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More than 100 Psychology Concepts

Psycholody concepts to improve your understanding of life

May 2, 2021 Updated: May 4, 2021

  1. 2 Minute Rule: If it only takes 2 minutes to do, just do it.

  2. 21/90 Rule: It takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to build a lifestyle.

  3. 40% Rule: When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done.

  4. 5/5 Rule: If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it.

  5. 80/20 Rule: 20% of your actions account for 80% of results.

  6. 90/20 Rule: Try working at a ratio of 90:20. 90 minute work before taking a 20 minutes break. This will create a ‘Flow state’, resting your brain just enough so it’s fresh for the next 90 minutes.

  7. Analysis Paralysis: It describes an individual or group process when overanalysing or overthinking a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become ‘paralyzed’, meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon.

  8. Avalanche Effect: In cryptography, the avalanche effect is the desirable property of cryptographic algorithms, typically block ciphers and cryptographic hash functions, wherein if an input is changed slightly (for example, flipping a single bit), the output changes significantly (e.g., half the output bits flip).

  9. Barnum Effect: Barnum Effect in psychology, also known as The Forer Effect, is when an individual believes that personality descriptions apply specifically to them, for example, reading your horoscope in a newspaper and realising it’s surprisingly accurate. We all know that horoscopes are written for the masses, but we can’t help feel but it’s meant for us.

  10. Benjamin Franklin Effect: If you want someone to like you, ask them to do you a favour. It might sound backwards, but studies show that if you do someone a favour; you like them more and want to help them again. According to legend, Franklin asked an enemy if he could borrow a book, then thanked him profusely. They became lifelong friends.

  11. Bezold Effect: The Bezold effect is an optical illusion, named after a German professor of meteorology, Wilhelm von Bezold (1837–1907), who discovered that a color may appear different depending on its relation to adjacent colors. It happens when small areas of color are interspersed.

  12. Bullet Journal: It is a method of personal organization developed by designer Ryder Carroll. The name Bullet Journal comes from the use of abbreviated bullet points to log information, but it also partially comes from the use of dot journals, which are gridded using dots rather than lines. Watch Video

  13. Butterfly Effect: In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The term is closely associated with the work of mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz.

  14. Buyer’s Remorse: It is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a vehicle or real estate.

  15. Bystander Effect: The more people who see someone in need, the less likely that person is to recieve help.

  16. Cardinal Rule of Behaviour Change: What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided.

  17. Curse of Knowledge: The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand. This bias is also called by some authors the curse of expertise, although that term is also used to refer to various other phenomena.

  18. Diderot Effect: It states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption that leads to additional purchases.

  19. Dunning–Kruger Effect: The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from people’s inability to recognize their lack of ability.

  20. Endowment Effect: The endowment effect refers to the way in which humans tend to prefer objects they already possess over those they do not. We thereby place a higher value on an object we are asked to give up, than on a similar object we are asked to obtain.

  21. Einstellung Effect: Einstellung is the development of a mechanized state of mind. Often called a problem solving set, Einstellung refers to a person’s predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though better or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist.

  22. Eisenhower Matrix: The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, is a powerful tool for time management. It helps you to decide on and prioritize your tasks based on urgency and importance while sorting out less urgent and less important tasks.

  23. False Consensus Effect: The tendency to overestimate how much other people agree with us is known among social psychologists as the false consensus effect. This kind of cognitive bias leads people to believe that their own values and ideas are “normal” and that the majority of people share these same opinions.

  24. False Uniqueness Effect: The false uniqueness effect is the tendency of an individual to underestimate the extent to which other people share the same positive attitudes and behaviors. Individuals tend to think that their attributes and traits are more uncommon and rare than they actually are.

  25. Fan Effect: The fan effect is a psychological phenomenon under the branch of cognitive psychology where recognition times or error rate for a particular concept increases as more information about the concept is acquired. The word “fan” refers to the number of associations correlated with the concept.

  26. Florence Nightingale Effect: The Florence Nightingale effect is a trope where a caregiver falls in love with their patient, even if very little communication or contact takes place outside of basic care. Feelings may fade once the patient is no longer in need of care.

  27. Focusing Effect: The focusing effect is a cognitive bias that occurs when a person places too much importance or emphasis on a selected detail rather than considering the “larger picture” - this can lead to errors in predicting a future outcome.

  28. Framing Effect: The framing effect is a cognitive bias where people decide on options based on whether the options are presented with positive or negative connotations; e.g. as a loss or as a gain. People tend to avoid risk when a positive frame is presented but seek risks when a negative frame is presented.

  29. Frequency Illusion: Frequency illusion, also known as the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon, is a cognitive bias in which, after noticing something for the first time, there is a tendency to notice it more often, leading someone to believe that it has a high frequency.

  30. Galatea Effect: The Galatea Effect is one of self-efficacy: the belief and trust in oneself and one’s abilities and potential to succeed. Employees’ beliefs about their ability to perform at a certain level actually impact how they perform.

  31. Generation Effect: The generation effect is a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is generated from one’s own mind rather than simply read. Researchers have struggled to account for why generated information is better recalled than read information, but no single explanation has been sufficient.

  32. Goal Gradient Effect: The tendency to approach a goal increases with proximity to the goal. Read More

  33. Google Effect: The Google effect, also called digital amnesia, is the tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet search engines. According to the first study about the Google effect people are less likely to remember certain details they believe will be accessible online.

  34. Golem Effect: The Golem effect is a psychological phenomenon in which lower expectations placed upon individuals either by supervisors or the individual themselves lead to poorer performance by the individual. This effect is mostly seen and studied in educational and organizational environments.

  35. Halo Effect: It is the tendency for positive impressions of a person, company, brand or product in one area to positively influence one’s opinion or feelings in other areas. Halo effect is “the name given to the phenomenon whereby evaluators tend to be influenced by their previous judgments of performance or personality.”

  36. Hawthorne Effect: The Hawthorne effect refers to the inclination of some people to work harder and perform better when they are being observed as part of an experiment. It is also referred to as the study of employee productivity. It was named after one of the most famous experiments in industrial history.

  37. Hedonic Treadmill: The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

  38. Hick’s Law: The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.

  39. IKEA Effect: When you build something yourself, you value it way more than you should.

  40. Illusory Fact Effect: The illusory truth effect (also known as the validity effect, truth effect, or the reiteration effect) is the tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure.

  41. Indirect Law of Effection: Can’t get access to millions like an athlete? Then go directly to the source and serve the source. For example, agents of high-profile athletes are as rich as the athletes themselves because they have indirect contact to the Law of Effection.

  42. Jakob’s Law: Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know. Design for patterns for which users are accustomed.

  43. Kuleshov Effect: The Kuleshov effect is a film editing (montage) effect demonstrated by Soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1910s and 1920s. It is a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation.

  44. Lady Macbeth Effect: The supposed Lady Macbeth effect or Macbeth effect is a priming effect said to occur when response to a cleaning cue is increased after having been induced by a feeling of shame. In another experiment, experimenters were able to reduce choice-supportive bias by having subjects engage in forms of self-cleaning.

  45. Lake Wobegon Effect: The Lake Wobegon effect is the human tendency to overestimate one’s achievements and capabilities in relation to others. It is named for the fictional town of Lake Wobegon from the radio series A Prairie Home Companion, where, according to Garrison Keillor, “all the children are above average”.

  46. Law of 33%: Spend 33% of your time with people lower than you, then 33% of your time with people on your level who became your friends and peers, the final 33% of your time should be spent with people who are 10 times further ahead than you.

  47. Locus of Control: Locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces (beyond their influence), have control over the outcome of events in their lives. The concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an aspect of personality psychology. Locus of control is a psychological concept that refers to how strongly people believe they have control over the situations and experiences that affect their lives. In education, locus of control typically refers to how students perceive the causes of their academic success or failure in school.

  48. Matthew Effect: In the educational community, “Matthew Effect” refers to the idea that, in reading (as in other areas of life), the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. When children fail at early reading and writing, they begin to dislike reading. They read less than their classmates who are stronger readers.

  49. Martha Mitchell Effect: The Martha Mitchell effect refers to the process by which a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health clinician, or other medical professional labels a patient’s accurate perception of real events as delusional, resulting in misdiagnosis.

  50. McGurk Effect: The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception. The illusion occurs when the auditory component of one sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, leading to the perception of a third sound.

  51. Mere-Exposure Effect: The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle.

  52. Miller’s Law: The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory.

  53. Misinformation Effect: The misinformation effect occurs when a person’s recall of episodic memories becomes less accurate because of post-event information.

  54. Missing Letter Effect: In cognitive psychology, the missing letter effect refers to the finding that, when people are asked to consciously detect target letters while reading text, they miss more letters in frequent function words (e.g. the letter “h” in “the”) than in less frequent, content words.

  55. Modality Effect: The modality effect is a term used in experimental psychology, most often in the fields dealing with memory and learning, to refer to how learner performance depends on the presentation mode of studied items.

  56. Murphy’s Law: In its simplest form, Murphy’s Law states: If anything can go wrong, it will.

  57. Naïve Realism: In social psychology, naïve realism is the human tendency to believe that we see the world around us objectively, and that people who disagree with us must be uninformed, irrational, or biased. The term, as it is used in psychology today, was coined by social psychologist Lee Ross and his colleagues in the 1990s.

  58. Name-Letter Effect: The name-letter effect is the tendency of people to prefer the letters in their name over other letters in the alphabet. The effect is most prominent for initials, but even when initials are excluded, the remaining letters of both given and family names still tend to be preferred over non-name letters.

  59. Negativity Bias: The negativity bias, also known as the negativity effect, is the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things.

  60. Novelty Effect: The novelty effect, in the context of human performance, is the tendency for performance to initially improve when new technology is instituted, not because of any actual improvement in learning or achievement, but in response to increased interest in the new technology.

  61. Observer-Expectancy Effect: The observer-expectancy effect (also called the experimenter-expectancy effect, expectancy bias, observer effect, or experimenter effect) is a form of reactivity in which a researcher’s cognitive bias causes them to subconsciously influence the participants of an experiment.

  62. Occam’s Razor: Among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

  63. Out-Group Homogeneity Effect: The out-group homogeneity effect is the perception of out-group members as more similar to one another than are in-group members, e.g. “they are alike; we are diverse”. The outgroup homogeneity effect is sometimes referred to as “outgroup homogeneity bias”.

  64. Overconfidence Effect: The overconfidence effect is a well-established bias in which a person’s subjective confidence in his or her judgments is reliably greater than the objective accuracy of those judgments, especially when confidence is relatively high. Overconfidence is one example of a miscalibration of subjective probabilities.

  65. Overjustification Effect: The overjustification effect occurs when an expected external incentive such as money or prizes decreases a person’s intrinsic motivation to perform a task. Overjustification is an explanation for the phenomenon known as motivational “crowding out.”

  66. Pandora’s Box: Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology connected with the myth of Pandora in Hesiod’s Works and Days. In modern times an idiom has grown from it meaning “Any source of great and unexpected troubles”, or alternatively “A present which seems valuable but which in reality is a curse”.

  67. Paradox of Choice: The more choices we have, the less likely we are to be content with our decision.

  68. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion. Watch Video.

  69. Pareto Principle: It states that in any situation, 20 percent of the inputs or activities, are responsible for 80 percent of the outputs or results.

  70. Peak-End Rule: People judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.

  71. Peltzman Effect: The Peltzman Effect is a theory which states that people are more likely to engage in risky behavior when security measures have been mandated. The Peltzman Effect is named for Sam Peltzman’s postulation about mandating the use of seatbelts in automobiles.

  72. Picture Superiority Effect: The picture superiority effect refers to the phenomenon where people remember pictures better than they remember the corresponding words. However, the effect also refers to the way people recall more information when the story is told using images than when it’s told using text.

  73. Plateau of Latent Potential: People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. In order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau–the Plateau of Latent Potential. Good habits can make rational sense, but if they conflict with your identity, you will fail to put them into action.

  74. Pluralistic Ignorance: In social psychology, pluralistic ignorance is a situation in which a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but go along with it because they assume, incorrectly, that most others accept it. This is also described as “no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes”.

  75. Pratfall Effect: the pratfall effect is the tendency for interpersonal appeal to increase or decrease after an individual makes a mistake, depending on the individual’s perceived ability to perform well in a general sense. Your likability will increase if you aren’t perfect.

  76. Prominence Effect: The prominence effect is a theory of choice that says people often default to choosing the option that is better in the most prominent or defensible attribute. The prominence effect also causes us to make decisions based on needs that seem more important in the moment rather than our intrinsic values.

  77. Pygmalion Effect: It is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to higher performance.

  78. Rashomon Effect: The Rashomon effect refers to an instance when the same event is described in significantly different (often contradictory) ways by different people who were involved.

  79. Rhyme-as-Reason Effect: The rhyme-as-reason effect, or Eaton-Rosen phenomenon, is a cognitive bias whereupon a saying or aphorism is judged as more accurate or truthful when it is rewritten to rhyme. In experiments, subjects judged variations of sayings which did and did not rhyme, and tended to evaluate those that rhymed as more truthful.

  80. Ringelmann Effect: The Ringelmann effect is the tendency for individual members of a group to become increasingly less productive as the size of their group increases.

  81. Self-Reference Effect: The self-reference effect is a tendency for people to encode information differently depending on the level on whether they are implicated in the information. When people are asked to remember information when it is related in some way to themselves, the recall rate can be improved.

  82. Serial-Position Effect: Serial-position effect is the tendency of a person to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items worst. The term was coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus through studies he performed on himself, and refers to the finding that recall accuracy varies as a function of an item’s position within a study list. When asked to recall a list of items in any order (free recall), people tend to begin recall with the end of the list, recalling those items best (the recency effect). Among earlier list items, the first few items are recalled more frequently than the middle items (the primacy effect).

  83. Shiny Object Syndrome: It is a disease of distraction, and it affects entrepreneurs specifically because of the qualities that make them unique. It’s called shiny object syndrome because it’s the entrepreneurial equivalent of a small child chasing after shiny objects.

  84. Similarity-Attraction Effect: It refers to the widespread tendency of people to be attracted to others who are similar to themselves in important respects. Attraction means not strictly physical attraction but, rather, liking for or wanting to be around the person.

  85. Simon Effect: In psychology, the Simon effect is the finding that there is a difference in accuracy or reaction time between trials in which stimulus and response are on the same side and trials in which they are on opposite sides.

  86. Snowball Effect: Metaphorically, a snowball effect is a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger (graver, more serious), and also perhaps potentially dangerous or disastrous (a vicious circle), though it might be beneficial instead (a virtuous circle).

  87. Spacing Effect: The spacing effect demonstrates that learning is more effective when study sessions are spaced out. This effect shows that more information is encoded into long-term memory by spaced study sessions, also known as spaced repetition or spaced presentation, than by massed presentation.

  88. Spontaneous Trait Transference: It is a psychological process in which, when talking to a person, the traits that we describe of a third party, also become associated with us, the storyteller.

  89. Spotlight Effect: The spotlight effect is a term used by social psychologists to refer to the tendency we have to overestimate how much other people notice about us. In other words, we tend to think there is a spotlight on us at all times, highlighting all of our mistakes or flaws, for all the world to see. Your mistakes are not noticed as much as you think.

  90. Stroop Effect: The Stroop effect is a simple phenomenon that reveals a lot about how the how the brain processes information. First described in the 1930s by psychologist John Ridley Stroop, the Stroop effect is our tendency to experience difficulty naming a physical color when it is used to spell the name of a different color.

  91. Survivorship Bias: Survivorship bias or survival bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to some false conclusions in several different ways. It is a form of selection bias.

  92. Telescoping Effect: The telescoping effect refers to inaccurate perceptions regarding time, where people see recent events as more remote than they are (backward telescoping), and remote events as more recent (forward telescoping). This mental error in memory can occur whenever we make temporal assumptions regarding past events.

  93. Tetris Effect: The Tetris effect (also known as Tetris syndrome) occurs when people devote so much time and attention to an activity that it begins to pattern their thoughts, mental images, and dreams. It takes its name from the video game Tetris.

  94. Von Restorff Effect: The Von Restorff effect, also known as The Isolation Effect, predicts that when multiple similar objects are present, the one that differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered.

  95. Ventriloquism: In ventriloquism, the audience perceives speech sounds as coming from a direction other than their true direction. The ventriloquism effect can be explained as a phenomenon in which the sensory modality with the higher acuity dominates over and captures the other sensory modality with lower acuity.

  96. Venus Effect: The Venus effect is a phenomenon in the psychology of perception, named after various paintings of Venus gazing into a mirror, such as Diego Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus, Titian’s Venus with a Mirror, and Veronese’s Venus with a Mirror.

  97. Wagon-Wheel Effect: The wagon-wheel effect is an optical illusion in which a spoked wheel appears to rotate differently from its true rotation. The wheel can appear to rotate more slowly than the true rotation, it can appear stationary, or it can appear to rotate in the opposite direction from the true rotation.

  98. Warren Buffett’s 5/25 Rule: Make a list of top 25 things you wish to do in life. Do the top 5 now. Never ever think about the other 20. Otherwise they will take time away from the 5 that are most important to you.

  99. Well Travelled Road Effect: The well travelled road effect is a cognitive bias in which travellers will estimate the time taken to traverse routes differently depending on their familiarity with the route. Frequently travelled routes are assessed as taking a shorter time than unfamiliar routes.

  100. Word Frequency Effect: The word frequency effect is a psychological phenomenon where recognition times are faster for words seen more frequently than for words seen less frequently. Word frequency depends on individual awareness of the tested language.

  101. Zeigarnik Effect: The Zeigarnik effect is a psychological phenomenon describing a tendency to remember interrupted or incomplete tasks or events more easily than tasks that have been completed. This phenomenon was first noticed in the early 1900s and has been reproduced in a number of studies.

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