Psychology

Crash courses and sparks of insights on scientific concepts involving thoughts, mind, behaviour, development, and evolution of cognition.

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Playful aggression or cuteness aggression is the term for when one experiences an aggressive response to an adorable stimulus like a baby’s cheeks or a fluffy unicorn toy. The response is a harmless urge to pinch and squeeze a baby’s face. People would say something like “You’re so cute and I am going to eat you up!” in an aggressive manner, gritting their teeth or clenching their fists, but in a harmless and tender way.

This is similar to a stimulus of intense happiness evoking an accompanied negative emotion like crying to keep the hormones balanced.

Learned helplessness is a psychological phenomenon where an animal, after repeated traumatic experiences, eventually stops making any attempts to act upon it.

Way back, behavioural psychologists experimented on dogs by putting them in a cage where one half of the floor can be shocked. One group of dogs had the option to jump over a small barrier to avoid the shock. Another group of dogs didn’t have that choice. They had to endure the shock as long as it lasted.

Over time, after repeated trials, when the first group of dogs was put in an escapable shock cage again, they escaped by jumping the barrier — just how they were conditioned to. But the second group that had ‘learned’ to endure the shock refused to escape and took the shock passively, even when the escape was as easy as jumping the barrier.

Similarly, when humans are exposed to repeated negative emotions without escape, we eventually learn the ‘helpless’ state and continue to endure it even when we are capable of acting upon it or realising that we have control over the situation.

For the dogs, the learned helplessness was alleviated by training them to take the steps towards the escape. And in humans, just the realisation of the fact that we have control makes a huge difference in recovering from depression.

Most of our older memories are partially distorted and has fake details in it. This is a very common occurrence as recalling or ‘remembering’ something is technically a reconstruction of events you learned and encoded into your memory ages ago. Between learning that memory and you recalling it now, you would have learned a lot of new and similar information. And these new encodings in your brain interferes with the old memories and affects the way how you recall them back.

In other words, new memories often interfere with old memories. Remembering is a very complicated process and most of the old stuff what you remember now is likely filled with made-up details. Biased, fabricated, and prone to errors.