ISBN-10:
1405131128
ISBN-13:
9781405131124
Pub. Date:
09/16/2009
Publisher:
Wiley
50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior / Edition 1

50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior / Edition 1

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Overview

In a society in which psychological knowledge is shaped as much, if not more, by supermarket tabloids, talk shows, and self-proclaimed "self-help gurus" as it is by the latest scientific advances, there is a pressing need for a book that helps students and the public distinguish fact from fiction in the world of psychology. 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology answers this need by using popular myths as a vehicle for distinguishing science from pseudoscience. Organized around key topic areas of modern psychology such as brain functioning, perception, development, memory, emotion, intelligence, learning, personality, mental illness, and psychotherapy, this book will help students and laypersons to critically evaluate the information and misinformation that is generated by popular psychology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781405131124
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/16/2009
Series: Great Myths of Psychology Series
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 56,254
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Scott O. Lilienfeld is a Professor of Psychology at Emory University. He is a recipient of the 1998 David Shakow Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Clinical Psychology from Division 12 (Society for Clinical Psychology) of the APA, past president of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, and a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. Dr. Lilienfeld's principal areas of research are personality disorders, psychiatric classification and diagnosis, pseudoscience in mental health, and the teaching of psychology.

Steven Jay Lynn is a Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is past President of the APA’s Division of Psychological Hypnosis, and the recipient of the Chancellor's Award of the SUNY for Scholarship and Creative Activities. His major areas of research include hypnosis and memory.

John Ruscio is an Associate Professor of Psychology at The College of New Jersey. His scholarly interests include quantitative methods for psychological research and the characteristics of pseudoscience that distinguish subjects within and beyond the fringes of psychological science.

Barry L. Beyerstein (the late) was Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University and chair of the British Columbia Skeptics Society. He was Associate Editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, and he co-authored many articles in the Skeptical Inquirer and professional journals.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction The Wide World of Psychomythology 1

1 Brain Power Myths about the Brain and Perception 21

#1 Most People Use Only 10% of Their Brain Power 21

#2 Some People Are Left-Brained, Others Are Right-Brained 25

#3 Extrasensory Perception Is a Well-Established Scientific Phenomenon 29

#4 Visual Perceptions Are Accompanied by Tiny Emissions from the Eyes 33

#5 Subliminal Messages Can Persuade People to Purchase Products 36

2 From Womb to Tomb Myths about Development and Aging 45

#6 Playing Mozart’s Music to Infants Boosts Their Intelligence 45

#7 Adolescence Is Inevitably a Time of Psychological Turmoil 49

#8 Most People Experience a Midlife Crisis in Their 40s or Early 50s 52

#9 Old Age Is Typically Associated with Increased Dissatisfaction and Senility 56

#10 When Dying, People Pass through a Universal Series of Psychological Stages 60

3 A Remembrance of Things Past Myths about Memory 65

#11 Human Memory Works like a Tape Recorder or Video Camera, and Accurately Records the Events
We’ve Experienced 65

#12 Hypnosis is Useful for Retrieving Memories of Forgotten Events 69

#13 Individuals Commonly Repress the Memories of Traumatic Experiences 73

#14 Most People with Amnesia Forget All Details of Their Earlier Lives 78

4 Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks Myths about Intelligence and Learning 83

#15 Intelligence Tests Are Biased against Certain Groups of People 83

#16 If You’re Unsure of Your Answer When Taking a Test, It’s Best to Stick with Your Initial Hunch 87

#17 The Defining Feature of Dyslexia Is Reversing Letters 89

#18 Students Learn Best When Teaching Styles Are Matched to Their Learning Styles 92

5 Altered States Myths about Consciousness 100

#19 Hypnosis Is a Unique “Trance” State that Differs in Kind from Wakefulness 100

#20 Researchers Have Demonstrated that Dreams Possess Symbolic Meaning 104

#21 Individuals Can Learn Information, like New Languages, while Asleep 108

#22 During “Out-of-Body” Experiences, People’s Consciousness Leaves Their Bodies 110

6 I’ve Got a Feeling Myths about Emotion and Motivation 116

#23 The Polygraph (“Lie Detector”) Test Is an Accurate Means of Detecting Dishonesty 116

#24 Happiness Is Determined Mostly by Our External Circumstances 122

#25 Ulcers Are Caused Primarily or Entirely by Stress 126

#26 A Positive Attitude Can Stave off Cancer 129

7 The Social Animal Myths about Interpersonal Behavior 135

#27 Opposites Attract: We Are Most Romantically Attracted to People Who Differ from Us 135

#28 There’s Safety in Numbers: The More People Present at an Emergency, the Greater the Chance that Someone Will Intervene 139

#29 Men and Women Communicate in Completely Different Ways 143

#30 It’s Better to Express Anger to Others than to Hold It in 147

8 Know Thyself Myths about Personality 153

#31 Raising Children Similarly Leads to Similarities in Their Adult Personalities 153

#32 The Fact that a Trait Is Heritable Means We Can’t Change It 158

#33 Low Self-Esteem Is a Major Cause of Psychological Problems 162

#34 Most People Who Were Sexually Abused in Childhood Develop Severe Personality Disturbances in Adulthood 166

#35 People’s Responses to Inkblots Tell Us a Great Deal about Their Personalities 171

#36 Our Handwriting Reveals Our Personality Traits 175

9 Sad, Mad, and Bad Myths about Mental Illness 181

#37 Psychiatric Labels Cause Harm by Stigmatizing People 181

#38 Only Deeply Depressed People Commit Suicide 186

#39 People with Schizophrenia Have Multiple Personalities 189

#40 Adult Children of Alcoholics Display a Distinct Profile of Symptoms 192

#41 There’s Recently Been a Massive Epidemic of Infantile Autism 195

#42 Psychiatric Hospital Admissions and Crimes Increase during Full Moons 201

10 Disorder in the Court Myths about Psychology and the Law 209

#43 Most Mentally Ill People Are Violent 209

#44 Criminal Profiling Is Helpful in Solving Cases 212

#45 A Large Proportion Of Criminals Successfully Use the Insanity Defense 216

#46 Virtually All People Who Confess to a Crime Are Guilty of It 220

11 Skills and Pills Myths about Psychological Treatment 227

#47 Expert Judgment and Intuition Are the Best Means of Making Clinical Decisions 227

#48 Abstinence Is the Only Realistic Treatment Goal for Alcoholics 232

#49 All Effective Psychotherapies Force People to Confront the “Root” Causes of Their Problems in Childhood 236

#50 Electroconvulsive (“Shock”) Therapy Is a Physically Dangerous and Brutal Treatment 239

Postscript Truth is Stranger than Fiction 247

Appendix

Recommended Websites for Exploring Psychomythology 253

References 255

Index 319

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“True knowledge is hard won, and this timely and remarkable book shows us that stamping out falsehoods is no easy task either. The book does it all: it debunks all-too-common beliefs from the pseudoscientific fringe; it presents evidence against a variety of myths that seem like they ought to be true; it explains why people fall prey to such falsehoods; and it ends with some tantalizing facts about mind and behavior that make it clear that the truth can be every bit as amazing as fiction. These 50 myths won't disappear with the publication of this book, but those who read it will enjoy being able to set others-many others-straight.”
Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University

"We have needed this compendium for some time. These factoids and popular (but fallacious) memes about psychology have been exposed in single publications, but critiques of all of them have never been brought together in one place before. The myths chosen by these authors are indeed popular ones—the very ones that psychology instructors encounter every day. The book is an incredible resource for both student and instructor. The critiques are accurate and well written. I’m sure my copy will be dog-eared within six months."
Keith E. Stanovich, author or How To Think Straight About Psychology and What Intelligence Tests Miss

"A much-needed mythbuster for consumers and students of psychology. This engaging book reminds us that applying science to everyday psychology is not only enormously worthwhile, but fun."
Carol Tavris, Ph.D., coauthor of Mistakes were made (but not by me)

"Because I only use 10% of my brain, I had to play Mozart music while reading this book, and then be hypnotized to recover the memory of it because of early childhood traumas that were repressed but occasionally leaked through out-of-body experiences and ESP. And if you believe any of the above you need to read this book...twice if its mythbusting revelations cause you to repress the memory of it."
Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of Why People Believe Weird Things

"Is it true that psychology is mostly common sense? For anyone who wonders, this amazing book—which effectively discounts 50 pop psychology myths and briefly dismisses 250 more—provides convincing answers. And it does more: it offers fascinating examples of how science works and supports critical thinking. For teachers, students, writers, and anyone who wants to think smarter, this classic-to-be will be a valuable resource and a great read."
David G. Myers, Hope College, author, Intuition: Its Powers and Perils

"I find each and every chapter excellent and from a teaching point of view, brilliant. The way in which the history of the myths is presented up to the critical but balanced discussion of each myth, is a great achievement. Scott Lilienfeld is well-known for his user-friendly writing style, but in this text he and his co-authors reach a new level. This led to a book which will not only be easily understandable by undergraduate and especially first year students, but also by the general population."
Dap Louw, Head, Centre for Psychology and the Law, University of the Free State

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50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am immensely enjoying this book, even if I have to rush through it during the break between semesters! The introduction provided interesting background material on how mental health myths began. However, the first several myths have also demonstrated the negative impact of stigma and its sustainability over so many years based on societal views. I have decided that knowing how they began, and the significance of what they infer to others, is important in order to combat their negative influence. I definitely recommend this book to anyone working within the mental health field, but also to those who have a general interest in how myths and legends begin, as well as sorting out the truth from the falsehoods.
yarriofultramar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit dry but informative
kaelirenee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
People only use ten percent of their brains.Playing Mozart with make a developing fetus turn into a smart child.Students learn best when teaching styles match their learning styles.There¿s safety in numbers and opposites attract.Those who confess to crimes are almost always actually guilty.Shock therapy is brutal and hurts the patient.These are popular perceptions of psychology in the everyday world and media. They are presented in television shows, movies, self-help guides, popular best-selling books, and proverbs. Most people, even college-educated people, believe these things to be true. But psychological research does not bear them out. Lilienfeld takes these and 43 other commonly-held perceptions about the mind the personality and presents the distinctions between scientific fact and mass media fiction. He helps his readers gain tools in critical thinking about media and science, understand the major features of psychological research from the last 50 years, and gain a fuller understanding of how the mind really works.This would be an excellent supplement for freshmen psychology courses or for anyone hoping to know a little more about the fact behind some of these widely-held truisms.
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I usually end up with a dissatisfied feeling when reading a book based on rave reviews, this one was not the case. It provides much needed corrective to some of the fuzzy thinking that pervades modern culture, particularly in the area of popularized psychology. He deals with the 50 myths one by one, and also provides a great many more related myths with the pertinent information in a shorter bit at the end of each chapter. Should be required reading for all people in professions that routinely invoke ideas of popular psychology, particularly for those doing motivational speaking.