10 of Psychology's Greatest Myths

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Mozart Will Make Your Baby a Genius

In 1993, a study published in Nature found that college students who listened to a mere ten seconds of a Mozart sonata were endowed with augmented spatial reasoning skills. The news media ran wild with it. Lost in translation was the fact that the effects were fleeting. But it was too late. The "Mozart Effect" was born.

Since then, millions of copies of Mozart CDs marketed to boost intelligence have been sold. The state of Georgia even passed a bill to allow every newborn to receive a free cassette or CD of Mozart's music.

More recent studies which attempted to replicate the original study have failed or found miniscule effects. They've also pointed to a much more likely explanation for the original findings: short-term arousal.

"Anything that heightens alertness is likely to increase performance on mentally demanding tasks, but it's unlikely to produce long-term effects on spatial ability or, for that matter, overall intelligence," Lilienfeld explained. "So listening to Mozart's music may not be needed to boost our performance; drinking a glass of lemonade or cup of coffee may do the trick."

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

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