Psychological Misconceptions.
Adapted from Annette Taylor on the PSYCHTEACHER elist.

1.    Most people use only 10% of th...
17.   Human memory works like a tape recorder or video camera, and
accurately records the events we have witnessed.

18.  ...
unhappy people.

33.   Large, multi-year contracts motivate athletes to improve their
performance.

34.   It is generally ...
50.        Suicides are most likely when individuals are most severely depressed.

51.        Most people who use heroin b...
66.   Many adults were abused as children but do not remember the abuse.

67.   Schizophrenia is more common than multiple...
84.    Psychology is a science.

85.    We pretty much stop developing after about age 20.

86.    The bigger the brain th...
104.   If you are “tough,” you won’t get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD).

105.   Vision depends on light waves that...
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  1. 1. Psychological Misconceptions. Adapted from Annette Taylor on the PSYCHTEACHER elist. 1. Most people use only 10% of their brains. 2. There are striking stylistic differences between the two hemispheres of the brain, with the left being “analytic” and the right “creative.” 3. Most “crack babies” end up with serious neurological deficits. 4. People with one eye cannot see in three dimensions. 5. Subliminal messages can be used to persuade others to purchase products. 6. Brain activity almost stops during sleep. 7. Playing classical music (e.g., Mozart) to infants and children increases their intelligence. 8. Extra simulation will markedly increase the intelligence of most infants. 9. Immediate contact between a mother and infant after birth is critical for bonding. 10. You can “spoil a baby if you respond to its demands too quickly. 11. Hyperactivity seems to be rooted in an inborn biological dysfunction. 12. Sugar causes hyperactivity in children. 13. The suicide rate is higher among adolescents than any other age group. 14. Adolescence is almost always a period of intense emotional distress and turmoil. 15. Most people experience a mid-life crisis in their 40s or early 50s. 16. Old age is typically associated with increased dissatisfaction.
  2. 2. 17. Human memory works like a tape recorder or video camera, and accurately records the events we have witnessed. 18. In criminal eyewitnesses, confidence is closely related to accuracy. 19. Hypnosis is useful for retrieving memories of forgotten events. 20. Individuals commonly repress the memories of painful or traumatic experiences. 21. Intelligence (IQ) tests are biased against certain groups of individuals (e.g., women, minorities). 22. Most creative accomplishments occur in sudden flashes of insight. 23. Punishment is typically an effective means of changing long-term behavior. 24. If you’re unsure of your answer while taking a test, it’s best to stick with your initial hunch. 25. The defining feature of dyslexia is seeing words backwards (e.g., “pal” instead of “lap”). 26. Hypnosis is a unique “trance” state that differs physiologically from wakefulness. 27. Under hypnosis you can perform feats that are otherwise impossible. 28. Researchers have demonstrated that dreams possess an underlying symbolic meaning. 29. Individuals can learn information (e.g., new languages) while asleep. 30. During “out of body” experiences, individuals can observe themselves from above. 31. The polygraph (“lie detector”) test is a highly accurate means of detecting dishonesty. 32. Happy people experience more positive events in their lives than do
  3. 3. unhappy people. 33. Large, multi-year contracts motivate athletes to improve their performance. 34. It is generally better to express anger openly than to hold it in. 35. Ulcers are caused primarily or entirely by stress. 36. Familiarity breeds contempt: The more times we are exposed to something, the less we tend to like it 37. Most women experience a marked worsening of their moods during the premenstrual period. 38. Opposites attract: People tend to be romantically attracted to individuals who differ from them in their personality, interests, and attitudes. 39. When it comes to communication styles, women talk more than men. (“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”). 40. People’s attitudes are highly predictive of their actual behaviors. 41. Raising children similarly leads to similarities in their adult personalities. 42. Children raised in gay or lesbian families grow up gay or lesbian. 43. Low self-esteem is associated with aggression and violence. 44. Most people with a history of child sexual abuse develop severe personality disturbances in adulthood. 45. People’s responses to inkblots tells us a great deal about their personalities and propensities toward mental disorders. 46. Character traits are encoded in our handwriting. 47. Psychiatric labels tend to cause harm by stigmatizing people. 48. People with schizophrenia possess more than one personality. 49. Most depressed people distort reality.
  4. 4. 50. Suicides are most likely when individuals are most severely depressed. 51. Most people who use heroin become addicted to it. 52. Psychiatric hospital admissions and crimes tend to increase during full moons. 53. The characteristic feature of Tourette’s Syndrome is swearing and cursing. 54. Most severely mentally ill individuals have histories of violence. 55. “Psychological profiling” has been shown to be an effective means of identifying criminals. 56. A large proportion of criminals are acquitted on the basis of the insanity defense. 57. Essentially all people who confess to a crime are guilty of it. 58. Clinical judgment and intuition are the best means of combining information to reach a diagnosis for a patient. 59. A well-trained psychotherapist can establish a person’s true thoughts and problems by analyzing dreams. 60. Abstinence is the only realistic treatment goal for alcoholics. 61. All effective psychotherapies force individuals to confront the “root” causes of their problems in childhood. 62. Electroconvulsive (“shock”) therapy is a physically dangerous treatment. 63. Eyewitness testimony is usually reliable. 64. Hypnosis cannot help people remember things from the first six months of life. 65. High self-esteem is not necessary for high achievement.
  5. 5. 66. Many adults were abused as children but do not remember the abuse. 67. Schizophrenia is more common than multiple personality disorder (dissociative disorder). 68. People with schizophrenia have more than one personality. 69. Human intuition is often accurate and free from error. 70. A baby’s attachment for its mother is not based on mom’s filling the physiological need for food. 71. People who threaten to commit suicide will not carry out the act. 72. The insanity defense is seldom used in criminal cases. 73. Drug education programs (i.e., DARE) are effective in deterring drug use among teenagers. 74. Students have a good sense of how well they know class material. 75. Taste areas for sweet, sour, salty and bitter are well defined on the tongue. 76. Astrologers can predict your personality from the arrangement of stars and planets at your birth. 77. ESP (extrasensory perception) has been documented. 78. Babies who learned sign language as infants have a higher overall IQ. 79. Memory works like a tape recorder or video camera, accurately recording the events we experience. 80. If you life long enough, you will eventually develop dementia. 81. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 82. There is good evidence that people have different learning styles. 83. Abstinence-only pledge programs are highly effective in preventing STDs and teen pregnancies.
  6. 6. 84. Psychology is a science. 85. We pretty much stop developing after about age 20. 86. The bigger the brain the smarter you are. 87. Although one could study hard and do better in school, “intelligence” is mostly the result of heredity and genes. 88. Strong people don't suffer from depression. 89. There are tests to prove a person is mentally ill. 90. A psychologist and a psychiatrist follow the same course of study. 91. Learning to read is hardwired into the human brain, just as talking is. 92. Most psychologists are statisticians. 93. Males have an inborn advantage in math. 94. The large majority of psychologists are therapists. 95. A person’s intelligence is partially determined by brain size. 96. Instinct determines many of our behaviors. 97. A correlation between two variables means that one of those variables causes the other. 98. Most of us would not follow instructions from an authority figure to hurt another person. 99. People who rape do so because they have a strong craving for “sex.” 100. Most homeless people are lazy, don’t want to work and don’t mind living on the streets. 101. Mentally ill people are “dangerous.” 102. People who commit suicide do it for “attention” getting. 103. Dual parents are always better for children.
  7. 7. 104. If you are “tough,” you won’t get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 105. Vision depends on light waves that exit the eyes and hit objects in the environment.

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