The research comes out every day that helps illuminate why were are the way we are. And while some psychological studies provide us with fairly banal psychology facts (for example, one University of Rochester study confirmed that—get ready for it—people are happier on the weekend), others are truly enlightening.
Herein, we’ve rounded up the psychology facts that explain human nature—and just might shed some light on a few of the patterns you notice in yourself and others. From why you think food tastes better when someone else makes it to why you always see human faces in inanimate objects, these are the mind-blowing psychology facts that explain everything.
If we have a plan B, our plan A is less likely to work.
Every now and then, it hurts to be prepared. In a series of experiments from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that when volunteers thought about a backup plan before starting a task, they did worse than those who hadn’t thought about a plan B. What’s more, when they realized they had options, their motivation for succeeding the first time around dropped. The researchers stress that thinking ahead is a good idea, but you might be more successful if you keep those plans vague.
Fear can feel good—if we’re not really in danger.
Not everyone loves scary movies, but for the people who do, there are a few theories as to why—the main one coming down to hormones. When you’re watching a scary movie or walking through a haunted house, you get all the adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine from a fight-or-flight response, but no matter how scared you feel, your brain recognizes that you’re not really in danger—so you get that natural high without the risk.
“Catching” a yawn could help us bond.
Why do you yawn when someone else does, even if you aren’t tired? There are a few theories about why yawning is contagious, but one of the leading ones is that it shows empathy. People who are less likely to show empathy—such as toddlers who haven’t learned it yet or young people with autism—are also less likely to yawn in reaction to someone else’s.