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Student Well-Being Opinion

3 Common Psychology Myths Debunked

By Angela Duckworth — February 23, 2022 1 min read
What are some common psychological myths?
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What are some of the common psychology myths you hear?

I was recently a guest on “CBS Mornings” to talk about Character Lab and Tip of the Week, and we discussed a few:

Myth #1: There’s something wrong with me if I talk to myself.

Most people talk to themselves, whether their lips are moving or not. Sometimes that inner monologue says things like, “I can’t believe I messed that up” or “Nobody likes me.” That kind of negative self-talk—what psychologist Ethan Kross calls “chatter”—is really unhelpful.

One thing we can do to help kids make that inner monologue more productive: Show them how to use distanced self-talk. That means talking to yourself the way you would a friend. For example, instead of “I’m having a bad day,” I might say “Angela, you’re having a bad day—what can you do to make this day better?”

Ethan Kross wrote more about self-talk in an earlier Ask a Psychologist post.

Myth #2: When I have a bad day, venting will make me feel better.

We all need to feel seen and heard, so if you’re having a bad day, you want to express yourself. But what can happen is that your anger then spirals out of control. Venting doesn’t cure your bad mood. It makes it bigger, not smaller.

Instead, what we need in times of emotional distress is perspective. So the next time you feel like your emotions are getting the best of you, choose the right person to talk to: someone who is calm and isn’t going to just feed the fire.

Ethan Kross wrote more about the problem with venting here.

Myth #3: Easier is always better.

We all love convenience. Instinctively, we avoid unnecessary effort to achieve the same goal. But research shows that doing something yourself can make you value it more than if someone else does it for you—a phenomenon psychologists call the “IKEA effect.”

How can you harness the IKEA effect? You can ask your students to create handmade posters for the classroom. You might ask them to help prepare the afternoon snack. Or perhaps just explain the IKEA effect and ask them to come up with their own ideas for putting it into practice.

Learn more about the IKEA effect in this earlier post.

If you want to see more, watch Angela’s appearance on “CBS Mornings.”

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