Cognitive dissonance is one of those things that when you really, really think about it, it makes you question every decision you’ve ever made in your life (you just wait, you’ll do it in a sec). The idea of cognitive dissonance is that our brains find it difficult to hold two contradictory beliefs about something, so we (unconsciously) change one of them to ensure it fits with the other. In one famous study, it was recorded that students became more interested in a boring task if they were paid less for it – because they unconsciously believed that if they weren’t doing it for money, they must have been doing it for pleasure.
Fantasies reduce motivation
If you’ve ever felt sad or unmotivated, you may have fantasized about the future – like lying on a beach in the Bahamas, or just succeeding in the thing you were worried about in the first place. We like to believe that this helps us motivate us towards that particular goal. However, psychologists have said that this doesn’t actually work (Sorry). They have found that having a taste of the fantasy in the present reduces our drive to then go and achieve that goal. It also ignores the problems we may face on our way towards that goal.
Two (or more…) heads are not always better than one
When it comes to school, college, work, and even friendship groups, it can often be the case that we all have to work together because two, or more, heads are better than one, right? Well, this doesn’t work. Psychologists have concluded that brainstorming actually makes people lazy. These brainstorming sessions tend to make people forget their own ideas when others talk, worry about what others will think of their ideas, and not even bother because someone else probably knows the answer. Sound familiar?
Incredible multi-tasking skills
The human brain is a wonderful thing. With training, we can teach ourselves pretty much anything. Psychologists have now discovered that we can actually teach ourselves to read and write at the same time! The study in question trained two people to categorize a list of words and read a story over the course of 16 weeks – and at the end of it, they could do both. What’s more, they performed as well as they would if they were focusing on just one task. Incredible.
It’s all about the little things
When we look at other people’s lives, and our own, we normally float over the little things and focus on the big life events – like graduating from college, getting your first job, getting married, buying a house or having your first child. However, psychologists have found that these big events are not as important as the everyday, little things that happen in our lives. Some of the main things that affect human beings’ happiness are relationships with friends and family, the ups and downs of work, and our quality of sleep.