Sunday, April 29

4 Powerful Tips for Breaking Bad Habits

1. Replace The Old Bad Habit With a New And Advisedly Good Habit
When you quit a bad habit such as smoking or drinking too much coffee in the morning, you create a hole in your daily routine. It is very important to find a new habit to fill that hole. Concentrating on an another activity helps to fight temptation. Start going jogging or pick up some other new healthy habit that you find interesting.

2. Motivate Yourself
Sit down and write a list of all the aspects of your life that will benefit from breaking the bad habit. Carry the list with you at all times. Whenever you feel tempted to return to the bad habit, read the list and think about how far you have already come. Do you really want to throw all that away? No? Good!

3. Use Social Pressure
Tell your friends, family, coworkers or classmates about what you are doing. This way you will feel more obliged to commit to the plan and not give up.

4. Look Ahead, Not The Now
Don't focus your mind on the bad habit and the fact that you are trying to break it. Focus your mind on other things. Move on! 

Saturday, April 28

What Does Your Taste in Music Say About Your Personality?

 If we took a glimpse into someone's bedroom or office, it would provide us with clues about that someone's habits and character. But what about scrolling through someone's iPod playlist? Could a person's musical preferences reveal information about his or her personality? Well according to the psychologists Jason Rentfrow (of the University of Cambridge in the UK) and Sam Gosling (from the University of Texas), a person's taste in music can tell a great deal about his or her personality.

For example, researches showed that people could make accurate judgments about an individual's levels of extraversion, creativity and open-mindedness after listening to ten of their favorite songs. The study showed that extraverts tend to prefer songs with heavy bass line and those who enjoy more complex styles such as jazz and classical music tend to be more creative and intelligent.

Another study conducted by researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, looked at more than 36,000 participants from all over the world. Participants were asked to rate more than 104 different musical styles in addition to offering information about aspects of their personality.

So what did they find out? 

The following are some of the personality traits linked to certain musical styles.

Do you like to watch MTV? Are you happy listening to the top 40 hits? Do you like the latest songs from Rihanna and Selena Gomez? If you do, then chances are that you tend to be extraverted, honest and conventional. The research also suggests that while pop music lovers are hard-working and have a high self-esteem, they tend to be less creative and more uneasy.

Rap and Hip-Hop
Despite the stereotype that rap and hip-hop lovers are aggressive and violent, researchers have found no links between aggressiveness and the aforementioned music styles. Although, what the researchers did find was that people who like to listen to rap and hip-hop tend to have high self-esteem and are usually outgoing

Do you prefer CMT to MTV? People who like country music are typically hardworking, conventional and outgoing. Alhtough, country songs are often centered on heartbreak, people who like to listen to country music tend to be emotionally stable.

Rock and Heavy Metal
In spite of the sometimes aggressive image that rock and heavy metal project, researchers found the fans of these music styles to be quite gentle. Fans of rock and heavy metal also tend to be creative, but they are often introverted and may even suffer from low self-esteem.

Fans of the indie genre are typically introverted, intellectual and creative. However, on the downside, researchers found indie fans to be less hard-working and less gentle. Passivity, anxiousness and low self-esteem are other common characteristics of indie fans.

Do you prefer to listen to the fast-paced rhythms of dance music? Researchers found that people who prefer dance music are usually outgoing and assertive.

Classical Music
Admirers of classical music are typically more introverted, but they are also at ease with themselves and the world around them. They are usually creative people with a good sense of self-esteem.

Jazz, Blues and Soul Music
Fans of jazz, blues or soul music were found to be more extraverted with high self-esteem. They also tend to be creative, intelligent and at ease.

According to researcher Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, the reason people sometimes intend to get defensive about their taste in music might be related to how much it relates to attitudes and personality. "People do actually define themselves through music and relate to other people through it but we haven’t known in detail how music is connected to identity," he explained.

Image from

Sunday, April 22

What Your Dog's Breed Says About You

Why are we drawn towards certain dog breeds? Does it have something to do with who we are? If so, then can we tell something about a dog owner's personality based on his or her dog's breed?  Well, a new study suggests exactly that.

 Researchers at Bath Spa University in Bath, England, conducted an online questionnaire for a thousand dog owners that revealed that a person’s choice of dog breed is likely to indicate how they rank in the five common personality traits – conscientiousness, intelligence and creativity, emotional stability, extroversion and agreeableness.

 The study split the 210 pedigree dog breeds recognized by the Kennel Club into their seven official groups (utility, toy, pastoral, gundog, hound, working and terrier) and found that when it came to dog ownership:

• Pastoral and Utility breed owners score highest on ‘Extroversion’
• Gundogs and Toy owners are highest on ‘Agreeableness’
• Utility dog owners top score on ‘Conscientiousness’
• Hound dog owners have the highest ‘Emotional Stability’
• Toy dog owners come out highest on ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Creativity’

 According to the study, extroverted owners are more likely to opt for pastoral and utility breeds and the most creative and intelligent people are likely to opt for toy breeds, such as Chihuahuas.

Dr Workman, senior lecturer and subject leader for psychology at Bath Spa University, said: "This study indicates that we might be able to make predictions about someone’s personality based on the breed of dog that they choose to own. It seems that likely that personality types are subconsciously drawn to certain breeds."

Image from

Thursday, April 19

Evolution of Prejudice: Research reveals beginnings of racism in monkeys

 Us and them. Right and wrong. Familiar and foreign. We have a strong tendency to pigeonhole people and to be prejudiced towards others based on their group affiliations, race, ethnic origin, religious beliefs and other factors. And we do not know why is that so. Psychologists have long known that many of our prejudices operate automatically, but why are we prone to prejudice in the first place? Well, new research, using monkeys, suggests that the roots of prejudice lie deep in our evolutionary past.

 Yale graduate student Neha Mahajan and a team of psychologists went to the uninhabited Puerto Rico island of Cayo Santiago, also known as "Monkey Island", to study the behaviour of rhesus monkeys. Because like humans, rhesus monkeys live in groups and form social bonds.
 To see whether monkeys distinguish between insiders (part of the group) and outsiders (part of another group), the researchers measured the amount of time the monkeys stared at photographed face of an insider versus the outsider monkey. Across several experiments, the researchers found that the monkeys stared longer at the faces of outsiders suggesting that they were more wary.  

 To make sure that monkeys did not stare longer at the faces of outsiders out of simple curiosity, the team of psychologists paired familiar outsider faces (monkeys that had recently left the group) with monkeys which had recently joined. Even though in this test the monkeys were more familiar with the faces of the outsiders than they were with the faces of the insiders, they continued to stare longer at the faces of the outsiders.
 These tests show that monkeys clearly are making distinctions based on group affiliations.

 In order to find out whether the animals also had negative feelings towards the outsiders or not, Mahajan and her colleagues paired the photos of insider and outsider monkeys with either good things, such as fruits, or bad things, such as spiders. When a photo of an insiders face was paired with a fruit, or a photo of an outsiders face was paired with a spider, the monkeys lost interest fast. However, when a photo of an insiders face was paired with a spider, the monkeys looked longer. The researches assumed that the monkeys found it confusing when something good was paired with something bad. 

 This research is believed to suggest that monkeys do not only distinguish between insiders and outsiders, but they also associate insiders with good things and outsiders with bad things. And that overall, the results of this research support an evolutionary basis of prejudice.

Thursday, April 12

14 Strange Mental Disorders

  I have put together a list of strange disorders. Although some of these strange disorders and syndromes may seem unbelievable, they are all real and serious conditions. Fortunately, most of these strange disorders are rather rare and not many people suffer from them.

1. Stockholm Syndrome - "Being kidnapped isn't that bad because the kidnappers are actually pretty darn sweet peeps."
It's a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors. Hostages who have Stockholm Syndrome often mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness and defend them after they are arrested.

The FBI's Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of kidnap victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome.
The syndrome is named after the robbery of Kreditbanken in Stockholm, in which bank employees were held hostages from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, victims became emotionally attached to their captors, even defended them after they were freed from the bank.
There also is a syndrome called Lima Syndrome, in which abductors develop sympathy for their hostages. It's named after an abduction at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru in 1996, where most of the hostages were set free within a few hours, due to sympathy.

2. Capgras delusion theory - "Somebody who looks exactly like my wife is claiming that she is my wife. But I know that she is lying."
It's a strange disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse or close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.
The Capgras delusion is named after a Joseph Capgras, a French psychiatrist, who first described the disorder in 1929 in his paper co-authored by Reboul Lachaux on the case of a French woman who complained that corresponding "doubles" had taken the places of her husband and other people she knew.

3. The Fregoli Delusion or the delusion of doubles - "I don't believe that I have two friends, just one who sometimes likes to change his appearance to look like the other."
It's pretty much the opposite of the Capgras delusion. A rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise.
The condition is named after the Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli who was renowned for his ability to make quick changes of appearance during his stage act.

4. Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome aka Todd's syndrome - "Oh wow, what a trip!"
It's a disorienting neurological condition that affects human perception. A temporary condition that is often associated with migraines, brain tumors and the use of psychoactive drugs.
A sufferer may feel that part of their body shape or size has been altered and perceive that other humans, animals and objects are smaller than in reality.

5. Celebriphilia - an intense desire to have a romantic relationship with a celebrity. Remember that just a little teenage crush on a celebrity doesn't make you a celebriphil. You can consider yourself a celebriphil If you are totally obsessed with the idea of having romantic relationship with a famouse person.

6. Alien hand syndrome aka Dr. Strangelove syndrome - when one of your hands starts to mind its own business.
It's a neurological disorder in which the afflicted person's hand appears to take on a mind of its own. Alien hand can perform complex acts such as undoing buttons and use tools on its own.
It may occur after brain surgery, strokes, infections and extreme case of epilepsy.

7. Hybristophilia - "OMG! That serial killer on death row is so darn fine!"
It's a paraphilia involving being sexually aroused or attracted to people who have committed an outrage or a gruesome crime. In pop culture, it's also known as Bonnie and Clyde syndrome.
For an example, Ian Huntley, the man charged with the Soham murders, gets bundles of fan mail every day.

8. Münchausen syndrome aka hospital addiction syndrome or hospital hopper syndrome.
It's a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness or psychological trauma to draw attention or sympathy to themselves.
The syndrome is named after Baron Münchhausen, a German nobleman, who purportedly told many fantastic and impossible stories about himself, which Rudolf Raspe later published as The Surprising Adventures of Baron Münchhausen.

9. Irregular repetitive speech syndrome aka foreign accent syndrome.
It's a very rare medical condition involving speech repetition that usually occurs as a side effect to severe brain injury. Those suffering from condition pronounce their native language with an accent that to listeners may be mistaken as foreign or dialectical.
There have been 60 recorded cases in between 1941 and 2009.

10. Koro aka genital retraction syndrome or shrinking penis.
It's a culture-specific syndrome from Southeast Asia in which the person has an overpowering belief that his penis or other genitalia is shrinking and will shortly disappear. For females, the belief focuses on nipples retracting or shrinking.
There have even been cases of koro occurring amongst many people at the same time. That is called penis panic.
11. The Cotard delusion aka Cotard's syndrome or walking corpse syndrome.
It is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which the sufferers hold a delusional belief that they are dead, do not exist, are putrefying or have lost their blood or internal organs. Sometimes it can even include delusion of immortality.
The syndrome is named after a French neurologist, Jules Cotard who first described the condition in 1880. Cotard described a patient who denied the existence of God, the Devil, several parts of her body, and her need to eat. She believed that she was eternally damned and could not die a natural death. She later died of starvation.

12. Depersonalization disorder - when life is like watching a demo clip of a video game, instead of playing it yourself.
It is a dissociative disorder in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent feelings of depersonalization and/or derealization. The sufferers feel like they are going through the motions of life but don't experience it and feel as if they are in a movie. They feel disconnected from their bodies and find relating oneself to reality and the environment very difficult.
Remember that occasional moments of depersonalization are totally normal.

 13. Reduplicative paramnesia - "They have moved me into another house, although they made it look just like mine, I know it's just a duplicate"
It is a rare delusional belief that a place or location has been duplicated, existing in two or more places in the same time, or has been relocated to another site.
It is associated with brain injuries.

14. Pica - "Oh wow, that rock looks delicious!"
It's an strange eating disorder where a sufferer will consume things that are not considered nutritive nor edible. They may consume rocks, hair, dirt, buttons and so on. Pica can lead to surgical emergencies and intoxication.
Pica can be from a cultural tradition, acquired taste or a neurological mechanism such as an iron deficiency, or chemical imbalance. Pica has also been linked to mental disability.
Pica is named after the Latin word for magpie, a bird, that is known to eat almost anything.

Saturday, April 7

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on deferred gratification conducted in 1972 by Walter Mischel of Standford University. The purpose of the study was to understand when the control of deferred gratification, the ability to wait to obtain something that one desires, develops in children.
 The children were led to sit by a table in a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice (marshmallow, Oreo cookie or pretzel stick) was placed in front of them. The children were then told that they can eat the marshmallow (or the Oreo cookie or pretzel stick), but if they waited for 15 minutes, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.
In over 600 kids who took part in the experiment, only a minority ate the marshmallow immediately. Of those who attempted to wait, one-third deferred gratification long enough to get the second marshmallow.
 Follow-up studies, in 1988 and 1990, showed that "preschool children who delayed gratification longer in the self-imposed delay paradigm, were described more than 10 years later by their parents as adolescents who were significantly more competent" and that the ability to delay gratification also correlated with higher SAT scores.
 There are few filmed reproductions of the marshmallow experiment up on YouTube. Let's watch one and see how kids try to resist marshmallow temptation. It's fun, I promise!

Sunday, April 1

Barnum Statements

Phineas Taylor Barnum

In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a personality test to his students and told them that they are each receiving a unique analysis based on the test's results which he asked the studends to rate on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) on how well it applied to themselves. However, each student actually received the same analysis:  
"You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life."
 The students did not know that they had received identical copies assembled by Forer from various horoscopes till after rating the analysis. On average, the rating that students gave to the analysis was 4.26.

As you can see the analysis consisted of various statements that could easily apply equally to anyone. These statements were later named Barnum statements.

Further studies on Barnum Statements have found that subjects give higher accuracy ratings only if the subject believes that the analysis applies to him or her, the subject believes in the authority of the evaluator and the analysis lists mainly positive traits.

In today's world barnum statements are a widely used tool. Newspaper astrologers - horoscope writers - use barnum statements to make their thin made-up facts apply to as large an audience as possible. Barnum statements are also widely used among mentalists, psychics, fortune-teller and illusionists.

Why do people believe barnum statements?

People intend to believe these statements because they are usually so generally worded that there practically is nothing to disagree with.

If you want to read more about Barnum Statements, I would recommend an article by EZ Psychology - Barnum Statements.

If you want to experience the forer effect then try this test put together merely to demonstrate the forer effect and Barnum statements.