Simple Psychological Tricks That Actually Work
There are lots of simple psychological tricks you can use that work. Let's explore the best psychology tricks out there.Life Hacks
Sometimes in life, success depends on having that slight edge over the competition. But few people realize gaining that edge is often a simple matter of knowing what to look for, and occasionally, tricking the human brain. From some surprisingly effective negotiation techniques to the secret behind winning rock, paper, scissors, here are some simple psychological tricks you can use to your advantage.
Whether you're negotiating a salary, haggling for a new car, or discussing fees with a client, there’s a surprisingly easy way to turn the odds in your favor. It’s a little thing known as the Flinch and it can be any small but noticeable movement, like a slight wince, a sigh, a raised eyebrow, or an eye-roll. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you subtly express dissatisfaction.
The Flinch often causes people to reconsider their initial offer to something more generous, either out of desperation to guarantee the transaction, or just to appear polite. Always flinch visibly at the first and even the second offer you receive, and you’ll find yourself coming out on top. Of course, a hard-as-nails businessperson might offer more resistance, but for a lot of people, this simple trick will work wonders.
The Deciding Factor
Even when we say we don’t care one way or the other, we usually subconsciously do. When you can't decide between two things, assign each side to a coin and toss it in the air.
More often than not, while it's in the air, you'll suddenly find yourself hoping it lands on one side rather than the other. The result you find yourself hoping for is the decision you should probably go with.
Have you ever had the same lyrics or melody from a song stuck on repeat inside your head? This phenomenon can quickly become infuriating, due to the Zeigarnik effect. This psychological term denotes how humans recall unfinished tasks more strongly than completed ones.
In this context, if you only hear part of a catchy song, there’s a chance your brain will remind you of it until you’re able to listen to it to completion. So, if you sing or listen to the end of the song, hopefully, you’ll be freed from that pesky earworm!
Navigate a Crowd
Nothing’s more awkward than repeatedly sidestepping to avoid colliding with someone, only for them to continuously mirror your direction. In order to have an easier time walking down a busy corridor or narrow street, pick a direction and keep your eyes looking directly ahead at where you’re going.
People will subconsciously register the direction of others’ eyes in crowded areas in order to figure out where they’re headed and how to avoid them. Rather than overthinking where everyone’s headed, just confidently stare straight ahead and people should naturally avoid you. Alternatively, you could just not wash for a month; your choice.
Mirroring: Subtle Imitation Tactic
When you’re trying to land a job offer, or even just trying to make new friends, the last thing you want to do is come across as dishonest or disinterested. An easy way to avoid this is by subtly mimicking some of the movements of the person you’re talking to.
Things like smiling when they smile, folding your arms when they do, or even sipping your drink at the same time can make you seem friendlier and more trustworthy.
On a primal level, mirroring people’s actions suggests to them that you’re both inherently similar, which is a good foundation for a relationship. Be warned though, too closely mirroring them can come across as creepy, so don’t let every encounter turn into a game of “Simon Says”.
The chances are, at some point in your life, you’re going to have to deal with a tense situation where staying calm is essential. In these kinds of scenarios, people with a tendency towards panic attacks and similar states can become extremely vulnerable.
But if someone is panicking or hyperventilating, try calming them down with your own breathing. Start inhaling and exhaling at a slow pace, but do so very obviously and loudly. Thanks to our naturally sympathetic brains, and the ease of focusing on a loud sound, the other person should begin to match your tempo and calm down.
Adrenaline On A First Date
On your first date with a new romantic interest, you want it to be pleasant and memorable. But it might surprise you to learn that, from a psychological standpoint, you’re most likely to form a romantic bond if your first date gets the blood pumping (no, not in the bedroom).
Studies have shown that intimate attraction is closely linked to the release of adrenaline during a shared experience. Therefore, if you take your crush on an adrenaline-filled date – be it through exercise, extreme activities like bungee jumping, or even just a scary movie – you can significantly heighten attraction.
So, if you want a second date, swap the chick flick for a slasher, or better yet, visit the amusement park. Of course, none of that matters if they really don’t like you, but hopefully, that’ll become obvious pretty quickly.
Serial Position Effect
If you have a job interview, an audition, or are even going speed dating, you can instantly make yourself memorable by avoiding being in the middle of the running order. Thanks to something called the serial-position effect, people tend to distinctly remember the first and last candidates above the rest.
Bizarrely, this sometimes even occurs regardless of how stellar the middle person was. So, if you’re looking for success, aim to be either the first in line or the last of the day.
The Power Of Using Someone's Name
When meeting someone for the first time, be sure to catch their name, then use it in conversation when talking to them. It may take them by surprise but in a good way.
People tend to respect new acquaintances more when they use their names, as it naturally creates a sense of familiarity and trust. So, if you’re someone who’s self-diagnosed as ‘bad with names’, it might be time to change if you want to be instantly likable.
Chewing Gum And Stress Reduction
If you’re ever feeling stressed out or nervous, chew a stick of gum. Sounds dumb, but chewing and digestion both trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, which counterbalances the unpleasant feelings your stress-producing sympathetic nervous system can trigger.
By chewing, your body instinctively assumes your surroundings must be safe, as eating is a somewhat vulnerable act, and you’ll begin to calm down. So, pop a piece of gum, and you’ll be Zen in no time.
Under Promise And Over Deliver
If you always want to come out on top, under-promise, and over-deliver. It is a classic tactic that keeps customers coming back time after time and makes you appear impressive to friends. Promise to deliver a task or amount of work considerably below what you know you can achieve, then over-deliver and blow them away!
The Ben Franklin effect
Everyone likes feeling useful and needed. Surprisingly, this universal trait is actually something you can use to your advantage around new people. Asking new friends or coworkers for small favors that they can quickly and easily do, like letting you borrow a pen, can quickly establish a meaningful connection.
This is because, through these small tasks, they begin to associate themselves with the act of helping you. And if they subconsciously deem you worthy of help, then their brain begins to conclude that you must be a good person. Just don’t take it too far and ask for something like the keys to their new car.
5 Minute Perseverance Game
If you have trouble motivating yourself to do something, like learning a difficult new skill, just tell yourself, "Ok, I'll sit down and do this for just five minutes".
A difficult task appears much more manageable when it’s broken up into small chunks. And best of all, a lot of the time, you'll end up going for much longer than five minutes anyway. This is because, by the time 5 minutes is over, you’ve already overcome the barrier of getting started, which is the biggest hurdle of all!
Whenever you have an important interview or meeting, consider washing your hands first with warm water to bring up their temperature.
If your hands are cold and clammy, the recipient of your handshake will be less likely to trust you. This is because, from infancy, our brains associate body warmth with trust and support. Warming up your hands prior to greeting others with a handshake or touching them can, as a result, make you seem more likable and trustworthy.
How To Win At Rock, Paper, Scissors
There’s an easy trick you can use to win rock, paper, scissors nearly every time. But be warned, it’ll probably only work once on each person. When your opponent’s hands are in position, ready to go, ask them a totally unrelated question. The sudden confusion of the question causes them to throw scissors almost every time.
This is thought to be related to something known as the ‘recency effect’. Because of this phenomenon, the final item mentioned in a list is recalled more strongly than the others, similar to the serial-position effect mentioned earlier.
As ‘scissors’ is the final word spoken when you ask someone for a game of rock, paper, scissors, it’ll remain on their mind when their focus is brought back to the game after your little diversion. Most of the time, this will subconsciously influence their choice of first move!
Yawn To Figure Out If Someone’s Watching You
While the science is yet to be settled on why yawning is so contagious, the phenomenon can prove very useful if you suspect someone in a crowded place is watching you. If you ever have the inkling that someone’s looking at you every time you look away, let out a huge yawn.
If someone yawns right after you or visibly tries not to yawn, you may have a secret admirer. Which could be great, or horrific, depending on who it is.
If you’re tired of holding an object, it’s possible to get assistance from a friend without them even knowing it. Say you’ve purchased a 2-liter Coke bottle, and you want your friend to carry it but don’t want to ask, just keep talking to them while handing them the bottle.
Thanks to our somewhat alarmingly-restricted ability to focus on more than one thing at once, a lot of the time, people will take the object automatically without thinking. It’s the same principle exploited by street magicians and other masters of misdirection, like pickpockets.
In the same vein, you can get someone to hand you something when they’re distracted. If someone’s talking or preoccupied with a task, holding out your hand with the right amount of purpose and confidence will cause most people to give you whatever they're holding.
This tends to work a whole lot better with people who know you, of course, thanks to the added trust and familiarity. I did with my housemate’s car keys and made her think she left them in her car, despite handing them to me seconds before!
Eye Contact And Social Structure
In a social group, figuring out who trusts and respects who is always an advantage, and there’s a simple psychological trick to figure this out. When something funny is said, check who everyone’s looking at.
Humans will instinctively glance at whoever they feel the closest connection with within the group whenever they laugh, as we base our own reactions on those we respect. This simple trick can illuminate the group's social hierarchy, and confirm that everyone hates Karen.
When someone accuses you of something, it’s a normal response to hold up your hands, palms out, as if to say, “It wasn’t me”. But this tactic can be employed to great effect in business. Using open gestures, like open arms, open palms, and a direct, confident gaze, makes you appear more confident, charismatic, and trustworthy.
Steve Jobs knew this better than anyone, and Apple may indeed owe a fair share of its success to the trust his open gestures instantly established.
If Someone Stares At You, Stare At Their Shoes
If you’re ever stuck standing on a quiet train near someone you wish would go away, try this bizarre yet effective trick. All you need to do is very intently stare at their shoes. If you keep it up, they’ll likely become confused, then self-conscious, and, finally, a little freaked out.
With all these uncomfortable feelings coming directly from you, they’ll hopefully leave you alone. But word to the wise, it's only a good idea to try this one out on strangers, and not your co-workers. Nobody wants to be known as ‘that weird shoe guy’.
I hope you were amazed at these simple psychological tricks that actually work. You might also want to read our article about secrets your body language reveals about you. Thanks for reading!