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26 Fascinating Facts About Human Psychology

The human brain is an interesting and powerful organ, but understanding why it does what it does is a process that we’re still studying. Both the conscious and subconscious mind have a significant influence on our behavior, but most us have only a minimal understanding of how they work. What follows are 26 interesting facts about human psychology, starting off with a summary of the first 15: 

1. We blame a person’s behavior on their personality unless it's us.

human psychology - cars stuck in traffic
Has someone ever cut you off at a roundabout or intersection and made you really mad, only for you to go on to do the exact same thing to someone else just 10 minutes later? Although the person that cut you off infuriated you, you're likely to have justified your own actions to yourself because you're "in a hurry, and it's just this once". We tend to attribute our bad behavior to external forces, and other people’s bad behavior to their internal attributes.

2. We don't predict our reaction to future events very well.

human psychology - future and success
We often think that we're going to react to a future event in a certain way, only for the event to actually take place and us to find that we reacted completely differently to how we predicted. We place hope in the ability of a single occurrence to be able to change everything, but we often find that it doesn't do much to change how we feel at all.

3. Our strongest memories are usually inaccurate.

human psychology facts - camera lens
We feel like memories of traumatic events “burn” themselves into our minds to remain there forever (this is known as “Flashbulb Memories”). Studies have shown that the stronger the emotional state you were in during that event, the more the memory is inaccurate.

4. We can only sustain a high level of concentration for 10 minutes.

psychological facts about human behaviour - education and studying
Do you think you can concentrate on a task for more than 10 minutes? Studies indicate otherwise. On average, a person’s attention span peaks after 10 minutes, then the mind begins to wander.

5. Our brains wander for about 30% of the day.

interesting facts about human behavior - blowing bubbles
On average, we spend about 30% of our day daydreaming (though some people do it more). The upside of this is that researchers point out that people who tend to daydream more are better at solving problems and tend to be more creative.

6. Humans can’t multitask!

psychology facts - woman with many arms multitasking
You may hear people claiming that they’re natural multitaskers, and you've probably even seen it in some job requirements, but humans simply cannot multitask. Sure, you can listen to music while you work, but your brain can only process one higher-function task at a time. That means that you’ll either be doing work and mainly ignoring the music or listening to the music and ignoring your work. People simply cannot think about two things at once.

7. Most of your decisions are made subconsciously.

 interesting facts about human behavior and the subconscious
Do you think about all the decisions you make, weighing all the options and calculating the impact of each outcome? You might think you are, but you're wrong. The majority of your decisions are made in your subconscious because otherwise, your conscious mind would be overwhelmed with information and you’ll probably get mentally frozen. The reason for this is that your brain receives over 11 million bits of information every second, and there’s simply not enough “brainpower” to go through all of it consciously. 

8. We can only store between 5 and 9 bits of information at once.

psychological facts about personality and the human mind
The average human can only keep an average of 7 bits of information at once in their short-term memory. Each of the 7 bits of information can be comprised of several pieces of relevant data. The best example is remembering a phone number – it can be anywhere between 9 and 14 digits long, so we break it into segments like country code, area code, and a set of numbers we split (usually to 3-4 digit groups).

9. We prefer shorter lines of text but read longer ones better.

human psychology - news and the media
It might sound counter-intuitive, but while we might prefer to read narrow columns, we’ll read the same information faster if it’s spread to the width of the page. The only reason you don’t notice that is because you visually prefer the shorter layout.

10. We want more choices, but choose better with fewer options.

human psychology meaning - choice
Professor Dan Ariely tells in his book “Predictably Irrational” about an experiment he and his colleagues performed: They set up two booths that offered jam for sale. One booth had 24 different kinds of jams while the other only had six kinds of jam. The table with fewer options managed to sell six times more jams than the one with more options. This reverts us back to #8 – our brain just cannot process too many options.

11. We think other people are more easily influenced than us.

human psychology - advertising and the internet
We can see the effect advertising has on other people more clearly than its impact on ourselves. This is known as the “Third Person Effect”. We can tell how an ad affects our peers but deny its effects on ourselves, and it gets worse when it’s an ad for something we have no interest in. You have likely not realized it, but all the advertisements you see every day have a subconscious effect on your mood, desires and even attitude.

12. Your brain doesn’t stop working when you sleep.

the psychology of the human mind when sleeping
Your brain is just as active when you sleep as it is when you’re awake. Scientists have discovered that the only time your brain clears out toxins and waste is when you sleep. It is also believed that during the sleep cycles, your brain sorts out all the data from the previous day and creates new associations.

13. “Wisdom of the Crowd” is not very wise.

human factors psychology and groupthink
Psychologists refer to this as “Groupthink". The larger the group of individuals, the more likely it is to make choices based on emotions rather than logic and common sense.

14. Crowds are easily swayed.

human behaviour psychology - world war 2
People with a dominant or charismatic personality can easily affect crowd opinions and manipulate groups into doing their bidding. They appeal to the group’s emotions, taking advantage of the aforementioned groupthink. 

15. It takes a person 66 days to form a habit.

human development psychology - addiction and bad habits
There is a lot of research data that suggests that following a pattern for 66 days will make it habitual. If, for example, you want to be better about cleaning your home or going to the gym – make a conscious effort to do it for 66 days, after which it will become a habit and will be easier to persevere (this also works for breaking habits).

16. We can only be close with up to 150 people.

old ladies having a chat - human psychology

 British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, came up with Dunbar's number in the 1990s after finding a correlation between the average size of a social group and the brain size of primates. 150 is the suggested cognitive limit to the number of persons that someone can maintain a stable social relationship with. Exceeding this number is very rare, since becoming close to new people will make the quality of some older relationships deteriorate over time.

17. You get more creative when you're tired.

woman being creative - psychology and creativity

If you're trying to do something creative, like writing a short story or designing a dress, you'd be better off doing it after a long and stressful day. This is because researchers have found that people actually become more creative when their brains aren't functioning as efficiently. This is one of the main reasons why people often get great ideas while taking a shower after a hard day's work.

18. The brain actually feels rejection as physical pain.

broken heart - interesting psychology studies

Everyone has felt the great pain of rejection at some point in their lives, but did you know that rejection does not merely cause emotional pain, but actual physical harm too? Even if you can't feel any physical pain, scientists have found that the reactions and cascading events that take place in the brain after being rejected or experiencing physical pain are almost identical. What's more, the same natural chemical is released in both instances, too.

19. Around 80% of all human conversations are gossip.

gossiping man and woman - human psychology how to read people

Often dismissed by people as mere tittle-tattle, research actually shows that the urge to gossip lies at the very core of a human being. According to Prof. Nick Emler, a professor of social psychology from the University of Surrey, "it is gossip that sets us apart from other animals. It is fundamental to being human. It allows us to know about people that we have never met," and "is absolutely fundamental to human society." He says that "you can only see and observe a certain amount. With gossip, you can know about 100,000 people without knowing them."

20. Relationships are as important for your health as diet and exercise.

happy couple with a pug - human psychology meaning

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently found that the quality and size of a person's social ties directly affect certain kinds of health measures, such as hypertension and abdominal obesity at different points in their lives. Similarly, there are also studies which show that being considerably lonely can significantly decrease your life expectancy.

21. Spending more money on others makes you happier.

cash under best dad mug - human psychology facts

This is because we are social creatures, and depend on our ability to work as a team with other people to survive. That's why our brain has an in-built reward system that sends out oxytocin to make us feel better when we do positive things for others, including spending money on them.

22. Smart people are more likely to think they're not smart.

sad man on bench - facts about the human mind

A phenomenon known as the Dunning Kruger Effect shows that not only do intelligent people tend to underestimate themselves a lot more than the average person, but that ignorant people have the opposite tendency to overestimate themselves instead.

23. Thinking in a foreign language makes your decisions more rational.

woman thinking about human psychology

This might sound weird, but a series of experiments led by Boaz Keysar from the University of Chicago found that thinking in a foreign language actually reduced the interference of misleading and deep-seated biases that are known to influence the perception of advantages and disadvantages.

24. Eye contact can tell a lot about you.

girl with deep blue eyes - male and female psychology

If a person makes eye contact with you for 100% of a conversation, then they are probably trying to threaten you. If they do this for 80% of the conversation then they may be attracted to you, and if they do it for 60% of the conversation that it's a good indicator that you are boring them.

25. Announcing your goals makes you less likely to achieve them.

businessmen and women holding up signs - psychology

While many people think that by telling others about their goals, they will find a solid support network to help them succeed, multiple studies show that the reality of this is quite the opposite. This is because announcing your plans actually satisfies your self-identity enough to give you a premature sense of completeness.

Avoid making these common mistakes if you want to fulfill your goals.

26. Believing you slept well improves your performance.

woman sleeping on bed with a pug - interesting psychological studies

Known as 'placebo sleep', believing that you have slept enough will actually make you feel more refreshed and ready to take on the day's challenges, even if you actually slept too few or too many hours. On the other hand, constantly talking about how exhausted you are will actually make you feel tired and can be detrimental to your performance.


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Images: depositphotospixabaypexels

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