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Mythbusters Of Psychology

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posted on May, 13 2010 @ 10:16 AM
Mythbusters Of Psychology

Link is a book review by Dr. Harriet Hall, MD

Here’s a sample of the myths they cover:

Criminal profiling is helpful in solving cases. In most studies, professional profilers barely do better than untrained persons. Most of what they say can be inferred from “base rate information” about criminals: guessing that a serial killer is a white male will be right more than 2/3 of the time just based on statistics.

A large proportion of criminals successfully use the insanity defense. The insanity defense is raised in less than 1% of criminal trials and is successful only about 25% of the time.

If you’re unsure of your answer when taking a test, it’s best to stick with your initial hunch. Darn! I wonder how many questions I got wrong over the years because I believed that. 60 studies have consistently shown that students are more likely to change a wrong answer to a right one than vice versa, and students who change more answers tend to get higher test scores.

Students learn best when teaching styles are matched to their learning styles. This turns out to be an urban legend not supported by any acceptable evidence. It could backfire because students need to correct and compensate for their shortcomings, not avoid them. The authors cite a satirical story from The Onion about nasal learners demanding an odor-based curriculum.

It’s better to express anger to others than to hold it in. The evidence shows that expressing anger only reinforces it and leads to more aggression.

Men and women communicate in completely different ways. There are differences, but they are very slight, probably not enough to be meaningful, and definitely not enough to suggest that they are from different planets as claimed in the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Women don’t talk more than men: a study of college students carrying recorders showed that both sexes talked about 16,000 words a day.

A positive attitude can stave off cancer. Not only does the evidence not support this claim, but there is evidence that women who were highly stressed were less likely to develop breast cancer. And attitudes don’t prolong survival: even the most optimistic cancer patients lived no longer than the most fatalistic ones.

Memory is like a tape recorder.

• Memories of traumatic experiences are commonly repressed.

• Subliminal advertising is effective.

• Some people are left-brained, others are right-brained.

• Playing Mozart’s music to infants boosts their IQ.

• When dying, people pass through a universal series of psychological stages.

• Hypnosis is useful for retrieving memories.

• The polygraph can detect lies.

• Low self-esteem is a major cause of psychological problems.

• Only deeply depressed people commit suicide.

• Abstinence is the only realistic treatment goal for alcoholics.

• Childhood sexual abuse usually leads to adult psychopathology.


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