DO PSYCHOLOGY COURSES REDUCE BELIEF IN PSYCHOLOGICAL MYTHS?
Abstract:This study examined the degree to which psychology students accept popular psychology myths that are rejected by mainstream researchers (e.g., “people use only 10% of their brain's capacity”), and the effect of psychology courses on myth acceptance. Using a 20-item, true-false myth belief questionnaire, it examined the levels of gullibility among 94 undergraduates at different stages of their education, and related these to their educational and demographic backgrounds. High overall levels of myth acceptance (71%) were found, in line with earlier research. Myth acceptance decreased with the number of psychology courses that students had taken in university, but increased with the number that they had taken in junior college. Belief in myths was lower among students who were majoring in psychology, were older, had higher grades, and had advanced training in research methods, but it was not related to gender, geographical origin, or university year. It is concluded that university courses appear beneficial in encouraging methodological skepticism, whereas taking specialized psychology courses in junior college may hinder rather than promote critical thinking among undergraduates.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2003
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