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What is the psychology behind choosing to be weird?

What is the psychology behind choosing to be weird?


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There is a saying I was once told:

"I no longer fear going insane, I am enjoying every moment of it"

For some (including myself), this is in fact a rather happy and liberating reality, albeit a reality that I don't quite understand. So, my question is, what is the psychology behind choosing to let one's weird side show?

Please note - I am not asking for self help, don't need it - just trying to understand the psychological aspects. An example of this is when I wore a ballerina suit and walked around a shopping centre as if nothing was out of the ordinary… it was not a pretty sight


The psychology behind choosing to let one's weird side show?
I think the this question would work as effectively as:
The psychology behind choosing to let one's individuality show?

Human beings are social animals. Social pressures play significant factors in moulding personality.

The term conformity is often used to indicate an agreement to the majority position, brought about either by a desire to 'fit in' or be liked (normative) or because of a desire to be correct (informational), or simply to conform to a social role (identification).

So assuming "weird" is more likely to be further away from social norms. The more social pressure to be borne. This means a greater courage is needed to be oneself. There are links between self-acceptance, social pressure and depression.

Correlational results indicated that all three trait dimensions of perfectionism (i.e., self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism) were associated negatively with unconditional self-acceptance. Also, as expected, depression was associated with relatively low unconditional self-acceptance. Finally, a path analysis revealed that unconditional self-acceptance mediated the association between socially prescribed perfectionism and depression, and other-oriented perfectionism was found to affect depression only indirectly through its association with low levels of self-acceptance.

Dimensions of Perfectionism, Unconditional Self-Acceptance, and Depression
Gordon L. Flett, Avi Besser, Richard A. Davis, Paul L. Hewitt
Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy
June 2003, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 119-138

Conclusion
Gaining self-acceptance, one's individuality or "weirdness" is inversely proportional to the incidence of depression; and also improves the individual's capacity to cope with social pressure to conform. So by accepting one's strengths and weaknesses one is freed from (social and psychological) pressure, improving one's sense of well being.


By being weird you choose a smaller group of similar weirdos to compete for status in. At the limit you're in a group of one. Smaller peer group, easier to be near the top. High status feels good even if it's in a smaller peer group.

It's relatively easy to be the manliest brony as opposed to being the manliest human.

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert.


Psychology Helps Us Better Understand Ourselves

Young adulthood is often a time in which people explore different facets of themselves and try to establish who they are as individuals. For this reason alone, it is not surprising that psychology holds so much interest for college students. College can be a time of considerable transition and change as young people leave the nest, so to speak, and make their way into the world on their own.

College-age people are often still working on forging a personal identity and figuring out who they really are. Many also grapple with the emotional turmoil brought on by love and romantic relationships. With so many highs and lows going on during this busy time of a person’s life, studying the human mind and behavior can help offer personal insights and a deeper, richer understanding of the self.

No wonder so many college students decide to major in psychology.


1. Social pressure

Human beings are very susceptible to social pressures. The cooperative and competitive behaviours, which have ensured our survival as a species, also nudge us to spend more than we need.

For example, the social norm of reciprocity obligates us to exchange gifts and good deeds at Christmas.

Competition also fuels consumption: sales reinforce a sense of scarcity, and use time constraints to provoke a fear of missing out among shoppers – even when they’re buying online. Flash sales – such as Black Friday – create a herd mentality, which can provoke panic buying, hysteria or worse. Being aware of these pressures will minimise their effects and allow you to maintain a sense of perspective.


The Psychology Behind Conflict—and When It Can Be Harnessed for Good

Most of us prefer to get through our days without ending up in an argument. We shoot for harmony, understanding, and constructive interactions with our family, our colleagues, even those people with whom we disagree about everything from politics to sports.

But in a time of extreme social and political polarization, asking everyone to get along is unrealistic. And it is also important to remember that some conflict—at least the right kinds of conflict—can be channeled effectively, and even productively.

Kellogg Insight sat down with three Kellogg faculty members, Brian Uzzi, Nour Kteily, and Cynthia Wang, to discuss the psychology and purpose of conflict in our communities, our organizations, and our world.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

We’ll send you one email a week with content you actually want to read, curated by the Insight team.

Brian Uzzi: Conflict has a lot of social functions.

According to the late sociologist Lewis Coser, human beings can’t develop their own identity unless they’re in conflict with another group that they make different from themselves. But some of this conflict can be nonviolent. Sporting competitions are a way for human beings to channel this and develop their identities.

Of course, some of this conflict does flow into the world of physical violence. Then the functions of social conflict get undercut by all the disadvantages of social conflict.

So we can’t get rid of conflict, but we can find conditions under which it’s generally expressed in a positive way.

Nour Kteily: That reminds me of how anthropologist Allen Fisk talks about conflict as a way of regulating essential relationships.

His argument is that sometimes even the use of physical violence can be very intentional and is intended to regulate social relations. For an extreme example, take someone who engages in an honor killing. This isn’t an act of rage that occurs just on the spot. Typically, it’s something that’s painful that a person doesn’t necessarily take a pleasure in doing, but does to uphold the reputation of his family or community.

Cindy Wang: And sometimes conflict can actually be productive. When you go into a group meeting with somebody who is very different from you, the assumption that there’s going to be a conflict actually leads to better outcomes because you prepare better.

For example, in one study, Katherine Phillips and I gave people tasks and said, “Hey, you’re going to be working with a stranger from the opposite political persuasion.” We then saw that knowing this leads you to start preparing a little bit more for the discussion, because you assume that there is going to be conflict. This drives better decisions in the end, because you’re more prepared and more introspective.

On the other hand, if we come from the same group, we don’t challenge each other as much.

Uzzi: Which is interesting because, to some extent, how we think about another group is normally determined by people in authority positions.

There’s a really classic study called “brown eyes, blue eyes.” It’s chilling. A third-grade teacher decides to run this study about the impact of leadership on groups developing conflict towards one another. She comes in and tells the kids, who have already been friends for months, that it’s now been shown that blue-eyed people are clearly much more intelligent, nicer, and generally better than brown-eyed people.

Then every time a blue-eyed person says something intelligent, she emphasizes how intelligent it is. Every time a brown-eyed person makes even the slightest mistake she says, “Oh. Typical characteristic of a brown-eyed person.” Before you know it, the groups have already separated. The kids are already saying the blue-eyed people are smarter than the brown-eyed people, even though it’s a completely scripted characteristic.

Kteily: Then she reverses it the next day.

Uzzi: Which is really amazing.

Kteily: I never actually interpreted it as a study of leadership. I always thought about it as a study of stereotyping. But regardless, it highlights the power of coalitions in shaping our psychology.

You could think about us as individuals who have moral principles that we always uphold. But many of our moral principles may actually follow from what the coalitions we form are incentivized to believe.

Humans are remarkably effective at motivated cognition. Even motivated memories. For example, we have bad memories for immoral things that we’ve done. There’s also a host of research that shows all the ways in which we can reconceptualize behavior, or excuse our immoral misdeeds, or even overlook some of our hypocrisy. And this motivated cognition extends to our in-group as well.

There’s so much misinformation now that people have an inability to process it. When that happens, people look around to see what other people are doing. Then they take that as a rational thing for them to do.

— Brian Uzzi


Giving to others seems to add up to happiness over time.

But there might be an even better way to get your kicks. Norton’s research proves that giving to others can make us happier people.

“It’s not that when you buy things for yourself they don’t make you happy in the moment. Of course they do. That’s why we buy them. It just doesn’t seem to add up to much happiness over time,” he says. “Giving to others seems to add up to happiness over time.”

To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.


Inhabiting a character

When a cosplayer selects a particular costume, they are often tapping into a specific character — or combination of characters — because something about that role speaks to them personally, according to Robin S. Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

Rosenberg, who has written extensively about how people interpret and embrace fictional characters, particularly superheroes, told Live Science that she became interested in studying cosplay after seeing cosplayers in convention centers where she was delivering talks.

“We know from psychology that we all play different roles through the day and week,” Rosenberg said. “Different aspects of me — ‘psychologist,’ ‘wife,’ ‘mother’ — come to the fore in different contexts. I became curious about people who truly inhabit a role, and what’s coming to the fore when you wear a costume.”

Certain costumes offer some people a way of working through personal difficulties, Rosenberg said. Batman, for example, can be an especially meaningful cosplay choice for someone coping with trauma. The dark superhero faced devastating trauma when he was a child — witnessing the brutal murder of his parents — which he overcame to become a hero.

“When people are dressed as Batman, many talk about having [experienced] their own traumatic experiences,” Rosenberg said. “He survived and found meaning and purpose from his experience, and that is inspiring to them.”

Rosenberg noted that Wonder Woman is another enduring and popular choice that resonates with many women, partly because she holds her own in the male-dominated world of costumed comics superheroes. For those cosplayers, dressing as Wonder Woman is a way of celebrating and embracing her power, Rosenberg said.

Recently, a series of images on Instagram featuring a 3-year-old girl costumed as Wonder Woman quickly went viral. Her father, a photographer, said he not only “fulfilled my daughter’s dream of becoming Wonder Woman” by creating an elaborate costume but also staged a photo shoot that placed his daughter in scenes from the upcoming movie, due in theaters June 2, 2017. Judging by the girl’s expressions in the photos, she wholeheartedly embraced her new role as a superhero. [DIY Halloween Costumes: 7 Geeky Getups for Any Party]

Cosplay is a type of performance putting on a costume broadcasts a visible and public statement about the dresser upper’s allegiance to a character or fandom, and it frequently moves strangers to approach the character for conversation and photos. So it surprised Rosenberg to discover from her conversations with cosplayers that many identified as introverts.

“When they wore a costume, they became much more socially outgoing,” Rosenberg said. She explained that, sometimes, wearing a costume allows a person to tap into confidence they didn’t know they had, and helps them overcome shyness in real life.

“When you do any kind of costuming — but particularly cosplay — on the one hand, it gives you permission to step outside yourself,” Rosenberg said. “But on the other hand, it can summon something in you that doesn’t usually come out.”

Building a community

Costume play not only imbues powers upon individuals but also fosters a sense of community, according to Michael Nguyen, a cosplayer and costuming columnist for the “Star Trek” news website Trekmovie.com. “Star Trek” was Nguyen’s gateway to cosplay, he told Live Science. And through creating and wearing “Star Trek” costumes, he discovered a rich and widespread network of people who shared his interest in the characters and in the world they inhabited.

“In ‘Star Trek,’ there’s this idea of diversity and unity,” Nguyen said. “It portrays a future a lot of people want to believe in.”

“They’re physicians, attorneys, in Ph.D. programs — just people who enjoy expressing themselves, and what they hope the future to be.” [10 Futuristic Technologies ‘Star Trek’ Fans Would Love to See] And cosplayers come from all walks of life, he added.

In addition to cosplaying at conventions, Nguyen organizes bimonthly social events for “Star Trek” fans in New York City to get together and hang out in costume. The idea began with five people in 2013 and expanded to 50 to 60 participants three years later. Nguyen described friendships he’s formed over the years with people who live thousands of miles away, with whom he’s shared the fun of “nerding out” over science fiction and who have inspired his cosplay creativity.

“Costuming is more fun if you do it with other people,” Nguyen told Live Science. “You create your own look, but you also feel like part of a universe when you surround yourself with people who enjoy it as much as you do.”

Cosplayers at NYCC agreed. A woman dressed as She-Ra: Princess of Power from the TV show “Masters of the Universe” (Filmation) told Live Science that “the acceptance” was the best part of doing cosplay.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like,” she said. “It’s a community — it’s like a big family. Once a year, I come and I see people I haven’t seen but once a year, and it’s just great.”

Another woman costumed as a Hogwarts student from the “Harry Potter” books and movies described participating in a “flashmob” at NYCC, where 75 attendees in Potterverse cosplay came together for a photo — and for one group member to propose to his girlfriend.

“It’s wearing your interests on your body,” she said. “It’s a really great way to bridge the gap and find the common ground.”


Mindfulness Can Spur Romantic Attraction

You've probably been told that maintaining a bit of mystery at the beginning of a relationship is smart—and that's often true. But when you're in the presence of a partner, practicing mindfulness can potentially increase your attractiveness.

A 2015 paper by Janz, Pepping, and Halford found that heterosexual women thought men were more attractive when they were actively involved in the conversation rather than acting aloof.   The same correlation wasn't made for heterosexual men talking to women, and the study says that it needs more research overall. All of this being said, it doesn't hurt to pay attention to your date!


I Buy, Therefore I Am: The Psychology Behind Why We Choose Our Favorite Brands

What do the shoes you wear, the coffee you drink, and the car you drive say about you?

In what ways do your favorite brands help create your personal brand? How do they contribute to fulfilling your individual needs? And how do your shopping dollars help craft—and confirm—your personal identity?

Over the past 15 years, InMoment has collected and analyzed feedback from billions of customer experiences. We’ve proven—time and again—the direct connection between the meaningful differentiation of these experiences and the success of a brand’s CX objectives, such as willingness to return to, recommend, and, ultimately, promote a business. The customer stories shared at various touch points throughout the customer journey not only capture the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes within each unique experience, but confirm the congruence—or lack thereof—between customer expectations and the reality of the experience delivered.

While the intelligence derived from this feedback is critical for an organization to create optimal, personalized customer experiences that drive business value, there is another salient factor that drives consumer behavior: customer-brand identity. This concept is derivative of social identity theory and describes “an active, selective, and volitional psychological process in which customers compare their own identity to that of the company and identify with the company if it can fulfill one or more self-differential needs.” This connection between consumer and brand is much deeper and more meaningful than a singular experience therefore, it has a greater potential impact on long-term loyalty, advocacy, and value.

Best-in-class brands know if they create a promise, product, and experience that evokes an identity worth aspiring to, customers will pay to align with and even promote it—increasing the lifetime value of the relationship. For instance, professional athletes across the world wear Nike however, the sweeping majority of Nike customers are not actually world-class and/or Olympic athletes. Yet, when a shoe represents something we identify with or aspire to attain, we’re drawn to it. The truth is, most Nike customers are just like you and me: casual athletes or city dwellers who are drawn to the aura of innovation and inspiration associated with The Swoosh. This is a perfect example of a co-created brand identity that satisfies customer needs while staying true to the brand’s promise.

Tiffany & Co. is another example. The blue box and white ribbon exude elegance, class, and sophistication, and therefore, the legacy luxury brand has both the benefit and challenge of living up to a well-established customer expectation. The exclusivity and allure of the iconic Tiffany Experience throughout the entire customer journey—advertising, web presence, in-store experience, packaging, unwrapping, and ownership (of both the jewelry and box!)—is about so much more than a brilliant piece of jewelry. It’s about how we see ourselves, what we aspire to, our connection with the brand, and our identity. And that’s where true brand loyalty is born.

The same philosophy rings true for more utilitarian industries, such as retail pharmacy. While these entities are most commonly visited when people are feeling under the weather, Rite Aidhas not resigned itself to being just a drugstore. Instead, it has deliberately positioned itself as a center for wellness, from its on-site illness-prevention services to its comprehensive loyalty program (aptly named wellness+) to its online and in-store imagery and messaging focused on healthy families and happy lives. Yes, you can visit Rite Aid to buy diapers or have your prescription filled, but the company’s promise is to be a partner in long-term health and wellness that goes beyond a single interaction.

Brands like Nike, Tiffany & Co., and Rite Aid have moved beyond simple, transactional customer satisfaction (which has low self-referentiality), and have found ways to integrate how customers see themselves within the brand’s offering. It’s more than a product or even an experience—it’s an identity. All things being equal, self-perception and aspiration are often the prevailing factors in choosing one product or brand over another.

Creating a strong, enduring customer-brand identity is also a competitive inoculation strategy. It is evident that the more customers identify with a brand, the more resistant they are to competitive attempts at winning their business. In addition, as their identity with a brand strengthens, so does their intent to repurchase and willingness to pay more for goods and services (e.g., waiting all year for a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte or immediately upgrading to the newest Apple iPhone).

So how does a brand integrate so seamlessly into a customer’s life? Creating a strong customer-brand identity that leads to fervent loyalty may seem like a tall order, only achievable by the most established brands. There are, however, steps organizations can take right now to begin building nearly unbreakable customer relationships:

1. Listen to your customers (and understand what they’re saying and feeling). Most brands have formalized listening channels to track customer satisfaction in real time. And while guiding metrics like NPS and OSAT can serve as barometers for how well the company is meeting customer expectations, do not ignore customer stories (e.g., feedback, social reviews, and conversations) delivered through narratives, videos, images, and audio recordings. Customer stories, both solicited and unsolicited, speak the full truth about your customer-brand identity. For this, you need powerful analytics capabilities that can derive meaning from the explicit and implicit emotions that relate to identity, and arm your company with targeted insights, prescriptive recommendations, and predictive foresight.

2. Understand your industry, position, and competition. Creating a strong customer-brand identity is also about offering a differentiated experience from your competitors. In addition to customer stories, competitive benchmarking can help your brand understand its position in the market yet, going beyond simple rankings is imperative. As our team analyzes over one million pieces of customer feedback each day, we find that specific competitors are mentioned frequently—especially when an experience fails to meet expectations. These consumers often cite the reasons why a competitor fits better with who they are and why they may return to that brand despite past negative experiences. Understanding where you sit in your competitive universe is important, but unless you know the reasons why consumers choose products or brands, a clear and actionable path to meaningful customer experiences will remain a mystery.

3. Engineer a clearly-defined, and customer-aligned, brand identity. Understanding your customer base, and more importantly, what drives loyalty for your brand, is critical when crafting and delivering your promise to consumers. Your presentation and offering must be in line with their self-concept and aspiration—especially those with the highest lifetime value. Remember the Tiffany example? The customer-brand identity is at play throughout the customer journey, from research to purchase to ownership. Your brand’s identity must be omnipresent, continually feeding the customer-brand relationship.

4. Create a congruent culture. Have you ever gone shopping and dealt with an employee who clearly did not want to be there? Of course you have. Likewise, it’s evident when employees are not only brand advocates, but likely, customers themselves. For example, at Cabela’s, the frontline staff (also known as Outfitters) are more than just salespeople and cashiers—they’re experienced adventurers with a passion for the outdoors. Further, Outfittersare experts in the department in which they work, allowing them to elicit each customer’s individual needs and give personalized advice. Employees are an extension of your brand, and trust me, your customers have taken notice. Creating products, processes, and a culture aligned with your brand’s identity is infectious. When leaders and frontline employees identify with and advocate for your brand, they will create experiences that exceed customer expectations.

5. Connect through experiences. There’s no simpler way to build customer-brand identity and loyalty than through experiences that are meaningful and authentic to that specific, co-created brand identity. In the hospitality industry, nobody does this better than Cracker Barrel. This home away from home is modeled after a traditional Southern general store with a singular mission: pleasing people. So rather than waiting for your table in a sterile holding area or on a cramped bench, guests can browse aisles of delicious country goodness, creating a seamless retail + dining journey—nary found anywhere else. Experiences that are unique to your brand’s culture, are meaningful to guests, and show you care about your customers are worth their weight in CX gold.

Understanding the underlying psychological mechanisms that motivate consumers to choose, stay, and advocate for brands is a critical endeavor in creating competitive advantage. By moving beyond fulfilling customers’ basic, utilitarian needs and building an ecosystem where who the customer is—or wants to be—integrates with what the brand offers, companies can develop an identity that actualizes customers’ higher-order needs. Using the aforementioned strategies, it’s no wonder the world’s leading brands have outlasted their competitors—crafting products and experiences that fulfill the deep-seated psychological needs of their customers. If trends in CX continue on their current trajectory, the necessity of customer-brand identification will determine who wins in the marketplace.


White nationalists are motivated by feeling 'deprived' and 'insignificant' compared to other groups

Arie Kruglanski , a social psychologist at the University of Maryland, said people become white nationalists for three reasons: a desire to feel significant, attribution of their lack of personal success to another group, and a sense of belonging among other white nationalists.

These motivations could stem from feeling "humiliated" or "insignificant" at school, in relationships with loved ones, or by society at large.

People experiencing these feelings may go on to build a narrative around their sense of insignificance by identifying a group of people (or a person) responsible for their disempowerment.

Finally, someone must find belonging among other white nationalists. "Because we are social beings, we depend on validation by other people," Kruglanski told Business Insider. "They tell you yes, this is the way to regain significance."

Kruglanski's findings are in part backed by research carried out by Nikhil Sengupta , a psychology professor at the University of Kent. In his 2019 study, Sengupta analyzed the rise of white nationalism in New Zealand and found that the more white people perceive their own ethnic group to be more deprived than other ethnic groups, the more they "subscribe to a nationalistic ideology."

"When you feel that your group is deprived, it negatively impacts your well-being, but you can buffer that well-being by clinging to beliefs of national superiority," Sengupta told Business Insider.

While experts can see patterns among white nationalists, predicting when someone will become radicalized can be tricky.

Kruglanski explained while there is no one type of personality trait that "predisposes" people to forms of extremism, white nationalists may have paranoid personalities and believe in conspiracy theories, or be narcissists . People who are aggressive by nature may also feel drawn to more violent forms of extremism.

Ravi Chandra , a psychiatrist and writer at Psychology Today , also said white nationalism was inherently narcissistic. Since narcissists tend to have an inflated sense of self-importance and lack empathy, according to psychologists , they are motivated to view themselves as better than minority groups. Plus, narcissists tend to be insecure, which may result in the feelings of "insignificance" pertinent to white nationalists.

Chandra added a lack of empathy could have been learned from spending too much time on internet sites like 8chan, where the El Paso shooter posted his racist manifesto. "In these days that happened because of too much time spent on hostile internet platforms," Chandra told Business Insider.


The Psychology Of A Rioter

The recent U.K. riots have confounded many armchair psychologists. There seems to be no overt political motive the rioters aren't desperately poor and much of the "rioting" is basically people stealing clothes, shoes and electronics from high street stores. Watching these scenes of frenzied looting unfold on our TV screens, there is one essential question that surfaces repeatedly: What is going on here?

And perhaps this is not a question relevant to the U.K. alone. Earlier this year, a riot broke out in Vancouver over the loss of a hockey game. Sports fans the world over have relentlessly rioted through the years. So, the question, then is, what makes any politically unengaged young person go on a violent rampage?

The idea that people in crowds act differently -- more violently, more passionately and perhaps, with a compromised moral compass -- than individuals acting alone is not new. LeBon and Freud proposed it way back in early 20th century and others have since built on the theory.

But is that really the main motivation at play here?

Some, like Columbia University's Tory Higgins don't think so. Higgins, a professor of psychology who studies motivation, believes that riots such as the these typically occur when people feel "ineffective." "In situations like this, there is a long period prior to the riot of feeling that you're not in control of your own life. It may either be financial, like unemployment or a low-paying job, or political," he says. "They basically don't feel respected or that they're making a difference."

In that sense, says Higgins, the U.K. riots are no different from the riots in the middle east earlier this year. They were both ultimately motivated by similar feelings of powerlessness. So why, then, the totally different outcomes? In one instance, the rioters were celebrated as harbingers of political change, and in the other, denigrated as criminals.

"Crowd psychology shows that when you see other people acting in a certain way, you're more likely to do it. It intensifies whatever is normative in the group," says Higgins. "In the U.K., fighting back is seen as normative. But violence isn't the necessary outcome of every collective action," he says.

Other analyses of the riots have backed up Higgins' theory. In the BBC's report on the psychology of looting, criminologist John Pitts says that looting makes "powerless people suddenly feel powerful" and that is "very intoxicating." "The world has been turned upside down. The youngsters are used to adults in authority telling them they cannot do this or this will happen. Then they do it and nothing happens," he says.

But aside from the more political explanations, there is also the simple idea that rioting and violence can be fun. In his book, "Among The Thugs," writer Bill Buford describes the thrill of being being part of a rampaging British soccer mob. “I had not expected the violence to be so pleasurable . This is, if you like, the answer to the million-dollar question: Why do young males riot? They do it for the same reason that another generation drank too much or smoked dope,” he writes.

“Violence is their anti-social kick, their mind-altering experience, an adrenalin-induced euphoria that might be all the more powerful because it is generated by the body itself.”