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A weekly show where we debunk common misconceptions. This week, Elliott discusses some misconceptions about psychology.

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Hi I'm Elliott. This is mental_floss on YouTube. Today I'm going to talk about some misconceptions about psychology. It's crazy right?

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misconception #1: People with Tourette's syndrome scream out curse words.  Only 10 to 15 percent of people who have Tourette's syndrome use swear words or offensive gestures. The term "Tourette's Syndrome" refers to a disorder involving both physical tics and vocal tics. These tics are repetitive and involuntary, but don't necessarily involve cursing. 

Misconception #2: Opposites attract. A 2003 study discovered that people actually desire people who are similar to them when it comes to relationships. These similarities include socio-economic class, whether or not they're interested in family and monogamy, and equal attractiveness. These findings were confirmed in a study done in 2009, which found that newlyweds had similar values and personality traits. Well I guess this finally explains why Russell Brand and Katy Perry didn't work out. Those guys were crazy. 

Misconception #3: Shock Therapy is an outdated practice. Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is still used today. In ECT electric currents are sent through someone's brain which induces a seizure. This is actually an effective treatment for depression, severe mania, catatonia, and dementia. It's believed that it might affect levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. ECT might also repair neuro-connections and nerves. 

Misconception #4: Therapy involves a lot of dream discussion. Every therapist is different, but it's rare to find one that will want to talk a lot about your dreams nowadays. And there's actually a good reason for this; we still don't really know what dreams mean. There are a few presiding theories, but most experts don't view dream interpretation as the key to happiness. In fact, some neuropsychologists claim that dreams are 100 percent meaningless, how disappointing is that?

Misconception #5: Lie detector machines work. Actually the National Research Council found that a polygraph machine could indicate that a person was lying when they're really just nervous. In 2004, the council held a panel on lie detector machines which didn't find any evidence of their validity. Plus, in the US, polygraphic evidence cannot be used in federal courts. This is because of a 1998 Supreme Court decision which said, "There is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable."

Misconception #6: "The Mozart Effect". Over 80 percent of American adults believe in "The Mozart Effect," that children who study music are smarter and get better grades. But most studies that have concluded that the Mozart Effect is real have been discredited. In 2013, Harvard University conducted a study that found no statistically significant difference in IQ between children who studied music and those who didn't. 

Misconception #7: Schizophrenia equals multiple personalities. Schizophrenia is defined as the disconnection or splitting of the psychic functions. That "splitting" sometimes confuses people who think the term is interchangeable with multiple personalities. There are other symptoms of schizophrenia, like there's hallucinations and delusions and illogical speech and so on. Dissociative Identity Disorder, on the other hand, is what used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder. People who have this disorder have at least two separate, lasting personalities. These come with memory impairment as well.

Misconception #8: Subliminal messages in advertising work. In 1957, a researcher named James Vicary published a press release saying that he had conducted an experiment in which thousands of people in movie theaters saw the words "eat popcorn" and "drink Coca-cola" flash on screen, but it only appeared for an amount of time that would have been too short for them to process.
Vicary claimed that there was a 57.5 percent increase in popcorn sales, as well as an 18.1 percent increase in Coke sales, so that's where the subliminal message ad myth comes from. Vicary later admitted that he fabricated his data, but the misconception continues to live on.

More recent studies of the phenomenon haven't been able to prove that this type of advertising is effective. While there is evidence that subliminal advertising can nudge your decision in a certain way, you have to already want the product being advertised. But regardless, the FCC banned its use in 1974.

Misconception #9: Psychiatrist equals psychologist. An easy way to tell the difference between the two is that psychiatrists prescribe drugs, but psychologists can't, except in New Mexico and Louisiana, where they can. There's also a difference in their schooling. If you want to become a psychiatrist, then I'm a little suspicious that it's because of the fact that I just gave you, but anyway you will need four years of medical school, followed by a residency in mental health. Psychologists on the other hand have up to six years of graduate school before they earn a PhD.

Misconception #10: Everything Sigmund Freud ever said. Okay now that is a generalization, but Freud is no longer used as a serious source in the field of psychology. He got quite a few of this theories wrong. Like there's no oral, anal, phallic, and genital stages. Uh, no one argues that women experience penis envy. or that men have castration anxiety, and if someone tries telling you that you have an Oedipus complex or an Electra complex, I'd get a second opinion. 

Thanks for watching Misconceptions on Mental Floss on YouTube, which is made with the help of all these nice people. If you have a topic for an upcoming Misconceptions episode that you'd like to see, leave it in the comments, and I will see you next week. Bye.

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