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Science vs. Silliness for Parents: Debunking the Myths of Child Psychology

STEPHEN HUPP, AMANDA STARY, an d JEREMY JEWELL

Many ideas in child psychology have been largely discredited (Koocher et al. 2014). Unfortunately, parents and college students often have a hard time distinguishing between research-supported ideas and discredited myths. For example, in recent research, college students believed that Facilitated Communication (a pseudoscientific intervention) was more effective than Applied Behavior Analysis (a well-established intervention) as a treatment for autism (Hupp et al. 2012; Hupp et al. 2013).

While there is emerging literature on beliefs about child-focused myths, the existing research base continues to have limitations. First, many popular myths of childhood have never been examined with opinion surveys. Second, published opinion surveys are largely limited to focusing on ineffective interventions even though there are many other myths in child psychology such as those related to etiology (cause), typical development, assessment, and basic parenting approaches. Finally, previous opinion surveys primarily included college students. Although it is valuable to know the beliefs of students, it may be even more informative to gather information regarding parents’ beliefs. The purpose of this study was to assess the beliefs of both students and parents on a wide range of myths related to child psychology, and this is the first study to collect data regarding beliefs for the majority of these myths.

Method

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