I’ve just got back from a holiday in Bali, and had time to read a couple of books about applied psychology while I was poolside. So for the last newsletter of the year, I thought I’d share with you some of the fun facts I’ve learnt.
Have a great Christmas!
- 94 per cent of professors at a large university believe that they are better than the average professor.
- Roughly speaking, losing something makes you twice as miserable as gaining the same thing makes you happy.
- If two people live together for a long time, they start to look like each other. They grow to look alike partly because of nutrition – shared diets and eating habits – but much of the effect is simple imitation of facial expressions. Couples who end up looking alike also tend to be happier!
- Obesity is contagious; you’re more likely to be overweight if you have a lot of overweight friends.
- On average, those who eat with one other person eat about 35 per cent more than they do when they are alone; members of a group of four eat about 75 per cent more; those in groups of seven or more eat 96 per cent more.
- High priced entrees on the menu boost revenue for the restaurant – even if no one buys them. Why? Because even though people generally won’t buy the most expensive dish on the menu, they will order the second most expensive dish.
- If you want to enhance the experience of your guest, invest in a nice set of wine glasses. Moreover, if you’re really serious about your wine, you may want to go all out and purchase the glasses that are specific to burgundies, chardonnays, champagne etc. Each type of glass is supposed to provide the appropriate environment, which should bring out the best in these wines (even though controlled studies find that the shape of the glass makes no difference at all in an objective blind taste test, that doesn’t stop people from perceiving a significant difference when they are handed the ‘correct glass’).
- People are much more likely to report being in ‘flow’ on the job than during leisure.
- If we watch how people’s brains respond, promising them monetary rewards and giving them cocaine, nicotine or amphetamines looks disturbingly similar.
- 50 per cent of your overall sense of happiness is genetically determined, and so cannot be altered. The better news is that another 10 per cent is attributable to general circumstances (educational level, income, whether you are married or single, etc.) that are difficult to change. However, the best news is that the remaining 40 per cent is derived from your day-to-day behaviour and the way you think about yourself and others.
- In terms of short and long term happiness, buying experiences make people feel better than buying products. Why? Our memory of experiences easily becomes distorted over time (you edit out the terrible trip on the airplane and just remember those blissful moments relaxing on the beach). Our goods, however, tend to lose their appeal by becoming old, worn-out, and out-dated. Also, experiences promote one of the most effective happiness-inducing behaviours – spending time with others.
- Those who sit upright are much happier than those who slouch.
- To increase happiness, try walking in a more relaxed way, swinging your arms slightly more and putting more of a spring in your step. Also, try making more expressive hand gestures during conversations, nod your head more when others are speaking, wear more colourful clothing, use positively charged emotional words more (especially ‘love’, ‘like’, and ‘fond’), use fewer self-references (‘me,’ ‘myself’ , and ‘I’), have a larger variation in the pitch of your voice, speak slightly faster, and have a significantly firmer handshake.
- If you want to increase your chances of making a good impression in a meeting, sit toward the middle of the table.
- People develop a special fondness for other people, objects and statements if they are introduced to them while eating a meal. The effect may be attributable to the fact that good food puts people in a happy mood and can cause them to make faster, and more impulsive, decisions. More recently, researchers discovered that people who have just consumed caffeinated drinks were more likely to be swayed by arguments about various controversial topics.
- The next time you are trying to be creative in a meeting, gently lean forward and pull against the table.
- If you want to get someone to help you out, try the briefest of touches on the upper arm.
- Long-term couples will feel more attracted to each other when they regularly engage in novel and exciting joint activities that involve working together to achieve a goal.
- Research suggests that telling children that they are bright and talented is a terrible thing to do. Telling children that they possess a certain trait, such as being bright or talented, is not good for their psychological health because it encourages them to avoid challenging situations, no to try so hard, and quickly to be become demotivated when the going gets tough. In contrast, praising effort encourages people to stretch themselves, work hard, and persist in the face of difficulties.