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25 Fascinating Psychological Effects Most of Us Don’t Know About

fascinating psychological effects most of us dont know about

a. Selective attention bias: Observing information or things which are important to us while ignoring the rest.

b. Confirmation bias: Seeking information which supports our beliefs and perceptions while avoiding existing evidence that may counter our beliefs.

Related: 15 Common Cognitive Distortions That Twist Your Thinking

8. Tetris Effect

Also called the Tetris syndrome, this psychological phenomenon occurs when we focus our attention on a specific activity for long periods of time and it starts to affect our thought patterns, perceptions, dreams and mental visual imagery. The name is derived from the popular video game called Tetris. It was observed that players, who played the game for extended periods of time, observed shapes and forms in the real world which can be arranged and placed together, similar to the game. They also experienced hypnagogic imagery and saw colored shapes moving around while on the brink of sleep. This showed that the minds of the players kept playing even after they had exited the game.

Among all the psychological effects, this is perhaps the most bizarre as it is influenced by playing a game, where the person is unable to consciously prevent such thoughts, dreams or mental images from occurring. In fact, studies have found that playing tetris can help to reduce intrusive memories after a traumatic experience. Tetris has been proposed as a preventive intervention to reduce intrusive memories of a traumatic event.” explains a recent 2020 study.

9. Hot-Cold Empathy Gap

Also known simply as the empathy gap, it is a cognitive bias where we tend to underestimate the impact of mental states on our behaviors, attitudes, preferences and decision making skills and how they focus only on meeting our current feelings and state of being. Research shows that “people mispredict their own behavior and preferences across affective states.” When someone is in an emotionally “cold” state, they are unlikely to realize how “hot” states may affect their behavior and preferences. However, when in a “hot” state, they may underestimate the influence of such states and hence, “overestimate the stability of their current preferences.” According to a 2013 study, hot-cold empathy gaps occur as we tend to ignore or underestimate the influence of (mostly aversive) visceral factors that are presently not experienced, while making decisions. 

When experiencing a visceral state, like intense feelings, drug cravings, thirst, hunger or sexual desire, we typically focus on goals related to our present state and devalue the significance of other goals. The study explains “when people are in an affective cold state (e.g., not experiencing thirst or craving at the moment), they do not accurately estimate how much such visceral states (hot states) will change their preference and behavior, hence the term hot-cold empathy gap.” For instance, a smoker, who is not craving a cigarette at the moment, may grossly downplay how greatly they may desire a cigarette when they enter a high craving state later. This cognitive bias reveals that our understanding is primarily “state-dependent.

10. Spotlight Effect

When at a party, do you believe that everyone is staring at you? The spotlight effect may be one of the lesser known psychological effects but it is commonly experienced by individuals suffering from social anxiety. The spotlight effect is a tendency to assume that others observe and judge our appearance, behavior, flaws and mistakes more than they actually do. One study explains that “People overestimate the extent to which their actions and appearance are noted by others, a phenomenon dubbed the spotlight effect.

This effect makes us overestimate the volume of people who notice us and makes us feel we are under a spotlight which highlights our faults. According to a 2002 study, When people commit an embarrassing blunder, they typically overestimate how harshly they will be judged by others.” This mainly occurs as intrinsically we pay more attention towards our own selves than others but we tend to forget that that the same principle is applicable to everyone else. Regardless, this phenomenon can lead to a lot of social anxiety in individuals with this mental bias.

Related: 25 Amazing Psychological Facts That Will Boggle Your Mind

25 Fascinating Psychological Effects Most of Us Don't Know About
25 Fascinating Psychological Effects Most of Us Don't Know About
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Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts