10 psychology terms that’ll help you make sense of the world

by Ishaan Kumbkarni, Staff Writer

1. Availability Heuristic

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It states that we tend to base our evaluations, judgments and perceptions of the world around us on the basis of the information that is easily available to us which means that more often than not, our conclusions are based on incomplete, or in some cases, irrelevant information just because it happened to be in front of us.

2. Mere-Exposure Effect

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It is a psychological principle which states that people tend to rate things, people or places positively when they are familiar with them, often disregarding actual qualities or drawbacks for familiarity. This is interesting because it has no basis in logic. In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likable that person appears to be.

3. Social Loafing

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In social psychology, social loafing is the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone. This is seen as one of the main reasons groups are sometimes less productive than the combined performance of their members working as individuals.

4. Learned Helplessness

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It is a phenomena wherein repeated negative experiences of individuals lead to implanting of pervasive and enduring negative beliefs regarding their abilities within them. Research also shows that a single positive experience has the power of arresting this downward spiral.

5. Spiral of Silence

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This theory that draws from political science says that individuals have a fear of isolation, which results from the idea that a social group or the society in general might isolate, neglect, or exclude them due to their opinions. This fear of isolation consequently leads to remaining silent instead of voicing opinions.

6. Pluralistic Ignorance

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Pluralistic ignorance occurs where the majority of individuals in a group assume that most of the others are different in some way, whilst the truth is that they are more similar than they realize. They thus will conform with supposed beliefs of other individuals and the supposed beliefs will become the group norm rather than actual beliefs of that group.

7. Cognitive Dissonance

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Discomfort or tension that arises from holding two or more psychologically incompatible thoughts at the same time. Research posits that people are motivated to avoid or minimize cognitive dissonance whenever possible.

8. Conformation Bias

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A tendency to search for and weigh information that confirms one’s preconceptions more strongly than information that challenges them.

9. Counterfactual Thinking

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Imagining alternative scenarios and outcomes that might have happened, but didn’t.

10. Deindividuation

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A loss of self-awareness that occurs when people are not seen or paid attention to as individuals (for example, when they become absorbed in a role that reduces their sense of individuality or accountability, or when they become part of a crowd or a mob).

 

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