it’s science: words can make you act like a jerk

By now some of you are probably starting to wonder where I get my information. Who am I to suggest that something as silly as the words you use (or the words other people use at you) could influence the way you think? Why would I say this? Why should you care?

These are excellent questions. Please keep asking questions like them until you get some answers. In the meantime, I have some bad news. Words don’t just influence the way you think. They can also influence the way you act.

Remember: People are predictable and easy to manipulate. It’s good for us to know this about ourselves.

Have you heard of this study? You should read the whole thing, but basically some psychologists in the 70s found that college students were likely to inflict more pain on fellow students when they overheard people in lab coats say the fellow students were an “animalistic, rotten bunch” of kids (rather than a “perceptive, understanding, humanized group”).

The students in this study overheard one offhanded remark about one guy’s opinion of a group of people they’d never met, and it noticeably increased the level of pain they were willing to inflict on the group. Okay? How many times have you heard Rick Santorum’s opinions about women today? Just something to think about.