The more you know, the better, right? But what happens when you cross the line between what is normal into the realm of the abnormal? Simple. You dive into a wonderful world of the weird.
While there are aspects of human behavior that you share with every other person on the planet, others are a bit more unique. Some even border the almost unbelievable. There’s nothing more exciting than feeding your inner curious cat, so what’s stopping you?
Get ready to go on a journey through a collection of weird psychological facts that’ll make you read twice.
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27 Weird Psychological Facts
From realizing that it’s actually not uncommon to feel as if you’re being watched or finding out that there are people who think they’re cows, psychology can be weird. Time to strap yourself in. These weird psychological facts make for a wild ride.
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1. The Feeling That Someone Is Staring at You Isn’t Random
Everyone has experienced this phenomenon at one time or another. That eerie feeling you get when, suddenly, you are convinced someone is watching you. This is known as “gaze detection”, a psychological trait most people share.
While psychologists aren’t entirely sure why it happens, it occurs throughout a person’s day and sometimes even at night. Studies have shown that, on average, you’ll wake up about six times during the night, with one of those times courtesy of gaze detection.
So, an unwanted stare can interrupt your peaceful sleep, although it probably isn’t a ghost.
2. Being Able to Express Yourself Online Lowers Your Inhibition
As a species, humans have never had the freedom to express themselves as freely as they can now, but it’s having an odd side effect. Called the “Online Disinhibition Effect”, your inhibitions are lowered thanks to your ability to say basically anything on the internet.
Psychologists have observed that this is becoming a global phenomenon. People are more comfortable expressing an out-of-character opinion based on emotions like anger via platforms like Facebook.
It’s the concept of digital anonymity. Even when your name and face are displayed, you’ll often not hesitate to say (or type) whatever you feel.
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3. You’ll Succeed More by Replacing “I Will” With “Will I?”
There are many hacks to becoming more successful, but one has been puzzling psychologists for decades. A University of Illinois study showed that when you say “I will, ” your mind fires off a few motivating neural pathways.
However, when participants replaced it with the question “Will I?”, those same neural networks, along with several others, flared and kept doing so. A question always warrants an answer, and your brain is programmed to try and find or create one.
This context has led many to believe that when making life choices or setting up goals, it’s better to formulate it as a mental question.
4. The Origin of “Having Your Head Examined”
Have you ever been told to “have your head examined” or overheard someone being told to “have their head looked at”? What is today a societal phrase (often said jokingly) was, during the 1800s, a massive psychological discipline.
It was called phrenology and was extremely popular in the United States and Europe. This school of thought and its followers believed that a person’s personality traits could be determined by studying the patterns of bumps on a person’s head.
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5. If You Want Better Relationships, Ask for Favors
This one might benefit you if you’re an introvert and can help you create more meaningful relationships. “The Ben Franklin Effect” is a psychological occurrence that revolves around the doing or receiving of favors.
Based on your brain’s cognitive bias to develop a certain feeling for someone, when you view someone negatively, doing them a favor can turn your overall view of that person into a positive one.
It works the other way around as well. If a person views you in a bad light, you improve their perception of you when you do something for them.
6. You Can’t Develop Schizophrenia If You’re Born Blind
In the ever-expanding landscape of schizophrenia facts, a few continue to go unexplained. One of these is that there has never been a documented case of someone born blind developing this mental disorder.
While there isn’t a concrete answer yet, many believe slight differences exist in how a person born blind represents their internal world (mental state). This also ties into how they perceive their mental stability, creating a shield against it.
As it turns out, people born with the ability to see and then go blind during their lives have shown a higher chance of developing a psychological imbalance.
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7. Empathy Dwindles If You’re Part of a Group
There seems to be a lot of truth to the famous Edmund Burke quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Consequently, this concept says a lot about psychology and society.
Called “The Bystander Effect”, it appears that when part of a group, your ability to have empathy for someone in need, or even to act out to help them, decreases significantly. Oddly enough, the bigger the group, the less likely you are to intervene.
First observed in the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964, who was stabbed to death while dozens reportedly looked on and did nothing, it has since become a popular field of study.
8. If You Want to Get a Date, Get a Dog
As if there wasn’t enough to be said about female attraction, one of the weirdest things also happens to be one most men have first-hand experience with. Men (and people in general) who own dogs as pets seem to be luckier in love.
According to a New York Times article, people will perceive someone who has a dog more positively. Those who have canine companions come off as more approachable, empathetic, and happier, increasing their attractiveness.
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9. There’s a Reason You Might See a Face in an Inanimate Object
Ironically enough, you shouldn’t always believe what you see, as your eyes sometimes lie to you unintentionally. Technically, it’s not your eyes but your mind that causes you to see a face in something like a fruit or a piece of clothing.
It’s called pareidolia. In simple terms, it’s your brain’s ambiguous perception of a random shape. According to psychologists, this reaction is enhanced after an influx of environmental events.
This explains why, after watching a scary movie, waking up at night and the first thing you see is a monstrous face staring at you when it’s just a jacket on the chair.
10. Fear Can Actually Kill You
Fear is a normal human emotion, and everyone knows what it’s like to be so scared you feel your heart jumping out of your chest. While there is scientific research to back up that fear can sometimes be good for you, too much of it can kill you.
And as strange as death by excess fear seems, it’s more common than you’d think. The sudden impact of fear on your body releases adrenaline into your body, and it mainly and actively affects your heart.
Adrenaline increases calcium uptake to the heart, which causes an irregular heartbeat, particularly for those with underlying heart issues, and, if not lowered immediately, can be fatal.
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11. You Shouldn’t Always Trust What You’re Seeing
Above and beyond pareidolia and its unwanted effect on your brain, the Troxler effect is far worse. The urban legend of seeing a monster staring back at you if you gaze into your reflection in a mirror in a dimly lit room is the basis of this phenomenon.
Scarily enough, it’s not just a myth, as philosopher Ignaz Troxler discovered, and it’s now been studied and documented by psychologists. Your brain gets bored quite quickly, and if given enough time (10 minutes), it begins to distort what you see.
Recently, a study observed people under the effects of this occurrence; 48% reported seeing a monster, and 28% saw someone they’d never met.
12. iPhone Users Think Differently About Themselves
Definitely on the weirder side of things; as it turns out, individuals with an iPhone tend to view themselves differently from others. In today’s world, a smartphone is very much an extension of one’s personality.
A 2016 study conducted by the University of Lincoln delivered a few surprising findings. Users of the Apple flagship phone consider it a representation of their social and economic status, making them more self-conscious and extroverted.
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13. Everyone Deals With the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
Isn’t it strange when you read something about the hottest new name in pop music and hear their latest song an hour later on the radio? Then, a few hours later, you see a news article about them, and then they’re all over your social media feed.
While the jury is still out on whether the government is spying on you, the above is known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon or the Frequency Illusion. It’s based on your brain learning something new and, without your knowledge, starts looking for it everywhere you go.
Then your automatic confirmation bias kicks in, and boom, everything you see is suddenly plastered with new info about what you’ve just learned.
14. You Probably Can’t Read Lips As Well As You Think
Welcome to the McGurk Effect, or when you see someone’s mouth move but can’t make out what they’re saying. What happens next is your eyes and ears get somewhat confused, and what you hear isn’t at all what the other person said.
As important as body language is, without a clear indication of what someone is saying, what your mind interprets is often not what is actually audible. Instead, your mind creates a third nonexistent sound.
So, next time you’re in a crowded room, don’t rely on your ability to read lips to help you carry a conversation, or “I love you” will quickly turn into “elephant shoe”.
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15. Deja Vu Isn’t What You Think It Is
There’s much to be said about past lives, and while many brush it off, many use deja vu as the prime example of a life lived already. However, deja vu, or the feeling of having lived through a moment before, isn’t psychologically a recollection of a previous life.
It’s actually just your brain identifying familiarity or aiming to create it in a new situation. Using contextual cues, your mind tries to piece something you see for the first time to a previous memory, such as a stack of t-shirts in a clothing store.
Years after first seeing it, you move to a new city and see an identical shirt stack, almost like a dream you had; you feel like you’ve lived that moment before.
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16. Is Your Idea Original, or Do You Suffer From Cryptomnesia?
The term “Cryptomnesia”, invented by doctors Alan Brown and Dana Murphy in 1989, might explain why so many “new” ideas seem oddly similar to existing ones. After conducting three separate studies, they concluded that your brain always borrows ideas.
You could say you’re unintentionally stealing someone else’s concept. Your mind takes what already exists and transforms or tweaks it into a brand-new idea. Technically, you’re not lying when you call it an original thought or creation, but it’s just “subconscious plagiarism”.
17. Your Dreams Are Often More Important Than Your Conscious Thoughts
Your dreams, from outlandish visions of other worlds to dreaming of someone intimately, are a lot more critical than you may think. Sure, dreams won’t make much in terms of movie material, but according to psychology, you shouldn’t brush them off.
Up to 70% of what you witness during a dream can contain secret messages or information that your mind stores in your short-term memory. These are usually things that you’ve experienced while awake but didn’t take note of.
Your hippocampus then fires off a barrage of images, and your neocortex weaves them together, creating vivid scenes and clearing up space for new info when you wake up.
You might enjoy reading my article on interesting facts about the human body.
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18. Thinking Your Phone Vibrated Is the Phantom Vibration Syndrome
Unsurprisingly, everyone is obsessed with their phones in the modern world. The intense need to text someone you like or the constant doom-scrolling before bedtime has become the new norm.
With all of these distractions from life, there’s one phenomenon that you’re experiencing that no other generation has before. Known as “Phantom Vibration Syndrome”, it’s the false thinking that your smartphone vibrated when it didn’t.
This tactile hallucination is associated with a fresh addition to human addictions – excessive mobile phone use.
19. Some People Believe Their Lives Are Reality Shows
Considering all of the advances in technology you see daily, it shouldn’t be surprising when, one day, real life becomes a reality show. However, some people already actively believe that their lives are the source material for television.
Remember the 1998 movie “The Truman Show”? Although complete fiction at the time, it gave rise to a bizarre psychological syndrome called “The Truman Syndrome”. Considered a delusional state, people who suffer from it think their lives are staged TV shows.
You don’t have to worry too much, though, as it is not associated with continuous psychosis and seldom affects rational thinking.
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20. Some Men Suffer From Hikikomori
The idea of extreme social withdrawal, often a side effect of depression, seems to be more prevalent in men and, oddly enough, the male population of Japan. Referred to as “Hikikomori,” the number of those suffering from it is rising.
Those who experience it become recluses, confiding themselves to their home or bedroom for months. In extreme cases, it lasts for years, where the person will never leave their immediate surroundings, sacrificing school, work, or even medical emergencies.
21. Your Brain Defaults to Going to the Beach As Your Initial Vacation Idea
When thinking of your upcoming vacation, does heading to the beach pop up as one of your first ideas? There’s a reason for that. Psychologists have for decades known that the sight of water triggers many emotions in the human brain.
Seeing the ocean has been linked to increases in happiness and a sense of calmness, even boosting creativity. It’s not just the sight of water, though, as simply listening to the waves activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
This results in feelings of relaxation, accompanied by the negative ions in the sea breeze, which boosts your overall mood.
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22. Pronoia Is the Exact Opposite of Paranoia
Being paranoid about something isn’t a new concept, and you’re bound to experience it at one time or another. The belief that there are people around you conspiring to cause your downfall or failure, often a symptom of bipolar disorder, affects many individuals.
In contrast to paranoia, some people experience its exact opposite – pronoia. This delusional state happens when you are convinced that a particular group of people is plotting to aid your success.
It’s a scarce phenomenon, but those who go through it have noted feeling extreme levels of serenity, amusement, and confidence.
23. Dissociative Identity Disorder Affects 1.5% of the Population
As unique as each person on the planet is, there are common personality traits that everyone shares. Similarly to this, there are psychological disorders shared by numerous people, but some are very rare.
One of these is Dissociative Identity Disorder, which revolves around more than one distinct personality identity within one individual. It is often misdiagnosed, but the most well-known example is that of Billy Milligan.
Born in Florida in 1955, psychologists identified 24 unique personalities residing inside his mind, two of which committed violent crimes.
24. There Are More Than 500 Identified Phobias
While you can have a phobia of almost everything around you, did you know that there are over 500 recognized psychological phobias? These range from common ones such as claustrophobia and arachnophobia to phasmophobia.
Then there are the more weird ones. Linonophobia is the fear of string, lachanophobia is the fear of vegetables, and chaetophobia is the fear of hair. Probably the most ironic one is hippopotomonstroses-quippedaliophobia or the fear of long words.
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25. Some People Think They Are Decomposing or Dead
As strange as it sounds, some people are convinced that one or more of their body parts are dead, dying, or nonexistent. Psychologists refer to this rare condition as “Cotard’s syndrome”.
Other names are “Walking corpse syndrome” or, in isolated cases, “Phantom limb syndrome”. This nihilistic delusion, while not a nod at the existence of ghosts, can occur in people with elevated belief in the paranormal or those who deal with severe depression.
26. Some People Even Believe They Are Cows
As if believing that your body is decomposing isn’t strange enough, there have been recorded cases of men and women who think they are a cow or an ox. It’s known as Boanthropy and has been around longer than modern psychology.
The biblical King Nebuchadnezzar was the first known case in the Neo-Babylonian Empire of 605 BC to 562 BC. More recently, in 1946, Dr. Raymond Harrison recorded a case of Boanthropy in England.
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27. It’s Somewhat Normal to Want to Jump From a High Place
Have you ever walked over a bridge and suddenly felt the urge to jump off it? Well, then you’ve experienced what is known as the “high place phenomenon”, and you’ll be relieved to know it’s more common than you think.
The idea originated alongside the psychological pattern of suicidal ideation, and for a long time, psychologists considered it a symptom of the disorder. Since then, it has been classified as an intrusive thought and a mild side effect of obsessive-compulsive disorder.