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  • Is the following true or false? Psychiatric hospital admissions and crimes increase during full moons.
    Is the following true or false? Psychiatric hospital admissions and crimes increase during full moons.
    FalseWhilst you can probably see a bit better when you go out on a full moon, you are not more likely to get murdered, be in a car accident or be bitten by a rabid dog. Researchers have unearthed no good evidence of a lunar effect, despite earlier flawed findings and ideas promoted by non-scientists. Why has this mythand others about purely coincidental relationshipspersisted? It is because people tend to remember events that confirm their beliefs and ignore those that dont (this is called confirmation bias). So if your house got burgled on a full moon, you will remember it and probably blame a lunatic (pun intended). Despite evidence to the contrary, police departments have been known to put more cops on duty when the moon is full. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Is it true that most people use about 10% of their brains only?
    Is it true that most people use about 10% of their brains only?
    FalseWho wouldnt want to believe that we all have 90% of untapped brain potential in us all? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Research indicates that pretty much all of our brain is used for a variety of functions. This includes memory, visual and auditory processing, emotion, and higher cognitive functioning such as complex problem solving. Otherwise we could all afford to ride our bike without helmets and suffer head trauma without losing any brain functionality. So dont believe you have significant brain machinery that is not being used. Certainly we can improve our brain function, but this is usually through hard work and studying to get ahead in life. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Is the following true or false? Subliminal messages cannot persuade people to purchase products.
    Is the following true or false? Subliminal messages cannot persuade people to purchase products.
    1. TrueIts hard enough for advertisers to impress people with blatant images let alone when they are barely detectable. Similarly, the band Judas Priest gained publicity through claims that satanic messages could be heard backwards in their heavy metal songs. However, in a controlled test, Vokey and Read (1985) found suggestibility and imagination were the key factors at work. Despite significant debunking of the idea by the scientific community, the belief that subliminal advertisements are effective pops up occasionally, such as in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • It’s better to express anger to others than to hold it in.
    It’s better to express anger to others than to hold it in.
    FalseEven though most people believe relieving anger is healthier than bottling it up, you are only more likely to get angry as a result. The catharsis belief that you feel better after letting off steam is just not true. Expressing anger is only helpful when it is accompanied by constructive problem-solving to address the source of anger. You wont be able to do that when the next person cuts you off at the lights, so best to just forget about it and get on with your day. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Subliminal messages cannot persuade people to purchase products.
    Subliminal messages cannot persuade people to purchase products.
    TrueIts hard enough for advertisers to impress people with blatant images let alone when they are barely detectable. Similarly, the band Judas Priest gained publicity through claims that satanic messages could be heard backwards in their heavy metal songs. However, in a controlled test, Vokey and Read (1985) found suggestibility and imagination were the key factors at work. Despite significant debunking of the idea by the scientific community, the belief that subliminal advertisements are effective pops up occasionally, such as in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Our handwriting does not reveal anything about our personality traits.
    Our handwriting does not reveal anything about our personality traits.
    TrueIt would certainly be nice to change a pessimist into an optimist by assisting them with their cursive writing style, however research on the study of handwriting, or graphology, suggests that graphologists cannot predict a persons personality better than chance factors. The same is true of astrology, which is also commonly misperceived to have a causal relationship to personality traits. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Individuals tend to repress memories of traumatic experiences.
    Individuals tend to repress memories of traumatic experiences.
    FalseIf you were abducted by an alien, research indicates that you would be likely to remember it. The concept of repressed memories, or dissociative amnesia, can be traced to Sigmund Freuds belief that neuroses and hysteria are caused by sexual molestation in childhood. In fact, there is no mention of dissociative amnesia from a traumatic event in fiction or non-fiction since the 1800s. Moreover, often people remember traumatic events, such as natural disasters and war, all too well in the form of disturbing flashbacks. The concept has not been validated with experimental research we can usually explain memory loss in terms of ordinary forgetfulness. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Opposites attract – we are romantically attracted to people who are different from us.
    Opposites attract – we are romantically attracted to people who are different from us.
    FalseThe widespread assumption that you need a yin to your yang may make life much more exciting for you in the short term, however research indicates that we are much more likely to choose a partner who shares similar interests to ourselves. Similarity in personality traits, especially conscientiousness, is not only a predictor of initial attractiveness, but also marital stability and happiness. Being too different from our partner is a good predictor of relationship break-up and is unlikely to be a recipe for long-time love. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Men and women communicate in completely different ways.
    Men and women communicate in completely different ways.
    FalseMen are not from Mars and women are definitely not from Venus. By using Cohens d statistic, which determines how large the difference between groups is, relative to the variability within these groups, interesting observations have been made. Not only do men talk pretty much the same number of words a day as women, they dont interrupt more either. In fact, when women were in charge, studies found that they interrupted more than their male counterparts. Also, women are only slightly (statistically) more self-disclosing than men. However, research does suggest women are better than males at reading emotions from peoples faces. Thats why we need more female United Nation negotiators! Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Psychiatric hospital admissions and crimes increase during full moons.
    Psychiatric hospital admissions and crimes increase during full moons.
    FalseWhilst you can probably see a bit better when you go out on a full moon, you are not more likely to get murdered, be in a car accident or be bitten by a rabid dog. Researchers have unearthed no good evidence of a lunar effect, despite earlier flawed findings and ideas promoted by non-scientists. Why has this mythand others about purely coincidental relationshipspersisted? It is because people tend to remember events that confirm their beliefs and ignore those that dont (this is called confirmation bias). So if your house got burgled on a full moon, you will remember it and probably blame a lunatic (pun intended). Despite evidence to the contrary, police departments have been known to put more cops on duty when the moon is full. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

  • Individuals can learn information, like new languages, when they are asleep.
    Individuals can learn information, like new languages, when they are asleep.
    FalsePsychological research has shown that playing audios of complex information such as a new language, during your sleep, does not help you learn that complex information (even though you think it may). At most, it disturbs your sleep so that you need more of it! Reference: Burton, L., Westen, D., & Kowalski, R.M. (2009). Psychology (2nd ed.). Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Human memory works like a tape recorder or video camera and accurately records the events we’ve experienced.
    Human memory works like a tape recorder or video camera and accurately records the events we’ve experienced.
    FalseEven eyewitnesses who get a good long look at a criminal often confidently identify the wrong perpetrator in a police line-up. How could this happen if our memories worked like a video camera? Shouldnt we just be able to rewind and press play? Seems other factors, such as beliefs, needs, emotions and hunches get in the way of reproducing memories. In fact, our memories are more reconstructive than reproductive, meaning that our mental models, past learning and experiences influence what we choose to remember. Reference: Lilienfeld,S., Lynn,S.J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B.L. (2010). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

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