Students research popular misconceptions and present scientific evidence to prove fact and myth.
By Richard Hernandez
Vaccines leading to autism, the existence of multiple personality disorders and handwriting indicating intelligence were myths students disproved in an honors psychology class Oct. 23.
Students in Professor Dehlia Wallis PSYCH 2301, General Psychology-Honors, explored commonly accepted “truisms” that research proved were misconceptions.
“Throughout the semester a lot of the questions that students ask me in class are based around myths and common misconceptions that come with them,” Wallis said.
“I thought it’d be a fun way to have the students take a myth that they’ve heard and find the psychological reasons behind that myth. The goal is to have them think critically about the myth and ask the deeper questions.”
The honor hall in Chance Academic Center was filled with students equipped with posters to illustrate their findings.
“We’re researching myths and proving them false,” nursing sophomore Jennifer Valle said. “Mine was personality traits that are linked to handwriting styles.
“I didn’t realize there were a lot of opinions about the (connection), but it was definitely interesting. I always thought that doctors had messy handwriting because they were smart, but turns out that isn’t true.”
The project required students to provide scientific evidence and peer reviewed scholarly articles that refute the myth.
“We’re gaining presenting skills, critical thinking skills and getting experience with presenting in front of the class,” psychology freshman Bethlie Paul said. “I’ve always been interested in split-personality traits. It’s something that isn’t talked about that often.”
Paul showcased the case of Shirley Mason to disprove the myth. Mason’s case was turned into the book “Sybil” in 1973 and a movie of the same name in 1976.
“She created 16 other personalities,” Paul said. “She didn’t have any of those personalities until she went to a therapist.”
Paul added that Mason created the personalities because she wanted the attention of the therapist, and after publication of the book the number of multiple personality cases skyrocketed.
According to criminal justice sophomore Tazman Perez, the research project gave him more insight than he expected.
“My biggest takeaway from the research has been the wow factor,” Perez said. “My topic was that vaccines cause autism. The scientist that founded the theory had nothing to back it up but made up causes that would back it up. It’s relevant today more so now than ever. People still claim that vaccines cause autism.”