10 Practical Uses For Psychological Research in Everyday Life

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[Photo by Teon Harasymiv]

People love to give each other advice. The web is full to bursting with all types of pseudo-psychological advice about life. The problem is, how much of this is based on real scientific evidence? Well, here on PsyBlog we’ve got the scientific evidence. So here’s my top 10 list of what you can learn practically from the psychological research discussed here recently.

1. How to detect lies
Lies are extremely difficult to detect. Research shows the average person barely does any better than chance. Part of the reason may be there’s so much misinformation about how to detect lies floating around. Check out exactly how to detect lies.

2. How to make your smile more attractive, more trustworthy and less dominant
This psychology study found that a long-onset smile (0.5s onset) is seen as more authentic and flirtatious than a short-onset smile (0.1s). On top of this, the researchers found long-onset smiles were perceived as more attractive, more trustworthy and less dominant. Head tilting also increased attractiveness and trustworthiness but only if the head was tilted in the right direction.

3. How to persuade others your opinion represents the whole group
If you want to convince others that your opinion is representative of the majority, then just repeat yourself. This surprising psychology study finds that if one person in a group repeats the same opinion three times, it has 90% of the effect of three different people in that group expressing the same opinion.

4. How to have a refreshing holiday
This environmental psychology study suggests that being stuck indoors on vacation can limit mental recuperation. On the other hand, when able to roam outdoors, we can exert ourselves at a favourite sport or simply linger in the park.

5. How to avoid getting scammed
If I had to explain only one thing to someone who knew nothing about psychology, it would be ‘crowd psychology‘. Being aware and watching out for this one fact can improve our lives no end.

6. Using email to persuade
Before sending an email remember that women may not generally be easily persuaded over email because there is less opportunity to form relationships from which attitude changes can be built. Men, however, tend to be less competitive over email and are better able to concentrate on arguments presented, rather than being distracted by seeing the other man as a threat. Discover factors important in using email to persuade.

7. Find out if you’re satisfied with your relationship
Once a relationship has become long-term, although we still talk about love and commitment, in some ways it’s satisfaction that comes to the forefront. Indeed, low satisfaction is an important predictor of relationship breakdown. Read about the behaviours important in relationship satisfaction.

8. Reduce your cholesterol levels
The results from two separate studies demonstrated that after only 25 days, the experimental group who had written affectionate notes, showed a significant reduction in cholesterol. These reductions were seen independently from the effects of general health factors like age, drinking, smoking and so on. According to this early data, affectionate writing can reduce cholesterol levels.

9. How to make friends with self-disclosure
Turning an acquaintance into a good friend can be hard. Whether it’s romantic or platonic, there are endless reasons why people fail to connect and maintain their relationships with each other. Find out how to make that connection with self-disclosure.

10. Impress people with your knowledge of the Top Ten Psychology studies
OK, technically there’s no research into whether knowledge of these studies will really impress other people. But, each of these top ten psychology studies has something to teach us about what is means to be human. And that can’t hurt!



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About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 23 July 2007

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