The human psychology is a vast realm that is still being explored today, and with every new finding comes a new surprise to how little we know about ourselves.
Throughout history, psychology has evolved so much, and there have been many experiments and studies that have completely altered the way we perceive ourselves. But perhaps these 4 were one of the most significant.
- The “Door” Study
The phenomenon of ‘change blindness’ demonstrates just how unaware we can be of the things that are happening in front of our eyes.
In this experiment, researches targeted unsuspecting people in the street, who were asked for directions. While one of the researchers were asking for directions, workers hauling a large wooden door would pass between the student and the researcher.
As they pass, the researchers would switch places and continue listening to the person’s directions. Around half of the participants in this experiment didn’t notice that the person asking for directions had changed.
- The Stanford Prison Experiment
This is one of the most famous and at the same time one of the most unethical experiments in existence. The results from this experiment show just how much human behavior can be affected by the environment.
In this experiment, 24 undergraduate students, without a criminal background, were put in a fake prison. Some were given the role of being guards, while others were tagged as the inmates.
After just six days of its duration, the experiment turned so violent, it had to be cut short.
Dr. Zimbardo, who was the initiator of the experiment, said that ‘the guards’ had escalated their aggression against ‘the prisoners’. They had stripped the prisoners naked, put bags over their heads, and finally had them engage in “increasingly humiliating sexual activities.”
- The Harvard Grant Study
This is the longest study of adult development ever made. It primarily focused on what makes us truly happy. What did it find after over 75 years? Good, quality relationships contribute to a happier, healthier, and longer life.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development began in 1938 and it originally focused on 700 men from different backgrounds. Today, after 79 years, the study has included the participants’ families and is still searching for more answers.
- Cognitive Dissonance Experiments
Cognitive dissonance is a form of social comparison, in which people evaluate their opinion and desires by comparing themselves to others. Based on the general ‘truth’ that is presented to them, they will quickly adapt their attitudes and beliefs to the reality they are trying to associate with.
In one experiment, participants were given the task to do mundane and boring tasks. They were divided in groups and were given an additional task afterwards. Both groups were given the task to present the task as interesting to the following set of groups.
The difference was that the first group was given $1 for the job of presenting the task, while the other were given $20 for the same.
The experiment showed that the $1 group had to convince themselves that the tasks were fun, while the $20 group presented it as fun, but did it for the money and didn’t find the tasks fun at all.
The study concluded that people who were persuaded to lie, without given enough justification, would perform that task by convincing themselves of the falsehood, rather than telling a lie, and thus dissociate themselves from their own reality.
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