Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: I wrote in general terms about Emotional Intelligence ort EQ in the two blogs before this one ( and ). In addition to a plethora of claims about the potential positive impact of EQ on one’s career success (previous post) there are also many claims that EQ is strongly positively related to life satisfaction and happiness. The article linked below looks directly at this question and tries to go beyond simply searching for a correlational relationship between happiness and EQ but instead looks at how that relationship, if one exists, actually works. Before reading the article think about your hypothesis regarding how EQ and happiness might be linked. What other factors should be considered?

Source: Szczygieł, D., & Mikolajczak, M. (2017). Why are people high in emotional intelligence happier? They make the most of their positive emotions. (reference and links below).

Date: October, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link —

Emotional regulation (which is a part of EQ) plays a BIG role in how we manage our emotions (positive AND negative) and on the impacts, they have upon us. The researchers point out in the linked article that EQ seems to be related to life satisfaction and life happiness through the differential use of savoring (enjoying) and dampening (suppressing) our emotional experiences. the bottom line seems to be that high EQ people make the most of their positive emotions by acknowledging them and savoring them and, as a result, reap the related rewards of higher life satisfaction and happiness.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is EQ related to life satisfaction and happiness?
  2. What processes or practices mediate the relationship between EQ and life satisfaction and happiness?
  3. What are some of the practical (life optimization) implications of these results?

References (Read Further):

Szczygieł, D., & Mikolajczak, M. (2017). Why are people high in emotional intelligence happier? They make the most of their positive emotions. Personality and Individual Differences, 117, 177-181.

Vicente-Galindo, M. P., López-Herrera, H., Pedrosa, I., Suárez-Álvarez, J., Galindo-Villardón, M. P., & García-Cueto, E. (2017). Estimating the effect of emotional intelligence in wellbeing among priests. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 17(1), 46-55.

Afolabi, O. A., & Balogun, A. G. (2017). Impacts of Psychological Security, Emotional Intelligence and Self-Efficacy on Undergraduates’ Life Satisfaction. Psychological Thought, 10(2), 247-261.

Mikolajczak, M., & Van Bellegem, S. (2017). Increasing emotional intelligence to decrease healthcare expenditures: How profitable would it be?. Personality and Individual Differences, 116, 343-347.



Posted by & filed under Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Student Success, The Self.

Description: I wrote in general terms about Emotional Intelligence or EQ in the previous blog to this one ( Even if you do not look through psychology research literatures you have probably heard the term EQ and you have probably heard references to the many many things about work life and career success that EQ is related to. The authors of the article linked below mention this point and then indicate that, in fact, little research has been done formally looking at the link between EQ and developmentally downstream outcomes such as career success measured simply though salary levels. Testing to see what is and is not supported by well-produced data is an important part of how psychology works to build our knowledge base. Have a look through the article (it’s the original research paper) and pay particular attention to how things were measured and to whether it feels like the design of the study is a good one for addressing the question of if, or how, EQ is related to downstream career success.

Source: Rode, J. C., Arthaud-Day, M., Ramaswami, A., & Howes, S. (2017). A time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary. (reference and links below).

Date: January 14, 2018

Photo Credit:  and

Links:  Article Link —

So, does the concept of social capital make sense as a way of thinking about and perhaps tracking the “investment” of EQ in organizational and social settings? How are the factors of mentorship and job level related to the main hypothesis of a relationship between EQ and salary? As research digs further into areas of interest like this one we begin to see more work on the mediating and moderating variables that may be at play. A mediating variable can be thought of as a stepping stone that can take one beyond the potential of something like a higher EQ and towards the realization of particular outcomes such as higher salary levels. They help us to better understand how things work. Moderating variables have more to do with conditions under which certain relationships are more or less effective or more or less impactful. So, in the current study, higher EQ seems to have bigger influence on salary levels at higher levels of organizations. The other big finding in this study was based on its longitudinal (over time) nature which meant that EQ levels prior to entering the career path was linked to outcomes a decade or so later making it possible to more closely suggest that EQ caused the different career outcomes. While there may still (and likely are) other variables to be considered in future research the question of how things like EQ are causally related to career outcomes are particularly important if we are to make good decisions about training and career preparation (e.g., when should we be pushing EQ development and training?).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Ho is EQ related to salary 10 years into career?
  2. How might mentorship mediate the effects of EQ and how might job level moderate those same effects?
  3. What training implication are suggested by this study? What should students in college and university settings think about doing in light of these findings (assuming subsequent research supports them)?

References (Read Further):

Rode, J. C., Arthaud-Day, M., Ramaswami, A., & Howes, S. (2017). A time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 101, 77-89.

Young, L., Milner, M., Edmunds, D., Pentsil, G., & Broman, M. (2014). The tenuous relationship between salary and satisfaction. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 7, 1.

Amdurer, E., Boyatzis, R. E., Saatcioglu, A., Smith, M. L., & Taylor, S. N. (2014). Long term impact of emotional, social and cognitive intelligence competencies and GMAT on career and life satisfaction and career success. Frontiers in psychology, 5.

Wilderom, C. P., Hur, Y., Wiersma, U. J., Berg, P. T. V., & Lee, J. (2015). From manager’s emotional intelligence to objective store performance: Through store cohesiveness and sales‐directed employee behavior. Journal of organizational behavior, 36(6), 825-844.

Kiss, M., Kotsis, Á., & Kun, A. I. (2014). The relationship between intelligence, emotional intelligence, personality styles and academic success.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, General Psychology, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence, Neuroscience, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: In VERY general terms what makes you successful and happy in the world? Is being smart important? Well you would think IQ should or could help and in many ways, it certainly contributes BUT it is NOT the best predictor of career success and wellbeing and general life happiness. I suspect you know or have run across people who are very bright but who seem to have difficulties getting along well with others and THAT is the core issue. Much of our day to day activities and much of our general life engagements are socially based. Careers involve social interactions from teamwork to relationship building to product development and marketing. Of course, intimate connections and friendships are social. In addition, the self-talk that we do and especially the self-talk we may find we need to do to guide and manage ourselves as we plan our days weeks and years and as we plan or projects, our careers and our home lives and free time. Self-understanding and self-management can be seen as similar, to (almost the same as) social-understanding and social-management. Self-understanding is, in many ways a prerequisite to social understanding. Work, in psychology, on understanding and measuring intelligence (IQ) goes back many decades (over a century). Active psychological research on social intelligence really only emerged as a explicit area of research the theorizing in the 1990’s with the work of Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence, usually referred to in a way that is intended to point out its equivalent importance (or even great importance) to Intelligence or IQ, as Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ). Despite its relatively late arrival at the Psychology research table EQ is generating a LOT of research and a LOT of interest. To get a taste of what Goleman had in mind by way if EQ and its potential importance read through the article linked below. It provides you both with a clear overview of what EQ involves AND, due to the article’s intended audience(s) (managers, organizations, and career reflective employees), a clear snapshot of why organizations, HR people and departments and the career world in general are so interested in EQ.

Source: Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence, Olivier Serrat, in Knowledge Solutions: Tools, Methods, and Approaches to Drive Organizational Performance (reference and links below).

Date: January 14, 2018

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link — Download Link:

You can watch a very good talk by Daniel Goleman (who first spoke of Emotional Intelligence) given at Google in which he speaks to the Neuroscience underlying Social Intelligence or Emotional Intelligence (or Quotient) or EQ.

So, as human beings we are built to reflect upon our experiences BOTH cognitively and emotionally. If you are interested in how that is mapped out neurologically in the brain you can watch the video linked above showing Daniel Goleman talking about the neural basis of social intelligence to employees of Google. Basically, we process social information FIRST through the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, and which trades in emotions and emotional reactions. Subsequently, we process the same information (with limbic influence) cognitively in the pre-frontal lobes of the brain. So, we emote first and think later. Our EQ, generally speaking, reflects how aware we are of our limbic responses and how much we are able to understand them, predict them, and manage them. That is why the terms social intelligence and Emotional Intelligence, or Emotional Quotient are used interchangeably. The cognitive components of EQ have developmental trajectories and involve things that can be learned from experience (by paying attention to social interactions and our reactions to them). So, we tend to get better at EQ as we mature but we can also get better at EQ by paying systematic attention to our social experiences and reflecting upon them and our related emotions. The good news here, therefore, is that while EQ is a really good predictor of life success, satisfaction and happiness it is also something that is quite open to change and to improvement with experience, focus and effort. Think of it as social and self-wisdom and you will have it about right. The next move is all yours!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is EQ?
  2. How does EQ relate to IQ?
  3. What are several things you could start doing today that could boost your EQ?

References (Read Further):

Serrat O. (2017) Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence. In: Knowledge Solutions. Springer, Singapore (All chapters available for download).

Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2008). Emotional intelligence: new ability or eclectic traits?. American psychologist, 63(6), 503.

Brackett, M. A., & Mayer, J. D. (2003). Convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity of competing measures of emotional intelligence. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 29(9), 1147-1158.

Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence. Bantam.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence. Harvard Business Press.

Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence. Why It Can Matter More than IQ. Learning, 24(6), 49-50.

Cherniss, C., Extein, M., Goleman, D., & Weissberg, R. P. (2006). Emotional intelligence: what does the research really indicate?. Educational Psychologist, 41(4), 239-245.



Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Consciousness, General Psychology, Human Development, Moral Development, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Social Psychology.

Description: What brain based activations are associated with your tendency to consider causing harm to others in moral decision-making situations? Typically, we are asked questions in abstract or “hypothetical” manners. Would you consider causing pain to one person if it might result in information to needed to stop a bombing that could harms many others? Would you consider harming a few rats if it might result in a cure for Aids? Tough questions. If your answer to either questions something like “hypothetically yes, but I really don’t think I could actually do those things” then you have already understood some of what the research reported upon in the article linked below has to tell us. Have a look and see if it fits with your thinking on these questions.

Source: Mirror neuron activity predicts people’s decision-making in moral dilemmas, ScienceDaily, Science News.

Date: January 5, 2018

Photo Credit  UCLA Health

Links:  Article Link –

Mirror neurons are fascinating (well, I think, at least). Among other things, they can be viewed as the neural foundation of empathy, which is interesting because Western Psychology has struggled with the concept of empathy for decades. For example, if our behavior is largely controlled by self-interest then where is the self-interest in helping others? Well, perhaps in the functioning of mirror neurons – neurons that fire when we experience certain things AND when we observe others experiencing the same things. That could be a definition of empathy. The linked research suggests that people with string mirror neuron activation when viewing others’ pain are more likely to avoid or refuse to comply in situations where they are asked to harm others, an effect that is NOT there when the questions of harm or hypothetical, as they are in more moral dilemmas. So now, what about the application implications, now there is a can of ethical worms!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is there a difference between responding to hypothetical “harm others” dilemmas and actually moving to initiate actions that will potentially harm others??
  2. What role might mirror neurons play in the circumstances described in the previous question?
  3. What are some of the ethical (and research) issues that arise if we consider possible applications of the research results reported in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Moore, L., Conway, P., & Iacoboni, M. (2017). Deontological Dilemma Response Tendencies and Sensorimotor Representations of Harm to Others. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 11, 34.

Linkovski, O., Katzin, N., & Salti, M. (2017). Mirror neurons and mirror-touch synesthesia. The Neuroscientist, 23(2), 103-108.

Jalal, B., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2017). Sleep paralysis,“the ghostly bedroom intruder” and out-of-body experiences: the role of mirror neurons. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11.

Steward, M. (2017). Empathy and the Role of Mirror Neurons.

Campbell, M. E., & Cunnington, R. (2017). More than an imitation game: Top-down modulation of the human mirror system. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.


Posted by & filed under Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: You have, no doubt, heard about the powerful connections between odors and memories. When I talk about this in Psychology classes I suggest that if you ever want to remember your elementary school days just wait for this time of year when schools have been buttoned up tight due to the cold for a while and then step into the main hallway of an elementary school and take a few deep sniffs of the air. (Actually, go to the main office first and explain what you are doing so you do not cause panic huffing and puffing in a building full of children). The combination of craft glue, construction paper, sweaty boot liners, and well hidden aging lunches should bring you elementary school years rushing back to you. (Oh, and another ethical “actually”, think before doing this if you really want to recall your early school years. Perhaps there are good reasons why you cannot do so without odorific priming!). So, how are odors connected with episodic memories in the brain? What storage processes and mechanisms are involved? Well, read the article linked below for one possibility.

Source: How odors are turned into long-term memories, Neuroscience News.

Date: December 27, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link —

The research results reported in the linked article suggests a few interesting things. First are the involvement of the piriform cortex and orbitofrontal cortex in processing odor memories and linking them to other, episodic, memories (and how they were identified using stimulation techniques). Second is the interplay between these two brain areas which is a good example of the increasing number of brain connection we are finding between “lower” level brain based functions that do stuff and higher-level centers that command monitor and organize the stuff of the lower centers. In this case the piriform cortex processes odors into memory but only when the orbitofrontal cortex tells it to do so.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are odors stored in the brain?
  2. How are odor memories linked to episodic memories?
  3. What other research might be interesting to do looking at potential linking mechanisms between odors and episodic memories?

References (Read Further):

Strauch, C., & Manahan-Vaughan, D. (2017). In the Piriform Cortex, the Primary Impetus for Information Encoding through Synaptic Plasticity Is Provided by Descending Rather than Ascending Olfactory Inputs. Cerebral Cortex, 1-13.

Burden, C. M., Elmore, C., Hladun, K. R., Trumble, J. T., & Smith, B. H. (2016). Acute exposure to selenium disrupts associative conditioning and long-term memory recall in honey bees (Apis mellifera). Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 127, 71-79.

Tonegawa, S., Pignatelli, M., Roy, D. S., & Ryan, T. J. (2015). Memory engram storage and retrieval. Current opinion in neurobiology, 35, 101-109.

Herz, R. S. (2016). The role of odor-evoked memory in psychological and physiological health. Brain sciences, 6(3), 22.

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, General Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Legal Ethical Issues, Moral Development, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Personality, Personality Disorders, Psychological Health.

Description: Have you ever watched an episode of the TV show Criminal Minds which fictionally focusses on the activities of an FBI behavioral analysis unit that hunts psychopaths? In the show there are many discussions of the sorts of developmental histories that amplify some psychopathic behavioral tendencies and of the sorts of things that can “trigger” or “escalate” psychopathic behavior and violence. It can be fascinating and creepy and even terrifying. A question that is NOT often asked in the show is what it is about the brains of psychopaths that gives rise to their particular patterns of immoral, violent behaviour. The article linked below looks at this question more generally, in terms of criminality rather than psychopathy, and involves looking to see if there are correlations between criminal behavior and certain brain issues. What area(s) of the brain do you think might be involved? Think about it and then read the article linked below to see what the research suggests.

Source: Brain lesions, criminal behavior linked to moral decision-making network. ScienceDaily, Science News

Date: December 18, 2017

Photo Credit:  prathaan/Fotolia

Links:  Article Link —

The researchers make a number of important points. First, they are studying something called “acquired sociopathy” or antisocial behavior that does not appear to be based on “inborn” features or tendencies or brain structures. The researchers also showed that the brain lesions that seemed to be associated with criminal behavior were not in a specific place in the brain but, rather, in a network of brain areas that has been shown to be involved in morality and values-based decision making. Beginning understandings of the networked nature of brain functioning have lead to new insights into how the brain works, especially in complex tasks like making moral decisions and regulating one’s behaviour moral/ethical ways. While more research is certainly needed in this and related areas it is time to start thinking about some of the questions that will arise as this line in enquiry develops – like, how shall we, or should we use what it suggests for identifying and regulating particular individuals?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the brain lesion research discussed in the linked article suggest about one possible correlate of criminal behavior?
  2. What sorts of additional research is needed if we are to better (and to properly) understand this possible connection between moral decision-making brain networks and criminal behavior?
  3. What ethical considerations should we be discussing or at least preparing to discuss in relation to the implications of this type of research?

References (Read Further):

Darby, R. R., Horn, A., Cushman, F., & Fox, M. D. (2017). Lesion network localization of criminal behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201706587.

Adolphs, R., Gläscher, J., & Tranel, D. (2017). Searching for the neural causes of criminal behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201720442.

Poldrack, R. A., Monahan, J., Imrey, P. B., Reyna, V., Raichle, M. E., Faigman, D., & Buckholtz, J. W. (2017). Predicting violent behavior: what can neuroscience add?. Trends in cognitive sciences.

Nahmias, E. (2017). Your Brain as the Source of Free Will Worth Wanting: Understanding Free Will in the Age of Neuroscience.

Güney, S. (2017). Psychopathy: The Reflection of Severe Psychosocial Dysfunction. In Psychopathy-New Updates on an Old Phenomenon. InTech.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Development of the Self, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: In my previous 2 blog posts (1. and 2.  I wrote about the Big Life Task of identity formation and about the bleak picture painted of how this important post-secondary developmental enterprise is seen as going for many (40 to 45%) emerging adults (18 to 29-year-old’s). I pointed out that there are a number of ways in which speaking only of Identity Styles is problematic and developmentally unhelpful. Focusing on Identity Styles alone is focusing on symptoms rather than underlying causes. Second, discussions of Identity Style focusses attention solely on the individuals doing the developing and not on the socio-historical contexts in which that development is or is not occurring. The world that emerging adults are preparing to move into is more complicated than the worlds that their parents and grandparents grew into and this needs to be considered before simply stating that the main “problem” that 40 to 45% of emerging adults experience in their early post-secondary years is that they are using a Diffused Identity Style. This complexity contributes to the historically high levels of stress and anxiety experienced by emerging adults during their early post-secondary years. Efforts by colleges and universities to increase student engagement have shown limited success partly because the focus there has been on getting students engaged in educational and institutional practices of previous generations and mainly because what emerging adults in their early post-secondary years need first and foremost is to be figuring out how to be engaged in themselves and their own development.

What to do? What to do?

I would like to suggest that you engage in a brief reflective exercise before I try and address the previous twice-repeated question.  In this exercise, though, I do not want you to reflect inwardly on your own psychological perspective. Rather, I would like you to reflect outwards and consider anything you have read, seen or heard in the media and in your social experiences that was presented as advice for how young (emerging) adults “these days” need to think and act when it comes to their career and life development. Before you start, I also want you to expand your reflective perspective to include not just young (emerging) adults but what older adults (middle aged or late-career or aging) need to do to adapt “these days” and for good measure throw in anything you may have heard about what companies, big and small, are said to need to do “these days” to maintain their competitive advantage and their sustainable places in the world. OK, all set? Before reading on, take a few minutes to think about what you have heard in these areas. Think in terms of words or simple phrases rather than book length treatments as we are looking here for basic directions and basic life preparation advice. Ok GO!


So, what came to mind for you? I have not conducted a systemic media review but here are a few words, phrases and thoughts I have run across in the past few years. To get along and get ahead in the world “these days” emerging adults (and all adults and companies too) need to:

…be lifelong learners (one does not know all there is to know after some schooling and what IS known is changing rapidly).
…be entrepreneurs (you will need to adapt your enterprise to the world around you).
…be nimble (things will change on the fly and so will you and your goals, strategies and plans).
…be open to diversity (things are different not just on the other side of the world by just down your block as well).
…be open to experience (related to diversity, be open to seeing things that you did not expect and considering them).
…be prepared to see failure NOT as a sign to stop what you are clearly not good at but as a learning opportunity and an invitation to re-configure and move ahead (be pleased when you fail).
…view planning your life and living your life as closely related, ongoing, lifelong processes.
…realize that knowing what you are going to be or do “when you grow up” is a lifelong process.
…know that there are many possible answers to the questions who am I and how am I going to live my life (and figuring that out is the ongoing journey that this is about).

How does all that sound? That you have a lot to learn and a LOT to work on? Well, perhaps that is why emerging adulthood is 10 years long. What it should also suggest is that identity is not something to be found or developed early and then just lived out. Identity is better viewed as an ongoing process or ongoing journey that will, or ought to be, under ongoing reflection and regular review throughout your life. Your Identity Style is simply a snapshot of where you were at in that ongoing process when you last completed the measure.

So how should you proceed?  A couple of months ago I ran across a book by a couple of professors at the Stanford Design School who had looked at the Big Life Task of personal identity and decided that it should be approached as a Design problem. The Stanford Design School was the first to adopt a human centered approach to design.  Bill Burnett and Dave Evans thought that the principles of human centered design could very usefully be applied to developmental and lifelong task of designing a human…. specifically, to the task of designing yourself. Their Stanford course, their online course, and their book Design Your Life draw on human centered design principles as well as drawing heavily on research in positive psychology looking at things that help or hinder human wellbeing. Think of it as an applied course in Identity self-development. I am very impressed with how well their approach ties into the huge literature on identity development. While not getting stuck at the Identity Style as symptom level, the Life Design approach, digs past it to talk about the underlying causal factors that produce particular Identity Style snapshots and to talk about how we can take them up and use them to get on with our life journeys — to figure out what we will be when we grow up.

So, what does their approach involve? Well, you have several options for finding out. You can enroll in Stanford and take their course, you can take their online course, you can find someone like me, local to wherever you are, and find out when they are next running a Developmental Life Design course in your area or you can buy their book (see reference list below). In point form, here are some highlights of Developmental Life Design.

A well-designed life is one that is generative, it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving, and there is a possibility of surprise.

Don’t think about outcomes (what you want to be when you grow up) think about processes (Work on what you want to grow into).

Like a designer, don’t THINK your way forward BUILD your way forward.

Start with 5 design mindsets (basic assumptions and action tendencies)

  1. Be Curious
  2. Have a bias to action, don’t think about stuff TRY it!
  3. Reframe Problems: get unstuck by examining your biases and assumptions and open new solution spaces.
  4. Know Life Design is a Process for approaching a wicked problem (a wicked problem is one that changes as you work on it). Life is a journey so let go of the end goal, focus on the process and see where that takes you.
  5. Ask for help: collaboration works wonders.

The old advice that you should find and follow your passions is backwards and is part of why people who are using Diffused or Normative Styles just keep using them. You should aim to build into your passions which you will find as you move along.

You do NOT need to and probably won’t know where you are going when you are getting started. As things will change along the way you do need to be nimble, but you also need to not burden yourself with things you cannot know (like where you MUST end up).

You are starting a lifelong process. You will (should) regularly review how you are doing in relation to Work, Play, Love and Health and make adjustments for balance as needed.

As Burnett and Evans put it, you may not know where you are going but you can know that you are going in the right direction (that’s a biggest part of the Designed Life as a voyage perspective).

How do you do this?

Build a Compass

  1. Reflect on your Lifeview and your Workview, write them down and look for coherencies (places where these two views complement one another, clash, support or drive one another). His will help you find your own True North and help ensure that as you journey forward you are following your own compass and not someone else’s.


  1. To get started (and for the rest of your life on a regular basis) you need to pay attention to how your engagements with the world go. Drawing on work in Positive Psychology you should look back at the things you did (classes, meetings, events etc.) in the past few days to a week in a good times journal. For each event rate how engaged you were in the event. Being engaged means being focused and caught up in the event (not noting the passage of time etc.). Also note how you felt after the event. Where you tired or energized? Events that were engaging AND energizing are wonderful examples of the sorts of things your compass could be pointed towards. Your reactions are telling you about yourself and about what might be possible journey paths for you.


    <liCan’t see what might be possible? Try and reframe the situation. Mind Map some things from your good time journal and then mine the map for possibilities and new solutions.

Possible Lives

  1. An important part of the Developmental Life Design process is to realize that the average number of fantastic possible lives people can imagine having is in the neighbourhood of seven (yes 7). This is a lot like the traveler’s dilemma that you may have heard about. You are going to Rome and you will have 4 days there. You dig through guidebooks and ask friends and remember your courses on religion etc. and you make an itinerary. At some point, however, either before you go or once you get there you are potentially paralyzed by self-doubts. You cannot see everything and, so you start to worry that what you have planned to see might not be the best things to see and you know that you will be missing some amazing things. Your Life Planning process can be fraught with the same problem. Make some choices and then ….. agonize about whether they are the best choices or the right choices for you. The solution to the traveler’s dilemma is to let possibilities go, once you have thoughtfully put an itinerary together and just go and enjoy your trip, it WILL BE amazing. Despite what your parents or high school guidance counselors may have told you, life is like that trip. Once you have made a plan let the other possibilities go and KNOW that the life journey you embark on WILL be amazing (this one can be a bit hard but there are a lot of tricks and tips for how to accomplish it well).

Plan Out Three Possible Life Odysseys – 5-year plans (yes that is another voyage reference!)

  1. Prototype your options: Prototyping is one of the core features of Developmental Life Design. Prototyping, as in design, involves a range of activities that grow from the Bias Toward Action noted above as one of the 5 key mindsets. Burnett and Evans point out that as unique as the components of our Odyssey plans might be it is pretty likely that there is someone out there doing exactly that or something pretty close to it already. In a richer version of Informational Interviewing, they suggest that you go and gather life stories (brief ones) from people doing things you think might be good “ways” for you to try. You are not going to ask for a job, you are going to find out what got those people onto their own current life journey and you are going to listen very hard to see if that sounds like something you would like to embark upon.
  2. Prototyping is a form a failure immunity. You are gathering life data and trying things on for size and if the worse thing that can happen is that something does not fit well, no problem, tailor the situation, tailor your plan, adapt your thinking and re-prototype. You learn valuable things every step of the way and, really, you learn more from failure than from success. Do not judge your progress or your life by your outcomes, its not over ‘til its over so judge your progress by your process.

Recognize That This is a Lifelong Process

  1. So how does that sound to you? Are you ready to abandon the idea that you need to know who you are and exactly where you are going before you leave high school or by some point early along your post-secondary developmental pathway? Doing so does not mean that you will be stumbling blindly along your life course. It IS true, however, that there is always fog on life’s journey. For people using an Informational Identity Style (going back to symptoms for a moment) the fog is off in the distance and they are comfortable in with the Developmental Life Design idea that while we may not be able to see exactly where we are going we can design our journeys in such ways that we can be confident we are going in the right direction. For people using a Normative Identity Style the fog is a bit closer, but they have chosen career and life courses that allow them to look from side to side and see the armada of other life craft travelling in the same direction as them and they find this reassuring (though if or when they find themselves travelling alone they may need to seek out a Developmental Life Design learning opportunity). Finally, for people using a Diffused Identity Style the fog of uncertainly is quite close and they are uncertain about how to set a course. For them the steps of a Developmental Life Design course or book or friend could help them walk themselves through the steps towards wayfinding and prototyping and towards a better designed life course.

So how is your life navigation going? Hopefully these blogs have given you some things to think about and some suggestions about how to plan and start journeying on well designed life courses.

Source:</strong Developmental Life Design 301.

Date:</strong December 31, 2017

Photo Credit:


Links:  Article Link —

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways you can link your Identity Style to the Developmental Life Design outline provided above?
  2. Do you have the sort of life data you need to try the Developmental Life Design model out?
  3. If the answer to the previous question is no what do you need to make a trial run possible (it is worth a try!)?

Blog Series on Developmental Life Design



References (Read Further):

Boyes, Michael, Pearson, Ilana, and Ursenbach, Jacob (manuscript) Identity Processing Style and Supportive Resource Engagement.

Burnett, Bill and Evans, Dave (2016) Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life, Knopf, New York NY.

Arnett, J. J. (2016). College students as emerging adults: The developmental implications of the college context. Emerging Adulthood, 4(3), 219-222.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: My previous blog ( might have seemed a bit bleak in that it talked about how the largest proportion of 1st year university students (40 to 45%) utilize an Identity Processing Style called Diffused which suggests that in taking on the Big Life Task of figuring out who they are, where they are going, how they are going to get there and what they are going to stand for along the way they are in need of some additional tools, skills and personal insights. In addition, my own data, which I talked about in my last blog, indicates pretty clearly that while Diffused Identity Style using students are in need of some assistance in managing this Big Life Task, they are among the least likely to seek out that assistance even when it is available to them free and nearby (on campus). I am not alone in puzzling about what to do about this. Universities and colleges across the world are worried about student engagement or how to get students more actively engaged in their college or university (post-secondary) life experience. Most educational institutions seem to think that this can be accomplished by encouraging students to take their studies seriously, to examine their options more extensively, and to join a club or two ( My own view is that these strategies are focused on symptoms rather than on the underlying causes of student under-engagement. Over the past several years and particularly since my retirement about a year ago, I have been digging around looking for and thinking about possible ways to directly address the underlying causes of the difficulties many students (and people at all points in their adult lives) are having with their first encounter with the Big Life Task of Identity formation (or with their ongoing struggles with this important life issue).

The research literatures on identity and emerging adult development and the related literatures on college and university student development have begun to try and look at this question but have not gotten very far with it. A lot has been done looking at what correlates with Identity Style and its precursors and educational performance outcomes. Less has been done looking at how to help folks gain some conscious control over the things that make up their Identity Style and, through that, to begin to actively acquire and/or develop the life skills, life perspectives, and life strategies. What are needed are strategies that help emerging adults to positively negotiate the Big Life Task of identity formation both by setting some life goals and directions and, as well, by mastering the skills necessary to manage and continue to develop those goals and directions moving forward into adult life.

It is also worth noting, especially if the Identity Style proportions I discussed in the previous blog are in any way alarming to you, that this rate of Diffusion may be a relatively recent phenomenon (and as such, symptomatic of something larger than individuals’ efforts to psychologically sort out their worlds). Simply put, the world that emerging adults are growing into today is a more complicated world than the one in which their parents and grandparents grew up. The current generation of young adults are destined to be the first since generation since the “Boomers” who will, on average, earn less over their lives than their parents did. In addition, while my high school guidance counselors way back in the 1970’s were telling me and my peers to expect to have 3 to 10 jobs over the course of our working careers (that is one career and several jobs within it), emerging adults are being told today to anticipate having 3 to 5 careers over the course of their working lives and to have longer working lives than their parents are having. (by the way, the data on these claims is not at all clear, though “job-hopping” does seem to be the new norm according to Forbes, ). In such a work/career environment, picking a career in your teens or 20’s and expecting to succeed by sticking with it until one receives a pension is not advisable, and is, in fact, somewhat delusional as it is likely not going to be anywhere close to reality. To be fair, there IS some research out there that is starting to take seriously the question of how emerging adults (18 to 29 years old’s, Arnett, 2016), manage or can be helped, nudged, or nurtured into developing the skills and perspectives for positively negotiating this Big Life Task.

It is worth noting that the developmental “stage” of emerging adulthood is relatively new. We only began viewing adolescence as a formal developmental stage just over 100 years ago, partly due to downward shifts in the age of physical maturity along with socio-historical and related cultural shifts in our view of pathways to maturity and the more complex nature of the world young people were developing into. Emerging adulthood as a developmental life “stage” has only been under discussion in developmental psychology circles for about 18 years, since Arnett’s American Psychologist article about it in 2000 ( ). The Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood emerged out of the Society for Research on Adolescence in 2007 and established the journal Emerging Adulthood in 2013. So, Emerging Adulthood is new. The point of recounting this recent history is simply that if, as the new area of developmental psychology called Emerging Adulthood seems to be suggesting, it takes until around 29 years of age for folks to “emerge” as adults in the current socio-historical context then making a plurality of them (40 to 45%) feel bad by pointing out that their Big Life Task Identity Style seems Diffused is at least discouraging and perhaps also nasty, unethical and unhelpful. Using a Diffused Identity Style during one’s early post-secondary developmental years may simply be symptomatic of being in the earliest portion of a developmental stage that, over the space of about a decade, will gear one up actively make one’s way in a world that is more complex, more demanding, more diverse, and basically much broader than the worlds that previous (even recently previous) generations grew up and entered into.

So, how should we currently be thinking about the Big Life Task of Identity formation and what should we be doing to optimize the transitions of high school students to post-secondary life pathways to created spaces, tools and opportunities for the early post-secondary years that do not simply get stuck on the rate of Diffusion? This will be the topic of my next blog, but it is worth saying here that some post-secondary institutions that are taking seriously the idea that Identity development is a longer-term process than just completing a 4-year degree. Some are encouraging gap-year travel or volunteer or service experiences, study abroad experiences, community engagement and volunteerism and many other activities and course experiences that provide exposure to, and emersion in, the diverse social and cultural contexts that make up the globalized, more complex world in which emerging adults (and the rest of us) are now living. In my next blog I will write a bit about some ways to think about, look at and, for emerging adults of all ages, to prepare for and navigate within this new richly complex world of both challenge and opportunity.

Source: Developmental Life Design.

Date: December 31, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link —

To be continued in the next blog.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you feel about your Identity Style now?
  2. What are some of the ways in which the Big Life Task of Identity formation is different today than it was even just 30 years ago?
  3. Are there things you planned or are planning as part of your own transition to post-secondary developmental pathways that are different than what your parents did? If you are older (over 29) how are you thinking about such things as career, spirituality, relationships, and political or global issues as they relate to your Identity – to who you are and what you believe and what you stand for?

Blog Series on Developmental Life Design


References (Read Further):

Berzonsky, M. D., & Kuk, L. S. (2000). Identity status, identity processing style, and the transition to university. Journal of adolescent research, 15(1), 81-98.

Boyes, Michael, Pearson, Ilana, and Ursenbach, Jacob (manuscript) Identity Processing Style and Supportive Resource Engagement.

Arnett, J. J. (2016). College students as emerging adults: The developmental implications of the college context. Emerging Adulthood, 4(3), 219-222.

Posted by & filed under Human Development, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: As I sit writing this it is December 31, New Year’s Eve (News Year’s Eve Day Morning to be perfectly correct).  In previous years around new year’s I have posted about resolutions and about how Psychological research suggests our performance when we strike out into new behaviors as a result of a new year’s resolution is not very good and certainly not sustained even when we start well. Rather than dipping into that depressing theme again for THIS New Year’s I have decided to head off in another reflective direction. I am posting 3 blogs (this is the first) in which I am talking about the matter if personal identity, an area I have researched in and thought about throughout my nearly 4 decades long time in Psychology. I am going to start with a little reflection on my own research and then move on into an area of application of Psychology to life that I have through about for years and have been working intensively on over the past few years.

Before I start I want you to prepare yourself to actively read and reflect upon what I am going to be talking about because, as the title of this blog suggests I am going to try and nudge you along a developmental path that is intended to move you well beyond resolution into action – into identity relevant action. The first thing I want you to do is to stop reading and go to this linked website ( ) and complete the identity style questionnaire there. Once you do you will, if you have entered your email in the space on the site, receive an email with your raw scores and instructions for calculating your Identity Style. So, what IS an Identity Style?

Developmentally speaking, there are a number of what we might call Big Life Tasks we need to work out as we grow and develop (if you would like a roadmap just search Erikson’s Psychosocial Model on line). In our late teens and well into our 20’s our Big Life Task concerns identity – figuring out who we are, where we are going, how we are going to get there and what we are going to stand for along the way. Your Identity Style is kind of a summary of how you are thinking about and, to a certain extent, working on this Big Life Task. I have been gathering data on how students manage their transitions from high school to their post-secondary developmental pathways for a number of years now (my sample is over 4000 and climbing) and Identity Style is a good way of summarizing how that transition process is going.

If your Identity Style is Informational then you are actively engaged in the process of negotiating this Big Developmental Task. Even if you are not yet sure what you want to do you are investigating possibilities and trying them on for personal size. You feel comfortable in a post-secondary learning institution like a college or university because it is a place that was largely built with folks like you in mind – independent learners figuring out what their academic and life passions are and how they can advance them. You will use the identity information and identity advancement skills you are honing through out the rest of your life. As well, you are not alone, though not nearly as un-alone as you might think. About 20 to 25% of first year university students (according to my data) use an Informational Identity style. Developmentally one might expect this proportion to go up as students move through their post-secondary educational years and it does but now by very much (perhaps by 5 to 10 percentage points).

If your Identity Style is Normative you have a pretty good idea in mind of where you are going and how you are going to get there. You are likely heading towards or are in a program of study or career preparation that is fairly well defined, like business or engineering and you have a pretty good idea of what you will do with your degree when you receive it – e.g., go into business or engineering.  You tend to make life decisions by looking around you to see both what options exist but also to see what other people are doing in this regard. This approach can work quite well for you as long as defined options exist and as long as you are able to meet the entrance criteria. You are also not alone as about 25 to 30% of first year students are using this style through this proportion goes down by about 5% by 4th year.

The remaining Identity Style is Diffused or Diffused and Avoidant and it typically involves not being particularly clear about how you are going to negotiate this Big Life Task and, as well, not being particularly clear about how to get clear. You find the expectations of post-secondary life a bit unclear and you are moving along hoping that things will get clearer. You are REALLY not alone as between 40 and 45% of first year students are using this style. This proportion drops by about the 5 to 10% that the Informational Style increases by 4th year.

When I look at what my data tells me about how folks with each of these Identity Styles fair in making their transition to university life, things are pretty clear. I asked them about their adjustment in 9 areas, from Anxiety and Stress, to academic and career issues to family problems and friendship issues – 9 areas of adjustment in all. Succinctly put, 65 of folks using an Informational OR a Normative Identity Style need assistance in either 0 or 1 of these adjustment areas while 65% of folks using a Diffused Identity Style are in need of assistance in 2 or MORE adjustment areas with an average of about 5 areas. When I asked if they had taken advantage of the many assistance resources available to them at their university (and there ARE a LOT of resources for student transition and adjustment assistance) it turned out that Informational Style students were the most likely to seek out and available themselves of those services and Diffused Style students were the least likely to do so. Further, Diffused Style students were more likely to use “do it yourself” supports such as web-surfing or talking to friends rather than access the Student Success center and related services available to them on-campus.

What to do? Well this is the question I am going to take up in my next blog but it IS an very important question. Within Developmental Psychology we have assumed that most people successfully negotiate the Big Life Task of forming a personal identity and yet, my data has been telling me that the BIGGEST group of students in university are using a Diffused Identity Style and as such are struggling with this Big Life Task of identity development all through their time and university and likely beyond. The essential question NOT addressed in the Identity Style research literature is what to do about this state of affairs. This is the question I have been thinking about, reading about and working on over the past couple of years and I will talk about one or two of the things I have found in my next blog.

Source: Identity Processing Style and Supportive Resource Engagement, Michael Boyes, Ilana Pearson and Jacob Ursenbach.

Date: December 31, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link —

To be continued in the next blog (see list below).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is your Identity Style?
  2. Can you see some examples of how it has been used by you in areas like academic decision making, career planning, voting decisions?
  3. What sorts of things have you done to work on the Big Life Task of Identity formation?

Blog Series on Developmental Life Design


References (Read Further):

Berzonsky, M. D., & Kuk, L. S. (2000). Identity status, identity processing style, and the transition to university. Journal of adolescent research, 15(1), 81-98.

Boyes, Michael, Pearson, Ilana, and Ursenbach, Jacob (manuscript) Identity Processing Style and Supportive Resource Engagement.


Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Memory, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: As you are very likely aware there has been a LOT of research om human memory (how it works, what improves it or messes it up etc. etc.) but what about memory of certain humans? What sorts of factors or characteristics or deeds (good, bad or otherwise) make it more likely someone will be remembered in 1000 years? Think about it, what makes it more likely someone will be part of many peoples “memories” 1000 years after they are gone? Once you have a few hypotheses in mind read the article linked below to see if any of your ideas made the list.

Source: Who will be remembered in 1000 years? Zaria Gorvett, BBC, Future Now, Psychology.

Date: December 21, 2017

Photo Credit:  Alamy

Links:  Article Link —

Were you surprised by any of the really well known (back then) people who were NOT in your memory?  Or were you surprised at how many people specifically worked at doing things that might get them remembered? Did you think of the “found a religion” approach? That certainly gets you talked about generation after generation. All of the “hints for memorial longevity” in the article gets me thinking about Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious and the idea that some concepts, fears, urges and maybe some people are part of the cultural, historical “memories” we all seem to carry about with us. Recognizing that the roots of such things could be genetic, social and or cultural helps to see the complexity of human memory.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are people from many many years ago “remembered” in human memory?
  2. What is the relationship between individua human memory and collective human “memory”?
  3. Who would you bet on as being “remembered” in 1000 from today and why?

References (Read Further):

Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D. (2007). Prospection: Experiencing the future. Science, 317(5843), 1351-1354.

Bid, S. (2016). Case Study Internal Branding of Human Resources Using the Expectation Gap Analysis. International Journal of Academic Research & Development JAR&D, 87.

Lull, R. B., Gibson, B., Cruz, C., & Bushman, B. J. (2016). Killing Characters in Video Games Kills Memory for In-Game Ads.