Psychology Magazine essay

Personality

How Our Picture of the World Depends on the Language We Speak

A vase fell onto the floor. An Englishman will say that it is ”broken”, and the Spaniard will wave a hand and say “broke”, which means that nobody is guilty. Does a word follow thought or is the thinking of a person defined by how we speak?

A person incidentally dropped a vase. How the thinking of a person depending on the language will influence his story about the incident? In English, people usually say that someone broke a vase. In Spanish and Japanese languages one will communicate the same idea rather differently: “the vase is broken”. Lera Boroditsky's (a PhD at Stanford University) group made experiment and showed a video where different people broke eggs, spilled drinks, and broke toys to people speaking these three languages. To native speakers of English it was simpler than to Spaniards and Japanese to remember who exactly has broken the vase. What picture of the world develops at native speakers with such structure? Boroditsky claims that Englishmen focusing on a character is linked to aspiration of law enforcement agencies of the USA to punish offenders rather than to help the victims. The figurative thinking of a person is defined by the language, and the picture of the world depends on it literally. In such a way, our ability to distinguish colors is connected with words that describe them.

How Do We Perceive People with Piercing?

People used to be amazed by piercing and rather afraid of people with a pierced eyebrow or a lip. However, nowadays those teenagers who “made a mistake” grew up and form public opinion. Does it imply that we began to perceive people with piercing differently? Several decades ago piercing was rare and defiantly exotic. Person had to be rather confident and ready to answer inconvenient questions concerning their jewelry items. Today piercing as well as tattoos becomes a quite habitual business. Office managers with “tunnels” in their ears or even university teachers with pierced eyebrows do not surprise our society. A survey conducted in England showed that every tenth person who has a piercing is older than 16 years. But does this mean that we have accustomed ourselves to piercing and thus consider it as a common phenomenon? A number of researchers independently from each other decided to study this question. The studies indicated that stereotypes and prejudiced attitude towards people with piercing have not disappeared even in developed and tolerant countries, but simply became less noticeable. Punctures on a body still cause misunderstanding and unwillingness to perceive such people as adults and reliable members of society by the majority of people.

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To Study Life

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Behavior

How People Exaggerate Failures

Negative experience leaves a long trace. Sometimes we remember it for the whole life. Unpleasant impressions are so deeply embedded in our memory that they can alienate us from a person or a situation for good. Do we exaggerate its value? Jeff Galak, the doctor of science at Carnegie Mellon University (USA) undertook a study on the duration and depth of our unpleasant impressions. In order to understand how much we are inclined to exaggerate negative emotions, he forced participants of the experiment to perform tasks connected with suffering unpleasant feelings. One part of the experimental sample did it only once; the other one was compelled to endure unpleasant experience repeatedly. During the experiment participants listened to irritating sounds, performed boring and monotonous tasks. The scientist needed to carry out seven tests and one field research to come to a conclusion: people not only remember negative experience, but also exaggerate it waiting for repetition of an unpleasant situation. Remaining in memory, a feeling from negative experience becomes simpler and more exaggerated in comparison with those feelings and emotions which a person felt in reality. The scientist considers that this is all about the tendency of people to choose and remember mainly unpleasant aspects of an event. Thus, it turns out that all subsequent reflections of a person about an incident concentrate on negative impressions – negative experience, failures, and unpleasant moments.

Meaning of Life

Emotions which Overflow Us

To be discharged of emotions that have no power over your personality is a way to find happiness and composure. This way is offered by Buddhism. But very few people in the Western culture know that such idea was formulated by the great Ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

Buddha learned that attachment to pleasant (desire) and refusal from unpleasant (unwillingness) things is the cornerstone of all our life. When we do not receive something pleasant and cannot get rid of what causes discomfort, we become angry and irritated. And actions provoked by these emotional reactions generate still bigger suffering both in us and around us. It is possible to escape from this vicious circle only in one way: to separate ourselves from emotions. We should realize that all events are neither bad, nor good. And we are free to treat events and acts as joyful or sad.

But very few people know that similar ideas were formulated in the Western culture by the great Ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It is curious that not only negative, but also positive emotions (rough delight or pleasure), according to Plato, tie our soul to a body (or to “a life wheel” as Buddhists would say). Similar to grief or anger, sharp fascinating pleasure discomposes us, complicates thinking, provokes rash acts, and eventually causes suffering.

 

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Communication

How We Lie in Correspondence

Lie gets into our communication gradually – in exaggerations, inventions, and half-words. With emergence of digital equipment in our lives, we became to communicate virtually much more often. Messengers, smartphones and communicators are a real gift for inveterate liars. It is simpler to lie during online communication: at this moment the interlocutor cannot consider nonverbal signals, and he or she relies only on the text. Smith, Hancock, Reynolds, and Birnholtz undertook a survey to understand how often people lie at communication with the help of electronic messages. They selected a sample of 164 students. The examinee suggested reconsidering two last correspondences, which they could choose. Participants of the poll opened contents of 15 messages from these correspondences, and then honestly answered how truthful each of these messages was. Researchers assume that people often lie in messages about the topics that concern coordination of social plans. For example, a person who is late for a meeting can tell that he/she has already left the house or got stuck in a traffic jam. The reason for this lies in that fact that communication on correspondence allows to lie with impunity about our location. Such ”white lie” allows to avoid conflicts and acquit oneself in the opinion of other people.

The Couple

Is It Possible to Distinguish the Beginning of Love?

At that meeting our heart trembles... But what does it mean; is he (she) really so pleasant to me? We are not always sure of the reasons of excitement. Psychologists name six signs to learn that you are indeed in love. Sometimes love affects people as a lightning strike. It is mad love at first sight; even if such passion is fated to burn brightly and not long, it is similar to a flame on straw. But happens that the love arises gradually and it needs time to grow and get stronger. “Slow” love does not have less hope for the future. But its manifestations are ambiguous, and sometimes we guess whether it is true love, or only an illusion.

Such uncertainty does not reduce an intensity of emotions at all, but reflects fight which develops in us. A lot of things attract us to each other: recognition, trust, hobby, pleasure. And there are a lot of things that distract us from relations: fear to be dependent, fear to be rejected, fear that we are not ready for this love yet. Therefore, there are so many doubts: a step forward, a step aside, and a step backwards. And very often we show the keen interest in such a way! We will try to decipher signs of this arising love that makes the first steps.

Psychological Quiz

Whether the feeling of love is pleasant to you?

1. When you are in love …
a) You feel as if soar over the earth;
b) You are overflowed by some surprising tranquility;
c) You are nervous.

2. You wait for a call of a darling person. The phone rings, but you hear the voice of another person:
a) You do not answer, because you think that suddenly he (she) would call you;
b) You pick up the phone in anticipation;
c) You answer, but at once you warn that you cannot speak.

3. You and your partner have a romantic week-end. You …
a) Simply enjoy that you can stay together;
b) You hint that it would be quite good to talk about a wedding;
c) You always think that everything will end.

4. What do you wait from love?
a) Strong emotions;
b) Emotional communication, feeling that you have someone very close;
c) Executions of a dream.

5. You have a supper together with your partner at a magnificent Italian restaurant.
a) You cannot agree on the order;
b) You cannot eat because his (her) presence excites you;
c) You order identical dishes.

6. At work everyone noticed that you are in love. Colleagues consider that …
a) You have become more nervous;
b) You have become more self-assured;
c) You seem to be a different person.

7. What kind of relations do you have with … the name of your new beloved person?
a) You like to whisper it gently to him (her);
b) For you it is quite difficult to get used to it;
c) It confuses you.

8. How can you describe your feeling of love?
a) Short, but sweet instant;
b) Infinite happiness;
c) Storm of feelings.

9. Love can strongly change our life. What feelings cause these changes in you?
a) I am ready to them;
b) I am rather tensed;
c) I am a little afraid.

Results:

More A-answers: love as a delusion. You look for ideal love and idealize relations that you start. It seems to you that without love life makes no sense. You do not see a partner and you do not want to notice partner's shortcomings. However, it is simpler to build relations with a real person. Try to be more objective, accept a bare fact – he (she) is an ordinary person who cannot correspond to any abstract ideal.

More B-answers: Love as a restriction. You consider that love is a feeling of surprising force because it is able to turn your life upside down. When it seems to you that you fall in love, you do not dare to indulge in this wonderful feeling. You are glad to feel it again, you are glad that, perhaps, your life will change, but at the same time you remind yourself that you have to be careful. You consider love as a certain test period of relations. Most likely, in your life there was something that forced you to change your views. Nevertheless, do not suppress your emotions, release your energy freely. You should not underestimate yourself. You will be able to protect yourself if it is needed.

More C-answers: Love as an alarm source. Love and fear go hand in hand in your life. For you it is difficult even to distinguish these two feelings. You are afraid of being disappointed and letting people down, you are afraid to be rejected. The solution, most likely, is covered in your personal history. You wait that the partner will relieve you of pain and help you to become yourself.

Paradoxes of Appeal

Men like soft and gentle female lines. But does this softness cause deep feelings? Standards of female beauty stopped being obligatory. Numerous reasoning on man's preferences of female appearance was reduced to one conclusion – different men have different preferences. Everyone likes only certain type of appearance, figure, and features. But the results of recent researches published in the British Journal of Psychology testify: some lines of a woman's face objectively influence a man’s choice. Yet it appeared that they influence man's preferences very specifically. Gentle lines of a woman's face – softness of lines, a roundish oval, and narrow cheekbones, unambiguously attract men, but mainly do not dispose them to long relations. Moreover, such lines are especially attractive to the men who already have close relations. Those men, who are ready to change their lives, establish more rigid selection criteria for a temporary partner. And for the examinees who are not in constant relations, the choice was not so basic, therefore they could dare to a lower level of femininity of candidates. Such kind of researches helps to shed light on riddles of man's behavior. But it is hardly a reason for despair for the girls possessing unwomanly features. After all, any relationship is individual and depends not only on subconscious reactions, but also on a set of other, no less important factors.

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Psychology Magazine essay

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