Quick Psychology Stuff

I’m playing tournaments like mad, and I have another starting tomorrow at noon, so I’ve been too busy to blog much, but here are a couple interesting psychology sites that will get you thinking. An understanding of your fellow humans will help your game a ton, and in studying people I have not only become a better player, but I understand the world around me better.

Real or Fake Smile

Click the above link and go take the test. Then come back and read the paragraph below

I got 16/20, but ten years ago I did a similar test and scored 6/20 when guessing the emotion expressed by pairs of eyes. Learning about how facial expressions work has helped a lot, and it’s very helpful at the tables. The biggest key for me is to look at the eyes. If the eyes don’t wrinkle at the edges, then the smile is bullshit. If the smile reaches their eyes, then they are genuinely happy. You can also look for head movement, breathing during the smile, and whether teeth show or not as solid indicators.


Some Psychology Studies

While the Stanford Prison Experiment is somewhat questionable and researchers have had trouble replicating it, the rest appear to be rock solid. And the Stanford Experiment has been born true in prisons around the world as well. Think Abu Ghraib, or the PoW abuses in Viet Nam, for good examples of that concept. Learning how people work with experiments like these really helps you figure out why people are doing the things they are doing. And even more important, they can help you figure out why you do what you do at the tables and how to stop making mistakes based on emotion.

I think each of these studies teaches us something that we can use at the tables. The lesson that runs through most of these studies is that there are factors at work that are hard to see from the outside. There is more going on in your head than you realize. Understanding these things helps you recognize them in yourself and deal with them rationally instead of letting them work on you like unseen magnets, drawing your decisions to one side or another for reasons you don’t understand.

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