Graeme Newell

March 2022

The Chameleon Effect

Ever walk with a friend and find yourself automatically matching their stride? The Chameleon effect compels us to ape the movements and behaviors of the people around us. So when the uptight Victorians in this video break out in a grin, our subconscious mind automatically has us joining the party.

The IKEA Effect

“What are the things we love most? The things we spend the most time working on. Brain scientist call this the “IKEA effect.”

There’s a neuroscience motivation behind the big-box retailer making us slog that heavy box to our car. There’s a brain-science strategy behind the 10,000 pieces they force us to meticulously assemble. Once we’ve toiled that hard on that bookcase, it isn’t just a piece of furniture anymore. It’s forever an icon of our own capabilities and genius.

Defensive Attribution

I was running a little late getting back to my job as a stock boy at a local department store. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a strange yellow glow on the horizon. I looked up in horror to see the store was on fire. Tanker trucks desperately pumped water onto the blaze hoping it would not engulf the whole shopping center.

Catapult Diver

So why does our tired little brain love experiencing an intense scare?

It’s a Drug Trip
The adrenaline rush of a scare instantly releases chemicals that can trigger a feeling of euphoria. You’ll often hear people laughing after a big scare because the body releases dopamine. And after the fearful situation ends, this high stays with us until our body metabolizes these powerful brain chemicals.

Stairs Illusion

When our brain gets confused, it rarely pauses to admit it doesn’t understand. Instead, its preference is to quickly reach back into memory, finds something sort of similar, then repeat thought patterns used in the past. Scientists call these little brain shortcuts “heuristics.”