- Scores of popular psychology books and articles are rife with what we term “psychomythology,” the collected body of misinformation about human nature.
- The authors’ new book busts 50 widespread psychology myths, along with about 250 “mini myths,” including “Most people use only 10 percent of their brainpower” and “People tend to behave oddly during a full moon.”
- In this article, the authors debunk six fallacies. They deflate enthusiasm for expressing anger, different learning styles and a positive attitude as a salve for cancer. They also discredit the belief that all alcoholics must aim for abstinence, that older people are unhappy and that grief emerges in five set stages.
Parts of this article are adapted from 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior, by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio and Barry L. Beyerstein. Copyright © Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
Popular psychology has become a fixture in our society, and its aphorisms, truths and half-truths permeate our everyday existence. A casual stroll through our neighborhood bookstore reveals dozens of self-help, relationship, recovery and addiction books that serve up heaping portions of advice for steering us along life’s rocky road. About 3,500 self-help books are published every year, and numerous new Internet sites on mental health sprout up every month.
This article was originally published with the title Busting Big Myths in Popular Psychology.