Slide 1 of 51
Ever noticed that when you stare at your fingers for long enough they start transforming into alien appendages before your very eyes? You see the mundane for what it really is: freaky-looking.
The same goes for the rest of our traits. We take for granted that funny things make us yell out spastically also known as laughing and that we spend one-third of every day in a deathlike state of suspended animation known as sleep. But with a little contemplation, these behaviors seem truly bizarre.
Here are 15 mundane yet weird things we do all the time, and why we do them.
Contributing reporting by Ben Mauk, Corey Binns, Stephanie Pappas and Michelle Bryner.
Prefer one hand to anotherSlide 2 of 51
Prefer one hand to another
Take another look at those hands of yours. You have two of them, correct? Then why is it that you tend to use just one of these appendages for so many tasks?
Whether you're a leftie or a righty, the fact that you have a dominant hand at all is a bit weird, according to scientists. After all, having two hands with excellent motor skills would be a real boon for humans.
One theory about why people have dominant hands has to do with the way the brain processes speech. The theory holds that the left brain hemisphere — where the speech center of most humans resides — is more intricately wired than the right brain hemisphere. The left brain hemisphere also happens to control the right side of the body. It's possible that the extra wiring in this part of the brain is behind the dominance of the right side of the body in right-handed people.
However, researchers have found that not all righties have speech centers residing in the left brain hemisphere. In other words, this theory might not be correct. However, there are lots of other theories that could help explain human handedness.
Next: Telling liesSlide 3 of 51
LieSlide 4 of 51
Here's a lesson you've probably learned on plenty of occasions: People lie. We do it for many reasons (some malicious and others completely benign), but everybody lies sometimes. And we'd be lying if we said we knew why.
The truth is that scientists aren't sure why humans tell lies, but they do know that lying is common and that it is likely linked to several psychological factors. Foremost among these factors is self-esteem, according to Robert Feldman, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts. Feldman, who studies the underlying causes of human deceit, has found that when a person's self-esteem is threatened, he or she will "immediately begin to lie at higher levels."
"We're trying not so much to impress other people but to maintain a view of ourselves that is consistent with the way they would like us to be," Feldman told Live Science in 2006. In other words, people often lie to make social situations easier. This might mean telling a lie to avoid hurting someone else's feelings or to avoid a disagreement.
But bald-face lies (i.e. making something up or falsifying information) often occur when people are trying to avoid punishment or embarrassment, according to William Earnest, an assistant professor of communication at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, and co-author of the book "Lying and Deception in Human Interaction" (Pearson, 2007).
Next: Altering our bodiesSlide 5 of 51
Alter our bodiesSlide 6 of 51
Alter our bodies
In 2015, Americans spent more than $13.5 billion on surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That's a lot of nipping and tucking.
Why do humans feel the need to alter their bodies with surgeries or permanent ornamentations, like tattoos and piercings? Scientists think the answer is pretty simple: People think plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures will make them look better and therefore, feel better.
"There's this idea that if you look better you'll be happier. You'll feel better about yourself," said psychologist Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families. "And logically that makes so much sense, because we live in a society where people do care what you look like."
However, some bodily alterations — specifically plastic surgery — don't necessarily make you appear more attractive to others, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery in 2013.
Next: GossipSlide 7 of 51
GossipSlide 8 of 51