10 Psychology Myths and Misconceptions

Psychology myths and misconceptions aren’t hard to spot. In fact, you can find them everywhere: in newspapers, TV shows, movies, magazines, Web sites and even in your own mind. Yes, it is possible that many of your beliefs regarding psychology are no more than myths.

You don’t have to feel bad about this though. Instead, you can read the list of psychology myths and misconceptions below and expand your knowledge on this topic.

General Psychology Myths

Psychology and psychiatry are the same thing: Although psychologists and psychiatrists can–and in many cases should–work together to treat a patient, their specialties are different. Psychiatry is a branch of Medicine; psychology isn’t.

Psychology isn’t an actual science: Prejudice, inappropriate comparisons and lack of knowledge are the reasons why this psychology misconception is so widespread.

Psychology is just common sense: Common sense often is a starting point for psychological research. Nonetheless, psychologists make use of scientific methods to evaluate ideas, whereas plain common sense relies heavily on intuition.

Online clinical psychology is totally ineffective: The report Myths and Realities of Online Clinical Work indicates that online therapy is possible and can bring concrete, positive results for patients.

Psychology Myths — Misconceptions on Psychologists

Psychologists can read minds: There is a huge difference between studying the human mind and being able to read it. There is no evidence that psychologists have supernatural powers.

Psychologists are all the same: A quick look at a list of schools of thought in psychology will show you that psychologists don’t always agree with each other and don’t necessarily follow the same methods.

Psychologists never disclose what you tell them, no matter how serious it is: According to John Grohol, Psy.D., there are rare, special circumstances when a psychologist may have to disclose what a patient said during a therapy session. For instance, if a psychologist learns that a child is at risk, he/she may need to reveal it to the authorities.

Self-Help vs. Psychology Myths

There is no difference between Psychology and self-help: Most psychologists would frown at such a claim. Serious psychology books are based on extensive research, something self-help authors often overlook.

Venting your anger will make you feel better: A test conducted by Dr. Brad Bushman from Iowa State University suggests the opposite of what self-help books typically recommend. Provoked students were more aggressive toward the individuals they met even after punching a bag to vent their anger.

You can cure cancer with the power of your mind: This is one of the saddest of all self-help (disguised as psychology) myths. It originated from studies conducted by two respected universities, Stanford and UCLA. However, the self-help authors who keep on spreading this Psychology misconception “forget” to inform their readers that said studies have been contradicted by subsequent research.

Protect Yourself Against Psychology Myths and Misconceptions

The wisest thing to do whenever you read or hear any claims about psychology and psychologists is to try not to believe them immediately. Take the time to research the veracity (or lack thereof) of all statements and, if possible, discuss your concerns with an actual psychologist.

A healthy level of skepticism is one of the best weapons you can use to protect yourself from potentially harmful psychology myths.


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