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Beyond the Norm: Debunking the Contemporary Myths and Stigmas Surrounding Psychology

23 May 2019

6-8 May 2019 – Psychology Week 2019, organised by the Psychology Club, was held on the 6th to 8th of May with the objective of increasing awareness regarding the true meaning of psychology among the students and staff of International Medical University. Themed ‘Beyond the Norm’, the event aimed to debunk the urban and contemporary myths associated with psychology through a plethora of activities. Five booths, each exhibiting a different branch of psychology, were spread throughout the Atrium. The branches were media psychology, positive psychology, sports psychology, marketing psychology and forensic psychology.

Psychology Week 2019 Booths  
Media Psychology The aim of the media psychology booth was to raise awareness on the influence of media on psychology. Many social problems have arisen as a result of the media becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. The psychology students who managed the booth arranged an activity with common jingles and logos to assess whether these advertising techniques impacted people’s minds.
Positive Psychology  The positive psychology booth hoped to spread positivity by letting people paint and decorate with bright colours and fairy lights. The booth facilitator explained that within the university, “it can be difficult to bounce back from adversity. Accepting a situation and being grateful for all outcomes is something we need to be reminded of”. Anonymous positive notes were written and exchanged as well, which lightened up many faces. There was also an Instagram challenge, where participants had to post three things they were grateful for.
Sports Psychology As for the sports psychology booth, the students in charge introduced this field as a new concept. Many athletes are becoming more aware of its importance. In fact, it is one of the highest earning jobs in the US. However, people often misunderstand that it is only correlated with motivation. On the contrary, sports psychology also deals with the attention and focus required during physical activities, thus helping people set realistic goals. A competitive planking challenge was set up so that the participants could experience and understand this concept.
Marketing Psychology The marketing psychology booth explored people’s senses through sight, touch and smell. Several activities were conducted which tested whether people’s preferences altered between sight and touch. Another experiment was carried out at the smell station to determine if there was a link between gender-specific perfumes and personal preferences and how this information could be utilised in marketing to target specific demographics. These tests were performed to allow people to be more conscious about the significance of marketing psychology.
Forensic Psychology  Lastly, there was the forensic psychology booth, which highlighted the interactions between the practice or study of psychology and the law. The students and staff could partake in a lie detector test, where they had to answer a set of questions while their blood pressure was being measured. The purpose of this was to ascertain whether such factors would influence people when they were being interrogated. It was a perfect example of the application of forensic psychology since the test is widely practised across the world.

Besides the interactive booths, a board was erected at the centre of the Atrium where assumptions and stigmas made surrounding psychology were addressed. They were explained in the hope that people would understand the subject better.

Highlights of the 3-day Event include:
• Central debunk booth helped to correct the common myths and perceptions people have about psychology. The common myths were pasted on a blue board, attached together with factual information.
• Some of the memorable aspects of Psychology Week were the T-Rex Illusion, gratitude challenge, and lie detector. The key point of T- Rex Illusion focused on the way our brain sees perspective, specifically convex and concave shapes.
• Gratitude challenge was one of the many activities conducted by Positive Psychology booth as gratitude is an important aspect of Positive Psychology. The idea was to get people to practice expressing gratitude for at least three things in their life that they are grateful for and then nominate another person to continue the challenge via social media. The challenge circulated among IMU students quickly.
• Lie detector will detect a lie based on the heart rate. There is a clip sensor attached to the finger and the heart rate graph can be analysed using the laptop. It was a fascinating and an intriguing activity set up by the Forensic Psychology booth.
• Kindness was also emphasised through balloons which consisted of kindness messages given to the staff and spectators of the Psychology Week.

A three-day event with the theme “Beyond the Norm” to continue the annual tradition of IMU's Psychology Week. On the final day of the event, the closing ceremony commenced with a speech by the guest-lecturer of honour, Dr Sharifah Sulaiha binti Syed Aznal, currently Associate Professor at the School of Medicine. She emphasised on the importance of psychology and how it does not necessarily equate to mentality-related issues only, but also encompasses a variety of fields, such as sports, marketing and criminology.

There was also a series of talented performances put together by different cohorts and programmes. The performances included contemporary dance, singing, a piano-violin duet, and, for the finale, a band performance that had the audience standing in ovation and cheering for an encore.

Following the performances was an interview with Dr Shamala Ramasamy, an esteemed lecturer from the Department of Psychology. She stated that Psychology Week – an annual initiative for the eleventh year running now – was designed as a platform to raise awareness and understanding of the programme among newer cohorts as well as other courses. ‘Beyond the Norm’ boldly captured the tireless effort put in by the psychology department and club to shatter the misconceptions that limit psychology only to the clinical aspects when in reality, the field was much broader and diverse in its real-life applications. She also believed that the major issues inflicting today’s society, mainly stereotyping and discrimination, will continue to be detrimental to the harmony of the society unless attitudes such as kindness and patience were adopted. Through this event, the meaning and purpose of psychology with its ‘everyday’ applications was successfully conveyed. Do look forward to Psychology Week 2020! Written by: Sachi Jhingran, Harshitha Canchi, Johnathan Yong, Alya Jasmine Ngu Ee-Lyn Edited by: Chang Chi Yin, Zantal Siah Related articles Psychology Week in the past years: 2018: Appreciating the Importance of Psychology at IMU 2017: Psychology Does Matter 2016: Showcasing Specialty Areas within Psychology 2013: IMU Staff and Students learnt more about Applications of Psychology

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