Psychology Mythbusters: Separating breakthroughs from fake news


This module will examine the many grandiose claims that are peddled as 'psychological fact' by the media, e.g. listening to classical music will improve a child's IQ. Many industries have been based on dubious claims about the human brain and behaviour. Here we will discuss such claims and evaluate if they have substance. The module is student-led with the cohort contributing to setting of the curriculum. The majority of taught time is small group teaching guided by an academic facilitator. Students are required to actively participate in class discussions.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with a better understanding of the difference between 'pop psychology' and scientific evaluation. It provides the opportunity to develop oral communication skills and develop a more critical reading perspective. There will also be the opportunity to develop science writing skills.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Identify and evaluate the scientific evidence surrounding a number of popular myths about the mind and behaviour.

2.  Be better placed to communicate effectively in a small group setting.

3.  Write effectively and succinctly for an academic audience.

4.  Develop more critical evaluation skills and to improve research and library skills.

5.  Formulate and present an argument in spoken and written forms from a wide number of fields in psychology.

Indicative Content

1 Paranormal Beliefs and Experiences

Is Extrasensory Perception Real?

2 Myths about the Brain

Can repressed memories be recovered in therapy? How easily are false memories created?

3 Myths about our Mind and Body

Does “Power Posing” really work? What evidence is there for out of body experiences? Can we use our mind to cure cancer and other ailments? Is there such a thing as a 'gay gene'?

4 Myths about Language

Does being bilingual make you smarter and keep your brain younger?

5 Psychology and Society

Is our behaviour being manipulated through Behavioural Economics? What evidence is there that video games make people more violent?

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module is designed to give students the opportunity to develop critical evaluation skills and to improve their library research skills. Particular emphasis will be placed on writing skills and developing the ability to formulate and present an argument in spoken and written form. Students will engage with published research material and learn how to evaluate this in terms of reliability, validity and the appropriateness of the methodology employed, whilst developing an understanding of psychological concepts relevant to a number of fields of psychology. Students will need to work closely with other students when discussing the merits of the material brought to the discussion sessions. This module is largely based on discussion. There will be one introductory session followed by four peer-led group discussion sessions overseen by an academic facilitator, and "drop in" session arranged to support the summative assessments. Students will be expected to attend and participate in ALL peer led group discussions. Unit 1 will be submission of a summary report (500 words) related to one of the first two discussion sessions. Similar submissions will be used for a formative, peer-grading exercise in structured feedback week (week 7). Unit 2 will be a second summary report (750 words) on one of the topic areas covered in the final two discussion sessions. Unit 2 is weighted higher than Unit 1 as reflection of its increased length, utilisation of the skills developed through the Week 7 activity, and being informed by the feedback received for Unit 1. This class involves self-directed learning that will help facilitate the discussion sessions. The assessed work evaluates the student's achievements in combining the theoretical knowledge (intellectual), the real-word practices (professionalism) and the experiential reflections (personal) towards becoming an active citizen.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 2
Tutorial/Seminar 9
Supervised Practical Activity 1
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 44
Independent 144

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.