing!
12. You Are a Little Bit Blind
When I say blind, I don't mean that you can't see, but, at the same time, I do! We all suffer from something called "inattention blindness". This means that if you're focusing on one thing, you might not notice something else big! In one psychological experiment, subjects were asked to watch a basketball game and count how many passes the team in white jerseys made. When focusing their attention on the number of passes, most subjects failed to notice a man in a bear costume cross the court! If you can miss a moonwalking bear, how many other little things have you been blind to?
13. Your Eyes Don't like Red and Blue
Pairing colors like red and blue together cause a phenomenon called "chromostereopsis", in other words one color jumps out at you while the other doesn’t. This effect is really hard on the eyes and can fatigue them. Take a look at the American or English flag—a long, hard look and see if you don't get a slight headache. If you're a designer of any sort, this psychological fact is one to keep in mind to please your clients!
14. You Crave the Familiar when You're Emotionally Unstable
When you're sad or scared, you're less likely to venture out in even the most small things. After a awful day at work or a fight with your boyfriend, if you go to the grocery store, you're more likely to buy brands you are familiar with rather than try something new. You feel most vulnerable when you are scared or sad, so you find something to latch on to, even if it's just Special K instead of store-brand cereal.
15. You Have a Max Social Group Size
Did you know that your brain can only handle a set number of relationships? This number is called Dunbar's Number, named after an anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, who concluded that 150 people is the maximum social group size for most people. Of course, you can pile on acquaintances, but you can only have around 150 stable relationships. So remember that the "social butterflies" out there with 1000 Facebook friends really can only handle the same amount of relationships as you!
I hope you enjoyed learning about the wonderful mind and how it works! Which psychological fact did you find most interesting?
This article was written in collaboration with editor Sabrina Yates.