50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology uses popular myths as a vehicle for helping students and laypersons to distinguish science from pseudoscience. * Uses common myths as a vehicle for exploring how to distinguish factual from fictional claims in popular psychology * Explores topics that readers will relate to, but often misunderstand, such as 'opposites attract', 'people use only 10% of their brains', and 'handwriting reveals your personality' * Provides a 'mythbusting kit' for evaluating folk psychology claims in everyday life * Teaches essential critical thinking skills through detailed discussions of each myth * Includes over 200 additional psychological myths for readers to explore Contains an Appendix of useful Web Sites for examining psychological myths * Features a postscript of remarkable psychological findings that sound like myths but that are true * Engaging and accessible writing style that appeals to students and lay readers alike
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 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.
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
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