Archive for September, 2011


From a very young age children are convinced that beautiful is somehow better than ugly. Whether it’s a beautiful face, beautiful object, beautiful music and so on… Children see in cartoons and in stories that the ‘bad guys’ are always pictured as these deformed, ugly creatures with low voices, and creepy music surrounding them. So it’s no wonder that from the start of our lives we make assumptions on attraction. I don’t necessarily mean romantic or sexual attraction, but even attraction to people who are for example disabled. There is a horrible social stigma resulting from these assumptions we have that perhaps disabled people are somehow different. A great example of this is the case of Joseph Merrick (1862-1890) who suffered an incredible amount of bullying and prejudice based simply on his appearance. He was a laughing stock for all his life. People then didn’t realise what psychological damage Joseph was suffering as a result. Fortunately, this has now changed and we don’t portray disabled people badly.

There are case studies which show that babies are attracted more to pretty faces.

Some case studies show that teachers tend to blame the unattractive children for misbehaviour. Now, this doesn’t mean that they are the ones to blame, yet the stereotype  still exists.

People have a tendency to think that attractive children will become more successful in adult life, and will do better at school.

Attractive people tend to get better jobs. Does their attractiveness prove they are smarter? Of course it doesn’t. “When someone is viewed as attractive, they are often assumed to have a number of positive social traits and greater intelligence,” say Carl Senior and Michael J.R. Butler.  “This is known as the ‘halo effect’ and it has previously been shown to affect the outcome of job interviews.” – A new study published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (

As Swami explained (in the Psychologist magazine) appearance doesn’t always matter. I strongly believe that appearance is just a layer of skin, well-structured bones and not much else. Character, emotion, intelligence, humour – that’s what matters to me. Now, I would be a cynic if I said that appearance didn’t matter at all. Physical appearance is ‘the thing’ that attracts us to potential partners in the first place. We don’t fall for character we fall for looks first. Character, intelligence, humour and so on are those factors which determine whether we wish to develop a relationship with a particular individual. Sexual tension, ‘chemistry’ and the liking of the physical appearance are very important in a relationship in fact. Without it a relationship between two people is just friendship. It is the physical attraction that determines if a sexual relationship is going to happen.

Men and women find different characteristics attractive –  study by Sprecher, Sullivan and Hatfield in 1994. Men tend to be more interested in physical features. Women, on the other hand, think that having a good job is important. They also value kindness, dependability, fondness for children.


Is violence justified?

The focus of this blog is on people’s perceptions. What do people believe to be true? AND what is the reality?

Milgram showed through his experiment about obedience that people follow orders and do  not think about the reality clearly. According to Milgram’s studies 65% of people will follow orders and will be obedient to authority. He showed that the participants of his experiment believed in whatever the researchers told them. They were simply listening and believing that the researchers were in control and they would have to listen to them. They believed that because the experiment was laboratory-based it was safe. The damage caused by electric shocks given to the learner wasn’t going to leave a long term damage.  Despite the fact that the learner was screaming out in pain the experiment was continued. People involved in it felt in control, I think. They felt responsible for the completion of the experiment, and the learner’s pain wasn’t being considered an much as it should have been.

Participants of Milgram’s experiment blindly believed it was necessary to continue with the experiment, despite the fact they were told they can stop the experiment at any time.

When the researchers finally told the participants what the experiment was all about most of the participants didn’t blame themselves, but responded that they were simply following orders. Is it justified? Not really, because it was the participants pressing buttons which were giving out electric shocks to the learner. The participants were trying to justify the pain they inflicted onto the learner, but in fact they were the ones that hurt the learner.

Below you will find a link to youtube where you can find Milgram’s experiment. There are three parts to this video. The link is to the first part.

There is no doubt that external factors affect our decision-making process. We sometimes are lured into thinking that we want something or need something when in reality we don’t. Our decisions are often impulsive and irrational.

We often buy in the spur of the moment, without considering financial implications for example. ‘Shops are very clever’ in the way they ‘control’ us. There are things we normally wouldn’t buy, or wouldn’t under normal conditions have the desire to buy, yet when we are in a group of people, and there is an opportunity to purchase, we seem to do it without thinking much about it. I think many of us could easily identify ourselves with this.

There was a program not that long ago, where three psychologists were looking at people’s preferances, and how easy it was to deceive them, simply by telling them about the product. The researcher had two glasses of the same wine. Wine in glass A was described to be very expensive, and there was a fantasticstory behind it, which made people think positive about the wine before even tasting it. Wine in glass B was explained to be ordinary and cheap. Although it was the same wine, people said they could taste the difference. How could that be possible? The wonderful act of deception… The power people’s expectations have is incredible.

I have been very surprised after watching a video (and then watching it again..) of the McGurk effect. It is absolutelly amazing what you brain can do. It is the ultimate test of the fact that what we see overrides what we hear. And the fact that it work no matter how many times you see it, is trully fantastic. Like I said, I watched it a few times, hoping I would recognise the difference, but I still could hear two different sounds, despite the fact that I KNEW that the same sound was played the whole time.

I’m adding a link to YouTube which broadcasts the McGurk effect.