Recently updated on October 25th, 2022 at 11:03 am
This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
The general belief surrounding pop psychology is that it is pseudo-psychology, with the word pseudo referring to a hoax. Pop psychology, or popular psychology, is frequently based on “urban myth” culture. That is, a concept may have been heard and circulated for so long that the general population believes it. These views are frequently written about in periodicals, debated on talk shows, and propagated by people who are not psychologists.
Many of us, as humans, are willing to hear what professionals have to say and want to learn from specialists in their disciplines. If we are unsure about a topic, we defer to people who are knowledgeable about it. Many people also believe that the expert is providing us with accurate and useful information.
What Is Pop Psychology?
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“Pop psychology” refers to any psychological philosophy or therapy that became popular because of a book, TV show, or piece of content.
Self-help practices, personal experiences, and pop culture fads are common features of pop psychology. People who desire to improve their mental well-being are increasingly using these tactics, even if they aren’t supported by scientific evidence.
A common misconception about pop psychology is that it offers simple remedies to complex situations. It is also related to personality assessments that may or may not be scientifically valid. As Dr. Phil McGraw and Oprah Winfrey are well-known public figures and non-practicing psychologists who have helped popularize this movement.
Where Did It Come From?
The origins of popular psychology go all the way back to “The Interpretation of Dreams,” Freud’s self-published book where he exposed his psychoanalytic theories to the general public, and thus began the era of pop psychology. There was a big uptick in curiosity at that point.
Later, Erich Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom” was one of the most contentious novels of the 1960s. This book became the first to link the post-WWII interest in Eastern faiths and yoga to our desire for personal autonomy.
In the 1970s, pop psychology books like “I’m OK – You’re OK” by Thomas Harris were popular. And then there was John Gray in 1980, with his best-selling self-help book “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.”
However, there has been a growing push toward techniques based on science rather than popular culture. Our demand for popular psychology, though, seems to be unbreakable.
How To Spot Pop Psychology In Action
Does that book, show, or blog post on psychology seem a little out of place? If this sounds like something you’re wondering about, you’re not alone.
- You can tell whether you’re reading pop psychology if you see any of these signs:
- There is no evidence that it works or that it is even possible to use.
- This author/speaker has never treated anyone for the ailments they claim to be experts in treating.
- None of these requirements are mentioned in any of the information provided
Even though a book, program, or website’s “popularity” does not imply that it is ineffective, it can be a warning indication if any of the signs listed above are true.
Is It Ever Helpful?
Pop psychology gives you a window into your own thoughts and feelings. It offers self-help practices that may help you enhance your own life, your relationships with others, or your professional prospects.
On the other hand, it can be dangerous if you are dealing with mental health concerns because it lacks academic study and empirical data to support its assertions. If you must, use pop psychology in conjunction with other treatments, such as psychotherapy or medication, rather than relying solely on it. Make sure to consult your physician before attempting any popular psychological techniques.
- Be aware that not everyone will benefit from the same words of wisdom. Instead of relying on anecdotes or personal experiences of accomplishment, look for scientifically proven ways.
- There are no promises about the outcome, so don’t risk more than you can afford to lose.
- Self-diagnosis based on what you read or see on the internet should be avoided.
- Ask yourself if you want guidance from a person who has never diagnosed or treated your illness or injury.
As a medium for expressing and exchanging one’s own personal experiences, pop psychology can be beneficial for people in need of emotional support. Pop psychology has obvious advantages, as it is both amusing and an outlet for people who might otherwise lack any mental health support.
Consider these hazards if you’re considering the use of pop psychology in your business. Many popular psychology books and online resources might obscure the fundamental questions: What are the author’s or therapist’s credentials? Is it possible for me to afford the deal? What if this person has never assessed or treated this illness?
The only way to make an informed judgment regarding the risks and rewards of embracing pop psychology is to answer these questions.