The understanding of the human mind can be a dangerous weapon sometimes, especially in the hands of someone with a sense of humor. Earning an online psychology degree can arm the right person with all that is needed to be a real hoot at parties, around the dinner table, or in everyday life. Following is a list of eight practical applications for your online psychology training — practical if you’re interested in messing with the people around you, that is!
1. Sit in a parked car on the side of the road wearing aviator sunglasses. Bring a hair dryer with you, and point it at cars as they drive by. Do they slow down? People act irrationally in the face of fear, as you have likely learned. Despite the fact that you’re probably not driving a Crown Victoria, and you are pointing a hair dryer instead of a speed monitor, the sight of a potential speed trap will in all likelihood get a reaction. You’ll see drivers slamming on their brakes, cursing, and hoping you don’t see them.
2. If you work in an office, test out the theories of addiction by volunteering to make coffee every morning. For three weeks, brew only decaf. Then switch to espresso, and watch what happens. Switching the coffee out with decaf will slowly but surely break your coworkers’ caffeine addiction. Jump-starting your deskmates’ system with a super-charge of energy once they’ve adjusted to a life without caffeine will provide the perfect canvas for your learning. The psychology of addiction, right before your very eyes. Just be sure to bring your own coffee to work!
3. Experiment with all you’ve learned about the psychology of frustration with the help of an unwitting colleague. Take a screenshot of a coworker’s computer, set it as their background, and then uncheck “Show Desktop Icons” in their computer settings. When faced with a desktop that doesn’t respond, they’ll get frustrated. As you have likely learned, there are three psychological responses to frustration: withdrawal, compromise, and aggression. Let’s see if your victim leaves the office, figures out another way to access their files, or throws the computer out the window. They really should give you credit for this sort of fieldwork.
4. Stare at someone without blinking. In all likelihood, your subject’s psychological response will tap into the fight or flight instinct. Eye contact is fine in small doses, but when you don’t break eye contact, you’ll come across as threatening. Will they run? Or will they sock you in the gut? Book learning can only teach you so much.
5. When giving assignments to employees, randomly push deadlines backward or forward. This is a psychology strategy utilized by many con artists. By manipulating time, you can force those around you to make rash decisions, and possibly even induce a panic state.
6. Test out the psychology of fear on a large scale when visiting the zoo. On your way out, run through the gates with your arms over your head screaming, “They got out, oh god, they escaped!” Depending on how convincing you are, people around you will have no reason not to believe that the animals really have escaped. Even if their fears are assuaged, you’ll always have the memory of those few seconds when everyone worried about the lion coming to eat their children. Psychology degrees can be such beautiful things!
7. In the middle of an argument, suddenly refuse to take a stand. Respond weakly. Do not engage more than is absolutely necessary to keep the conversation flowing. This rapid change of speed will make your opponent trip up. The loss of momentum in an argument depowers the passion from the other person, since we always try to mirror the tone of those we’re interacting with. Isn’t learning fun?
8. Constantly play pranks, then get earnest. People will be so afraid of being duped again that they’ll become paranoid at even your kindest gestures.
Taking online psychology courses can be a great way to gain valuable insight into the human psyche, the fight-or-flight response, and more. All of these things can be used to your advantage–and might even help you learn! If your victims are willing to talk to you after all that you put them through, you know that you’ve found the best friends any online psychology degree graduate could ask for. Now be nice.