You can safely ignore most amateur psychology tricks that can be found on the Internet. Most of these mumbo-jumbo hacks are clearly inefficient and a waste of your time. There are, however, some hidden gems to be found in a sea of mediocrity. One only has to look close enough to discover some truly brilliant pieces of advice. The following psychological life hacks will help you to be more successful at work, in social situations and in life in general. But don’t worry, I will not waste your precious time with the typical advice one can find on the Internet, such as, “Get yourself really excited to see other people and they will react the same to you.” These kind of “hacks” will not only make you look like a clown but could also lead you into some really awkward situations. Still, my favorite of the all-time worst psychological life hacks is this one: “When your alarm clock rings in the morning, greet it by shouting out loud ‘YEAH’ and pumping your fist.” This kind of advice is just ludicrous.
Let’s try to uncover the really clever psychological life hacks that truly help you to be more confident at work and at play. Here are some pretty uncommon solutions to common problems.
14 Truly Clever Psychological Life Hacks
The following psychological hacks have been continuously practiced by successful people for decades. They will allow you to gain important advantages or more control of potential outcomes in various areas of everyday life.
1. Make people like you by asking for a small favor
You can make use of the psychological phenomenon called The Benjamin Franklin Effect to make other people like you more. It’s a neat psychological life hack. The psychological effect is attributed to an observation of Benjamin Franklin, who noticed that when you do someone a favor, you will eventually like them more than you did before. Responsible for this is the emergence of a cognitive dissonance and your brain’s response to it. A cognitive dissonance emerges whenever our behavior does not coincide with our beliefs. If you do someone a favor that you do not particularly like, your brain will try to rationalize your behavior by adapting your beliefs to the situation. It will tell you, “This person isn’t so bad after all” and give you various other opportunities to find explanations that will reduce the cognitive dissonance.
2. Can’t stop a song from playing in your mind? This is the solution
The human brain has a natural tendency to remember incomplete activities. This tendency is known as the Zeigarnik Effect and serves as an automatic system that reminds you to finish what you started. If something we pursue is left unfinished, the effect makes us experience dissonance and intrusive thoughts about that object. The reason why that particular song keeps repeating in your mind over and over again could be because your brain never actually heard the song coming to an end.
If a song gets stuck in your head, try to memorize the ending of the song to break the loop once and for all. You’ll be surprised how quickly that annoying tune will go away.
3. Spot people’s sympathies when they laugh
Out of all the psychological life hacks, this one can turn out to be really valuable. Whenever you’re standing in a group and laughter breaks out, it’s a golden chance for you to see who likes you the most. Typically, each one in the group will instinctively glance at that particular individual that they like/trust the most in the group. This little psychological hack is not only helpful to spot people whom you are sympathetic, but also a nice way of figuring out who is secretly in a relationship or having a deep affection for each other.
4. Try to sit right next to an aggressor
Remember that person who sat right next to your boss in the conference room, while you and the rest of your crew were getting blamed for something? This person must be a genius, or a clever psychological hacker because this very person increased their likelihood of being spared tremendously.
As it turns out, if you do want to avoid an aggressive confrontation with someone, you just have to take a seat next to them. The close proximity will make the aggressor less likely to have a go at you, as they will not feel comfortable with showing aggression to someone so close. This trick is one of those psychological life hacks that could help you to stay out of some major trouble.
5. Pay close attention to people’s feet
The feet of an individual can give you great insights into what this person is thinking. By closely observing the feet of those you’re talking to, you’ll be able to tell immediately how interested or comfortable they are. For example, if you’re talking to a person whose feet are pointed towards you, you can pretty safely assume they’re interested in the conversation. If on the other hand, someone’s feet are pointed away from you, they subconsciously communicate that they do not want to talk to you for much longer. Caution is advised when you’re talking to someone who points their feet towards the door. This could mean that they’re intending to leave, and you’re holding them back. But it could also signal that they just told you a lie and want to get out of your office as quickly as possible.
6. Mirror people’s body language to build up trust
If you subtly mimic the body language of the person you’re talking to, you can effectively build up trust with them. By mirroring the way they speak and how they move they’ll like you more, because, to them, it will seem as if you are pretty good compatible.
Scientists have shown in various experiments that this so-called “chameleon effect” can not only facilitate the smoothness of social interactions, but it can also increase liking between those who interact. To put it simply, we enjoy speaking to interaction partners who mimic our postures, facial expressions, and other behaviors.
7. Use the power of silence
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone asked you about something you’d rather not like to tell? It’s pretty safe to assume that we’ve all been in situations like this countless times. However, in some situations, some people inexplicably seemed to be able to reveal a lot more than we would have liked to reveal.
One psychological hack to accomplish this is to simply make use of the power of silence. If you’re not satisfied with an answer somebody gave you, remain silent and keep looking at them. Usually, the combination of awkward silence and firm eye contact will pressure your counterpart to bridge the silence by revealing more.
8. Discover people’s self-image
We all have a certain (idealistic) image of ourselves. We know precisely how we want to behave and how others should think about ourselves. And, to most people, nothing could be more important than clinging to their self-image and acting accordingly. Whenever we do not act in line with our self-image, it somehow feels wrong. Something we’d rather like to avoid. Therefore, figuring out how people think of themselves can prove exceptionally valuable. This information will not only help you to avoid attacking another person’s self-perception, but it can also be used to your advantage.
Whenever you’re confronted with someone who acts against the best interest, try to discover how they think of themselves and try to reinforce their self-image.
9. Make others agree with you through subliminal signals
A classic example of priming is when you nod or shake your head while asking someone a question. In most cases, it will make them agree with you instinctively, as they do not seem to be thinking about your question too deeply.
10. Meeting decisions for others the right way
This one is a psychological life hack that works especially well with children: If you want your kids to do something, don’t ask them if they want to. Most likely, they don’t want to do it anyways. So instead of asking, “Do you want some vegetables,” give them an option to choose from. “Do you want broccoli or do you prefer some of those delicious baby carrots,” is a much better way to approach things. Your kid will feel as if they have a great amount of control by being allowed to choose, even though you’ve already made the decision for them.
Naturally, this psychological hack does not have to be limited to children only. Whenever you have to meet a decision, don’t just ask people if they want to, give them a choice that lies within the frame of your decision. You’ll be surprised how this little hack will help you to avoid arguing with other people.
11. Adrenaline dates
There‘s an interesting psychological phenomenon, called “Misattribution of arousal.” It describes the human tendency to make mistakes in assuming what is causing their arousal when confronted with fear. Scientists discovered this tendency when they sent male volunteers to be interviewed by a woman on a swaying footbridge high above a canyon. A control group was interviewed by the same person on a stable bridge. The female interviewer provided her number so that the volunteers could get the results of the experiment. Interestingly enough, those men who stood on the swaying footbridge were a lot more likely to call her than the control group. The scientists concluded that the men on the swaying bridge misattributed the arousal caused by the fear provoking bridge as an interest in the woman.
If you’re going on a date, make sure that it involves some adrenaline. You don’t necessarily have to go for a rollercoaster ride, but a horror film, rock climbing, paintball or rafting will do just fine. Every activity that involves adrenaline will psychologically trick your date into thinking that their arousal can be attributed to you.
12. The psychic parent trick
Whenever you catch your kids in the midst of doing something they should not do, you can either confront them directly or make them think you have psychic abilities. If you choose the latter one, just turn your back on them or leave the room entirely when you spot them doing something bad. Once you’ve turned around, or have left the room, call them on what they’re doing. You’ll be surprised at their amazement. They simply cannot figure out how you knew what they were doing, especially when you were in another room.
13. Make others repeat jokes
Most jokes cease to be funny when you have to repeat them. You can use this to your advantage. If someone is having a joke at your expense, act as if you didn’t hear the joke correctly. Ask them to repeat it for you. Once they’re done repeating the joke, it’s no longer as funny as it was in the first place. Alternatively, you could also pretend that you didn’t get the joke. Ask them to explain what is so funny about it. Having to explain a joke is even worse than having to repeat it.
14. Hack people’s behavior with a pair of eyes
People behave more ethically when in the presence of posters that show images of eyes. Scientists confirmed this when they conducted a study on the effect of eye images on littering behavior in a university cafeteria. Surprisingly, the participating students were more likely to clean up after themselves when eye images were present in the cafeteria.
You can make use of this psychological hack wherever you want to encourage people to behave morally correct. The presence of eyes will help you to leave people under the impression that their behavior is being observed, which will help to prevent unsocial behavior.
I hope you enjoyed this collection of psychological life hacks.