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Activity idea: Busting psychology myths

It might not be a unique experience to have students sign up for Psychology expecting to be criminal profilers by the end of the year, with some students surprised that they won’t be watching Mindhunter for the majority of our classes. A challenge that can be experienced by Psychology teachers is to expose our students to a breadth of Psychology that is true to the discipline but still engaging and focused on student interest. In these moments, it is key to set students up for a realistic expectation of what Psychology as a discipline is at the start of a course or unit.

One way to start is through a myth-busting activity. By adapting a list of statements of common psychology myths (such as this list offered by Indiana University East), posting a voting sheet for each one around the room and allowing students to vote on whether these are in fact or myth can be a revealing and conversation starting point for the subject or a new topic. You may find that each class takes a unique approach which can be an insight into the class itself. For example, when one class all votes the same on every single statement, talk about conformity! The key outcome of this activity is to start the conversation of what students already believe about Psychology, introducing a clearer picture of the discipline and begin to look at the range of ways Psychology can be applied to our lives.

After voting and some class reflection, there are a number of ways to use this resource further. For example:

  • Dividing students into groups to research one myth, with the aim to discuss what sub-discipline of Psychology the knowledge presented in the article about the myth would be used in and what purpose understanding this knowledge has in ‘the real world’

  • Ask students to choose one myth they are interested in and follow the research presented in the article to break down the research process used to determine fact or myth

While this may seem like an activity to start the year, it could be adapted to introduce field standards, where students understand that there is a range of theories across a range of fields that are used in different ways. Or create your own list of myths around your current topic as a starter for any session.

Happy myth-busting!

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