Popular psychology can be described as trying to make psychological ideas accessible, palatable, and usable to the general public.
Pop psychology consists of three main genres.
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The vast majority of the self-help industry deals with the two genres of pop psychology: practical help with everyday challenges and overcoming mental health problems.
But not all popular psychology is self-help, and not all self-help literature is based on psychology. Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People, was a salesman, actor and public speaking coach. Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was a religious educator, and M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled, was a psychiatrist.
It is easy to criticise pop psychology as they often offer simplistic claims, easy answers to complex problems and endless positivity.
Pop psychology often wanders away from any scientific evidence. Even when it is built on research, the foundation may be flimsy. Some research findings that support pop psychology cannot be replicated when studies are redone. Other claims are true to some extent but exaggerated in importance.
The self-help consumer may devour pop psychology in an attempt to find happiness and success. There is some evidence that the search may be successful and make a positive difference.
Research on bibliotherapy - using books to treat mental health problems - revealed that it could effectively reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and sexual dysfunctions. Even self-administered bibliotherapy may be at least equally effective as the standard care for people with depression.
Positive thinking plays an important role in positive psychology, a subfield devoted to the study of what makes people happy and fulfilled.
Positive thinkers are more apt to use an optimistic explanatory style, but how people attribute events can also vary depending upon the exact situation.
The number of students majoring in psychology has grown tremendously in recent decades. And that's because psychology really is fascinating
Psychology delves into a better understanding of who we are as individuals and societies.
The story of positive psychology started just 20 years ago with Martin Seligman, head of the American Psychological Association. The idea he considered was: What if every person was encouraged to nurture his or her character strengths, rather than being scolded into fixing their shortcomings?
He reorientated the entire discipline of psychology away from mostly treating mental illness and toward human flourishing, then used his authority to promote it.
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