Why do we do the things we do?
Despite our best attempts to "know thyself," the truth is that we often know astonishingly little about our own minds, and even less about the way others think.
As Charles Dickens once put it,
“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”
Psychologists have long sought insights into how we perceive the world and what motivates our behavior, and they've made enormous strides in lifting that veil of mystery.
Aside from providing fodder for stimulating cocktail-party conversations, some of the most famous psychological experiments of the past century reveal universal and often surprising truths about human nature.
Here are 10 classic psychological studies that may change the way you understand yourself.
- We all have some capacity for evil.
- We don't notice what's right in front of us.
- Delaying gratification is hard -- but we're more successful when we do.
- We can experience deeply conflicting moral impulses.
- We're easily corrupted by power.
- We seek out loyalty to social groups and are easily drawn to intergroup conflict.
- We only need one thing to be happy.
- We thrive when we have strong self-esteem and social status.
- We constantly try to justify our experiences so that they make sense to us.
- We buy into stereotypes in a big way.
But, what is Psychology?
Psychology is both an applied and academic field that studies the human mind and behavior. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain how we think, act and feel. As most people already realize, a large part of psychology is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues, but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to applications for psychology. In addition to mental health, psychology can be applied to a variety of issues that impact health and daily life including performance enhancement, self-help, ergonomics, motivation, productivity, and much more.
Did you notice #7 above? What is the one thing we need to be happy?