Many common psychology terms are ‘inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous or logically confused,’ experts claim
Many terms commonly used in psychology, psychiatry and related fields — such as chemical imbalance, love molecule, and autism epidemic — “should be avoided, or at most used sparingly and with explicit caveats,” according to a recent paper in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Although the article is aimed at health-care professionals, it’s a fascinating and helpful read for the rest of us as well. For it provides detailed explanations of why each of the 50 listed words and phrases is either “inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, [or] logically confused.”
And those explanations will probably surprise many readers.
Example are offered, including:
Love molecule. Over 6,000 websites have dubbed the hormone oxytocin the “love molecule” (e.g., Morse, 2011). Others have named it the “trust molecule” (Dvorsky, 2012), “cuddle hormone” (Griffiths, 2014), or “moral molecule” (Zak, 2013). Nevertheless, data derived from controlled studies imply that all of these appellations are woefully simplistic (Wong, 2012; Jarrett, 2015; Shen, 2015). Most evidence suggests that oxytocin renders individuals more sensitive to social information (Stix, 2014), both positive and negative. For example, although intranasal oxytocin seems to increase within-group trust, it may also increase out-group mistrust (Bethlehem et al., 2014). In addition, among individuals with high levels of trait aggressiveness, oxytocin boosts propensities toward intimate partner violence following provocation (DeWall et al., 2014). Comparable phrases applied to other neural messengers, such as the term “pleasure molecule” as a moniker for dopamine, are equally misleading (see Landau et al., 2008; Kringelbach and Berridge, 2010, for discussions). More.
It’s true, folks. The lab coat doesn’t make the scientist. Here’s the open access journal article: Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases.
Let’s read that before listening to jargonosis (pop science diagnosis of human psychological malfunctions, based on trendy phrases and facile assumptions).
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose
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