A scientist debunks 10 popular psychology myths that most people believe
These are popular concepts inspired by mainstream media but are they really true?
According to psychologist Ben Ambridge, they’re actually quite wrong.
In fact, he says that many of the below 10 myths might be doing more harm than good.
Check out his riveting TED talk for 10 surprising psychological myths that most of us believe even to this day.
For those of you who can’t watch the video right now, here they are in text:
1) Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus.How different are men and women really?
Ben Ambridge says that when you look at the averages of different skills, they really aren’t that different at all.
For example, most people believe that men are better at spatial awareness, which is true, but not as much as you think. The difference is really tiny. The average woman is better than 33 percent of all men.
Most psychologists will tell you that women are better with language and grammar than men, but again, the difference is small. In fact, 33 percent of men are better than the average woman.
In other words, the difference isn’t Mars and Venus, but perhaps Mars and Snickers.
2) The famous Rorschach inkblot testThe Rorschach test is a psychological test in which subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both.
But Ben Ambridge says that this test basically has no validity whatsoever. It’s not used by modern-day psychologists and is inaccurate when diagnosing people’s personality.
3) Are a visual learner? Or auditory?Some might people say they’re a visual learner. Others say they learn better through auditory.
However, according to Ambridge, learning styles are made up and not supported by scientific evidence.
This is known because in tightly controlled experimental studies, when learners are given material to learn either through their preferred style or an opposite style, it makes no difference at all to the amount of information they retain.
Instead, the best presentation format depends not on you, but on what you’re trying to learn.
4) What about genes and intelligence?Can you improve your intelligence? Partly, but that’s not the full story.
Ben Ambridge says that 58% of our scores in IQ tests are down to genetic factors. How do they know this? With lots of tests between identical twins and non-identical twins.
So if you don’t get the scores you’re looking for, you can always blame your parents.
5) Are you left-brained, or right brained?Most people believe that the left brain is logical and the right brain is more creative. But again, this is a myth because almost everything you do involves nearly all parts of your brain.
6) We only use 10 percent of our brains.This, again, is a complete myth. Nearly everything that we do, even the most mundane thing, uses nearly all of our brain.
However it is true that most of us don’t use all the brainpower that we really could, so what can we do to improve our brainpower? Check out the next myth.
7) Listening to Mozart makes you smarter.Studies have found that listening to Mozart doesn’t make you work better or be smarter. However, it does help people who enjoy Mozart.
In fact, listening to anything you enjoy will perk you up a bit and make you work better.
8) Our preferences in a romantic partner are a product of culture.The data doesn’t back this up.
A famous study surveyed 37 different cultures across the globe and 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 culture, too, women placed more importance than did men on ambition and high earning power.
Also, in every culture, men preferred women who were younger than themselves. And in every culture, women preferred men who were older.
9) Patterns are everywhereWe’ve all heard that in football or soccer, a player is in a hot streak of form. We do this for all kinds of things, but is it really true? In fact, our brains try to create patterns out of randomness.
So a lot of times when we think it’s a streak, it’s our brain trying to find something out of nothing. That’s why we feel we’re on a hot streak when we guess heads or tails correctly several times in a row. But in essence, it’s always random.
10) We can catch a liar through body language.Although we all think we can catch a liar from their body language and speech patterns, hundreds of tests have shown that it’s basically random whether we can predict if someone is lying or not.
This goes for police offers and detectives as well.