Psychology in Everyday Life: Contrary to the popular notion that psychology is utilised only by students of the discipline or professionals in the field, the science of behaviour is an intricate component of our daily lives. Psychology, as a discipline, is used to understand various other domains of human society because human behaviour is the central aspect of all human activities. At the same time, the mundane activities performed by human beings every day are not free from psychological principles and applications because the human mind occupies the central position. It is the driving force behind all of our motivations and desires and can thus be utilised to improve how we navigate through daily activities. Human cognition, emotion and communication – the machinery of the human mind – define how we conduct ourselves in our physical and social environments.
The Importance of Psychology in our Everyday Lives
Listed below are some of the most apparent ways in which psychology seeps into our daily lives –
Human memory can be defined as a set of processes that determine how we acquire, store, retain and retrieve information as and when our environment demands it. It follows a three-step process of encoding (how sensory information from the environment is processed by our mind so that it can be stored), storage (refers to the volume and duration of storage of information), and retrieval (reproduction of the data stored when required).
Memory is one of the most important cognitive processes of the human mind that allows us to retain information based on our lived experiences and collective histories of our species. Psychological research on memory typically explores how memories are formed and why and how they are forgotten. This research is especially helpful in social and professional domains wherein individuals are required to memorise and retain volumes of information. For example, in social settings, we must remember people’s names, past experiences with these people, conversations, etc. Furthermore, students and professionals require to memorise vast bodies of information in order to achieve success in their respective domains. The psychological inquiry of memory teaches us how we can improve our memory and use this power to our advantage. For example, rehearsal and revision of information have been proven to be effective strategies to remembering better. Mnemonic devices such as rhymes and songs have also been found to be helpful in the retrieval of information and are frequently used by students to memorise theoretical knowledge.
Communication is a term used to define the exchange of information between two or more individuals. The process of communicating is primarily perceived as a verbal process that involves either written communication or speech. However, meaningful communication makes use of several non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, etc., that convey information more precisely. Understanding these non-verbal cues accurately is key to effective communication because they relay information about the emotional states of individuals. For example, constant fidgeting and restlessness may indicate nervousness or anxiety; harsh vocal tones suggest anger or frustration, frowns on faces indicate unhappiness. Being able to comprehend these cues makes us better communicators. This knowledge also allows us to train ourselves to use non-verbal cues such as tone and body language more mindfully. For example, certain physical stances convey confidence and surety, and learning to take a polite tone may help us in several social situations. Understanding and conveying social cues accurately is exceptionally pertinent in any social and professional environment and must therefore be emphasised.
Psychologists understand motivation as a force (psychological, biological or social) that directs human behaviour towards achieving perceived needs or desires. As a study of human behaviour, psychology prescribes several methods that allow individuals to stay motivated and cope with feeling demotivated. One of the critical findings of psychology, in the context of motivation, is that rewards guide human action. The study of motivation concludes that intrinsic motivation produces a more potent and longer-lasting drive to achieve our goals instead of extrinsic motivation, wherein our drive to achieve something ceases to exist once the external reward is removed. Learning how internal and external rewards impact our motivation will allow us to understand the determinants of our drive to complete tasks. Additionally, psychological findings teach us that repetitive tasks breed tardiness which is why we must explore new tasks and novel ways of completing these tasks in order to remain motivated. This also involves broadening our knowledge base and venturing into new domains to find success. The study of motivation also teaches us that setting definite goals is key to enhancing our motivation levels. These principles of motivation are helpful in all aspects of life, especially the professional side of things. Students and professionals are constantly thrown into situations wherein they have to complete tasks that do not particularly appeal to them or sometimes cause anxiety and distress. Applying these learnings from the psychology of motivation may aid such individuals in achieving their full potential more easily.
Productivity, closely related to motivation, refers to our ability to complete tasks efficiently within a prescribed period of time. Thus, human productivity is a result of human motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic). As individuals living in a social and progressive world, we are all expected to be productive members of society. What this means is that each of us is expected to generate output that will contribute to the welfare (economic, social, ideological) of our communities. Psychology emphasises the role of the flow state in order to achieve peak productivity. The flow state is a state of mind in which creativity peaks, and people tend to lose the sense of time because they become deeply engaged with the task at hand. It is fuelled by intrinsic motivation and gives people a sense of joy and fulfilment. In order to achieve this flow, psychological research finds that we must try to shift our focus to one task at a time; the task should be challenging enough to keep us engaged but not so challenging that we feel demotivated, and we must try our best to eliminate environmental distractions. This is particularly useful information for those working in artistic professions. For example, writers often complain of “writer’s block”. Entering a state of flow could be the cure to their lack of creativity in those times.
Psychological research on productivity equips us with tools that help us better understand the conditions in which our productivity thrives and also what steps we can take towards being more productive.
Psychology teaches individuals a great deal about how to hone their leadership skills. Leadership can be defined as the process of influencing and mobilising a group or team of individuals so that the goals and objectives of the collective can be identified. Leadership qualities are essential in all domains of life, be it in politics, social activism or business. The art of influencing and subsequently leading a group of people towards achieving specific goals can be mastered using the findings of psychological research. Studies conducted on leadership styles (autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire) teach us how we can alter our leadership techniques to suit our environment so that we may be more effective leaders. Being a better leader will lead to higher productivity, performance and satisfaction amongst group members. This involves allowing members to contribute to decision-making processes, fostering inclusive environments, encouraging discourse, and rewarding innovation. Leadership is an extremely important aspect of organisational behaviour and can help people advance in their professional lives especially in companies. For example, project managers and senior management executives need to unlock the power of leadership so that they may succeed.
As social creatures, human beings not only thrive on meaningful interactions but also require strong relationships to live a content and fulfilling life. The key to any healthy relationship is to understand the other person and to be understood. This exchange of thoughtfulness is only possible when we learn to read emotions and behaviour and other people’s perspective on things. It also requires us to assess our own emotional responses and recognise our flaws. All of these processes are rooted in our understanding of human psychology.
Familial relations particularly require a high level of emotional understanding for multiple people to peacefully coexist in the same shared space. Conflict in families and marriages is primarily due to a lack of meaningful and constructive discourse within the household. Understanding the psychology of relationships is integral to a healthy life.
Health, both physical and mental, is essential for survival. Being emotionally and physically healthy means that we can be productive members of society and content in solitude. The importance of health has been emphasised by psychologists since the advent of research in the domain and continues to remain the most critical aspect of life. Psychological findings tell us that the mind and body are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, they need to work in tandem with one another so that we may lead a healthy life. Thus, psychologists prescribe several methods of looking after our bodies so that their positive results may reflect in our mental states. This includes exercise (walking, running, yoga, etc.), diet (balanced meals, low sugar, low fat), adequate rest/sleep, mindfulness practices such as mediations and spiritual practices (prayer, faith). All of these have been found to mitigate our experience of mental illnesses and can also, in some cases, prevent the onset of specific mental health conditions.
Also Read: How to get psychology degree online
Psychology creeps into every nook of daily life and is thus a vital discipline to educate ourselves about. Understanding how to use psychological principles and teachings in our everyday activities is beneficial for individuals working in any domain, whether professional or academic. It also allows us to be better allies in a social environment.
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Cherry, K. (2020, August 3). What Are Prominent Leadership Styles and Frameworks You Should Know? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/leadership-styles-2795312.
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Cherry, K. (n.d.). How to Achieve Flow. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-flow-2794768#how-to-achieve-flow.
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