And here I though I was strange. But, it appears that my strangeness is more about other people wanting to fit in or go with the flow, so to speak, rather than being themselves.
Here are some examples from answers to the What are some psychological facts that people don’t know?on Quora.com.
1. People are oblivious to the beauty around them.
If we could just stop and take some time out of our lives, we will realize what actually is happening around us.
Violinist at the metro station experiment.
Famed violinist Josh Bell who had just sold out a concert in Boston the previous day, where ticket prices averaged $100 each was playing at the Washington D.C metro station posed as a street musician. He was armed with a $3.5 million violin. Do you know how much he made that day ? A measly $32. People didn’t even realize what they missed.
2. Humans are trained to take orders from authority figures from very early in life.
The Milgram experiment.
A very strange experiment was conducted by psychologist Stanley Milgram of Yale University in 1961.
Milgram measured this willingness to obey authority figures by instructing people to perform acts that conflicted with their morals. Participants were told to play the role of “teacher” and administer electric shocks to “the learner,” who was in another room separated by a glass wall, every time they answered a question incorrectly. In reality, no one was actually being shocked. Instead, Milgram played recordings to make it sound like the learner was in a great deal of pain and wanted to end the experiment. Despite these protests, many participants continued the experiment when the authority figure urged them to, increasing the voltage after each wrong answer until some eventually administered what would be lethal electric shocks.
3. In an emergency, surrounding yourself with more people doesn’t mean you are saved!
In case of an emergency, most people would probably want to be in a busy area so they have a higher chance of receiving help. Contrary to popular belief, being surrounded by people doesn’t guarantee anything. A psychological phenomenon called the Bystander Effectstates that people are more likely to help someone in distress if there are few or no other witnesses. If there are more people around, one usually thinks someone else will stop to help. Scientists call this the diffusion of responsibility. The Bystander Effect was recently tested out on a busy London street and it turns out perceived social status plays a role in whether a person will receive help, but most people still continue on their way without stopping.
4. People tend to conform in group situations. People try to fit in a group irrespective of conditions.
The Asch Experimentis another famous example of the temptation to conform during group situations. This series of experiments conducted in the 1950s placed one subject in a room full of actors. The person conducting the experiment held up an image with three numbered lines and asked each person in the room to identify the longest line. The actors purposely chose the incorrect line in order to determine whether the subject would answer honestly or simply go along with the group answer. Most of them agreed with the wrong answer even if they were saying the right answer initially. The results once again showed that people tend to conform in group situations.
5. Situations could provoke certain behaviors, in spite of an individual’s natural tendencies.
The Stanford Prison Experiment.
Considered to be one of the most unethical psychological experiments of all time, the Stanford Prison experiment studied the psychological effects an environment could have on behavior.
In 1971, a mock prison was constructed in the basement of the psychology building of Stanford University and 24 male students were randomly selected to play the role of either a prisoner or prison guard for two weeks. The students adapted to their roles a little too well, becoming aggressive to the point of inflicting psychological torture. Even psychology professor Philip Zimbardo, who acted as superintendent of the experiment, proved susceptible to its effects by allowing the abuse to continue. The study was called off after only six days due to its intensity.
6. Reflexes can be learnt.
The Pavlov Dog Experiment.
This famous experiment made the concept of the conditioned reflex widespread. Pavlov examined the rate of salivation among dogs when presented with food. He noticed the dogs would salivate upon seeing their food, so he began ringing a bell every time the food was presented to the dogs. Over time, the dogs began to associate the ringing of the bell with food and would salivate upon hearing the bell, demonstrating that reflexes can be learned.
7. Classical conditioning works on humans.
The Little Albert experiment
Probably one of the most unethical psychological studies of all time, this experiment conducted in 1920 by John B. Watson and his partner Rosalie Rayner at Johns Hopkins University conditioned a nine-month-old boy to develop irrational fears. Watson began by placing a white rat in front of the infant, who showed no fear at first. He then produced a loud sound by striking a steel bar with a hammer every time little Albert touched the rat. After a while, the boy began to cry and exhibit signs of fear every time the rat appeared in the room. Watson also created similar conditioned reflexes with other common animals and objects until Albert feared them all, proving that classical conditioning works on humans. Needless to say, Albert had a very stunted growth and died young.
8. Again, People often fail to notice their surroundings.
The Missing Child Experiment.
A flier with information and a picture about a “missing child” was posted on the doors of a busy store. Some people stopped to study the flier while others merely glanced at it or didn’t look at all. What all of these people had in common that they were completely oblivious of the fact that the boy on the flier was standing right in front of the store. This experiment demonstrates that humans tend to overlook a lot of the things around them.
9. Affection plays a greater role than sustenance when it comes to childhood development.
Harlow’s Monkey Experiment.
In a series of controversial experiments during the 1960s, he revealed the importance of a mother’s love for healthy childhood development. Harlow separated rhesus monkeys from their mothers a few hours after birth and left them to be “raised” by two surrogate mothers.
One mother was made of wire with an attached bottle for food; the other was made of soft terrycloth but lacked food. Interestingly, the baby monkeys spent much more time with the cloth mother than the wire mother, thus proving that affection plays a greater role than sustenance when it comes to childhood development.
10. A dog’s “Capacity for Empathy”
Everyone knows yawns can be contagious, but did you know dogs are capable of “catching” yawns too? A recent study conducted at the University of London found that 72 percent of dogs caught yawns after watching a person yawn. On average, it took the dogs 99 seconds to yawn and the dogs’ ages and genders did not affect yawning. Although why this happens remains a mystery, researchers think it may have something to do with a dog’s “capacity for empathy.”
11. Your tone determines whether you will get laid tonight.
A classic finding in social psychology, the Halo Effect is the idea that our overall impression of a person can be based on one trait about them.
For example, if someone has a likeable personality, people might find that person’s other qualities more appealing. In a recent experiment, a man made two videos for a dating website. In the first video, he read the script in an upbeat manner, whereas in the second, he read the same script in a more melancholy fashion. The first video was given to a one group of girls and the second was given to another group, who watched the video in a separate room.
The girls who watched the upbeat video found the man to be likeable, while the girls who watched the second video found the man to be unpleasant, even though he had read the exact same script. Thus demonstrating the importance of tone in the perception of overall attractiveness and modeling the Halo Effect in action.
12. Cognitive Dissonance.
Have you ever suffered a disappointment and then convinced yourself that you weren’t disappointed at all?
If you answered yes, you’ve experienced a psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance.
In 1956, psychology student Jack Brehm brought some of his wedding gifts to class (a lamp, a toaster, a transistor radio, etc.) and asked everyone to rate each item’s desirability. The students were then asked to choose between two items they found equally attractive. After making a choice, the students were asked to rate all the items again. Everyone increased the ratings of the items they had chosen and downgraded the ratings of their second-choice items, showing that humans will always try to convince themselves that they’ve made the right decision.