Why you should always wear your nice clothes (and other things)

May 4, 2015

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The Weekly Dispatch We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don't have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work...


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The Weekly Dispatch

We curate the best psychological dirt from all over the web each week so you don't have to. Get a jumpstart on the week, over your cup of morning coffee or on the way to work with The Weekly Dispatch.

You're missing opportunities - stop that!

There is a common misperception that much of success is born out of luck. That opportunity is born out of being in the 'right place' at the 'right time'. To an extent, this is true. BUT not to the extent we often believe. In the late 1960's, Martin Seligman discovered that if you teach dogs that they can't escape an electric shock, some dogs will give up trying and collapse in a corner, whimpering. This became a foundation for studies of depression - at risk of oversimplifying, if the world hits you hard enough, for long enough, you might 'learn' that it'll never end. However, this phenomenon, called 'learned helplessness' has been found to infect people at sub-clinical levels too. Learned helplessness could very well be causing you to miss opportunities that exist, purely because you have 'learned' that you aren't lucky enough. Well, in this video, Derek from Veritasium explains just how you can beat that and trust me - it's inspiring.

"Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the... way we see the world".

In a new study in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, psychologists have found that wearing more formal clothing (such as a suit) is related to thinking more broadly and holistically. When you test people in casual clothes against those in formal clothes, those in formal clothes are more capable at abstract thinking. As this article in The Atlantic summarises, abstract thinking means you're more likely to make smart financial decisions and less likely to get hurt by criticism, as abstract thinking allows you to look at the bigger picture.

We procrastinate because we're scared of getting old.

Procrastination isn't always just a result of our brains craving novel, stimulating things over more mundane tasks (which is the commonly accepted psychological explanation). Research shows that there are many issues connected to the phenomenon of procrastination. It might be the result of sadness or anger in our lives, or attentional problems (think ADHD). But, as one psychologists puts it,  procrastination is sometimes the result of a fear of getting older. Spontaneity, impulsivity and creativity are all hallmarks of childhood and as some clients note, ordinary tasks are at odds with these characteristics and when we realise this, the fear kicks in.

Major roads aren't just noisy and ugly, they can actually cause silent strokes.

Using satellite imagery and measurements of air pollutions, new research has come out that inimitably links the air pollution from major roadways to a 46% increase in our risk of stroke and ages us biologically by about a year. Not only that, but they can cause cardiovascular problems and heart attacks. What's missing is just how far we need to go to get away. Sounds like an excuse to go travelling somewhere cleaner to me.

Five myths about cheating, busted.

To start, cheating happens all the time, not just when we're at the end of a relationships or during hard times. Second, money and conservativeness only have a small effect on how likely you are to cheat. Third, spicing up your sexy time doesn't always mean we won't cheat. Fourth, between 70-75% of married people have cheated on their partner. And finally, no one agrees on what cheating really is (which kind of makes the rest of this thing mute, doesn't it). Turning scholarship into wisdom without the usual noise and clutter, we dig up the dirt on psychological theories you can use. Become an armchair psychologist at The Dirt Psychology.

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