Five Ways To Manipulate Your Mind

Five ways to manipulate your mind

The human mind never ceases to amaze. Science has been studying them for many years, but when it comes to the deepest secrets, we still have no clue. The more we delve into it, the more new riddles appear.

Let’s start with the idea that your mind allows you to know what is real. Or the illusion that the more rational you are, the closer you are to the truth. Several experiments have shown that these assumptions are not entirely correct.

There are countless ways to deceive the mind. Several studies have shown that it is possible to make people believe things that are not real and distort their perception of existing things.

The mind, then, is not only focused on organization and reason, but also on populating our world with fantasies. Below we explain five experiments that prove this.

1. The human mind and the illusion of the marble hand

In 2014, a group of neuroscientists from the University of Bielefeld in Germany conducted an interesting experiment on perception. The researchers gathered a bunch of volunteers and asked them to sit down and rest their hands on a table.

They then lightly hit the participants’ right hands with a small hammer. At the same time, they played the sound of a huge hammer smashing a piece of marble.

marble hand

A few minutes later, all participants indicated that their hands felt stiff, heavy and hard, as if they were made of marble.

Their brains combined their tactile and auditory perceptions, and as the auditory stimulus was stronger, it won out over the tactile, creating the illusion of having a marble hand.

2. The Prisoner’s Dilemma

The prisoner’s dilemma (in Dutch also called prisoner’s dilemma) is a hypothetical situation proposed in game theory. This theory states that in order to achieve the best solution for all people involved in a competitive problem, everyone must work together in an organized manner.

Suppose there are two prisoners who are complicit in a crime. Not having enough evidence, the two are separated and asked to confess and thus betray the other.

They are offered several alternatives:

  • If both betray each other, they will both get two years.
  • If one betrays the other, but the other remains silent, the first will be released and the second will be given three years (and vice versa).
  • If they both keep quiet, they’ll both only get one year for gun ownership.

If both decide to work together, and thus keep quiet, they will both get the best of it. The dilemma now is that if they both think about their own skin, there is a chance that both of them will not, and so one of them may go free.

This was reproduced as a real experiment, except they put a hot object in one inmate’s hand and ice in the other inmate’s hand. The same was repeated with different prisoners and the results were always the same: the prisoner holding the hot object was less selfish.

Therefore, it seems that temperature influences the way the mind processes information.

3. Consequences of Prolonged Isolation of the Mind

Long-term isolation has been proven to have significant effects on the human mind. A powerful case is that of Sarah Shourd, who was held captive and isolated by Iranians for 10,000 hours. She began to hallucinate continuously and reached a point where she couldn’t tell for sure whether it was her screaming or someone else.

Sarah Shourd

It has also been proven that prolonged isolation accompanied by darkness causes severe changes in perception. The main example is losing the sense of time and circadian rhythm. The daily cycle can go up to 48 hours instead of 24 (36 hours of activity and 12 hours of sleep).

4. The McGurk Effect

Science tells us that senses perform a combined function. What we hear is not exactly independent of what we see, touch or smell. The brain combines these perceptions and constructs a global meaning with them.

For example, studies show that people feel more pain when they look at the injection needle during an injection than when they don’t. It is therefore not so foolish to look away when you are about to get a shot.

Many experiments have been done on this subject, using different senses. In a study in England, people were served a steak in the dark, and they all loved it.

However, when the lights came on and they saw that the steak was blue, most of them vomited.

5. The illusion of the invisible body

It’s amazing how easily the human mind confuses reality with fantasy. The Karolinska Institute in Sweden tested this idea a few years ago by giving a group of 125 volunteers virtual reality glasses.

When they put the glasses on, they saw themselves sitting next to a person who was passing brushstrokes over them, and with each brushstroke they started to disappear.

Virtual reality glasses used in human mind experiments

At the same time, a real person ran brush strokes over their real body. As a result, each participant felt as if they were becoming invisible.

Later in the study, they were placed in front of an audience and their reactions monitored. They all showed lower levels of stress to the public just after feeling like they were invisible.

As you can see, it’s not that hard to trick the mind. All these experiments show that perception can stray far from reality.

These particular experiments have examined physical experiences, but it also applies to abstract experiences. Believe it or not, you’re probably not as close to reality as you think.

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