JC is a freelance writer who has a degree in Applied Psychology. Aside from her course, writing about different topics is her passion.
Have you ever seen a social media post that goes like, “Psychology says, usually the people with the best advice are the ones with the most problems” or “Psychology says, if your index finger is longer than your ring finger, you are likely to be a narcissist”?
Posts and images like this are rampant on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can even type in the phrase “Psychology says” on google and you will see hundreds of contents and images containing posts similar to the examples mentioned earlier.
At face value, they may sound okay and harmless. Most posts may actually make you agree with what they were saying, while some lean more on a motivational tone and appears to be useful to your life. Hence, what is wrong with consuming the “Psychology Says” social media posts?
The thing about these posts is that Psychology never said them and most likely than not, they were not quoted from any psychologist or psychology researchers.
Psychology is a scientific study of the human mind and behavior. All claims and concepts under it are being thoroughly studied and are always supported with research, and experiments if necessary. This is vital, especially in terms of diagnosing psychological disorders and implementing necessary treatments.
On contrary, “Psychology says” social media posts are not supported by research. These posts also spread a wrong notion of many psychological concepts. Unfortunately, some “Psychology says” posts tend to mislabel and misinterpret psychological disorders. These notions will be further discussed in the following sections.
“Psychology says” posts are not supported with research.
Posts such as, “Psychology says, pain makes you stronger, fear makes you braver. Heartbreak makes you wiser” claims that a certain feeling or experience will lead to something – making a person relatively better.
While these claims may be true in certain circumstances and individuals, there is no assurance that they will be true for everyone every time. For instance, pain does not always make a person stronger, it can also make them weaker or traumatized or the feeling can be nothing to them, the same thing with fear and heartbreak.
Have you ever heard a story of a person who kept on coming back to the person who repeatedly gave them heartbreak? Considering this, did they become wiser after the first heartbreak?
This is the danger of unsupported claims, it can provide a wrong or misleading idea to the readers of the content.
“Psychology says” posts can spread a wrong notion about different psychological concepts.
In relation to the previous section, the claims made by most “psychology says” posts may introduce a wrong understanding or interpretation of psychological concepts to the readers. Consider the statements in the image below.
If an unsuspecting reader consumes this content, they may assume that a person is lonely every time they see someone laughing too much, or a person may be sad if they sleep a lot, and so on. Take note that not every person who laughs too much is lonely, or a person who sleeps a lot is sad. These are NOT the “truths” inside you, in contrast to the claim written on the image.
Laughter, sleepiness, speaking less, inability to cry, abnormal eating behavior, crying on little things, and getting angry over small things, for instance, may mean a lot of things, and not just the things claimed by the statements. It is possible that it is part of one’s personality to laugh too much and not be lonely, and it is possible that someone is tired to sleep a lot and not sad.
It is easy to be deceived by these statements because the claims are generalized and are typical situations and emotions in our daily lives, that we collectively experience as humans. There are general notions that cannot be used for individual experiences. Additionally, some statements may appear to be true because they somehow reflect real psychological notions, such as one of the many symptoms of depression (a psychological disorder that is usually tied to sadness) is lethargy or sleepiness. Despite this, sleepiness does not equate to depression because lethargy is also a symptom of many other psychological and physiological disorders. Proper testing and assessment are needed to diagnose a psychological disorder such as depression.
“Psychology says” posts may promote self-diagnosis and mislabeling of psychological disorders and conditions.
Aside from the fact that Psychology never says the statement mentioned in the image above, it is not right to consider yourself depressed right away because “you know that you’re not what you should be”.
Again, there are a lot of things that can cause one’s depression. Indeed, one of these reasons may be not being the person that an individual wants to be but note that there are also depression symptoms and timeframe to consider in order to diagnose someone with clinical depression.
Similarly, the best way to fight depression is to seek professional help,
Why is this important?
There is a danger of self-diagnosis or labeling someone else with a psychological condition. Aside from this may be inconsiderate and disrespectful to the individuals who are suffering from real psychological conditions, mislabeling and self-diagnosis may introduce stereotypes and discrimination toward the individual. Moreover, misdiagnosis may also lead to unnecessary self-treatments.
We, humans, are complex beings and there is no single claim that can explain our behavior and emotions. This is why Psychology is using a lot of data and theories and explaining human behavior or a phenomenon concerning our behavior, emotions, and thoughts.
Moreover, the internet can offer a lot of overwhelming information. Every time we click on something, there is a possibility that we land on a piece of false or misleading information. The best way to not be a victim of this information is to,
- Be vigilant and aware of the information you are consuming
- Do your own research, and always check for credible sources
- Asks experts if possible.
Do not quickly believe anything under or following the phase, “Psychology says”.
© 2022 JC Guiao