Tuesday, February 19, 2013

These Explain A Lot

Full disclosure: I am not a psychologist or a sociologist or an economist – at all, by any stretch.

Over the years, however, I have picked up concepts from all those fields that have just stuck.

They stuck because they give a name to things that are constantly popping up in everyday life:

Conspicuous Consumption: This is the one that had me going, “Oh, yeah” in freshman-year Econ 101, the idea that people buy things to show off.

Folie A Deux: You can find this one on a wine-bottle label. The term in French means “two people sharing madness.” It’s when mentally ill people reinforce each other’s delusions. Psychologists say it’s rare, but that’s because they are looking for people with severe mental illness doing it. Yet, don’t you see it all the time, in less extreme versions, with, say, people who have been married for a long time?

The Bystander Effect: This is the tendency for individuals in a group not to respond in an emergency because they are waiting for others in the crowd to respond first. Remember this one in case you are ever in an emergency.

The Spotlight Effect: The tendency to believe that people are paying a lot more attention to us, and our faults, than they really are. Wish I knew about this one in high school.

Inferiority Complex: Oh, yeah, this one is EVERYWHERE ….

The Feel-Good, Do-Good Phenomenon: You are more likely to help someone when you’re happy yourself.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: If you believe something is true, even if it’s not, you will change your behavior in ways that will make it be true.

Ut oh, this last one means I should be careful with nifty concepts like the ones I just listed, doesn’t it?

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