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Misleading Terms You Probably Didn’t Know Were Misleading

Psychology is a subject replete with common terms that are often referred to, or drawn upon with little if any serious consideration as to their validity. Here's an exercise that will hopefully not only elicit surprise among  students, but also make them pause for thought when it comes to their use of psychology related terminology in the future.


In most cases, students will have heard of all of these terms, but will be surprised at how many of them are not supported by what we know from psychological research.


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psychQuiz.pngClick here to open a new window and take our poll to see if you know which terms are real and which are inaccurate.







Many of these terms appear on a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases in a review article published in the educational psychology section of frontiers in psychology. The aim of which according to the authors is to “promote clear thinking and clear writing among students and teachers of psychological science by curbing terminological misinformation and confusion.”


Students should be strongly encouraged to read the article in full (this excellent paper was published as an open-access article and is, therefore, freely available). As an additional exercise, students could be asked to report back or give a brief presentation on one of the featured terms.  


I share the authors hope that their "list of 50 terms to avoid will become recommended, if not required, reading for students, instructors, and researchers in psychology, psychiatry, and similar disciplines."



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Wow, I totally failed - 3/10!!

Ha!don't feel bad about that - all of these terms are pretty commonly used and associated (oddly, in some cases) with psychology.