When Pop Psychology Goes Wrong

Pop psychologists, beware! In the current issue of Psychology Today, the magazine’s expert bloggers debunk some of our most cherished conventional wisdom, including popular social myths surrounding anger (no, “venting” doesn’t help), lying (it’s not about eye contact), and romance (Paula Abdul and her cartoon-cat-lover were wrong). The piece isn’t available online, but here are a few fun examples, with links to the Psychology Today blogs the magazine’s experts call home:

Venting Reduces Anger
One of my pet peeves is how widely the notion of catharsis has been accepted. People think they will feel better by “getting it all out” or even that a hockey game is a release for their aggression. Aggression begets aggression. People are better off taking a deep breath and counting to 10 than “venting” their hostilities. —Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D., professor at the University of California-Irvine College of Medicine

Opposites Attract
A persistent myth is that in romance, opposites attract. In fact, one of the most powerful predictors of liking is similarity, regardless of the type of trait–personality, values, interests, or physical characteristics. —Andrew Galperin, graduate student in social psychology at UCLA

Men Aren’t Romantic
Many people think men are less romantic than women. Yet men fall in love faster (because they are so visual); men tend to be more dependent on their girlfriends or wives for intimacy; men are over two times more likely to kill themselves when a relationship ends; and men show just as much activity in brain regions associated with romantic passion. —Helen Fisher, Ph.D., anthropology professor at Rutgers University

Source: Psychology Today

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