Most people would like to believe they have a basic grasp on why they feel what they feel. As always, we're here to inform you that what you believe is wrong. Your emotions are dictated by the outside world in ways you might find bizarre and shocking. For example ...
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#5. Making a Person Feel "Bigger" Turns Them into a Reckless Asshole
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Most of us can spot brash, confident people on sight. They stand tall, make big hand gestures, and fill as much space as possible. Everything about their posture, body language, and mannerisms say "I am the goddamned center of the universe! Everyone stop and notice me!" Likewise, you can spot nervous, timid people by how much they try to scrunch away and avoid notice. You find them slouched over, looking down, trying to find a corner to hide in. Well, believe it or not, you can actually change a person's attitude toward the world by forcing their body language in one direction or the other.
"Don't think of it as a back brace; it's a confidence booster!"
Researchers conducted an experiment published in the journal Psychological Science in which they had a group of subjects perform some stretching exercises (under the pretense that they were really studying the effects of stretching) and then randomly selected them to adopt either wide or contracted postures.
Prior to the commencement of the exercise, the participants were told they would be paid $4, but after the stretching exercises, the researchers deliberately overpaid them $8 in a way that looked like a mistake (by throwing in a $5 bill). Seventy-eight percent of the people who were put in the big, expanded, confident body positions kept the money. Only 38 percent of the other group did.
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"You certainly seem like a bold, confident young woman. Get lost, we don't hire thieving bastards here."
This effect might also explain another phenomenon close to our hearts -- why people who drive SUVs are such insufferable, reckless douches on the road. In another experiment, researchers recruited 71 subjects and sat them in realistic driving simulators, some with large seats like in an SUV or truck, and some with cramped seats like in a VW Beetle. Sure enough, the drivers in the large seats tended to drive more recklessly and were more likely to commit hit-and-runs rather than stop according to the rules.
Now, you might figure that people in the "bigger" pretend car subconsciously felt like they were safer in the event of an accident. Maybe it's not about feeling like a big, dominant douchebag, but just being less worried about a collision flattening their smart car like a beer can.
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"You know, if these small cars are so damn unsafe, maybe they should outlaw them."
Well, the researchers then monitored real-world cases of illegal double parking in New York City on weekdays between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. They found that driving a big car increased the probability of double parking from 51 percent to a whopping 71 percent. Even when the researchers took into account the fact that drivers of larger cars might have more difficulty finding parking spots, they still found a strong relationship between the size of the car and the possibility of vehicular douchebaggery. The unspoken thought process seems to come down to "Of course I'm the most important person in the world! I'm huge!"
#4. The Weather Affects You More Than You Ever Imagined
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Everyone likes a sunny day, unless you're like a vampire or a mushroom or something, but sunshine actually plays a far greater role in the day-to-day running of society than you probably think. Have you ever made an incredibly unwise purchase, like a pair of underwear with a USB port, and wondered how you got talked into such a thing? It probably happened on a sunny day.
This is why San Diego has the highest number of Ernest LaserDisc box sets per capita in the country.
Studies found that pleasant weather can impair your judgment and make you temporarily dumber and more easily misled. In one study, 122 undergraduates were approached on either sunny or cloudy days and asked to complete a survey about a pressing topic. On sunny days, the students were more persuaded by weak arguments, as though pleasant weather makes us feel more positive about everything, including obvious bullshit. You get the same results when trying to convince somebody to go out with you -- in another experiment, they had random attractive guys approach over 500 women on cloudy and sunny days and invite them out for drinks. Sure enough, the women were more receptive on sunny days than cloudy ones.
And it only gets weirder from there. Do you wait tables for a living, but your grotesque appearance and questionable hygiene means that you don't get tipped as often as you'd like? Try drawing a picture of the sun on the bottom of the customer's bill. That's right: Just seeing a drawing of the sun ends up making people tip more, regardless of whether the sun is actually shining outside. Wait! There's more! Researchers have also noticed that trading on the New York Stock Exchange is especially active on sunny days. And it's not just Wall Street -- they tracked 26 of the major stock exchanges around the world over the course of 15 freaking years and found the same effect. Even these jaded veteran traders were more willing to take risks because, hey, it's a beautiful day! Nothing can go wrong on such a lovely day! Nothing!
"Apple stock for Dogecoins ... Eh, why not!"
Speaking of which ...
#3. Just Thinking About Money Makes You Depressed and Unethical
Ever wonder why people who are obsessed with money are often miserable? Sure, there are exceptions, but often it seems like most people for whom money is an important part of their lives tend to turn into wolves of Wall Street. Well, experiments show that, for whatever reason, just thinking about money makes people unhappy (and occasionally slightly evil). And we don't mean that spending a day contemplating your overdue bills ruins your mood -- that would be obvious. Experiments show that even momentary, subconscious reminders that money is a thing is enough to darken the spirits of most people.
"I won the lottery? Ugh. Just ... fine. Give it here."
In one study, they had a group of participants fill out a short questionnaire, after which they were rewarded with a bar of chocolate (scientists kind of assume that everyone has the mind of a toddler). For half of the participants, the questionnaire came with a photograph of some money. That's all; just a photo. Despite the fact that it wasn't real money and nobody was even told they'd be getting real money, the folks who glimpsed the photo reported less enjoyment from eating the chocolate than those who hadn't. The simple pleasure was downgraded with nothing more than a reminder that money exists.
In another experiment, researchers split 50 test subjects into two random groups. The first group was exposed to a variety of money-related cues and phrases, as well as a bunch of neutral ones, while the second group was exposed exclusively to neutral cues. Both sets of participants were asked to assess how likely they were to commit a variety of morally questionable acts (for example, pilfering office supplies). Those who had been exposed to the money cues -- who had merely seen some words and pictures related to money -- were more willing to engage in dodgy behavior. This might be the reason you see so much questionable behavior in strip clubs (although there might be others).
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"Pour Some Sugar on Me" is the pervert's Pavlovian bell.
Anyway, the theory is that the thought of money elicits in us a physiological condition researchers refer to as a "business decision frame." Whenever the topic of money comes up, our brains go into selfish mode, resulting in a heightening of the "fuck everyone but me" instinct.