Brainwashing is something that terrorists do with their recruits and advertisements do with their…should I say, victims? But that’s not all, it’s something we do to ourselves and to others, either knowingly or unknowingly. Every day, day after day, we trick our brain into believing something, at least temporarily to achieve a desired action. Here are 7 cases where you get brainwashed every day.
1. Having a pre-meal ritual makes food taste better.
It’s not just giving thanks before dinner or any other food-related religious ritual that does this. According to science, even if you get used to chanting nonsense, like “I now dedicate this food to all the blackness in the universe, which is actually the portal to light”, the food will still taste better! By the way, this is also the same psychology that fancy restaurants use when they play a soft violin for you before you start eating. Even stranger, researchers have found that a ritual significantly increases people’s satisfaction from eating relatively bland things like carrots.
2. Repeating an opinion enough times makes people believe it, no matter how stupid.
In fact, you only have to repeat your opinion three times to a group of people, and the chances of converting at least three in the group increase by a staggering 90 percent. Psychologists have a term for this phenomenon: memory distortion. And the funny thing is, even if your brain registers the fact that what you’re hearing is pretty stupid, you might still end up believing it. So much for man being the most rational species on earth. And what’s worse, it seems that bad politicians are here to stay: you know how skilled they can be at giving meaningless opinions, and you know how they gain even more than a handful of followers.
3. By adding a reason to your request, you have a better chance of getting away with it
If you ever want to walk past someone in line (and you never do?), instead of saying “Can I walk in front of you?” (meh) try: “Sorry I was late for something. Do you mind if I walk past you? Your chances of getting away with it are increased by 93 percent! However, research shows that this ‘trick’ works only if the other person doesn’t have to work too hard to comply with her request. A bit obvious, but then again, we’re all masters at overlooking the obvious sometimes, right?
4. If you imitate others, it makes them give you things
The power to imitate others in social situations for one’s own benefit is something that has been affirmed in multiple studies. Those who work in sales instinctively know this. By repeating the phrases your prospect uses, you have a better chance of closing a deal. Also, if you imitate the other person’s body language in addition to verbal cues, you are three times more likely to help you with something than otherwise. Restaurant waiters can also benefit from this technique: simply by imitating the speech patterns of their customers, they will earn more tips. On the other hand, as you know, too much mimicry would be counterproductive.
5. If you say “I’m excited!” reduce your stress levels
The night before the big meeting. You’re not really ready. But say, “I’m excited!” all the same. It won’t guarantee a great outcome for the meeting, but hey, at least you’ll feel less stressed. Research by Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard University suggests that saying “I’m excited!” out loud in a stressful situation, without denying the anxiety, you trick your brain into thinking it can still have a positive outcome.
6. If you want to resist temptation, try saying “no” instead of “I can’t.”
Resisting something that you feel you shouldn’t have is the biggest challenge on a normal day. But if you thought it’s because you’re not mentally strong enough, the point is that it has to do with the underlying psychology common to everyone. If you say “I don’t want such and such” instead of “I can’t,” you have a better chance of fighting temptation and winning the fight. Apparently “no” implies that the thing you want to get away from was never really a part of your life, and by saying it you trick your brain into thinking it was.
7. Sing your way to a particular mood
Anyone who has been in a stadium watching a cricket match will know that repeating the same phrase affects the psyche. Politicians use the same idea at their rallies etc. One method by which we do this to ourselves is while meditating. By repeating a calming mantra or verse, we train our minds to become calmer, which is pretty much the opposite of what manifestations that are meant to arouse you do. The strong connection between singing and shaping your mind stems from the fact that the analytical part of your brain is different from the part that processes repetitive tasks. In other words, sing something enough times and not be able to analyze it, to some extent the sung line will be imprinted in your mind, affecting your behavior to some extent.
The human brain is amazing, but it’s also clumsy in many ways. But, as they say, you make the best of what he’s got, I guess.
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