WTF Fun Fact 13265 – Loud Music in Restaurants

Have you ever noticed loud music in restaurants during prime dinner or drink hours or on popular nights for socializing? Well, there’s a reason for that. Loud music makes us eat and drink more and do it faster.

Why is there such loud music in restaurants?

Restaurants often play music that is louder and faster-paced during peak hours, such as Friday and Saturday nights. This is done to create a sense of energy and excitement, which can lead diners to eat faster and order more food and drinks.

Studies have shown that loud music can increase consumption by up to 25%.

One study from France (cited below, from EurekAlert) showed how it works:

“Researchers discretely visited two bars for three Saturday evenings in a medium-size city located in the west of France. The study subjects, 40 males 18 to 25 years of age, were unaware that they were being observed; only those who ordered a glass of draft beer (25 cl. or 8 oz.) were included. With permission from the bar owners, observers would randomly manipulate the sound levels (either 72 dB, considered normal, or 88 dB, considered high) of the music in the bar (Top 40 songs) before choosing a participant. After the observed participant left the bar, sound levels were again randomly selected and a new participant was chosen.

Results showed that high sound levels led to increased drinking, within a decreased amount of time.”

Creating ambiance

Restaurants use a variety of strategies to create a certain ambiance and atmosphere for their customers. Music is one of the most effective tools they have. While music can certainly enhance the dining experience by creating a mood or setting a tone, it can also have a subconscious impact on how much and how quickly we eat.

For example, one study found that diners who were exposed to loud, fast-paced music ate their meals more quickly. They also drank more than those who listened to slower, softer music or no music at all. Another study found that diners who were exposed to music with a tempo of 130 beats per minute (the same tempo as many popular dance songs) consumed more food and drinks. People consumed less when they listened to music with a slower tempo.

This effect is not just limited to music. Other environmental factors such as lighting, decor, and the color of the plates and walls can influence our eating habits. People tend to eat less when they are in a relaxing environment with dim light and muted colors.

So next time you’re dining out on a busy night, be aware of the music. It might be influencing your eating habits more than you realize!

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Loud music can make you drink more, in less time, in a bar” — EurekAlert


WTF Fun Fact 13232 – Belief in Conspiracy Theories

According to psychological research, conspiracy theorists tend to score higher on measures of paranoia, distrust, and cynicism. They are more likely to have a suspicious and skeptical view of the world which can make them more likely to see hidden motives and conspiracies in events and the actions of others. The belief in conspiracy theories is multifaceted.

What research helps explain some people’s belief in conspiracy theories?

There are several psychological factors that contribute to why some people believe in conspiracy theories. One is the need for a sense of control and predictability. Conspiracy theories may offer a sense of control and predictability in a complex and uncertain world. By attributing events to a hidden, powerful force, people can feel like they understand why things are happening and that they have some control over their fate.

A variety of cognitive biases, such as the tendency to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them help influence people’s beliefs and reasoning. This can lead to a reinforcement of conspiracy beliefs and resistance to accepting evidence-based explanations.

People may be more likely to believe in conspiracy theories if they have a low level of trust in mainstream institutions. These usually include the government and media. Believers may view these institutions as untrustworthy or corrupt. This forces them to turn to alternative sources of information that support their beliefs.

Conspiracy theories can provide a sense of uniqueness and identity, particularly for individuals who feel marginalized or disconnected from mainstream society. Believing in a conspiracy theory can make people feel special and part of a group with shared beliefs.

People are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories when other believers are part of their social circle. Social influence can be a powerful motivator too. Most people are often more likely to adopt beliefs and attitudes that are prevalent within their social network.

A complex context

Research on the belief in conspiracy theories suggests that there’s more to it than just a lack of critical thinking or an overactive imagination. Instead, people’s belief in conspiracy theories may be rooted in deeper psychological processes and motivations.

According to psychological research, conspiracy theorists tend to score higher on measures of paranoia, distrust, and cynicism. They are more likely to have a suspicious and skeptical view of the world. This can make them more likely to see hidden motives and conspiracies in events and the actions of others.

Additionally, research has shown that conspiracy theorists tend to have a unique information-processing style, characterized by a tendency to selectively attend to and remember information that supports their beliefs, and to ignore or discount information that contradicts their beliefs. This can lead to a reinforcement of conspiracy beliefs and a resistance to accepting evidence-based explanations.

The cultural context for conspiracy theories

In a research article from Frontiers in Psychology (cited below) was conducted in three countries. Researchers assessed participants based on their levels of paranoia, conspiracy mentality, and mistrust of different institutions (e.g. government, media, science).

The results revealed that different forms of mistrust are associated with paranoid beliefs and conspiracy mentality. Paranoid beliefs associate more strongly with mistrust of government and interpersonal relationships, while conspiracy mentality associates more strongly with mistrust of media and science.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Paranoid beliefs and conspiracy mentality are associated with different forms of mistrust: A three-nation study” — Frontiers in Psychology


WTF Fun Fact 13183 – The Gruen Transfer

We’ve all fallen victim to the Gruen Transfer. In fact, stores, casinos, and malls are built around this theory in order to make us fall victim to it. The payoff is more spending on our part.

What is the Gruen Transfer?

Have you ever gone to a store and just started wandering around? Plenty of us can run in and out for what we need, but it’s hard to not start wandering occasionally, just to see if there’s anything else we might need or want. And that’s the whole point.

Marketers and designers specifically build floor plans and displays that disorient us and lure us in. It’s all designed to give us a general desire to keep shopping and looking at things. If you just go to Target for fun, you’re WAY deep into the Gruen Transfer.

According to Gizmodo (cited below): “The Gruen transfer is the idea that the shopping experience itself was worth doing, and that paying money for something not on any specific agenda was the agenda.”

Of course, it’s all about getting you to consume more things.

Who was Victor Gruen?

The Gruen Transfer “mind trick” is named after architect Victor Gruen. But he’s probably rolling over in his grave since he hated the idea of disorienting consumers. His goal was to put items people needed in the same general location for convenience.

What his goal WASN’T was to confuse people and make them feel disoriented. In fact, Gizmodo’s article on the Gruen Effect (cited below) brings this to the fore, noting that “Gruen wasn’t a fan of the transfer at all. He railed against confusing, maddening stores that baffled consumers. In fact, his whole idea of a mall was based on efficiency on a very wide scale.”

“And, because there were only so many ways to design efficiently, many stores would be standardized. But Gruen wanted something more. Shopping places, he thought, should feature gardens, benches, cafes, and courtyards. It should be an experience. Then things like malls wouldn’t just be commercial zones, but would serve as public gathering places, where everyone, from every level of society, could mingle. He wanted to entice people, and get people to interact with each other, not confuse them.”

Making the transfer

Nevertheess, his name became associated with what the marketers and other designers did with his ideas. It became applicable within a store as well – such as a grocery store. Confusion reigns so you can see more things you might want to buy. The same is true of casinos. It’s easy for people to become disoriented, spend more time there, and part with more money.

Gruen just wanted public space for all. Now those places are ones where you can’t go to socialize anymore. You can only be there if you plan to shop.

As Gizmodo notes: “And so the guy who wanted to provide a public space, where everyone could get their shopping done so they could socialize, ended up inventing a system in which socialization equals shopping.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “The cruel irony of the Gruen Transfer” — Gizmodo


WTF Fun Fact 13180 – Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. And someone clearly had a sense of humor when they created it to be one of the longest words in the English dictionary.

What is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?

Well, for starters, the tongue-twister isn’t officially recognized by the American Psychological Association’s DSM 5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used to make diagnoses) as an actual phobia. It’s more of a curiosity and an excuse to show off your language skills.

One can also refer to the fear of long words as “sesquipedalophobia.”

But before you think it’s ridiculous, note that psychologists do categorize hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia as a social phobia.

According to the DSM-5, criteria for social phobias require a patient to have the following:

  • a fear or anxiety about social situations where a person may be examined, like meeting new people or having a conversation
  • the fear or anxiety is disproportionate to the social situation
  • the fear or anxiety is persistent, and the social situation is excessively avoided
  • the fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinical distress

What causes such a unique phobia?

According to Healthline (cited below), social phobias like this can be associated with a negative event that was scary or traumatic at the time, a family history of phobias or other mental health issues, a person’s environment (especially if they see someone else develop a similar phobia), and changes in brain function. It’s certainly not something to make light of or ignore.

However, people may not seek treatment for fear of stigma, even from doctors. They’re more likely to take jobs or lead lifestyles that don’t require them to use long words. And there’s no official “limit” of word length that qualifies someone for this phobia.

The good news is that there are treatments and coping mechanisms one can explore with a professional to help someone afflicted with hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, whether it’s helping them manage anxiety symptoms or overcome their fear altogether with training.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “What is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?” — Healthline


WTF Fun Fact 13121 – Nightmare Disorder

Chances are you’ve had at least one nightmare before – and perhaps even one bad enough to wake you up from your slumber. While nightmares are common, nightmare disorder is (luckily) not.

What is nightmare disorder?

According to the Mayo Clinic (cited below), “Nightmare disorder is when nightmares happen often, cause distress, disrupt sleep, cause problems with daytime functioning or create fear of going to sleep.”

Sounds stressful!

For those with the disorder, the bad dreams ten to occur in the second half of the sleep cycle. And while they’re brief, they’re bad enough to wake you up and cause enough anxiety to prevent you from getting back to sleep. You may even experience a slowly unfolding nightmare that gets worse as it continues or one that causes you to suffer from palpitations.

This disorder is only diagnosed in people who have frequent enough nightmares that it interferes with their normal days due to distress or lack of sleep. In children, it can lead to a fear of the dark or behavioral problems.

Music for nightmares

According to Smithsonian Magazine, there is new hope for sufferers of nightmare disorder, who may number somewhere between 10 million in the U.S. alone.

A study showed those people might be able to take charge of their dreams and change their tone using music.

“Sounds played during sleep may reduce the frequency of nightmares and promote positive emotions that can help lead to a better slumber. Existing therapies coach sleepers to imagine and rehearse alternate happy endings to their nightmares before bed, a practice known to significantly reduce bad dreams. Now, Swiss scientists aim to supercharge this idea by associating those happy endings with an audio cue that will trigger them during sleep. When nightmare disorder sufferers listened to a piano chord while they practiced imagining a good dream, then heard that same chord while they were in REM sleep, bad dreams were frequently kept at bay.”

This is called imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT), and it’s a cognitive-behavioral technique that only takes about 5 or 10 minutes a day.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Nightmare Disorder” — Mayo Clinic


WTF Fun Fact 13035 – The Truth of Fake It Til You Make It

The last thing any unhappy person wants to hear is “smile,” “cheer up,” or “can’t you just try to be happy?” The answer to all of those requests is usually “no.” But once those people leave the room, you may just want to try it out next time you’re grumpy. It turns out there’s some truth to the whole “fake it til you make it” thing.

Smile though your heart is aching

It’s hard, perhaps impossible even, to smile all the time. But if you’re in a bad mood and you’d rather not be (and let’s face it, sometimes we want to wallow), your physiology can sometimes affect your mood.

In other words, smiling may help you change your emotional trajectory.

According to Psychology Today (cited below):

“This might sound odd, as convention dictates that when you are happy, you smile and laugh, and when you are sad, you frown and cry. However, it turns out that the relationship between your emotions and your behavior is a little more reciprocal than that. This means that if you force a smile when you are feeling down, you will lift your mood, and alternatively, if you frown when you are happy, you will feel down.”

Fake it til you make it

This is based on real research, not just a web column. In fact, it’s based on a review of over 100 research studies that showed a connection between people faking a mood and then recording how they felt afterward. Researchers showed that to some small extent “an individual’s experience of emotion is influenced by feedback from their facial movements.” It’s called the facial feedback hypothesis.

This tracks with another principle called the Hebbian theory, or Hebb’s Law, stating that “neurons that fire together wire together.” (However, Hebb’s Law has more to do with learning.)

The point is that if you can muster a smile and even a joyful tone, you can trick your brain into releasing some of those happy chemicals. (There’s also the possibility that the people around you will be happier. And this tends to make situations more pleasant too.)

We’re not saying you should force a smile all the time. But if you’re looking to lift your mood, the answer lies inside you.

Providing facial feedback

The facial feedback hypothesis is partly based on the work of Charles Darwin, who noted that facial expressions can affect a person’s emotional experience. And since Darwin was deeply depressed for much of his life, we imagine he tried it for himself on more than one occasion.

Researchers have tried to see if smiling helps improve mood without even asking a person to fake a grin. They just had subjects put a pe between their teeth to make the right muscles move. Moods lifted. A pen between the lips tended to lessen the cheer, however, since that activated frowning muscles.

And the effect doesn’t appear to be limited to smiling either – posture can help. Unslumping shoulders, standing up straight, and holding your head up all help. These actions can make it easier to engage with people in a positive way, improving your mood. It also helps with confidence (and first impressions).

Some version of the “fake it til you make it” adage has been around for a long time. For example, philosopher William James once wrote: “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.”

Of course, that doesn’t make it ok to tell someone to smile.  WTF fun facts

Source: “How “Fake It ‘Till You Make It” Really Is a Thing” — Psychology Today


WTF Fun Fact 12798 – Top Phobias

What are you afraid of? A surprising number of people admit to having phobias in the U.S. In fact, a recent YouGov survey found that 83% said they had these genuine fears. And the top phobias were snakes and heights.

America’s top fears

Despite the pandemic, disease ranked fifth – after public speaking.

YouGov even broke the phobias down by gender, age, income, and political party! There wasn’t much difference between these categories other than women being more likely to fear snakes, spiders, and crowded spaces.

Men were more likely to say they had no fears. But those who had phobias named heights and public speaking as the things that freak them out most.

Fears vs phobias

Now, the YouGov poll doesn’t use the word “phobia” in the proper psychological way. Phobias can truly affect the way you live your life, and they’re more than just fears.

According to VeryWell Mind:

“The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that phobias affect approximately 10% of U.S. adults each year. These phobias typically emerge during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood. They also impact twice as many women as they do men. There are a number of explanations for why phobias develop, including evolutionary and behavioral theories. Whatever the cause, phobias are treatable conditions that can be minimized and even eliminated with cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques and medication.”

In addition, “phobias can lead to marked fear and symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and breathlessness. In some cases, these symptoms escalate into a full-blown panic attack.”

Phobias may not always be logical (most snakes and spiders don’t want to hurt you), but that doesn’t make the fear less real.

Interestingly, exposure therapy is one common treatment for phobias. During exposure therapy, you’re around the thing you fear the most in order to desensitize you to it and prove that it’s not as scary as you might think.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Phobias – 1000 U.S. Adult Citizens” — YouGov


WTF Fun Fact 12793 – Angry People Overestimate Their Intelligence

Just because things like swearing are common among intelligent people doesn’t mean that extends to actual anger. In fact, angry people tend to overestimate their intelligence.

Anger and intelligence

Some negative emotions are more common among intelligent people, but anger seems to make folks a bit overconfident. A study showed that those who are quick to anger tend to think they’re smart (and the rest of the world needs to catch up).

The study

According to LiveScience (cited below): “To test this, the researchers surveyed more than 520 undergraduate students attending schools in Warsaw. The students answered survey questions to gauge how easily and how often they get angry. Then, the students took a survey to assess their own intelligence before taking an objective intelligence test.”

People in the study who were quick to anger had a higher opinion of their own cognitive abilities. Those who were more neurotic, on the other hand (who reacted to events with anxiety and distress), tended to see themselves as less intelligent.

In the end, it seems to come down to narcissism. Ill-tempered people tended to be more narcissistic and therefore think they’re smart. Of course, there’s no real, true test of intelligence, so we don’t know if that’s true or not; we just know that they seem to think they’re the real deal when it comes to brains.

Perceived intelligence

The study looked at anger as an overall personality trait, asking people to judge their own general tendencies towards anger. It didn’t try to test how angry they got in the moment.

It’s also important to note that “although the researchers found an association between the two traits, it’s unclear if there’s a cause and effect relationship between anger and overestimating intelligence. More research is needed to explore that link.”

The study was published in the journal Intelligence.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Angry People Think They’re Smarter Than They Are” — Live Science


WTF Fun Fact 12604 – Ergophobia

We know what you’re thinking:

Thats Me GIF by Your Happy Workplace - Find & Share on GIPHY

But ergophobia is more than a case of the so-called “Sunday scaries” – those are more about dreading work, and it’s not a clinical diagnosis.

Ergophobia is still not well understood but tends to be classified as an anxiety disorder – typically social anxiety or performance anxiety. It’s an irrational fear of work that causes noticeable signs of anxiety when a person thinks about working. It can even cause the kind of panic attacks that can lead to hospitalization. A sufferer may even know there’s nothing to fear, but their brain reacts anyway (hence the clinical diagnosis).

The condition includes an array of fears about work, including the ability to perform tasks or even look for a job. And the inability to do work without suffering mentally and physically can leave people in poverty or dependent on others to care for them. And as you might imagine, that can lead to even more anxiety about life that makes everything worse.

Psych Times lists the common symptoms of ergophobia as:

  • Intense anxiety when working
  • Anxiety when thinking of work
  • Unwillingness to hold a regular job
  • Inability to cope with strong emotions
  • Becoming dependent on others due to the inability to work
  • Experiencing panic attacks as a result of work or fear of work

The condition doesn’t always have to lead to hospitalization to be considered severe. As we know, stress can lead to all kinds of physiological effects, such as heart disease, that can lead to a shorter and less happy life.

The condition can be genetic (though someone may inherit a predisposition to an anxiety disorder that manifests in this unique way in them and no one else in their family) or because of a trauma or environmental pressure.

There’s no specific “cure,” but desensitization techniques are common treatments for phobias in general, and it’s possible someone can be eased into work. Anti-anxiety medications and therapy may help ergophobics maintain a job as well. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Ergophobia (Fear of Work)” — Psych Times