Thursday, April 30, 2020

Journal Entry 3 Chapter 18: Users and Misusers of Psychology

The  purpose of Chapter 18 was to discuss those who have used psychology in a non-scientific way for some other type of gain or to improve the lives of others, even though in most situations this was not the case. The author introduced different fields within psychology that have been used in an attempt to better the lives of humans or improve their success rates in certain aspects of life. The different branches that were discussed were health psychology, educational psychology, human engineering, environmental psychology, and performance psychology. The chapter also presented information on how psychology is used in advertising and propaganda, where people realized that it was possible to use psychology to influence the minds and feelings of others in ways that wouldn’t be invertly recognized and persuasive techniques. The author provided information on both the positive and negative reasoning on how these techniques are used. The positive reasoning that the author provided involved the techniques that are used by teachers and psychotherapists that encourage and motivate children or patients to lean and change. The negative reasoning that the author provided involved the other belief that these techniques could be used to induce behavior that is harmful while also possibly depriving their freedom of choice and rationality. One of the most well-known use of psychology in covert persuasion was done by James Vicary, who had messages such as “DRINK COCA-COLA” and “HUNGRY? EAT POPCORN” flask on the movie theater screen for 1/3000 of a second every five seconds while a movie was shown. 
While no viewer acknowledged these messages being seen, within 6 weeks sales of Coca-Cola went up by 18.1% and sales of popcorn went up by 57.7%. This caused the FCC to ban “subliminal advertising” on TV and radio, but Vicary later admitted that this original study was actually fake and was just intended to increase his own rate of customers. The author also comes to the conclusion that the recent popularity in using psychology in order to help or better the self stems from people in troubled times who are desperate for any form of salvation. Some examples that the author provided would be aromatherapy, channeling, Scientology, and many more relatively unscientific topics. The author also concludes that this use of psychology can almost all be considered “unproven, unevaluated, unscientific, and, in some cases, potentially harmful in a number of ways,” (741). The author is justified in presenting this conclusion, as research done within these topics have shown that they are examples of the misuse of science and psychology.  


  1. This was an eye-opening post. I liked the advertisements you used in describing how misused psychology can be in a consumer form. The desperation to believe a "study" is harmful for individuals financially and mentally harmful when it comes to the things that they will take at face value.

  2. This was a cool chapter. One harmful way people can use psychological techniques is by manipulating others. For example, one can convince their friend to let them borrow money even though they already owe them money. By using emotional appeal, they can easily manipulate people into doing things for them.