Psychologists are like detectives — always looking below the surface of everyday interactions to find out what people are really thinking and feeling.
And over the past few decades, they have begun to solve hundreds of mysteries: How will your interviewer react if you answer a question about drugs honestly? How do you get someone who thinks differently to see your point of view?
Below, we’ve listed 10 of those incredible insights. Read on to learn more about yourself, your friends, your coworkers — and how to foster the best relationships with all of them.
For a long time, scientists thought that bad first impressions were near-impossible to change. Even if the person believed they liked you, they might still dislike you on a subconscious level.
Recent research suggests otherwise. If you give the person a chance to see your behaviour in a new light, you have a chance at changing their subconscious evaluations of you.
For example, say you ignore an acquaintance on the street because you just had a massive fight with your partner and aren't in the mood to talk. Later you find out that the acquaintance thinks you're a jerk. You might want to get in touch with her and explain that you normally love talking to her, but you'd just finished sobbing and didn't want to embarrass yourself or her.
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, people ask themselves two questions when they first meet you:
• Can I trust this person?
• Can I respect this person?
In other words, they want to know if you're warm and/or competent.
Writing in her 2015 book 'Presence,' Cuddy says warmth is the more important factor in how people evaluate you -- after they establish that you're trustworthy, they can look for evidence of your competence.
Recent research suggests that it's generally better to reveal even potentially embarrassing information than to try concealing it.
As Business Insider's Erin Brodwin reports, 'When others can tell we might be hiding something -- or at least not telling the full truth -- they tend to perceive us as less trustworthy than people who reveal more about themselves.'
In one experiment, participants played the roles of job seekers and employers. Job seekers were asked to fill out a questionnaire asking whether they'd ever done drugs, and to imagine that they had. Most chose to withhold information about which drugs they'd used and how often.
But here's the kicker: Employers were more likely to want to hire those who'd answered 'yes' than those who hadn't answered at all.
Extroverts' secret is out: They get people to like them by copying their body language.
At least, that's according to a recent study, in which experimenters filmed interactions between female volunteers. Everyone was told that they would be collaborating on a task with another person, but half were told that the task had the best results when they got along well with their partners.
Results showed that people who described themselves as more extroverted did a better job at building rapport with their partners, but only when they were told that it was important to get along well. In these cases, their strategy for rapport-building seemed to be mimicking their partners' body language.
If you're trying to persuade someone to see your point of view, you don't want to give them too much time to think critically about your arguments. So speak quickly.
In one study, researchers had undergrads -- most of whom supported a lower drinking age -- listen to a message about a law that raised the legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol from 19 to 21. Then some students heard a speech in favour of the law, while others heard a speech opposing it.
When students heard the argument opposing the law (a perspective like theirs), they were more likely to agree with it the slower it was delivered. But when they heard the argument supporting the law (a perspective unlike theirs), they were more likely to agree with the message the faster it was delivered.
A growing body of research suggests that weight bias has powerful effects in the workplace.
In one experiment, men and women rated digital resumes that included photographs of non-obese people and digitally altered photographs of those same people as obese.
Results showed that obese job candidates were deemed significantly less competent than non-obese candidates. Interestingly, even overweight participants showed a bias against obese candidates.
Other research has found that overweight people are perceived as less productive, more prone to interpersonal problems, lazy, and less intelligent. They also tend to earn less than others.
Scientists say people who score high on measures of narcissism and Machiavellianism (a willingness to manipulate and exploit other people) are more likely to get ahead.
Specifically, those who display narcissistic traits earn higher salaries, while those who display Machiavellian traits are more likely to hold leadership positions and be satisfied with their careers.
That's possibly because those high in Machiavellianism have a strong desire for status, while those high in narcissism make good first impressions, especially in job interviews.
Psychologists call it the 'fundamental attribution error': We assume that other people's behaviours are the result of personality flaws, while our own behaviours are attributable to situational factors.
For example, your coworker turns in a project late and you assume he's a slacker. The next week, you turn in a project late and you tell yourself it's because you were preoccupied with relationship issues.
According to Tim Ursiny, a business psychologist and the founder of Advantage Coaching, people tend to fall into one of four categories:
• Dominant people are impulsive and sceptical; they are direct and prefer immediate results.
• Conscientious people are methodical and sceptical; they are detail-oriented and analytical.
• Influential people are impulsive and warm; they enjoy group work and generate enthusiasm.
• Steady people are methodical and warm; they are patient and seek harmony.
In the workplace, dominant personalities clash with steady personalities, and conscientious personalities clash with influential personalities. Ursiny said the first step to reducing conflict is figuring out what personality type you are.
You can take the official assessment here, or look at the traits listed under each personality type and see which description fits you best.
If you want people to remember you after one meeting, it's best to match your facial expression to the tone of the event.
So if you're at a lively conference, you'll want to smile. One study found that participants were more likely to remember smiling faces alongside a party scene than fearful faces alongside a party scene.
It's possible that the combination of two happy images could enhance people's ability to pay attention, or that a smiling face encourages people to bind together the image and its context.
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