Posted by: Mark | February 24, 2014

Myths of Psychology

No, I haven’t turned Scientologist. I just read Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein’s 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology (2010).

A few facts:

Flensmark’s Medical Hypotheses (2004) suggested that schizophrenia didn’t appear until shoes became widespread (~1000 AD).

No one is really “right-brained” or “left-brained.” According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences: “we have no direct evidence that differential hemispheric utilization can be trained.”

According to repeated experiments (Ekman & O’Sullivan, 1991; Ekman, O’Sullivan, & Frank, 1999) judges and police are no better at detecting lies than the average person. But they’re sure they can. According to Kassin, Meissner, & Norwick, in 2005; and Lassiter, Clark, Daniels, & Soinski, in 2004, neither police or college students could detect false confessions but police were far more confident that they were right.

Pluralistic ignorance – a group effect, when no one else responds, individuals feel compelled not to respond as well, i.e., silent classroom scenario, when asked if anyone has a question, even students who do, feel compelled not to ask.

After hearing a lecture on bystander intervention aspect of pluralistic ignorance, in an experiment, students helped a man in trouble 43% of the time as opposed to students who didn’t 25%.

Pigeons can be taught to tell paintings from different artists (Monet from Picasso) and different composers (Bach and Stravinsky)

Koro – psychological condition where a man believes his penis and testicles are disappearing or a woman believes her breasts are shrinking away. Indian authorities used loudspeakers in the streets to tell men that their genitals were not disappearing in 1982 and in 1994 sent out officials to measure men’s penises to prove they weren’t.


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