7 Widely Believed Myths in Psychology

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Much of what you know about psychology may be a lie. There are a dozen pop psychology myths that have given people a false sense of understanding. Psychology is a fascinating discipline, throws in some research findings and the majority of people think it is true. However, psychology as a discipline is more than what meets the eye, it deals with human behaviors, emotions, and thoughts, which cannot be generalized or taken as a fact. 

Here is a list of some widely believed myths in Psychology.

1. Opposites attract and make better partners

It’s a myth that when dating, you’re likely to be attracted to people who are very different from you. The main reason why this myth is so popular is that people believe the false logic that we are drawn to potential partners who have opposite traits than us because they are more interesting and will create a balanced relationship. A lot of research shows that the opposite is true; we are drawn to potential partners who are similar to us. Not only that, but the similarity is also an indicator of long-term relationship success because similar people typically agree on more things and share the same communication preferences. They compliment each other well like bread and butter. This does not mean that opposites cannot make good partners, it just means that the myth cannot be stated as a fact or believed to be true.

Also Read: 5 Psychological Facts about Dreams You should Be Aware Of

2. Venting helps you overcome anger

As we have learned that suppressing emotions is harmful, a lot of people mistakenly believe that the fastest way to deal with anger is to yell, rant and otherwise let it all out/to vent out. Research shows that venting has the opposite effect than that intended. Rather than calming you down, venting positively reinforces your anger, causing you to become angrier for a longer period. Instead of venting, express your anger in a more productive way, such as taking a brief break from the triggering situation, or channel your anger into an activity such as exercise or art. Venting sometimes can be helpful, however, it is more about thinking of anger than processing it.

3. You are left-brained or right-brained

You have probably heard a highly creative person say they’re right-brained or an analytical person state they are left-brained. The idea that we have a dominant side of our brain that determines how artistic or logical we are is based on how each half of our brain controls different activities. The idea that people have different dominant sides of their brains is false. Research shows that everyone uses both sides of their brains equally, though most abilities are based in different regions of the brain, they can be carried out by the connections formed between different parts. Based on an individual’s lifestyle, certain sections of the brain can become stronger because the brain has adapted to being under the same conditions for a prolonged time. 

4. Most people undergo a mid-life crisis

It is assumed that people who hit their forties would automatically undergo mid-life crisis and would suddenly realize that their life isn’t how they always wanted it to be and/or they become terrified that their younger years are over. In reality, studies show that only about ten percent of the population suffers a midlife crisis. Sure, humans undergo many challenges but it is a myth that most people undergo a mid-life crisis.

5. The average person only uses 10 percent of their brain capacity

This is a myth that was believed to be true in the mid to late 1800s when researchers compared the learning abilities and accomplishments of a child prodigy to the average person, who is far less intellectually stimulated. It was expanded upon in the 1900s when researchers who didn’t understand the functions of all the parts of the brain noticed that many parts of people’s brains appeared inactive, leading them to think that people only are using about 10 percent of the brain’s full capacity. The myth remains popular because people use it to argue that by not pushing themselves to their intellectual limits and reaching their full potential, people are failing to use all of their brainpower. Modern studies show that throughout the day, we use 100 percent of our brains. The important thing to note here is that it is throughout the entire day, not all at once. Given this, some people’s lifestyles make their brains more active than others, but we all make use of all of our brain’s abilities.

6. Human memory is like a recording of what happened

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We all presume our memory is infallible and that we have “recorded” an event accurately. But the idea of memory as a reliable record of an event is a myth. Contrary to personal conviction, our memories are far from perfect replicas of events we have experienced. Even flashbulb memories of emotionally important or newsworthy events that seem to have a photographic quality change over time.

Also Read: 10 Psychological Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

7. Crowds turn people stupid and dangerous

After a mass emergency, it’s typical for reports to describe the crowd as violent and dangerous in a blind panic. There’s an implication that when we’re in a large group, we lose our senses and it’s everyone for themselves. This is grossly refuted by psychology research, as studies show people in crowds experiencing a situation of emergency, frequently stop to help one another. Cooperation is particularly likely when people feel a shared sense of identity. Crowds in emergencies can be trusted to behave in more social ways than previously expected by some involved in emergency planning.

These are some common myths, which people often take on face value and believe to be true.

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Ritika Matta
This is Ritika Matta, I’m a Counseling Psychologist and a writer. I am passionate about spreading mental health awareness and do the same through my work which is reflected in my blogs and articles.

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