Belief in brain myths and children developmental myths continues even among those who've studied psychology

Posted on March 9, 2018

The prolific psychology researcher and author Adrian Furnham sourced brain and child development myths from the 2014 book Great Myths of the Brain and the 2015 book Great Myths of Child Development by Stephen Hupp and Jeremy Jewell. Furnham presented the myths to 220 online participants (aged 19 to 66) and they rated them on a five-point scale from definitely false, probably false to probably true or definitely true, and also including “don’t know”.

There were brain myths that over 40 per cent of the participants thought were definitely true: that the brain is very well designed; that after head injury, people can forget who they are and not recognise others, but be normal in every other way. Similarly, there were two child development myths that more than 30 per cent of participants thought were definitely true: that all boys have one Y chromosome and all girls do not; and that a woman who is already pregnant can’t get pregnant again.

It was found that those who rated their own common sense higher endorsed fewer myths, and there was a modest correlation between being more religious and/or more right-wing and endorsing fewer myths (Furnham has no explanation for these “surprising” correlations). However, it was shocking to find the belief of myths even among those who would have been assumed to “know better”, considering their study of psychology.

Nonetheless, Furnham says his findings reveal once more “the ‘shocking truth’ about the widespread acceptance of myths” and he warns that they are “potentially harmful and socially divisive“. He adds: “The question of how to combat these myths and ensure that people are better informed about various areas of psychology remains largely unanswered.”

Source material from Research Digest

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