psychology myth busters paper

Instructions: Popular culture is rife with false beliefs about human psychology. In this assignment, you will investigate one of the psychological myths listed below (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio, & Beyerstein, 2010) and use scientific evidence to uncover the current state of knowledge.

You will evaluate evidence for or against the myth, think critically about additional evidence that would assist you in evaluating the myth, and draw a conclusion based on the evidence available to date. The goal of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to think critically about a psychological claim and to use academic sources to support your argument.

The text of the paper (excluding the title page and reference section) should be NO MORE than 4 double-spaced pages using 1 inch margins and 12-point Times New Roman font. There is no minimum page number requirement. I will NOT take off points for papers that are shorter assuming you have covered the required content in adequate detail. See below for a list of psychological myths you may choose from, guidelines about what should be included in your paper, and a rubric that will be used to grade your paper.

Psychological Myths:

Myths about development:

1) Listening to Mozart will make an infant smarter

2) Teenagers inevitably experience psychological turmoil

3) Most people go through a midlife crisis in their 40s or 50s

4) Older people tend to be dissatisfied with life and senile

5) Dying people go through a set series of psychological stages

Myths about interpersonal behavior:

1) People are romantically attracted to people who are different from them

2) If more people are present in an emergency, the victim will be more likely to receive help

3) Men and women communicate in very different ways

4) It is better to express anger rather than keeping it in

Myths about personality:

1) Children who are raised in a similar manner will have similar personalities as adults

2) Low self-esteem is responsible for most psychological problems

3) Most people who experienced sexual abuse as children develop personality problems in adulthood

4) Responses to inkblot tests provide accurate insights into a person’s personality

5) A person’s handwriting reveals insights into his or her personality

Myths about emotion and motivation:

1) The polygraph (lie detector) accurately detects dishonesty

2) Happiness is determined primarily by a person’s external circumstances

3) Ulcers are caused primarily or entirely by stress

4) Maintaining a positive attitude can help prevent cancer

Myths about memory:

1) Human memory works like a video recorder and accurately records the events people experience

2) Hypnosis can be used to retrieve forgotten memories

3) People often repress memories of traumatic events

4) Most people with amnesia forget everything about their earlier lives

Myths about intelligence and learning:

1) Intelligence tests are biased against certain groups of people

2) If you don’t know an answer to a test question, it is best to stick with your initial answer choice

3) The main feature of dyslexia is reversing letters

4) Students learn best when their instructor teaches in a way that matches their learning styles

Myths about consciousness:

1) Hypnosis is a unique “trance” state that differs in kind from wakefulness

2) Dreams possess symbolic meaning

3) People can learn new information while asleep

4) When people have an “out-of-body” experience, their consciousness leaves their body

Myths about psychological disorders:

1) Psychiatric labels cause harm by stigmatizing people

2) Only people who are severely depressed commit suicide

3) People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities

4) Adult children of alcoholics share a distinct set of symptoms

5) More people commit crimes and are admitted to psychiatric hospitals when there is a full moon

Myths about psychological treatments:

1) Expert judgment and intuition are the best ways to make clinical diagnoses

2) Abstinence is the only viable treatment goal for alcoholics

3) Effective psychotherapies explore how people’s childhood experiences led to their current problems

4) Electroconvulsive (“shock”) therapy is a physically dangerous and cruel treatment

Myths about the brain and perception:

1) The average person uses only 10% of their brain capacity

2) People can be classified as either right-brained or left-brained

3) Scientific evidence has shown that extrasensory perception exists

4) Visual perception is accompanied by small emissions from the eyes

5) Subliminal messages can be used to persuade people to buy products

Paper guidelines:

You will choose one psychological myth to focus on, and your paper will address each of the four topics listed below. You may decide how best to organize your paper. Plan to include all of the information listed below. You must use at least THREE peer-reviewed academic journal articles and include a reference section.

Description of Myth

• Which myth did you select? Provide a brief explanation of the myth in your own words

• Why do people believe this myth? Provide your thoughts about why this myth appeals to people

• Describe at least one pop culture reference to the myth (e.g., a reference to the myth that appears in a movie, TV show, book, magazine article, social media, etc.)

Scientific Evidence and Evaluation of Evidence

• What scientific evidence addresses the myth? You will need to find at least THREE peer-reviewed academic journal articles that provide evidence relevant to the myth you selected

• Describe the evidence discussed in each journal article (e.g., method and results or conclusions). In other words, what did the researchers set out to test, how did they do it, and what did they find?

• Evaluate the strengths and limitations of the evidence you cited from each source. Are there any alternative ways of evaluating the evidence?

• Explain how the evidence you found in each journal article relates to the myth you selected

• Provide a within-text citation whenever you paraphrase information from an academic journal article

• NOTE: Plan to devote about half the length of your paper to this section; each of the other sections can be completed in approximately one or two paragraphs

Ideas for Additional Evidence

• Discuss ideas for additional scientific evidence that you think would help to evaluate the myth

• Provide at least ONE specific idea of an additional study or experiment that researchers could conduct to interrogate the myth you selected and describe how this study would be carried out (e.g., how would you manipulate/measure your variables?)


• Evaluate the overall strength of the evidence you found and draw a conclusion that you think is reasonable given the evidence available to date

General Guidelines

• The title page should include a title for your paper and your full name

• You may use first person when presenting your own opinions or ideas; use third person when discussing scientific research

• Your within text citations and reference section must be in APA style

• Avoid using direct quotations in your paper. If you wish to express an idea from a journal article, paraphrase the idea and include a within-text citation. You will lose up to 10 points if you include multiple direct quotations in your paper

• You will lose up to 10 points if you exceed the maximum page limit of 4 pages (excluding the title page and reference page)

• Attend to the overall quality of your writing, and use proper grammar and sentence structure. Please proofread your paper! You will lose up to 10 points if your paper is difficult to comprehend or if there are multiple typos

The assignment will be turned in on Canvas. Submit the assignment as an attached Word document (.doc or .docx). No other formats will be accepted.

Myth Busters Paper Grading Rubric

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