10 of Psychology's Greatest Myths

4 / 11
4 / 11

We Only Use 10% of Our Brain Power

Oh if only it were true... If we found a way to unlock and unleash the remaining 90%, we could figure out the solution to that pesky problem at work, or become a math genius, or develop telekinetic powers!

But it's not true. Metabolically speaking, the brain is an expensive tissue to maintain, hogging as much as 20% of our resting caloric expenditure, despite constituting a mere 2% of the average human's body weight.

"It’s implausible that evolution would have permitted the squandering of resources on a scale necessary to build and maintain such a massively underutilized organ," Emory University psychologist Scott Lilienfeld wrote.

The myth likely stems back to American psychologist William James, who once espoused the idea that the average person rarely achieves more than 10% of their intellectual potential. Over the years, self-help gurus and hucksters looking to make a buck morphed that notion into the idea that 90% of our brain is dormant and locked away. They have the key, of course, and you can buy it for a pittance!

(Image: Shutterstock)

Related Articles