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What are some of the psychology myths and are taken as fact and why?
Airdate: November 16, 2022
There are certain statements made every day in America that are stated as fact – even though there isn’t evidence backing up that supposed fact – but is repeated so often that many, if not most people accept it as fact.
Many have to do with psychology such as “opposites attract” or “some people are left brained while others are right brained.”
Dr. Shaun Cook, Associate Professor of Psychology; Director, Neuropsychology of Memory & Aging Lab; Director, Psychology Honors Program; Senior Researcher, Center for Developmental Research; Chair, Cognitive Section, Eastern Psychological Association and the Psychology Department at Millersville University teaches a class on the misconceptions of psychology. He appeared on The Spark Wednesday.
Dr. Cook actually developed a class at Millersville focusing on misconceptions,”Misconceptions have been around in psychology as well as other fields for a long time. They sort of started to bother me back a few years ago when I was hearing more of them from students in the classroom. And I started to ask the students well, why do you think that? And increasingly, I started to get responses that started to concern me. And it was things like, well, I saw it on and they would name a social media platform. Occasionally they might mention something like a video on YouTube or on TV. And then it started to evolve from there. And they were like I read it in so-and-so’s tweet and it started to expand into topics beyond psychology where we had prominent say political figure is saying things that just weren’t true. And it started to bothered me. So I thought in my little corner of the world, like, how can I try to address this to some degree? And so one of the things that I did was I ended up creating a class called Popular Misconceptions in Psychology, which is offered at Millersville. It’s a fairly popular class that it runs regularly, and I often get students from other colleges and universities asking for permission to take it.”
According to Dr. Cook, an example of a misconception or myth is that lie detector tests can tell when someone is lying,”What they do do is detect anxiety, physiological states that people go through when they’re feeling sort of anxious. So if they were sort of pitched as anxiety detector tests, then that’s sort of more valid or a more valid way to think about them. But in terms of actually sort of being able to detect a signature of lying, if you will, if there isn’t, if there even is such a thing, these tests don’t do it. They pick up on changes in physiological states like blood pressure and heart rate and something called skin conductance response, which has to do with like how well electrical impulses can be through our skin, depending upon other things going on with us physiologically. So they pick up on changes in in those situations. But when you think about someone who’s experiencing and going through a lie detector test, you would expect that person to have physiological reactions because likely they’re being accused of a crime, or at least they think they’re being accused of a crime. And whether they’re innocent or guilty, they’re going to respond physiologically. So these sort of lie detector tests aren’t really detect detecting lies so much as they’re detecting sort of physiological changes.”
Other misconceptions that Cook pointed to include “some people are left brained while others are right brained,” “inkblot tests are accurate and telling about personality,” and “photographic memory exist.”