Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

Top psychology myths


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Top psychology myths/misconceptions

1) We only use 10% of our brain capacity

This isn’t the case. We use every part of our brain. Obviously, we may use slightly less when we are resting instead of working out a complex challenge but in general, we use all of our brains.

2) Schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder

The media perpetuate this myth by confusing Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder. Schizophrenia is characterised by hallucinations and delusions but NOT by more than one personality.

3) Differences between men and women

While it is true that men are better at spatial awareness – the difference is minimal! In fact 33% of women have better spatial awareness than the average man. Any Psychologist will tell you that women are better than men at grammar and language but again the difference is so tiny and 33% of men are better at it than the average woman. So it’s not really a case of Mars and Venus – more like Mars and Snickers.

4) The Rorschach Test

Rorschach inkblot tests have basically no validity when it comes to diagnosing people’s personality and are not used by modern-day psychologists. In fact, one recent study found that when you do try to diagnose people’s personalities using Rorschach inkblot tests, schizophrenia was diagnosed in about one sixth of apparently perfectly normal participants.

5) Learning Styles – fictitious

Learning styles are made up and are not supported by scientific evidence. We know this because in tightly controlled experimental studies, when learners are given material to learn either in their preferred style or an opposite style, it makes no difference at all to the amount of information that they retain.  It’s obvious that the best presentation format depends not on you, but on what you’re trying to learn.Could you learn to drive a car, for example, just by listening to someone telling you what to do with no kinesthetic experience? Could you solve simultaneous equations by talking them through in your head and without writing them down? Could you revise for your architecture exams using interpretive dance if you’re a kinesthetic learner? No. What you need to do is match the material to be learned to the presentation format, not you.

6) Left brain is logical, right brain is creative ??

This is a myth because nearly everything that you do involves nearly all parts of your brain talking together, even just the most mundane thing like having a normal conversation.

7)Listening to Mozart makes you clever

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be true of someone who listened to the music of Mozart almost every day, Mozart himself, who suffered from gonorrhea, smallpox, arthritis, and, what most people think eventually killed him in the end, syphilis.

The original study found that participants who were played Mozart music for a few minutes did better on a subsequent I.Q. test than participants who simply sat in silence. But a follow-up study recruited some people who liked Mozart music and then another group of people who were fans of the horror stories of Stephen King. They played the people the music or the stories. The people who preferred Mozart music to the stories got a bigger I.Q. boost from the Mozart than the stories, but the people who preferred the stories to the Mozart music got a bigger I.Q. boost from listening to the Stephen King stories than the Mozart music. So the truth is that listening to something that you enjoy perks you up a bit and gives you a temporary I.Q. boost on a narrow range of tasks. There’s no suggestion that listening to Mozart, or indeed Stephen King stories, is going to make you any smarter in the long run.

Psychology is full of myths as well as research, where results have been misinterpreted or misreported. Psychology does however strive to be empirical (evidence based) and looks for scientific explanations to help us understand ourselves and the world we live in.

Mandy X

Source: TED Talks. Ben Ambridge – 10 myths about psychology debunked.

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