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5 Psychology Terms You've Been Completely Misusing for Years.

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  • Tuesday, 06 Dec, 2022
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Psychology Terms You have Been Completely Misusing for Years

You may have heard them a thousand times, but that doesn't imply you're applying them properly.

You're in the people business no matter what you do. Whether your goal is to develop websites, write symphonies, or sell shoes, knowing how people think and act is essential. Thus, misconceptions of psychology extend beyond the realm of dry scholarly discussions and obscure facts.

It helps to get ahead if your mental model is as accurate as possible. It's a sad fact that many of us have a number of incorrect beliefs about the human mind. Many individuals have false beliefs about psychology since study results are always evolving and the media often fails to inform the public when additional tests confuse conclusions.

You probably hear these five phrases almost every day, yet many still have a fundamental misunderstanding of what they mean. 

1. Personality types 

It's huge business to sell "personality type" classification and labelling systems to businesses and individuals. However, there is a major flaw with this multibillion dollar industry: there are no such things as "personality types."

Certainly, the "Big Five" model has been utilised extensively by psychologists to assess fundamental human traits like openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, and extroversion. The scientific community has mostly agreed upon and endorsed this concept. However, neither extreme exists for these characteristics. To be either extroverted or introverted is a false dichotomy. The degree of extroversion a person displays might vary. It's possible to be on the extremes or in the centre (most of us are in the middle).

However, schemes like Myers-Briggs that claim to group individuals into "types" based on having a trait are, at best, a wild simplification of the science. Large-scale population-level studies have uncovered some common clusters of personality types (for example, many people appear to be high in neuroticism and extroversion and low in openness).  

2. Brainwashing 

This is another another supposedly real psychological concept that has been debunked. According to Lifehacker, the phrase was used to characterise American troops who "appeared to identify with their captors politically" or "admitted to crimes they didn't do" during the Korean War. Of equal importance, however, is the fact that "almost all repudiated the doctrines they had apparently been indoctrinated into thinking after returning home."

Despite this, the U.S. government devoted a considerable amount of time and resources in the years after the war exploring the possibility of a hidden, malicious method of making people think anything you want them to believe. No matter how hard the federal government tried, they never found a practical way to do it for the armed forces.

"The ability to coerce or torment individuals into stating something they don't believe in is shown here. There's no need to use some ominous psychological condition to account for that "Lifehacker comes to a close. 

3. Learning styles 

Can the same material be taught in several methods, relying instead on hearing, reading, active involvement, or visuals? Yes, of course. Nonetheless, this does not imply that there is one optimal learning method that can be used in all circumstances and to all subjects. According to studies in psychology, instruction should be adapted to the subject matter rather than the learner. There are certain topics that are better explained graphically, while others are better explained verbally, and still others need a mix of the two. 

4. Learning curve 

The term "steep learning curve" is often used to characterise anything that is difficult to understand, but as Lifehacker points out, it defies logic. If you imagine your learning as a graph, with time along the horizontal x-axis and skill along the vertical y-axis, a steep upslope indicates that you are gaining a great deal of knowledge in a short period of time. In other words, "this would define a topic that is simple to study," as Lifehacker puts it. 

5. Willpower 

As in the case of personality types, individuals often confuse marketing with science. It's not uncommon for laypeople to misinterpret scientific concepts like learning styles. On the other hand, the underlying science has changed, leading to frequent instances of individuals misusing a psychological term. As a consequence, they learned something based on the most recent research at the time, but were never informed about more nuanced or contradictory studies that were conducted afterwards. 

Many common phrases, such as "power poses" and "grit," serve as prime instances of this misconception, but "willpower" may be the best-known. In most cultures, willpower is seen as a finite resource. There is a certain amount of willpower you have, and God help you if you're dieting and you come across a package of delectable doughnuts. Recent research, however, suggests that the concept of willpower is much more nuanced.

Inconsistent expectations about the likelihood of future rewards might provide the impression of impulsivity. If you've had a terrible life and learned that fortuitous breaks are uncommon and promises can't be trusted on, why would you wait for the second marshmallow in the famous marshmallow test? As it turns out, one's outlook also plays a significant impact in their ability to exert their will. Greater self-assurance leads to more actual self-control.

All of this serves as a gentle reminder that our understanding of the mind is ever-evolving and that the media doesn't always do the best job of reflecting those changes. Ideas that make for catchy headlines are often widely disseminated and accepted as truth, regardless of how solid or outdated the research behind them may be.

Entrepreneurs should proceed with care. Since dealing with other people is the name of the game in any industry, it's important to exercise caution before accepting any given psychological "truth" as gospel.


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