Opinion Blog

Ask a Psychologist

Helping Students Thrive Now

Angela Duckworth and other behavioral-science experts offer advice to teachers based on scientific research. To submit questions, use this form or #helpstudentsthrive. Read more from this blog.

Student Well-Being Opinion

3 Common Psychology Myths Debunked

By Angela Duckworth — February 23, 2022 1 min read
What are some common psychological myths?
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.”

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Ask a Psychologist: Helping Students Thrive Now are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Profession Webinar
How Does Educator Well-Being Impact Social-Emotional Awareness in Schools?
Explore how adult well-being is key to promoting healthy social-emotional behaviors for students. Get strategies to reduce teacher stress.
Content provided by International Baccalaureate
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Healthy Schools
This Spotlight will help you discover how health and wellness can create a transformative school environment and more.
Student Well-Being Q&A Mental Health Concerns Multiply for LGBTQ Students Who Are Asian American
Culturally relevant mental health programs are needed to help students feel a sense of belonging, report says.
5 min read
Counselor 1387286499 b
Student Well-Being Marketing Deals Trickle Down From NCAA to High School Sports
The brightest stars in high school basketball now have business deals to prove it.
5 min read
Johnuel "Boogie" Fland shoots hoops in the gymnasium of Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., Monday, May 2, 2022. Fland is among a growing number of high school athletes who have signed sponsorship deals for their name, image and likeness following a Supreme Court decision last year that allowed similar deals for college athletes. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)
Student Well-Being Tuxedos, Gowns, and COVID-Sniffing Dogs: A Pandemic Prom
Some schools are turning to highly trained dogs to detect COVID ahead of big events. 
7 min read
Trainer Collette Yee walks with Rizzo, a medical detection dog with Early Alert Canines, as she sniffs senior Madison Schoening to detect COVID at Mills High School in Millbrae, California, on May 5, 2022. As part of a pilot COVID-testing program, some students volunteered to be screened by trained dogs before prom.
Trainer Collette Yee walks with Rizzo, a medical detection dog, as she sniffs senior Madison Schoening at Mills High School in Millbrae, Calif., in early May. As part of a pilot program, some students volunteered to be sniffed for COVID by trained dogs before attending the prom.
Ramin Rahimian for Education Week