The details below will guide you through the process of successfully completing this project.

Psychology is all around us and touches every aspect of our lives. More than most people realize. Because the concepts in Psychology are so plentiful and diverse, everyone has an opinion. Not many people would tell an astronaut at NASA how to prepare a rocket but nearly everyone believes they have the answer to adolescent misconduct or why someone wears yellow. Because of this, popular misconceptions, myths, and flat incorrect assumptions exist regarding numerous Psychological concepts. As our culture has become more informed through the media, these misconceptions have been driven further into our psyche. But what does the science of Psychology say about these issues?

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As you encounter Psychological concepts through the course, recognize how these are identified in our culture, portrayed in the media, and/or manifested in the people around you. You are asked to critically analyze two (2) of these portrayals for their accuracy. (Some tips follow this page)

Each individual essay should be a separate topic/observation. You are expected to:

· Present the concept

· Describe your observation

· Identify the circumstances (when, where, source, etc.)

· Critically analyze the scientific accuracy of the portrayal of the concept

You should use evidence from reliable sources to defend your opinion whether the portrayal was accurate or not, or whether you agree or not. These sources must be cited in text, and a Reference Page for both essays should be prepared, and all must be in APA format. (APA resources are provided in the Start Here folder)

Finally, I have listed some of the most popular misconceptions in Psychology on the next page. You are welcome to use any of these but keep in mind you need to actually observe the portrayal and it must be properly documented. You may also select another topic related to our material. Please make sure it is approved by me.



Two (2) short essays 5-6 pages each APA format

General Subject Matter:

Portrayal of Psychological Principals in the Media and/or Through Popular Cultural Expression

Sources of Observation:

Use any media source (television, print, internet, etc.) and/or public interaction to make observations on how specific Psychological concepts are portrayed.


Analyze these portrayals for scientific accuracy.


Essay Tips:

*The following is not to be thought of as complete.*

Try to support any observations or claims you make with evidence.
Try to narrow each concept down. It is much easier to address a narrow concept than a broader one. (Hypochondriacs are fakers vs. Somatoform Disorders are bogus)
Along with your topic, your introduction should include your position on the observation as well as a statement as to how or why you developed that opinion.
Develop your arguments through using facts that explain your position, compare it to the opinions of others, and evaluate whether or not the portrayal is accurate.
Directly follow each statement of opinion with supporting evidence.
Use views that are both similar to, and different from, your own.
Use evidence that supports your position (or otherwise).
The conclusion of your essay restates your position and summarizes how your evidence supports your point of view (or did not).

Examples of Popular Misconceptions in Psychology:

Subliminal messages can persuade people to purchase products.
Adolescence is inevitably a time of psychological turmoil.
Hypnosis is useful for retrieving memories of forgotten events.
The defining feature of dyslexia is reversing letters.
Happiness is determined mostly by our external circumstances.
Individuals can learn information, like new languages, while asleep.
It’s better to express anger to others than to hold it in.
Our handwriting reveals our personality traits.
There’s recently been a massive epidemic of infantile autism.
Most mentally ill people are violent.
Electroconvulsive therapy is a physically dangerous and brutal treatment.
Virtually all people who confess to a crime are guilty of it.
Psychiatric labels cause harm by stigmatizing people.
The fact that a trait is heritable means we can’t change it.
Men and women communicate in completely different ways.
A positive attitude can stave off cancer.
Hypnosis is a unique “trance” state that differs in kind from wakefulness.
Intelligence tests are biased against certain groups of people.
Human memory works like a tape recorder or video camera, and accurately records the events we’ve experienced.
When dying, people pass through a universal series of psychological stages.
Most people use only 10% of their brain power.
Visual perceptions are accompanied by tiny emissions from the eyes.
Playing Mozart’s music to infants’ boosts their intelligence.
Most people with amnesia forget all details of their earlier lives.
Students learn best when teaching styles are matched to their learning styles.
During “out-of-body” experiences, people’s consciousness leaves their bodies.
The polygraph (lie detector) test is an accurate means of detecting dishonesty.
Opposites attract: We are most romantically attracted to people who differ from us.
Raising children similarly leads to similarities in their adult personalities.
Adult children of alcoholics display a distinct profile of symptoms.
Criminal profiling is helpful in solving cases.
Abstinence is the only realistic treatment goal for alcoholics.
Psychiatric hospital admissions and crimes increase during full moons.
Low self-esteem is a major cause of psychological problems.
Extra-sensory perception is a well-established scientific phenomenon.
Some people are left-brained, others are right-brained.
Most people experience a midlife crisis in their 40s or early 50s.
Individuals commonly repress the memories of traumatic experiences.
If you’re unsure of your answer when taking a test, it’s best to stick with your initial hunch.
Researchers have demonstrated that dreams possess symbolic meaning.
Ulcers are caused primarily or entirely by stress.
There’s safety in numbers: The more people present at an emergency, the greater the chance that someone will intervene.
Most people who were sexually abused in childhood develop severe personality disturbances in adulthood.
Only deeply depressed people commit suicide.
A large proportion of criminals successfully use the insanity defense.
All effective psychotherapies force people to confront the “root” causes of their problems in childhood.
Old age is typically associated with increased dissatisfaction and senility.
People’s responses to inkblot s tell us a great deal about their personalities.
People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities.
Expert judgment and intuition are the best means of making clinical decisions.

These are fair game but must be properly documented as an actual observation. They have all been taken from 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology (2010) by Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio, and Beyerstein. You may not cite this resource in your essays. There are countless other myths, misperceptions, and urban legends and extra points will be earned for covering anything that is not on this list.

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