A few days ago several online news outlets and blogs (e.g. here and here) reported that where we choose to sit in a cinema “could actually define [our] personality.” The sentence ends with my favorite phrase (tumblr needs a sarcasm font): “…, psychologists say.” And by psychologists they mean one psychologist: Japanese psychologist Hiromi Mizuki. According to these news stories and blogs, Dr. Mizuki believes that “the inner workings of a person’s heart and mind can affect their choice of cinema seat.”
According to these websites, Dr. Mizuki broke down a cinema, or movie theater, seating into six sections:
- Center front rows: People who sit in the front rows are sociable and want to feel connected with other people.
- Front corners: These people accept being inconvenienced. Since these people usually yield to the wants and desires of others, “Mizuki warns that people may take advantage of [their] weakness.”
- Center rows: People who like to sit in the center of movie theaters are supposed to be confident and decisive.
- Middle row sides: These people crave personal space and only gravitate towards those they feel they can be themselves with.
- Center back rows: People who sit in the center back rows are clam, collected, timid, and afraid of being influenced by others.
- Back corners: People who sit in the back corners want to know everything that’s going on without getting involved (out of lack of confidence).
But here’s the problem: From what I can gather from the articles, these ideas are based solely on Dr. Mizuki’s thoughts. They are not based on a psychological study. I did a Google search on “Dr. Hiromi Mizuki and personality” but could not find out more about her. All that came up were articles talking about this same thing, usually in identical sentences.
Furthermore, just because a psychologist says something DOES NOT mean the thing is automatically true. In fact, as I have expressed in a previous post, psychologists can be victims of cognitive biases, just like everyone else.
Lastly, as I have explained in previous posts (here and here), human personality is complex and cannot be “analyzed” with simple behaviors such as where we choose to sit in a movie theater, the way we sleep, or the way we eat freaking Oreos.
There are so many factors that influence our decisions in different situations. Maybe I chose to sit near the edges because I had an upset stomach that day. Maybe I chose to sit in the front row because I couldn’t find parking space, or because the employees at McDonalds took forever making my bacon-stuffed burger and I arrived late to the movie. Or maybe I chose to sit in the back corners because I was on a date and I wanted to fool around with her (don’t judge me—we have all done this at least once in our lifetimes!).
Disagree with my thoughts on the subject? Send me a message or leave a comment below!
That’s a hard question. I love everything about psychology. It’s the science about tells us about us. It tells us about our flaws—cognitive biases, faulty perceptions, memory distortion, psychological and personality disorders, etc; and tells us why we’re so special—why we love, seek justice, have empathy, jealousy, and so many more strong emotional reactions.
So I guess Positive Psychology is the area that interests me the most currently. I am filled with awe every time I remember that we have the same origins as every other animal in this planet (as far as we know), yet we have accomplished so much (e.g. landing on the moon, sending rovers to Mars)—all thanks to these awe-some brains of ours!
Yes, I am definitely going to continue on to graduate school. I think I’ll go into a Masters program first instead of going straight to a PhD, just so that I can get extra research experience. The university where I am doing my Bachelors has three psychology Masters programs: Police Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and a General Psychology program w/thesis. Hopefully I’ll get accepted to the General Psychology program. This, too, will hopefully give me extra time to decide what PhD program works best for me.
Thanks for the question!
The short answer is: This fact was probably made up.
A 15 minute Google search yielded many hits, but as always (and you’ll start seeing this as a pattern with such “facts”) none of the websites included legitimate sources. They all claim that studies or psychologists say something…but they never—never—source their claim. And when they do included “sources,” they usually lead to pages where people are just speculating or spreading the same claim without primary sources.
But in the spirit of not wanting this post to go to waste (as I usually feel whenever I hit dead-ends), I’ll leave you with a real article on The Science of Swearing, posted on the Association for Psychological Science website. The article discusses the following questions:
- Is swearing problematic or harmful?
- Is it bad for children to hear or say swear words?
- Has swearing become more frequent in recent years?
- Do all people swear?
(And notice that beautiful list of references at the end of the article.)
Last weekend, while at a friend’s party, we began talking about ghosts, bizarre dreams, and other paranormal phenomena. This went on for about an hour or so at one in the morning. I myself don’t believe in paranormal phenomena because, as it happens, there isn’t much evidence for it. What many consider “hard evidence” turns out to be grainy or distorted photos, blurry videos, and stories by unreliable sources. But I listened attentively, trying to see if I could explain some of the things they said using psychology. As it turns out, they did say something that can be explained by psychology and even tested with a simple experiment.
One of my friends (let’s call her Lily) said that whenever she thinks of another friend (let’s call her Jasmine), she ends up getting a call from Jasmine, as if she’s able to predict when Jasmine is going to call. Jasmine said the same thing happens to her: she always gets a phone call from Lily whenever she thinks of calling her.
This same phenomena is responsible for other superstitions, most notably “bad luck” superstitions. And, be honest with yourself: you, too, have fallen victim to this way of thinking at one point or another. Have you ever reasoned that every time you think or dream of someone, you end up seeing that person or getting a phone call from them? Have you ever thought you had “bad luck” after walking under a latter, breaking a mirror, or spilling salt?
(This mentality can also include other things.)
For example, as a child I sometimes thought the weather reflected my mood. Whenever I was mad or feeling down, dark clouds would appear outside, or harsh winds and rain. When I was joyful, the sun was always out, and the wind was genital and fresh.
The Psychological Answer
This way of thinking is a form of confirmation bias. Simply put, confirmation bias is the tendency to “notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs.”
In my case, for example, my mood did not control or predict the weather—obviously. I just tended to remember more the times when I looked out the window and noticed that the weather matched my mood because it confirmed my beliefs. Conversely, I usually ignored and forgot about the times when the weather and my mood did not match because it did not fit into this same belief. In short, I always remembered the instances when the weather reflected my mood but forgot the instances when it did not.
The same thing is happening with my friends. There are times when Lily thinks of Jasmine and then, soon enough, she gets a phone call from her (and vise-versa); but there are other times when she thinks of Jasmine and doesn’t receive a phone call. Yet, because she believes that they have some sort of “psychic-connection,” she will most likely remember the times when she got a phone call and forget the times when she did not.
Making a Simple Experiment
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. If you think this has a paranormal explanation, there is a way to test it out. If you (or a friend) believe to have a “psychic-connection,” try the following: every time you think of that person, write down his or her name on a small notebook. If you get a phone call from that person shortly after thinking of him or her, draw a “check-mark” next to their name. If the person doesn’t call, mark an “x.” Do the same if you accidentally bump into that person later that day. “Check-marks” for yes, “x’s” for no.
At the end of the week or month, check your results. If you really do have a “psychic-connection” with your friend, then there will be many, many more “check-marks” in your notebook than “x’s.” If, however, you have about the same amount for both (as should be expected by chance), or less, then you probably don’t have a “psychic-connection.”
Being able to come up with (and carry out) these simple experiments to verify things is, I think, much cooler than believing you have a “psychic-connection” with no solid evidence to back up your belief. But that’s just me and my geeky love of science!
Well, the textbook definition is: “Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.”
Introduction to Psychology courses usually cover a bit of the field’s history and then a small glimpse into every subfield of psychology.
One subfield, Developmental Psychology, is concerned with both positive and negative changes that occur in the human lifespan. These changes can be in almost anything: perception, biological changes, memory, etc.
A second subfield is Biological Psychology (sometimes called Biopsychology, Psychobiology, or Behavioral Neuroscience). This subfield is concerned with the influence of biology (including the physical state of the brain, neurotransmitters, and genes) on behavior.
Another subfield is Social Psychology, which deals with our interpersonal relationships and how we behave in social situations. Topics in social psychology include: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination; conformity and social norms; social interactions and romantic relationships; and group decision-making.
And then there’s Personality Psychology, which deals with aspects of the entire person. This includes personality traits, goals and motivation, and how a person arranges his or her life memories to create an identity of the self.
There’s also Cognitive Psychology, which deals with perception, memory, learning, language, attention, and other thinking-processes.
And then there are other things, like Abnormal Psychology, Positive Psychology, Comparative Psychology, and others. All these subfields always interact with each other at one point or another; you can’t have a complete understanding of human behavior by looking at only one of these subfields.
I hope this helps.