21 Mind-blowing Social Psychology Facts

Last Updated on March, 2023 by Edison

I’ll show you some mind-blowing social psychology facts.

I’ve also included credible sources if you want to learn more about a particular fact.

1. A study published in APS showed that of 261 corporate professionals, 21% had significant levels of psychopathic traits – a figure comparable to prison populations. [1]

2. A study published in Personality and Individual Differences showed what we suspected: trolls are horrible people.

Internet trolling is correlated with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. [2]

3. Consumers who tried a web-based product for free were more likely to recommend it to others than those who paid for it. [3]

4. Recent research suggests that we see dishonest people as less competent in their jobs. [4]

5. Men’s implicit self-esteem is lower when a partner succeeds than when a partner fails. [5]

But women’s self-esteem was not affected by partner performance.

6. How positively you see others is linked to how happy, kind-hearted and emotionally stable you are. [6]

In contrast, how negatively you see others is linked to higher narcissism and antisocial behavior levels.

7. According to researchers at Ursinus University, being labelled “smart” in childhood may have a negative impact on some individuals. [7]

The study was based on Dwek (2007) research that found smart labelling by parents and teachers creates an emotional and social burden for them.

They may view parental labelling as untrustworthy because their love biases them.

Teacher labelling probably depends on grades and performance, leading to anxiety and defensive attitudes.

The children can develop problems such as lack of confidence and desire to face challenges.

But being labelled smart by friends is considered a credible source as they have no expectations in academic achievement.

 They will not cease a friendship because of poor grades.

8. Fake news can lead to false memories

According to research in Psychological Science, voters may form false memories after seeing fabricated news stories, especially if these stories align with their political beliefs. [8]

9. A trick for a positive first impression

If you want to make a good impression on dates or in a job interview, don’t talk only about how successful you are.

Instead, concentrate on the hard work and effort behind your achievements. [9]

A success story isn’t complete without the struggle.

10. The Propinquity Effect

We find objects or people that are physically closer to us more attractive than the same ones positioned farther away.

Many studies show that men tend to prefer women who are physically closer to them. [10] 404

The researchers argue this happens because men are more likely to interpret a woman standing next to them as showing signs of sexual interest.

However, more research needs to be done on how it affects women’s feelings.

11. The Cheater’s High

You might have seen people engaging in unethical behavior. And we might assume that the behavior will trigger negative feelings such as guilt, shame, and anxiety.

Is that assumption correct?

According to a study, unethical behavior doesn’t necessarily trigger negative feelings. [11]

And maybe “getting away with it” makes people feel good.

The study didn’t cover romantic infidelity.

But according to an article in Psychology Today, the cheaters view their behavior as harmless and victimless. Often they reason, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

They convince themselves they aren’t hurting anyone.

In reality, the partner and other family members will get hurt even before finding out the truth.

The cheater will tell lies that make no sense, spend money or time they don’t have.

12. Why do nice guys finish last?

Recent research suggests that agreeable individuals experience greater financial hardship than their less agreeable peers. [12]

And that is not because of more cooperative negotiation styles, but they place little importance on the money.

It leads to money mismanagement, and they might not have the necessary resources to compensate for their predisposition.

13. The double-edged sword of charismatic leadership

The researchers discovered that highly charismatic leaders are less effective because they lack operational behavior. [13]

They can get very excited by their ideas, and monitoring daily tasks may appear less appealing.

Leaders low on charisma are less effective because they lack strategic behaviors. (having a vision for the organization and persuading others to share that vision)

The findings suggest that leaders who exhibit both behaviors moderately are more effective.

14. Parents who aim too high for their children can harm their academic performance.

Research conducted by APA showed that if parents have high hopes for their children’s academic achievement, they tend to do well in school unless those hopes are unrealistic. [14]

In this case, the children might not perform well in school.

15. Does eating sweets make you sweet?

Well, it turns out it can. A new study by researchers at Dakota State University suggests that people with a “sweet tooth” have sweeter dispositions. [15] 404

They found that people who like to consume sweet foods (compared to those who don’t) are more agreeable or helpful but not more extroverted or neurotic.

It seems that the metaphor we used to describe friendly people as “sweet” is spot on.

16. Is Dale Carnegie’s advice “put yourself in their shoes” valid?

Honestly, I was surprised by the results. I thought it was a piece of good advice.

But according to a study published in the APA, we incorrectly presume that taking someone else’s perspective will help us understand and improve interpersonal relationships. [16]

Don’t make assumptions if you want to know what someone is thinking; just ask.

17. You would have done the same for me

We have seen people giving CPR to save a drowning child or running into a building to rescue an elderly resident.

And after being interviewed, they say, “Anyone would have done the same thing.”

On the other side of the coin, there are people accused of wrong-doing who explain themselves by saying, “Anybody in my situation would have done the same thing”.

We call this the False consensus effect – people tend to think their beliefs, values, characteristics, and behaviors enjoy greater consensus than is really the case. [17]

When they feel confident in their point of view, the degree of false consensus is stronger.

18. Social withdrawal and creativity

Spending too much time alone might have a negative impact on your mental health.

Recent research suggests that one form of social withdrawal is linked positively to creativity. [18]

What matters is motivation.

Some people withdraw from anxiety. Some withdraw because they don’t like social interaction. In contrast, some people enjoy being alone, reading or working on their computers.

19. Sarcasm and creativity

Research has shown that sarcasm increases creativity for both expressers and recipients. [19]

The construction and interpretation of sarcasm lead to greater creativity because they activate abstract thinking.

As Oscar Wilde said:

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence.”

20. Price as a proxy value

An important determinant of a University’s ranking by The Princeton Review is its acceptance rate: the number of students admitted divided by the number of students who apply.

The lower the acceptance rate, the more exclusive the university, and the higher it is ranked. They do whatever they can to increase the number of applicants.

That is why high school students are overloaded with brochures from colleges all around the country, including many they never knew existed.

In early 2000 the board of Ursinus College chose a new plan. They raised tuition by nearly 20%.

It went against the traditional economic theory by which a price drop is the surest way to increase demand.

Applications soared.

Why did this happen?

Parents want the best educations for their kids.

But academic quality and prestige are hard to assess, so they use price as an indicator of quality. [20]03

If it costs a lot, then it must be good.

Other universities, including Bryn Mawr, Notre Dame, and Rice, employed this strategy with great success.

21. The power of storytelling

Dave was on a business trip to Atlantic City for an important meeting with clients. Afterwards, he had some time to kill before his flight.

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He had just finished one drink when a charming woman approached him and asked if she could buy him another.

Dave was flattered by the gesture. She went to the bar and brought back two drinks.

The following day, Dave wakes up – disoriented, lying in a hotel bathtub, his body submerged in ice.

He looked around frantically, trying to remember what the hell had happened. Then he spotted a note, “Don’t Move. Call 911”.

He picks up the phone next to the tub and slowly dials 911.

The operator seemed oddly familiar with this situation. She said, “Sir, I want you to reach behind you, slowly and carefully. Is there a tube protruding from your lower back?”

Anxious, he felt around behind him. Sure enough, there was a tube.

The operator said, “Sir don’t panic but one of your kidneys has been harvested. There’s a ring of organ thieves operating in the city, and they got you. Paramedics are on their way. Don’t move until they arrive.”

Is this story true? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that it will stick on your head for a long time. And you will tell the story to your friends by just reading it once.

That’s the power of storytelling.

If you are a teacher, you can make your students pay attention by telling a short but interesting story to make your point.

Telling stories is a great way to persuade others to your way of thinking or make a product stand out from the competition.

For example, coca-cola has no nutritional value. They can’t make an advert stating the health benefits of drinking cola because there are none.

But they are masters of marketing. They connected their product with the atmosphere of friendship, peace, and festivity by telling stories.

Heck, when I was young, I felt the winter holidays were coming when Christmas coca-cola commercials were on TV.

But there’s another thing you should consider:

Stories can increase the persuasiveness of weak facts but actually decrease the persuasiveness of strong facts. [21]


“The wisest one in the room” by Thomas Gilovich

“Made to Stick” by Chip&Dan Heath

Photo by Mike Chai from Pexels

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