Psychology is a powerful thing. It’s responsible for so much of what we do in life whether we’re conscious of it or not. Here are 7 psychological facts that will help you understand a little more about yourself and others.

1. Telling Children They’re Smart

When complementing a child, it’s better to focus on the hard work they put in to achieve the result rather than praising their intelligence.

That’s according to research from Columbia University’s Carol Dweck.

An example would be saying something like “you must have worked very hard for this,” rather than saying “you are so smart!”.

2. Eyes Watching You Makes You More Honest

A pair of watching eyes whether real or not will make us all more honest, according to research from the University of New Castle.

Researchers there tested employees in the break room by putting up a price list next to the coffee.

On the days when printed eyes were at the top of the price list rather than a picture of flowers the staff paid more for their coffee.

3. Getting Someone To Say Yes

When you’re asking someone for something, make sure you nod your head at the same time you are making the request.

We all have what is called “mirror neurons” in our brains which help us mimic the actions of others. If the person starts nodding they may also start to agree with you.

4. Don’t Mess With People Who Have Bumper Stickers On Their Car

According to research from Colorado State University, drivers who have decals, bumper stickers, and vanity plates are more prone to road rage incidents.

Researchers say it’s because people who mark their territory are more aggressive individuals.

5. Certain Religious Practices Lower Stress

“The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Mood Disorders” shows that people who engage in meditation and prayer are less stressed out.

When we experience stress, our bodies automatically react in what is known as the “fight or flight.”

This reaction is helpful in extreme instances, but over time can actually negatively affect our health.

Meditation and prayer affects the body in exactly the opposite way that stress does.

It restores the body to a calm state, helping the body to repair itself and preventing new damage due to the physical effects of stress.

6. Smart People Underestimate Themselves While Ignorant People Think They’re Brilliant

This is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  In their research, Dunning and Kruger found that unskilled people over-estimate their abilities, while highly skilled people under-rate their abilities, and suffer from feelings of inferiority.

7. If You Announce Your Goals, You’re Less Likely To Succeed

Research has shown that those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them than those who made them public and were acknowledged by others.

Professor Peter Gollwitzer of NYU has been studying this phenomenon since 1982.

A recent article he wrote suggested that once you’ve told people of your intentions, it gives you a “premature sense of completeness.”

You have “identity symbols” in your brain that make your self-image. Since both actions and talk create symbols in your brain, talking satisfies the brain enough that it “neglects the pursuit of further symbols.”

So, keep those goals to yourself!

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