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10 MYTHS
ABOUT
PSYCHOLOGY
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Ben Ambridge is a senior lecturer in
psychology at the University of
Liverpool, where he researches
chil...
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus
#1
HOW DIFFERENT ARE MEN AND WOMEN REALLY?
Any psychologist will tell you that men are better at spatial awareness than
women...
  Rorschach inkblot tests
Rorschach inkblot tests have basically no
validity when it comes to diagnosing people's
personality and are not used by mo...
#3 Learning styles
Learning styles are made up and are not supported by
scientific evidence. 
So we know this because in tightly controlled e...
#4 Genes
A recent study at University College London found that 58% of the
variation between different students and their GCSE resu...
#5 Left-brained or right-brained
“The left brain is logical, it's good with equations like
this, and the right brain is more creative, so the right
brain i...
#6 10% of our brains
A related myth that you've probably heard of is
that we only use 10 percent of our brains. This is,
again, a complete myth...
#7&8   Mozart Effect
The idea is that listening to Mozart makes you
smarter and improves your performance on I.Q.
tests. 
The truth is that lis...
Another version of the Mozart myth is that listening to
Mozart can make you not only cleverer but healthier, too. 
Unfortu...
#9 Preferences in a romantic partner are a
product of our culture
The data don't back this up. A famous study surveyed people
from 37 different cultures across the globe, from Americans
to...
Sportsmen go through hot-hand streaks,
where they just can't miss#10
In fact, what happens is that if you analyze the
pattern of hits and misses statistically, it turns out
that it's nearly a...
TED Talk:
http://www.ted.com/talks/
ben_ambridge_10_myths_about_psychology_debunked
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10 myths about psychology

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Ben Ambridge walks through 10 popular ideas about psychology that have been proven wrong and uncovers a few surprising truths about how our brains really work.

Published in: Science, Education
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10 myths about psychology

  1. 1. 10 MYTHS ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY
  2. 2. ABOUT THE SPEAKER Ben Ambridge is a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Liverpool, where he researches children’s language development. He is the author of Psy-Q, which introduces readers to some of the major findings in psychology via interactive puzzles, games, quizzes and tests. He also writes great newsy stories connecting psychology to current events. His article "Why Can't We Talk to the Animals?" was shortlisted for the 2012 Guardian- Welcome Science Writing Prize.
  3. 3. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus #1
  4. 4. HOW DIFFERENT ARE MEN AND WOMEN REALLY? Any psychologist will tell you that men are better at spatial awareness than women. But the size of this difference is tiny. In fact, the average woman is better than 33 percent of all men, and of course, if that was 50 percent, then the two genders would be exactly equal.  Any psychologist will tell you that women are better with language and grammar than men.  Again, yes, women are better on average, but the lines are so close that 33 percent of men are better than the average woman, and again, if it was 50 percent, that would represent complete gender equality.  So it's not really a case of Mars and Venus. It's more a case of, if anything, Mars and Snickers: basically the same, but one's maybe slightly nuttier than the other. 
  5. 5.   Rorschach inkblot tests
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. #3 Learning styles
  8. 8. Learning styles are made up and are not supported by scientific evidence.  So 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.
  9. 9. #4 Genes
  10. 10. A recent study at University College London found that 58% of the variation between different students and their GCSE results was down to genetic factors.  Identical twins share 100% of their environment and 100% of their genes, whereas non-identical twins share 100% of their environment, but just like any brother and sister, share only 50% of their genes. So by comparing how similar GCSE results are in identical twins versus non- identical twins, and doing some clever math, we can an idea of how much variation and performance is due to the environment and how much is due to genes. Turns out that it's about 58% due to genes.  So this isn't to undermine the hard work that you and your teachers here put in. If you didn't quite get the GCSE results that you were hoping for, then you can always try blaming your parents, or at least their genes.
  11. 11. #5 Left-brained or right-brained
  12. 12. “The left brain is logical, it's good with equations like this, and the right brain is more creative, so the right brain is better at music.” 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.   What is true that ambidextrous people, or people who use both hands for different tasks, are more creative thinkers than one-handed people, because being ambidextrous involves having both sides of the brain talk to each other a lot, which seems to be involved in creating flexible thinking. 
  13. 13. #6 10% of our brains
  14. 14. A related myth that you've probably heard of is that we only use 10 percent of our brains. This is, again, a complete myth. Nearly everything that we do, even the most mundane thing, uses nearly all of our brains.   That said, it is of course true that most of us don't use our brainpower quite as well as we could. 
  15. 15. #7&8   Mozart Effect
  16. 16. The idea is that listening to Mozart makes you smarter and improves your performance on I.Q. tests.  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 Stephen King stories, is going to make you any smarter in the long run.
  17. 17. Another version of the Mozart myth is that listening to Mozart can make you not only cleverer but healthier, too.  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. This suggests that Mozart should have bit more careful, perhaps, when choosing his sexual partners. 
  18. 18. #9 Preferences in a romantic partner are a product of our culture
  19. 19. The data don't back this up. A famous study surveyed people from 37 different cultures across the globe, from Americans to Zulus, on what they look for in a partner.  And in every single culture across the globe, men placed more value on physical attractiveness in a partner than did women, and in every single culture, too, women placed more importance than did men on ambition and high earning power.  In every culture, too, men preferred women who were younger than themselves, an average of 2.66 years, and in every culture, too, women preferred men who were older than them, so an average of 3.42 years, which is why we've got here "Everybody needs a Sugar Daddy."
  20. 20. Sportsmen go through hot-hand streaks, where they just can't miss#10
  21. 21. In fact, what happens is that if you analyze the pattern of hits and misses statistically, it turns out that it's nearly always at random. Your brain creates patterns from the randomness.  So an exception to this, however, is penalty shootouts. A recent study looking at penalty shootouts in football shows that players who represent countries with a very bad record in penalty shootouts tend to be quicker to take their shots than countries with a better record, and presumably as a result, they're more likely to miss.
  22. 22. TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/ ben_ambridge_10_myths_about_psychology_debunked

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