20 lessons of social psychology that will be useful for everyone

1. It is important for us to interact with people

Psychologists in the United States found: 20% of people who received Christmas cards from strangers also send them congratulations. For the same reason waiters get more tips if they tell about the recipe of dishes or give advice.

2. A person tends to appreciate more than what he directly owns

Studies have shown that the willingness to sell is weaker than the desire to buy. The participants of the experiment were persuaded to buy a glass for $ 5, but after receiving it, the subjects refused to sell the mug for less than $ 10.

3. Because of the heat, we become angrier, and because of the sadness of the cold

When you are dissatisfied with something, it seems that the room is cold, and rather want hot dishes, rather than cold ones. The crime rate is higher in hot regions, and more crimes are committed on warm days. This is because the heat excites the nervous system, and people mistakenly attribute this to any life situation.

4. Smile is contagious and can say a lot about you

Social Psychology
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In the cinema, a person will laugh more if people around him laugh. Another situation: bowling, a man knocked out a strike, and started smiling, only turned to friends. It’s a smile for social approval, not for the joy of doing something successfully.

According to one study, students who showed Duchenne’s smiles (the most sincere smiles that involve the muscles around the eyes and mouth) in the photos in the album were more often married and more often called themselves happy 30 years later. And students with less expressed smiles were divorced much more often.

5. Expectations affect decision making

In one study, psychologists called the participants and asked them if they would like to hypothetically become volunteers of the American Cancer Society. When these same people phoned a few days later and asked the same question, 31% of the respondents answered with consent, although for the first time only 4% agreed.

6. We act differently if we remember ourselves

Before distributing the test, the subjects were told that men and women were gaining a different number of points. After that, the participants’ rates dropped sharply. And the results of men decreased after communicating with an attractive woman. And another situation: when children go to a Halloween party, they take a lot of sweets; But if the child leaves alone and besides he is asked a name, he will take much less sweets.

7. External observation sometimes helps, but not during meals

If you are watched while performing a simple task, the results will increase, and if during a difficult or task related to obtaining a new skill, the results will decrease. By the way, this feature is inherent not only to people, but also to cockroaches (!). Neighborliness in the room with others has another effect: if the repairman is in the room (even in the corner), people start to work more slowly. In addition, people, like animals, eat more if they take food in someone’s presence.

8. An effective way to get a person to do something is to compare it with friends

In one electric power company, they tried to convince people to save the electricity at home. For this, posters with the inscription “Your neighbors reduced electricity consumption” were issued. As a result, household energy use decreased by 2%. The calls “Save energy – save money” and “Save energy for the preservation of the environment” not only did not help reduce the use of electricity, but in some cases, on the contrary, led to increased consumption.

9. The context in which an action is performed affects the action itself

During the voting, 56% of the participants who voted at the school were for increasing the school budget, while in other places this figure was 53%. Although this effect may not seem very important, it is statistically significant. This experience was repeated in the laboratory (64% of the people who showed the photo of the school voted for an increase in the budget).

10. The more you learn something, the more you like it

This feature is called the “recognition effect”, and for its appearance there will be a split second. It is widely used in advertising. The more often you see an ad or advertisement, the more you will appreciate the company. Vivid pictures that cause positive and negative emotions in just a few milliseconds change your mind about something at the subconscious level.

11. Smooth lines vs angles

People tend to like more rounded visual objects than objects with pointed edges.


12. Do not let anything happen to you when there are a lot of people around

Witnesses are less likely to interfere with the crime or help in a critical situation if there are other observers, since they think that someone else will help and they will be able to avoid responsibility. If the victim is bleeding, people help even less often, simply because they are afraid of the type of blood. But the victim who loudly screams will receive more help than the one who is silent: a clear and unambiguous signal about the danger will be perceived by more people.

13. We all want to be happy, but too much happiness negatively affects work

According to the survey results, more than 10 thousand people in 48 countries of the world found that happiness is valued more than other personal perspectives – to find the meaning of life, to become rich or to go to heaven. Happy people often call themselves curious, and depressive ones are able to notice even minor changes in the facial expressions of the interlocutor’s face. And very happy people (9 out of 10 or 10 out of 10 points on the scale of happiness measurement – there are such) did not study well and receive a small salary, compared to moderately happy people (6, 7, 8 out of 10 on the scale).

14. We do stupid things to adjust

During the study, the participant was sent to a group and asked to answer a seemingly simple question. In advance, the group was instructed to say a deliberately wrong answer. As a result, 37 out of 50 subjects gave the wrong answer, repeating it after the majority (even if it was obviously incorrect), simply because they wanted to please the members of the group or thought that the majority knew better than they. This effect is dulled if there is at least one person in the group who agrees with the subject.

15. It is difficult for us to separate the appearance from the character

A positive or negative reaction to a person (“he’s a nice guy”) affects our judgment about his appearance (“he’s attractive”). This phenomenon is called “halo effect”. He is very noticeable in the example of celebrities: their attractiveness and fame make us believe that they are smart, happy or good.

16. Not all types of awards affect us in the same way

Waiting for the reward reduces motivation. And the unexpected reward, on the contrary, increases it. The fixed premium is less effective than the premium, the amount of which varies depending on the quality of the work.

17. Possession of power can significantly affect our emotions and behavior

In the Stanford prison experiment, the volunteers were divided into two groups – “prisoners” and “guards” – and placed in some sort of prison. Six days later, the experiment was completed (although it was planned to spend two weeks). The participants got used to their roles: “guards” treated and cruelly treated “prisoners”, many “prisoners” had a violent emotional breakdown.

18. The authorities make us obedient and can force us to do what we could not have imagined

In a famous Milgram experiment, participants were asked to give discharges of current with increasing force, if the subject in the next room gave incorrect answers to the questions asked. The role of the victim was performed by the experimenter’s assistant. The participant first submitted weak discharges, but in the second part of the experiment he was asked to press the button “Dangerous: strong current”, not paying attention to the request of the victim to stop the experiment. As a result, 63% of the subjects pressed a button with a maximum discharge, which, if it was not a production, could be fatal to another person.

19. Self-control at an early age may indicate success in adulthood

Another famous experiment is the “marmalade test”. The child is left in the room, and on the table in front of him put a marmalade or biscuits. And they warn: he can eat marmalade (or cookies) now, and then the experiment is finished. But, if he waits for the experimenter to return, he will receive two jellyfish as a reward.

Children who can not wait and eat marmalade immediately or try to eat it on the sly, in the future are more likely to experience problems at work, receive low scores at admission to the university, experience problems with attention in school and have difficulty maintaining friendly relations. This is a fact: a child who can wait 15 minutes, when enrolling, will score half as much as a child, who waited only 30 seconds.

20. People like round numbers

This list consists of 20 items, and not from 19 for the same reason that many people try to run in training not 1.9 km, but 2 km. The predilection for certain numbers is deeply embedded in human nature.