No other scientific field allows for more inaccurate theories than psychology. Perhaps this is due to the fact that psychologyВ is, in a sense, the science of who we are, leading many average Joes to theorizeВ about how and why we do what we doВ (myself included). Knowing this, Dr. Christian Jarrett, psychologist, and creator of the UK's Research Digest Blog compiled a list of the most common misconceptions about human behavior, many of which will surprise you.В What follows is a list of his three most enlighteningВ finds:В
Just like we tend to latch onto specifics about ourselves-like our astrological signВ or our personality type-humans also have a tendency to pledge allegiance to certain learning styles. In fact, a recent survey of British teachersВ found that roughly 96 percent believed that people learned more quickly when taught in their preferred method. As it turns out, the nature of the material is usually what determines the best way to learn it, not the person's individual disposition.В
This was by far the most surprising myth on Dr. Jarrett's list. Apparently, there is no ideal or correct balance of brain chemicals-a little known fact that Jarrett claims psychiatrists or neurologists will admit to if they're being completely honest. "Part of the support for the imbalance idea comes from the fact that anti-depressant medication alters levels of neurochemicals in the brain," writes Jarrett. "But of course that doesn't mean that a chemical imbalanceВ causesВ the problems in the first place."
This belief was institutionalizedВ by the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment.В Conducted in 1971, the experiment required students to take on the role of prisoner or guard. The students playingВ the latter eventually turnedВ violent, leading the researchers to terminateВ the experiment and claimВ that, when put in the right situation, even the most kind-hearted of people can turn evil. A lesser-known fact is that the experiment was wildly flawed and that more recent research has contradicted the conclusions initially drawn in the SPE. Many psychologists now believe that the group dynamic influences a given situation more than anything else.
View Dr. Jarrett's full list here, and if psychology piquesВ your interest as it does ours, pick up one of our favorite books, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.