15/02/12

How much of what you think about your brain is actually wrong? In this whistlestop tour of dis-proved science, Ben Ambridge walks through 10 popular ideas about psychology that have been proven wrong — and uncovers a few surprising truths about how our brains really work.

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 Glossary

  • blot – a dark mark or stain made by ink, paint, dirt, etc.
  • mundane – lacking interest or excitement; dull
  • ambidextrous – able to use the right and left hands equally well
  • subsequent – coming after something in time; following
  • hoax – a humorous or malicious deception

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Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What is a common misconception about map reading between men and women? What does it look like when compared to the ability to throw a ball. (1:35)
  • What have you learned about Rorschach inkblot test? (3:35)
  • What have you learned about learning styles? (5:11)
  • In what way are ambidextrous people’s brains creative? (7:36)
  • Can listening to Stephen King’s stories boost your IQ? (9:16)
  • In what way is penalty shootout exceptional? (11:54)
  • Can body language reveal that someone is lying? Are there any exceptions? (13:56)

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Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

Now we’ve got you warmed up. Let’s psychoanalyze you using the famous Rorschach inkblot test. So you can probably see two, I dunno, two bears or two people or something. But what do you think they’re doing? ________ your hand up if you think they’re saying hello. Not many people. Okay. Put your hands up if you think they are high-fiving. Okay. What if you think they’re fighting? Only ________ few people there. Okay, so if you think they’re saying hello or high-fiving, ________ that means you’re a friendly person. If you think they’re fighting, you’re a bit more of a nasty, aggressive person. Are you a lover or a fighter, basically. What about this one? This isn’t really a voting one, so on three everyone shout out what you see. One, two, three. (Audience shouting) I heard hamster. Who said hamster? That was very worrying. A guy there said hamster. Well, you should see some kind of two-legged animal here, and then the mirror image of them there. If you didn’t, then this means that you have difficulty processing complex situations where there’s a lot going ________.

Except, of course, it doesn’t mean that at ________. Rorschach inkblot tests have basically no validity when it ________ to diagnosing people’s personality and are not used by modern-day psychologists. In fact, one recent study found that when you do try to diagnose people’s personalities using Rorschach inkblot tests, schizophrenia was diagnosed ________ about one sixth of apparently perfectly normal participants.

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