Very Superstitious: 5 Myths, Legends, and Lies of Psychology

I’m in writing mode here at Kinetix HQ for our leadership development series. That means I’ve been securely fastened to my keyboard with a steady stream of caffeine and tunes for a while. It’s not a bad place to be, either.

When it comes to caffeine, I’m pretty straightforward. Give me a nicely-sized americano and I’m happy as a clam at high tide. No cream. No sugar. No nonsense.

But when it comes to tunes? I flip between genres constantly. I might start my morning with a something from Arctic Monkeys, throwback to some Run DMC, then make my way over to LP. I’m all over the place with my listening choices. Bottom line is that I need something with a good beat that keeps my blood pumping.

So what’s coming through my earbuds this morning?

“Superstition” by a guy they call Stevie Wonder

It’s even better when the lyrics relate to what I’m writing about. So what’s the connection?

“When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer”

Preach it, S. Wonder.

I like to cover myths, legends, or common misconceptions that exist around the topic that we’re covering. It get’s people to think a little deeper and question what they think they know.

While Stevie keeps fueling my writing on misconceptions related to coaching employees, I’ll cast a broader net of misconceptions from throughout psychology just for you.

5 Myths, Legends, and Lies of Psychology

Press play on the video above and read on.

#1 Letting out your anger will make you feel better.

Don’t you feel better when you just let it out? Actually, you don’t. You actually feel worse when you let out the negative emotions. Yelling won’t make you feel better.

#2 You can tell a lot about a person by their handwriting.

Hand-writing analysis (AKA graphology) is poorly validated and generally doesn’t predict anything. Is it an interesting idea? Absolutely. Canit really tell you anything about a person? No. Pseudoscience. 

#3 We only use 10% of our brain power.

This is also part of the storyline of the new Sci-Fi thriller Lucy. Let’s be clear. You use your entire brain. This idea that you only use 10% is just a marketing hack that self-help gurus use to get you thinking there’s 90% of untapped potential that they can teach you to use. Grade-A Bolonga.

#4 Opposites Attract.

We’re wired to prefer people that are more similar to us. Ever heard of “similar-to-me bias”? As a general rule of thumb, the more personality similarities two people share, the more they tend to like each other. This holds for all kinds for job candidates, friendships, and romantic partners. The more dissimilar someone is to us, the less we tend to like them (and the more they get on our nerves).

#5 It’s proven!

Nothing is proven. The quantitative underpinnings of psychology are solid, but they are statistics. That means that there is a comparison against chance and that some smaller sample is being used to all us to draw inferences about the large population. You’ll never hear any researcher from psychology say they’ve proven anything. But you will hear it in marketing campaigns and in headlines. If someone tells you “it’s proven,” proceed with caution and a good B.S. meter.

Next time you hear someone rattle these so-called facts off at a happy hour, feel free to roll your eyes. Or use this list to drop some knowledge and sound like you know your sh*t. Just don’t be a jerk about it. Any way,

Superstition ain’t the way!


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