7 Mind-Blowing Facts About Social Psychology You May Not Know

Social psychology is an extremely interesting topic that has yielded a great deal of research on how people behave in groups.


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1. What our eyes see is not what our brain ends up with – We think that we are walking around looking at the world around us with our eyes, and that our eyes are sending information to the brain which processes it and gives us a realistic experience of “what’s out there”. But the truth is that what our brain comes up with is not exactly what our eyes are actually seeing.

2. The great interpreter – Our brain is constantly interpreting everything it sees. Take, for example, the picture below:


What do you see? Your first reaction is probably that you are looking at a triangle with a black border in the background, and a white triangle upside down on top of it. Of course that’s not really what is there, is it? What’s there are some partial lines and some partial circles. Your brain creates the shape of an upside down triangle out of blank space, because that is what it is expecting to see. This particular illusion is called a Kanizsa triangle, named after an Italian psychologist (G. Kanizsa) that first came up with it in 1955.

3. Shortcuts to the world – Our brains create these shortcuts in order to try and quickly make sense out of the world around us. There are so many (millions) of sensory inputs coming into our brain every second, that it has to try to make it all make sense. So it uses rules of thumb, and extrapolates what it has experience with, to make guesses about what it is seeing. Most of the time that works, but sometimes it causes errors.

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4. People are great at recognizing patterns – Recognizing patterns helps you make quick sense of all the sensory input that comes to you every second. Your eyes and your brain will want to create patterns, even if there are no real patterns there. Your brain wants to see patterns.

5. Individual cells respond to certain shapes – In 1959, two researchers, Hubel and Wiesel showed that there are individual cells in the visual cortex of your brain that respond only to horizontal lines, other cells that respond only to vertical lines, other cells that respond to edges, and cells that respond only to certain angles. (In 1981 Hubel and Wiesel won a Nobel price for their work on vision).

6. The Memory Bank Theory – Even with Hubel and Wiesel’s work in 1959, for many years the prevailing theory of pattern recognition was that you have a memory bank that stores millions of objects, and when you see an object you compare it with all the items in your memory bank until you find the one that matches.

7. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader – This combined with the Bandwagon effect will lead to a greater fan following for the leader, here’s how:

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