Memes Explained By Psychology

Memes Explained By Psychology

Hhe current most popular form of communication is providing visual definitions of psychological topics.

In today's culture, especially online culture, it is becoming increasingly popular to communicate using memes, or popular photos that circulate conveying a certain, often comical, message. Memes are plastered across social platforms, starting and prolonging discussions about topics ranging from politics to celebrities to national disasters. But what makes memes so popular? How do meme creators know what will appeal to people? One word: psychology. Many memes can be explained using psychological terms, which is likely what makes them so popular. Here are 8 popular memes explained using psychological topics.

1. Biden memes - Co-dependency

Vice President Joe Biden has found himself at the center of many memes, particularly ones like this that depict him in different variations of a strong emotional attachment to President Obama. This meme revolution began after Biden tweeted a photo of his and Obama's matching friendship bracelets for the President's birthday. These memes show, on Biden's part, co-dependency, which is defined as excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner.

2. Starter Pack - Schemas

Starter pack memes depict 3-4 things that we often associate with a popular behavior, in this case asking to speak to the manager. This represents a schema, defined as a mental model of aspects of the world or of the self that is structured in such a way as to facilitate the processes of cognition and perception. In other words, schemas help us to understand the world via things we already know about. In the case of the starter pack meme, this means using photos to explain the popular behavior.

3. Clapbacks - Hostile Aggression

A clapback is a response, often to a criticism or an unwanted question. These responses are a perfect example of hostile aggression, which is specified as aggression driven by anger and performed as an end in itself. Rather than just answering the question or ignoring the criticism, people are often frustrated by these stimuli and thus, the aggressive clapback was born.

4. Bad Luck Brian - Fundamental Attribution Error

Bad Luck Brian features a bad yearbook photo that has become a symbol for misfortune. The bad things that happen in these memes are an example of the Fundamental Attribution Error, which is a tendency to overestimate the degree that behaviour is determined by personal characteristics, beliefs and attitudes that minimises the effects of the surrounding situation. People assume that these bad things, in this case getting hit by a firetruck, happen as a result of Brian's bad luck, a personality trait. This practice doesn't account for the influence of situational factors. Brian getting hit didn't have to be a result of his bad luck, it is just as likely that something about the situation caused this to happen. Perhaps the person driving the truck hated Brian and did it on purpose!

5. Evil Kermit - Cognitive Dissonance

The Evil Kermit taps into the idea of the little devil that sits on our shoulder and encourages us to do things that we know aren't necessarily the right thing to do. However, we sometimes give in because we want to do these things even if we believe that they're unsound. This represents the theory of cognitive dissonance, which is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change. In other words, it's when you believe two conflicting things at the same time. You can want believe that it is best to stay out of drama while also wanting to start some.

6. Aliens - Belief Perseverance

This meme features a man who tends to blame everything on aliens, even if another plausible explanation is presented. This shows belief perseverance, which is a tendency to persist with one's held beliefs despite the fact that the information is inaccurate or that evidence shows otherwise. Even when it's not aliens, it's aliens, and you will likely never convince this meme otherwise.

7. "This is fine" dog - psychological burnout

One of my personal favorites, this meme features a dog sitting in a house that is on fire stating that "this is fine." This shows something that many people face in school or high demand careers known as burnout. Burnout is the mental, emotional and physical exhaustion from a job or career that shows lack of motivation and a decrease in performance. Sure, the room might be on fire, but if you're burnt out due to stress you just don't have the mental capacity to care.

8. Other person vs. Me - Upward/Downward Social Comparison

These are comparison memes, which show one of two things: making fun of yourself by showing how much better others are than you, or showing how you are significantly better than someone else. The first would be an example of upward social comparison, which is comparing ourselves to others who are better than we are. This is often a result of low self-esteem. Inversely, the latter option would be an example of downward social comparison, which is a method of self-protection where we compare ourselves with people are less well off. We try to raise our self-esteem by looking at what we have that others do not.

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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10 Confessions Of A Twenty-Something Target Addict

I bet my mom does a deep sigh whenever she sees a Target charge on my debit card.


When I moved into my apartment last year there were a lot of things that I was excited about. I am living on my own for the first time, there are some really cute dogs that visit the dog park by my building, but I was most excited when I found out that there is a Target right down the street from me.

In my hometown, I had to drive about 15 minutes to get to the nearest Target. Having a Target within walking distance of me now is a very dangerous thing. I'll admit it, I am a Target addict. I would say that the first step to curing my addiction is admitting I have a problem, but if I'm being honest, I don't really have any desire to change my ways. Here are the 10 realizations I've had about my Target addiction.

1. I spend way too much time at my local Target

When I go to the self check out and the little voice says "Thanks, see you again soon" I always think to myself "yeah, you'll probably see me tomorrow."

2. I can't ever leave with just one thing 

I could go in there with every intention of grabbing one thing and walking out, but let's be honest, that would be a miracle. If I go in to get some shampoo you best believe I'm going to walk out with a new nail polish, some ice cream, and probably a new shirt.

3. Target is stepping up their clothing game

I am in love with Wild Fables and Universal Threads! Honestly, 99% of my wardrobe is from Target.

4. It's super convenient

Target is always there for me! I can get everything from cleaning supplies to clothes all in one place.

5. Everyone who works there is so nice

Every time I go in there someone says good morning/afternoon to me and there is always someone around to grab the Graeter's chocolate chip ice cream off the top shelf of the freezer for me because I'm way too short to reach it on my own. Not all heroes wear capes sometimes they wear khakis and a red shirt.

6. They've got some great deals

My Target loves to put my favorite wine on sale. At 23, there isn't much that makes me happier than cheap wine.

7. I should always go in with a list of what I need, but I never do

Usually what ends up happening is I'll go into Target to get something and I'll leave with a bunch of stuff I don't need and forget the thing I went in there to get.

8. I know my local Target like the back of my hand

I spend so much time there that I could tell you where everything is in the store. Need some groceries? First floor back right corner. Need a new phone charger? Upstairs as soon as you get off the escalator. I could practically work there at this point.

9. There is no such thing as a quick trip to Target


I may know where everything is in the store, but that doesn't mean I don't get distracted by everything. The dollar section in the front of the store always catches my eye and I can't go to Target and not peruse the office supplies aisle and the home décor.

10. A Target gift card is like gold to me 

Target gift cards are the best gift anyone could get me. They are super precious to me, but I use them pretty quickly. If I go into Target with a gift card burning a hole in my pocket there is a good chance I'm leaving with a new pair of jeans or a candle.

Clearly, my love for Target runs deep. Moving into an apartment building that is right down the street from a Target has been tragic for my bank account, but very beneficial for my overall happiness.

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