Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

The Psychology of Human Behaviour

Written by johnleemk on 7:50:58 am Jun 29, 2005.

One thing that's always interested me is the way psychology affects the decisions we make. I don't mean the biological stuff; that's too grounded in the real world for me, and I suck at anything that involves manipulating the real world physically. I'm more of the kind of person who studies, for example, why something only in our mind can actually affect the physical world. (Is that any surprise, bearing in mind the revelation I made a couple of sentences ago?)

For example, food (speaking of which, I just made a topic about this on the forum, which really needs some activity, if you get my drift). Whenever I visit McDonalds for the purpose of eating, I consume, on average, two burgers (the average has been rounded of course; for financial purposes, I avoid spending enough money for four slices of cheese and a hundred grams of beef every time I step into a restaurant). Not two Double Cheeseburgers, not two Big Macs, two hamburgers. But oddly enough, whichever burger it is, I feel equally full. If I eat only one Big Mac, my stomach will feel relatively empty, and lust for more. Yet, if I eat two Double Cheeseburgers, which are approximately equal in terms of mass to one Big Mac, I feel full. Why? My infernally rambling thoughtless mind.

And there are other aspects of psychology that arouse my mind as well. For example, names. I think it's almost certain names bear a great effect on the course of our lives. For example, not to boast or anything, but I hear the name "John" is pretty common on any list of American Presidents or Catholic popes. What I'd like to know is whether this reflects the influence of the bisyllabic word "John" on the minds of people, or just the strange fetish a huge number of parents have for the name "John".

And speaking of names, another thing I'd like to know is why every girl named "Nicole" I've ever met is an airheaded bitch. I only met one Nicole in primary school, but nearly every single one I've met in secondary school is a rather shallow and bitchy person. I remember back in my old secondary school, I had a friend who had a sister named Nicole, and boy, how we (as in, our gang of friends) loathed her. The fact that she was prefect and thus giving her license to snoop on us any time she liked didn't help either.

Now in my new secondary school (or should I start saying old? I did stop going there a couple of days ago), each form except form five has a Nicole. I don't know the form four Nicole too well, but the other three are pure bitches through and through. The form three Nicole was my classmate last year, and I've seen her scream. It's not pretty, to say the least. The form two Nicole was the one in my primary school. She was a bitch then, and she's still a bitch now. And the form one Nicole? After spending five minutes with her, I'm glad I don't know her as well as the other Nicoles I've met. She's probably the most shallow and bitchy Nicole I've ever met.

So, where were we? Ah yes, psychology. I wouldn't want to be a professional psychologist or anything like that, but I find it entertaining to study the peculiarities of our brains. Another anecdote, this time from the pages of Scientific American: researchers set up an experiment to test the reactions of volunteers to an economic crisis: two people would be placed alone in a room. One person would have $10. The guy with the money would have to make an offer to the other guy to split the money. If the other refused then neither would get to keep anything. If the other agreed, the money would be split in the manner agreed on.

Now, the most profitable division of the loot for both would clearly be for the first guy to offer the other $1 and keep the rest. Otherwise, neither would have anything at all. Yet, most people would rather get nothing than allow the first guy to make away with such a disproportionate amount. Even more interesting, the only people who were "stupid" enough to make such an uneven offer were those suffering from autism, which retards one's emotional capacity. Most chose to split the money in a less uneven way, such as $6 to $4.

So why are people's brains so wacked up? That's the fun of it — finding out why. It's probably one of the more fun intellectual endeavours out there. After all, we humans are so unique, it's a joy studying our individual aberrations from the norm. For example, why are some idiots so convinced communism is a viable economic system? Why do some telephone companies believe a customer can go for three months without a phone line without getting pissed? It's an interesting challenge to answer all those questions.

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

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