Artists vs. Psychologists
What science reveals about psychological ideas in songs, novels and movies.
Richard Stephens Ph.D.
Verified by Psychology Today
Richard Stephens, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Keele University. He researches the psychology of emotion including how swearing can help people to withstand pain and improve strength.
Some people think psychology research amounts to little more than stating the obvious—an overly laboured and verbose rendering of common sense. This blog examines this understanding by taking an evidence-based view of psychological ideas expressed by popular artists in songs, novels, and movies. Artists generally do not have any psychology training beyond their own real-world observations. This makes their works a rich repository of common sense notions in psychology.
Each blog post will be grounded in a piece of popular art that says something relevant to psychology, using this as a launch point into the psychology research literature to see whether the evidence backs it up. I expect (and hope) that psychology often will reveal more than is deemed to be common sense, but I also expect that this won’t happen all the time. Sometimes artists may veer from common sense in their musings—what will psychology’s retort be then?