• Paul Sullivan
  • September 20, 2022

The more we learn about the human mind, the more puzzling it seems. The following is a list of facts about that crazy computer each one of us has rattling upstairs!

  1. Got a load of work to do? Well, take frequent breaks, because science has shown that the human mind can only keep up intense concentration for ten minutes at a time.
  2. If your friend invites you over to try a new recipe, don’t expect to get a lot of talking done. Why? Well, it turns out human beings cannot actually multitask; we can only perform one high-functioning task at a time.
  3. Scientists have observed that humans spend nearly 30% of their time daydreaming. Science says this mental meandering is beneficial, and may be essential to long-term mental health.
  4. Ever wonder why Christmas is such a big deal? Aside from the massive commercial interests, gift-giving provides a personal motivation: doing things for others stimulates a feel-good reward system in the brain. So every time you buy someone a gift, you get a good dose of oxytocin!
  5. Fatigue has its benefits. Who would have thought? People tend to think more creatively when they are tired, most likely because the brain isn’t operating at full efficiency and so more often finds creative solutions.
  6. “Mob mentality” is a real thing: people in groups tend to act in a more irrational way, and generally make decisions based on emotions rather than logic and reasoning.
  7. Oppositely, thinking in a foreign language is more likely to lead to logical reasoning. Likewise, speaking a second language makes you less likely to be influenced by extreme or provocative views.
  8. Science has shown that relationships with others (friends or otherwise) are just as crucial to good health as diet and exercise.
  9. Sociologists say that over 80% of human conversation is gossip. Like daydreaming above, gossip is essential to what makes us human, and gives the impression of knowing thousands of people intimately, even if we don’t know them very much at all. It also serves the evolutionary goal of strengthening our social bonds.
  10. We want more choice, but our brains prefer smaller selections. Even though we scroll and shop around more than ever, people tend to make concrete decisions when faced with fewer choices. For example, people are more likely to buy jam from a stand offering only a few varieties versus a stand offering dozens.

Discussion Questions

  1. Which of the facts above surprised you the most? Can you think of a time it was proven true?
  2. Are these items above true for everyone, or do you think there are exceptions?
  3. Is there anything you would change in your workplace/home/city to better fit with what you’ve learned about the human brain?
  4. Can the facts above explain any bizarre human behaviour you have noticed or heard about?