Wednesday, June 15, 2011

7 Psychology Related Myths You Hear Every Day

There are some general statements about psychology and people that everybody uses. Unfortunately, most of the general “knowledge” is untrue. Here are 7 of the most popular myths you probably still believe to be true or at least people around you use as arguments against you. You should stop believing that general knowledge is true without having any proof.

1 We use 10% (2%, 1%, 5%) of our brain

The sad part is that I heard this one in school. Unfortunately, many people still believe that we use only a small part of our brain and they shouldn’t be blamed, I’ve heard it so many times in movies, I’ve read about it in different articles and books; it seems that people really want it to be true. I guess people love to believe that if they can access the rest of their brain they will have superpowers. I’m sorry folks, we use our whole brain and if you are not Einstein you can blame your genes or your lack of interest in Physics during high school. 

2 The abused become abusers

Many people believe that if a person was abused during childhood they will probably abuse their children too. This is an unfounded statement and actually a study on 244 people shows that only “26 of the 224 former victims (12%) had subsequently committed sexual offences-in almost all cases with children-mainly outside their families”. It also seems that about 20-44% of those who were abused, had no symptoms or mental health problems. So, think again before pointing the finger next time.

3 Criminal profilers are helpful when searching for a criminal

If movies have taught us anything, it is the fact that the beautiful and mysterious criminal profiler helps the police catch criminals with her great wit and knowledge. Apparently they are useless and what they do it’s more like cold reading. Let me give you an example: the murderer is a Caucasian male, unmarried, no kids, lonely, etc. I’m no profiler, but I just described most of the murderers. A study showed that “profilers do not decisively outperform other groups when predicting the characteristics of an unknown criminal”.

4 People with mental problems are violent and they will kill you

Most people will tell you that those with mental problems will < insert extreme violent behavior here > you.
But violence induced by mental disorders is pretty rare (this doesn’t apply to those who take M&Ms as treatment or mentally ill people who drink alcohol). Of course, I’m not saying that there is no violence related to mental problems but having the preconceived idea that every person with a mental illness is violent can be very wrong and offensive. People with a history of drug abuse and alcohol are indeed violent and actually being recently divorced or unemployed makes you more likely to be violent than having a mental illness.

5 You are safer in a crowded environment

If you know what diffusion of responsibility is, you know this is untrue. The bystander effect tells us that the chance of you being helped in an emergency situation is inversely proportional with the number of people in that area.
Just watch these clips about people who passed by the victims without helping them:

6 Opposites attract

The ugly girl and the hot popular guy fall in love (and vice versa) may be popular in movies but not in real life. Actually people seek partners with similar qualities. It seems that having a partner with a similar personality is a big plus for a relationship, while being with somebody completely different might lead to ending your relationship prematurely. However, it seems that this saying is true when it comes to money . A study showed that the more dissatisfied they were, the more likely each participant was to be attracted to individuals with opposing spending views. Stop complaining that your partner is a big spender, you want them to be like that.

7 Positive thinking helps

I’m sorry to tell you but positive thinking doesn’t cure cancer, doesn’t help your self esteem or your happiness. I’m not promoting pessimism or something, but sometimes it is better to stop believing that you can do the impossible. If you know somebody who has low self esteem, don’t tell them to think positive, it will make them feel even worse. Perhaps concentrating on having success in some tasks will probably enhance your self esteem but repeating “I am the best” like a robot might make you even more depressed. Maybe accepting who you are and what you are is the best solution here. 


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  2. Yet again, i don't agree with point 7. Considering that most diseased are created by the brain, i am convinced that positive thinking helps.

    May be something i say based on personal experience, but i really believe it.

    And i also think that positive thinking helps in almost any endeavor.

    But positive thinking doesn't have to mean "I am the best". Positive thinking it's more in the terms of "I can be better and maybe one day i will be the best".

    How do the best become the best? Thinking they are not the best?

  3. Please explain how diseases are created by the brain. Lung cancer is not created by our brain. I never stated that an optimal level of optimism is not right. Actually I said that I'm not promoting pessimism, but perhaps knowing your limits is better than deluding yourself.
    The best become the best by doing, not hoping. Saying to yourself that you are the best without trying to succeed at something will not get you anywhere. After all, positive thinking has no effect if there's no will involved. Of course, I agree that too much pessimism is as counterproductive as too much optimism.

  4. Well, i'll give you one example. Are you familiar with the term auto-immune disease? An auto-immune disease is when your immune system generates antibodies that instead of attacking your infected cells, attack the healthy ones.

    Who controls the immune system? The brain. This is most likely the result of an emotional or psychological trauma, or simply...negative thought.

    The treatment is made of immuno-suppressors (don't know the actual term) that don't stop the creation of antibodies, but alter their effect so that they become almost useless. This can have major side-effects, the most important being the weakening of the whole immune system.

    Anyways, the problem doesn't lie in the intensity of the antibodies, it lies in the fact that they are being created, again, by the brain. In order to be cured, you need to make your brain stop making those antibodies.

    Impossible you may say but if negative thought creates those antibodies, shouldn't positive thought stop them? Well, it should, and it does. Many doctors insist nowadays on this aspect.

    The main problem is that those positive or negative thoughts express themselves mostly in the sub-conscience so it's a bit hard to control them.

    But believing you can become healthy can actually make you healthy. I'm not saying to believe you are healthy when you have cancer, but you ought to believe you will be cured.

  5. You are right and I believe that the stress involved with negative thinking can have a bad influence on your immune system. However, I already told you(in my other comment), I believe that positive thinking is just a contributing factor, but not the cause to people's healing. Diet, lifestyle and the treatment also play an important part, especially in autoimmune diseases. And although we hear about cases when positive thinking cured somebody, those are just a few and we hear about them because people like to make nice stories popular. But the reality is that positive thinking doesn't work for everybody

  6. @LadyGoGo Yes they are, I was pretty shocked when I watched them too...

  7. You're right, everyone seems to think we only using 10% (or less) of the brain. And I think you're right that this means, for people, that we have hidden powers.

    I sometimes tell people that we may not be using our brain/mind as effectively as we can, tapping into all the creativity and passion-for-life that we could be. But that's something we can say on the basis of our intuitions about not realizing our potential. It's not that big parts of our brain our sitting there dormant. :)

  8. I agree Jon, a lot of people believe that, which is also sometimes promoted by the media. Unfortunately, I've even heard psychology students affirming this idea.

  9. we use very small part of our brain is experimented in mouse..when mouse brain's 80% of cerebral cortex was removed,..noting effects its is proved in many seem to lack this fact and run on your won imaginary conclusions!!

  10. we use very small part of our brain is experimented in mouse..when mouse brain's 80% of cerebral cortex was removed,..noting effects its is proved in many seem to lack this fact and run on your won imaginary conclusions!!

  11. yes. mice. because mice's mental activity is so similar to humans and can so easily be tested through different language and logical tests. (sarcasm)