Misconceptions in psychology are more common than most would expect. A test was given to an introductory psychology class to determine what the students truly knew about the study of psychology. The test included ten of the most common misconceptions, such as psychology is just common sense, psychologists get paid to listen to people talk, and that psychology isn’t science. Over 80% of the 178 students participating held at least half of the misconceptions. Some of the different factors that contribute to how people view psychology are prior knowledge and opinions, pseudosciences, and the way psychology is portrayed by the media.
A main cause of misconceptions in psychology is pseudoscience. Pseudoscience is the false advertisement of the science world. It is a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method. People continue to believe what they see or hear even if there is no scientific evidence. One of the most common pseudosciences involved with psychology is hypnosis.
Hypnosis is when someone enters an altered state of consciousness that is believed to cause the person to become highly responsive to direction. Being hypnotized is also said to cause the loss of voluntary actions. Ernest Hilgard believed that there was a part of the mind that remains fully aware throughout the hypnosis. The social-cognitive theory suggests that the person hypnotized is only playing the role that they are given. However, both are just theories.
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Media portrayal is a major influence on the many misconceptions. There are several movies and television shows that use different aspects of psychology in unrealistic ways. Psychological disorders are typically either exaggerated or belittled. For example, there was a movie released in 2015 called The Visit. There were several mental illnesses used throughout the movie with the intention of scaring the audience. However, the details relating to the illnesses were not accurate. The way the disorders were used caused people to see mental illnesses as frightening, leading to even more misconceptions about psychology.
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