What is NOT Psychology?

Common sense/The obvious

Psychology is often blamed for stating the obvious.
Would you deliver potentially fatal electrical shocks to someone because someone in white coat tells you to? Common sense would say NO!!! But psychologist Stanley Milgram famously demonstrated in his obedience experiment that majority of people would do the same.
We, humans, often confuse familiarity of a situation with the understanding of it.
Embracing the obvious- On top of it, isn’t the purpose of psychological science is making findings about the human mind and behaviour available – obvious! – to everyone. The very findings which were not-so-obvious! before. (Gravity didn’t seem so obvious before Newton made it, did it?)

Popular notions

Playing hard to get is attractive. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Out of sight, out of mind.These are all popular notions. (Note that last two are for the same context but conflicting.)
Many social and cultural notions are popular worldwide. However they have no scientific bases. They float by word of mouth and through cognitive biases like confirmation bias where people tend to find evidence for their already established beliefs.

“Psychological facts”

Don’t share your weakness with anyone, you never know who is going to use it against you.(No, psychology does not say so. Nevertheless,it is a good advice!)Someone who gets angry easily, subconsciously desires to be loved. (Hmm.. sorry folks, not psychology.)There are tons of such psychological facts on the internet. But, you got the point.
These statements simply feel good to be true. It is only wishful thinking that makes one believe in them.

Myths

The average human uses only 10% of their brain capacity. You must have heard of this statement many times. In 1907, psychologist William James speculated that humans “are making use of only a small part of [their] possible mental and physical resources,” and in 1936, writer Lowell Thomas paraphrased James and claimed that “the average man develops only 10% of his latent mental ability”. Since then, it has become a common belief that humans only use 10% of their brains.
However, neuroscience discards the idea completely. In fact, the brain has little tolerance towards waste or excess. Neurons which do not connect to active useful circuits would soon be dead.

Pseudo-psychology

Disciplines like palmistry, astrology,etc. are not psychology and do not in any way relate to it. Pseudo psychology makes use of the Barnum effect i.e. personal descriptions feel accurate if they are stated in general terms. For example, “you work hard but do not get desired results” or “you are a loving person but are most often misunderstood by people”. These statements are generalized and can apply to anyone.
On the other hand, Psychology is based on testable and verifiable scientific theories. They are obtained through research based on empirical data.

Published by shylyextrovert

Do you see that person sitting in the corner of the room... looking the most uninterested one, when actually that person is noting every other person in the room because it is fun (believe me). Yeah, that is me.

2 thoughts on “What is NOT Psychology?

  1. I totally enjoyed reading this one. It’s not for entertainment purpose rather it teaches us something throughout.
    I liked the conflicting quotes, we don’t sometimes understand which one to live by.

    Quite enlightening post Divya😊😊 Thank you for sharing ✨

    Liked by 1 person

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