Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: In thinking about recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement, if you had to come up with a small number, how many different kinds of protests would you say there have been in North America focusing issues relating to the BLM movement? If you said 2 (non-violent and violent) then you have likely followed the debate in the recent American election that broke the question out along those same lines. Is there another kind of protest? Think about that for a minute and see if you can come up with another type of protest and some thoughts about how effective it would be in changing people’s minds, compared to the other two types. Once you have your alternative hypothesis in mind along with a few thoughts about how you would conduct research on this question without organizing actual protests read the linked article that describes research by some Social Psychologists on this very question.

Source: What Kinds of Protests Actually Work? Eric Shuman and Eran Halperin, The Psychology of Intergroup Conflict and Reconciliation, Psychology Today.

Date: November 21, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Patrick Behn from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, was your hypothesized new type of protest similar to the nonviolent nonnormative type of protest looked at by the Social psychologists? A useful way to think about these questions can be to start with the realization that what are at issue are social norms regarding how things usually or typically are and protests are essentially either arguments for changes in social norms or, in the case of violence, statements of anger regarding social norms which are sometimes viewed (dismissively) by non-participants simply as involving actions that break social norms. Finding a way to nonviolently be nonnormative in arguing for a change in a social behavior or norms provide both a new view and, essentially move it past concerns over possible norm violation by being nonnormative. The effectiveness of this strategy was demonstrated in the research discussed in the linked article in the finding that reading about it was effective in shifting the views of people who were initially opposed to the “new” views. It is wonderful to see ways out of dichotomous perspectives, especially in politically polarized locations. More research needed, quickly!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are social protest events (marches etc.) typically viewed or portrayed in the media?
  2. What sorts of events or actions might fit into the nonviolent nonnormative alternative approach suggested and assessed by the searchers noted in the linked article?
  3. How might those sorts of nonviolent nonnormative protest strategies be utilized in relation to other social movements (perhaps on indigenous issues or women’s issues)?

References (Read Further):

Shuman, E., Saguy, T., van Zomeren, M., & Halperin, E. (2020). Disrupting the system constructively: Testing the effectiveness of nonnormative nonviolent collective action. Journal of personality and social psychology. Link

Chan, M. (2016). Psychological antecedents and motivational models of collective action: Examining the role of perceived effectiveness in political protest participation. Social Movement Studies, 15(3), 305-321. Link

McLeod, D. M., & Detenber, B. H. (1999). Framing effects of television news coverage of social protest. Journal of communication, 49(3), 3-23. Link

Kelloway, E. K., Francis, L., Prosser, M., & Cameron, J. E. (2010). Counterproductive work behavior as protest. Human Resource Management Review, 20(1), 18-25. Link

Enos, R. D., Kaufman, A. R., & Sands, M. L. (2019). Can violent protest change local policy support? Evidence from the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riot. American Political Science Review, 113(4), 1012-1028. Link

Selvanathan, H. P., & Lickel, B. (2019). Empowerment and threat in response to mass protest shape public support for a social movement and social change: A panel study in the context of the Bersih movement in Malaysia. European Journal of Social Psychology, 49(2), 230-243. Link

Hoffman, L., Granger Jr, N., Vallejos, L., & Moats, M. (2016). An existential–humanistic perspective on Black Lives Matter and contemporary protest movements. Journal of humanistic psychology, 56(6), 595-611. Link

Reinka, M. A., & Leach, C. W. (2017). Race and reaction: Divergent views of police violence and protest against. Journal of Social Issues, 73(4), 768-788. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Aging Psychological Disorders, Chronic Illness, Clinical Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Schizophrenia.

Description: Perhaps you have heard about Toxoplasmosis? It is a condition caused by a parasite that is carried by cats who catch wild birds and that can be picked up by humans when they clean the cats’ litter boxes and inhale some of the T. gondii parasite while doing so. Exposure among pregnant women can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or brain or eye damage in the developing fetus. That is why women who become pregnant are told to pass any litter box clearing duties they have had off to someone else. While you may have heard about that (it is one of the examples of prenatal teratogens I am others typically include in lectures on prenatal development) you may not have run across an explanation of how the T. gondii parasite effects the brain and immune system. It has been know for a while that the parasite reduced norepinephrine production in the brain and that it seems to suppress the immune system but how these are related has not been clear. The researchers whose work is discussed in the linked article have taken a large step towards clarifying how the effects of this parasite on the brain and immune system are related AND the results may suggest some power new things in relation to our understanding and treatment of schizophrenia, dementia and ADHD. Have a read through the linked article to see what this all might suggest.

Source: Parasite infection discovery could assist mental health treatments, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: November 16, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the T. gondii parasite, once it gets into the brain, influences the norepinephrine system which is involved in regulating our body’s immune response. This linking of two previously opposing theories about how Toxoplasmosis plays out in the brain and body may provide insight into how brain inflammation occurs or is regulated and THAT could turn out to provide a new angle on understanding the role of  brain inflammation an inflammation management which could be linked to understanding and developing new antipsychotic treatments. Definitely a line of work to keep an eye on.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Toxoplasmosis and why is it something to be avoided (and how might that be accomplished)?
  2. Why is Toxoplasmosis of particular concern for pregnant women?
  3. How might a better understanding of Toxoplasmosis lead towards better antipsychotic treatments?

References (Read Further):

Laing, C., Blanchard, N., & McConkey, G. A. (2020). Noradrenergic Signaling and Neuroinflammation Crosstalk Regulate Toxoplasma gondii-Induced Behavioral Changes. Trends in Immunology.

Jones, J. L., & Dubey, J. P. (2012). Foodborne toxoplasmosis. Clinical infectious diseases, 55(6), 845-851. Link

Jones, J. L., Lopez, A., & Wilson, M. (2003). Congenital toxoplasmosis. American family physician, 67(10), 2131-2138. Link

El Saftawy, E. A., Amin, N. M., Sabry, R. M., El-Anwar, N., Shash, R. Y., Elsebaie, E. H., & Wassef, R. M. (2020). Can Toxoplasma gondii Pave the Road for Dementia?. Journal of Parasitology Research, 2020. Link

Mahami-Oskouei, M., Hamidi, F., Talebi, M., Farhoudi, M., Taheraghdam, A. A., Kazemi, T., … & Fallah, E. (2016). Toxoplasmosis and Alzheimer: can Toxoplasma gondii really be introduced as a risk factor in etiology of Alzheimer?. Parasitology research, 115(8), 3169-3174. Link

Elleboudy, N. A., Abdul-Rahman, S. A., Ismail, K. A., & Aal, W. M. A. (2015). Dementia and toxoplasmosis: Is there a link. Hell J Nucl Med, 18, 505-28. Link

Kirkpatrick, B., & Miller, B. J. (2013). Inflammation and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia bulletin, 39(6), 1174-1179. Link

Leza, J. C., García-Bueno, B., Bioque, M., Arango, C., Parellada, M., Do, K., … & Bernardo, M. (2015). Inflammation in schizophrenia: a question of balance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 55, 612-626. Link

Müller, N. (2018). Inflammation in schizophrenia: pathogenetic aspects and therapeutic considerations. Schizophrenia bulletin, 44(5), 973-982. Link

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Ok so, no pressure, but as we struggle into winter with coronavirus spikes and flares popping up and the prospect of more restrictions, closures, and lockdowns looming, we are also approaching the holiday, gifting season. Yes, I know, we do NOT need any more stress, do we? But, think of it this way, we will be able to shop from the comfort of the desk chairs we bought for our home offices (if we are lucky enough to have a work from home option and space to dedicate to it etc.). Well, some psychologists have actually conducted research on gift-giving and while they find that it can either improve or damage a relationship (yah, no stress there!) they also have a few findings that might help you make better, more thoughtful, gift choices. And no, it does not boil down to the amount of money spent. So, before you read the linked article think about what psychological research suggest is important to consider when planning your gift buying. Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article to see what research has to say.

Source: How to choose the right Christmas gift: Tips from psychological research, Adrian R. Camilleri, The Conversation.

Date: November 17, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Holger Grybsch from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, yes it can be stressful to have to actually consider how a gift you select could negatively (or positively!) impact your relationship with the recipient but it may help to realize that gift exchanges mainly occur in the context of relationships (not counting true Secret Santa events) and so, of course gifts and relationships are related. So, it is not a gift exchange, so much as a reflection (test?) of the nature and strength and valence (positive/negative) of your relationships. So, no pressure! (And go with “experiential” gifts over material gifts!) Good Luck!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. According to research, how are thoughtfulness and gift desirability related within giving and receiving gifts?
  2. Why is there a relationship between gift selection on subsequent shifts or changes in relationships?
  3. What advice can you now provide to those puzzling over what the gifts to give their friends and relatives this coming holiday season?

References (Read Further):

Wooten, D. B. (2000). Qualitative steps toward an expanded model of anxiety in gift-giving. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(1), 84-95. Link

Dunn, E. W., Huntsinger, J., Lun, J., & Sinclair, S. (2008). The gift of similarity: How good and bad gifts influence relationships. Social Cognition, 26(4), 469-481. Link

Sherry Jr, J. F. (1983). Gift giving in anthropological perspective. Journal of consumer research, 10(2), 157-168. Link

Liu, P. J., Dallas, S. K., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2019). A framework for understanding consumer choices for others. Journal of Consumer Research, 46(3), 407-434. Link

Ruth, J. A., Otnes, C. C., & Brunel, F. F. (1999). Gift receipt and the reformulation of interpersonal relationships. Journal of consumer research, 25(4), 385-402. Link

Dunn, E. W., Huntsinger, J., Lun, J., & Sinclair, S. (2008). The gift of similarity: How good and bad gifts influence relationships. Social Cognition, 26(4), 469-481. Link

Gino, F., & Flynn, F. J. (2011). Give them what they want: The benefits of explicitness in gift exchange. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(5), 915-922. Link

Rim, S., Min, K. E., Liu, P. J., Chartrand, T. L., & Trope, Y. (2019). The gift of psychological closeness: How feasible versus desirable gifts reduce psychological distance to the giver. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(3), 360-371. Link

Chan, C., & Mogilner, C. (2017). Experiential gifts foster stronger social relationships than material gifts. Journal of Consumer research, 43(6), 913-931. Link

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Cultural Variation, Group Processes, Health Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: We know a LOT about social distancing at this point in time (Fall 2020) don’t we? Well, we might think we do but as we need to consider increasingly comprehensive restrictions on social engagement as the pandemic surges into the winter months it is helpful to see that quite a bit of Psychological research has been done between last March and this fall on how people around the world have reacted or are reacting to Covid-19 related restrictions. Have you thought about how people’s reactions are varying in relation to the cultural settings? Have Canadian reacted differently than Americans (yes there is cultural variation there)? Europeans differently than Asian cultures? Psychology is Psychology but how it plays out varies by culture and the Psychology of how people respond to and react to everything from mask wearing to social distancing to lockdowns also vary by culture. Think about what you have noted with regards to Covid-19 reactions that could be seen as liking to cultural variations in Psychology and then have a look at the article linked below to see what some Psychology researchers have noted.

Source: The psychology of lockdown suggests sticking to rules gets harder the longer it lasts. Dougal Sutherland, The Conversation.

Date: November 15, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by J Garget from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did the thoughts, theories and research on the cultural variations in reactions to lockdown described in the linked article fit with your own? What about when you add in the current situation with many regions showing higher and more rapidly increasing level of infection than were the case last spring. In other words, people are stressed and tired and winter in arriving and things are going south. How are we reacting and how will we react? It WILL vary by culture and this fall will also be different than last spring. Hang on and hang in there!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways in which Covid-19 restriction reactions have varied across cultures?
  2. What are some of the ways in which reactions to Covid-19 restrictions may vary this Fall compared to those observed last spring?
  3. What are some of the options for how we introduce or “market” increasing social restrictions in response to Covid-19 that would be different from one cultural region to another? (I.e., Canada vs. the United States: European countries vs Asian countries etc.)

References (Read Further):

This Multi-Author paper contains a HUGE range of Psychological research and theory: Van Bavel, J. J., Baicker, K., Boggio, P. S., Capraro, V., Cichocka, A., Cikara, M., … & Drury, J. (2020). Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response. Nature Human Behaviour, 1-12. Link or Link

Gelfand, M. J., Raver, J. L., Nishii, L., Leslie, L. M., Lun, J., Lim, B. C., … & Aycan, Z. (2011). Differences between tight and loose cultures: A 33-nation study. science, 332(6033), 1100-1104. Link

Levendusky, M. S. (2018). Americans, not partisans: Can priming American national identity reduce affective polarization?. The Journal of Politics, 80(1), 59-70. Link

Durante, R., & Gulino, G. (2020). Asocial capital: Civic culture and social distancing during COVID-19. Link

Grover, S., Sahoo, S., Mehra, A., Avasthi, A., Tripathi, A., Subramanyan, A., … & Chakraborty, K. (2020). Psychological impact of COVID-19 lockdown: An online survey from India. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(4), 354. Link

Laliotis, I., & Minos, D. (2020). Spreading the disease: The role of culture. Link

Platteau, J. P., & Verardi, V. (2020). How To Exit Covid-19 Lockdowns: Culture Matters. CEPR, Covid Economics, 23, 1-57. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Personality Disorders, Personality Disorders, Psychological Disorders, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Somewhere in the aftermath of the American election (November 3, 2020) there will be (maybe) a point where the outgoing president acknowledges his loss. At least that is how it has gone in every previous American Presidential election. But, as of today, November 14, 2020, Donald Trump has not yet conceded the election to Joe Biden. Recounts and possible lawsuits legally defined options in the United States but, well, just but, might there be some reasons, beyond reason, that President Trump has not yet conceded? We do not have the necessary access for assessment purposes but we, Psychologists, have some theories and some research that provide possible hypotheses as to why someone might have difficulty acknowledging defeat. So, what sorts of options might Psychology have to offer in this area? Once you have your candidate options in mind read the article linked below for a discussion of two or three options.

Source: Why can’t some people admit defeat when they lose? Evita March, The Conversation.

Date: November 9, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Article Link:

The interplay of narcissism and cognitive dissonance is quite a combination. Unlike optimism, which can be viewed as a mindset that along with problem solving and goal-focus can help people move forward when challenged, the narcissism/dissonance combo can lock individuals into a pattern of behavior that moves sometime significant distances away from reality. Together these two concepts can provide a possible explanation for ongoing behavior that defies reasonable reflection, something we have seen a LOT of over the past 4 years.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is narcissism defined?
  2. What is cognitive dissonance and how might it be applied to recent American post-election events?
  3. How might narcissism and cognitive dissonance be combined to provide a hypothesis for recent Trump behavior?

References (Read Further):

Okimoto, T. G., Wenzel, M., & Hedrick, K. (2013). Refusing to apologize can have psychological benefits (and we issue no mea culpa for this research finding). European Journal of Social Psychology, 43(1), 22-31. Link

Miller, J. D., Hoffman, B. J., Gaughan, E. T., Gentile, B., Maples, J., & Keith Campbell, W. (2011). Grandiose and vulnerable narcissism: A nomological network analysis. Journal of personality, 79(5), 1013-1042. Link

Stoeber, J., Sherry, S. B., & Nealis, L. J. (2015). Multidimensional perfectionism and narcissism: Grandiose or vulnerable?. Personality and Individual Differences, 80, 85-90. Link

Besser, A., & Priel, B. (2010). Grandiose narcissism versus vulnerable narcissism in threatening situations: Emotional reactions to achievement failure and interpersonal rejection. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29(8), 874-902. Link

Cooper, J. (2007). Cognitive dissonance: 50 years of a classic theory. Sage. Link


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Disorders of Childhood, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Learning, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: You know a little bit about ADHD, right? So, consider this question, if a child is diagnosed as meeting the diagnostic criteria for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can or will they, over time, outgrow the disorder (or the diagnosis)? A good friend of mine used to be principal at a school for children with learning disabilities and he used to say that the worst place you could conceive of to require an ADHD child to spend a lot of time is a standard classroom that requires them to sit still at their desk for large chunks of the day. For them the best outcome might be for them to survive school, and to get to the point where, as young adults, they get to choose the jobs and recreational environments in which they spend their time. Indeed there ARE settings and situations in which attentional flexibility is an  asset. However, that begs the question of whether ADHD is or can be outgrown. Think about what this might involve and about how Psychologists might approach this question and then go and have a look through the linked article to see what a number of Psychologists who specialize in researching, diagnosing and/or treating ADHD have to say.

Source: Is it Possible to Outgrow A.D.H.D. Cheryl Maguire, The Family, The New York Times.

Date: November 13, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Finmiki from Pixabay

Article Link:

Not a simple answer is it? What the article shows is how complex the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD actually is. There is no blood test for ADHD and so diagnosis involves comparting reports on  an individual’s behavior across a number of settings and from a number of people’s perspectives (which gives rise to a version of the big research challenge of inter-rater reliability, or the lack thereof). For older teen’s and emerging adult’s diagnosis relies on self-reports of behavior across different settings which can be challenged by other forms of rater reliability. In addition, a lot of what matters about ADHD is functional. That is, it makes it difficult for children with the disorder to blend in and be “average” or “normal” (nasty terms) in school and other group settings requiring sustained attentional focus. Some children with ADHD have supporting home and school environments and acquire skills that allow them to manage and excel in focus environments. Some children with ADHD are lucky enough to find their way into assistance programs that do not make the mistake of beginning by telling them to focus and get organized (which are end goals not starting places for children with ADHD). The bottom line is that while children may not outgrow ADHD they can, with support, out-develop it and that is a very good thing!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is ADHD?
  2. How is ADHD diagnosed and how might that add complexity to the question of who has it and whether or not they outgrow it?
  3. What are some things that child setting like schools might do to increase the numbers of children who out-develop ADHD?

References (Read Further):

Moss, C. M., Metzger, K. B., Carey, M. E., Blum, N. J., Curry, A. E., & Power, T. J. (2020). Chronic Care for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Clinical Management from Childhood Through Adolescence. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 41, S99-S104. Summary Link

Gupta, R., & Kar, B. R. (2009). Development of attentional processes in ADHD and normal children. Progress in brain research, 176, 259-276. Link

DuPaul, G. J., Weyandt, L. L., & Janusis, G. M. (2011). ADHD in the classroom: Effective intervention strategies. Theory into practice, 50(1), 35-42. Link

Mautone, J. A., Lefler, E. K., & Power, T. J. (2011). Promoting family and school success for children with ADHD: Strengthening relationships while building skills. Theory Into Practice, 50(1), 43-51. Link

Harpin, V., Mazzone, L., Raynaud, J. P., Kahle, J., & Hodgkins, P. (2016). Long-term outcomes of ADHD: a systematic review of self-esteem and social function. Journal of attention disorders, 20(4), 295-305. Link

Arnold, L. E., Hodgkins, P., Kahle, J., Madhoo, M., & Kewley, G. (2020). Long-term outcomes of ADHD: academic achievement and performance. Journal of attention disorders, 24(1), 73-85. Link

Timimi, S., & Taylor, E. (2004). ADHD is best understood as a cultural construct. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 184(1), 8-9. Link

Tarver, J., Daley, D., & Sayal, K. (2014). Attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): an updated review of the essential facts. Child: care, health and development, 40(6), 762-774. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Depression, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: As we head into winter with the Coronavirus reasserting itself, we are asking ourselves, Psychologically, how are we going to get thought the winter? I live in the North and we have a real winter and, I admit, I like to get away from it at least once and for more than a few days over its course. I used to ski, a bit, but age and fitness have blown over that “bit”. So, what to do? I will NOT become a mall walker (well not yet), so what are the options? Gain weight and watch more television (hard choices now that sports are leaning out and the American election is over)? Well, while I am not ready to “embrace winter” as the linked article below suggests BUT I am prepared to contend against it and stay active within it. So I have purchase some “chains” for my winter hikers so I can walk in ice and snow and I have set up a serious back yard fire pit with rock slab heat reflectors, movable wind screens, a seating area tarp, and heat reflecting chair liners and winter outfits that are functional if not fashionable. So, I am ready to sit within winter and with comfort, fresh air and bright fire light and I am hoping it is enough to keep me centered and grounded this coming restricted winter. I, like many of us are new to this but there are p[arts of the world where winter is reveled in and where people do not just endure but assert their wellness and wellbeing. How are YOU going to manage this coming winter? If you need some research-based suggestions consider the linked article that looks at how Scandinavians (who have BIG winters!) have adapted to versions of the current reality.

Source: What Scandinavians Can Teach Us About Embracing Winter, Kari Leibowitz, Coronavirus Outbreak, The New York Times.

Date: October 15, 2020

Photo Credit: Photo by Tobias Bjørkli from Pexels

Article Link:

So, do you have a positive winter mind-set? And, if you happen to live where winter is not as assertive you are still going to have to deal with a “winter” Covid-19 social and physical landscape. Do you have a strategy? Embracing winter or refusing to knuckle under to the harshness of winter by curling up and hibernating: either way creativity is required this year as we cannot use our old, tried strategies for coping. So, you are responsible for your resilience… what will it look like for you? It is up to you!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why is the arrival of winter an additional Psychological challenge in this time of Corvid-19?
  2. What might a winter mind-set include? What is Hygge?
  3. What might be done outside of Scandinavia to bolster the winter/covid preparedness of northerners?

References (Read Further):

Helliwell, J. F., Huang, H., Wang, S., & Norton, M. (2020). Social environments for world happiness. World Happiness Report 2020. Link

Leibowitz, K., & Vittersø, J. (2020). Winter is coming: Wintertime mindset and wellbeing in Norway. International Journal of Wellbeing, 10(4). Link

Green, Penelope (2016) Move Over, Marie Kondo: Make Room for the Hygge Hordes Link

Linnet, J. T. (2011). Money can’t buy me hygge: Danish middle-class consumption, egalitarianism, and the sanctity of inner space. Social Analysis, 55(2), 21-44. Link

Corral-Verdugo, V., Mireles-Acosta, J. F., Tapia-Fonllem, C., & Fraijo-Sing, B. (2011). Happiness as correlate of sustainable behavior: A study of pro-ecological, frugal, equitable and altruistic actions that promote subjective wellbeing. Human Ecology Review, 95-104. Link

Lieberman, J. A., Nester, T., Emrich, B., Staley, E. M., Bourassa, L. A., & Tsang, H. C. (2020). Coping With COVID-19. American journal of clinical pathology. Link

Green, Peneolpe (2016) Move Over, Marie Kondo: Make Room for the Hygge Hordes, The New York Times, Link


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Human Development, Intelligence, Neuroscience.

Description: How have you turned out the way you have so far? You are unique, but the age-old question of how much of who you are is in your genes and how much is in how you were, or are being, raised is not a simple one. Yes, it IS both but the idea that genes and environment add different components to the process like the ingredients in a meal or a drink, which is how most people think about Nature/Nurture is not right. So, what does your developmental, socio-historically linked account of how Nature and Nurture are related look like? Once you have that in mind dive in and read a review of a book by a researcher who has looked at and worked on tie question for his entire career.

Source: Beyond Nature vs. Nurture, What Makes Us Ourselves? Robin Martanz Henig, Book Review, The New York Times.

Date: November 1, 2020

Photo Credit: Photo by Yan from Pexels

Article Link:

So, did your description of nurture look like this “…“experience,” which encompasses a broad range of factors, beginning in the womb and carrying through every memory, every meal, every scent, every romantic encounter, every illness from before birth to the moment of death” ? (David Lindon, from the linked article). Nurture is comprised of ALL of your experiences in the world, post-conception (so, yes, pre-natally). Nurture (experience) in all its complexity builds upon and extends through Nature and accounts for where we are right now and from where our experiences from here onwards will take us in other directions. As complicated and indeterminate as that sounds it is also very important to also notice that there ARE definitive things that researchers working with Nature and Nurture can say definitively: “There is no evidence for significant average differences in intelligence-related genes between ‘races.’ Not between self-identified whites and Blacks in the United States [or anywhere else], nor between any pair of self-defined racial groups. Not only that, there is no evidence for racial group differences in genes that have been linked to any behavioral or cognitive trait. Not aggression. Not A.D.H.D. Not extroversion. Not depression. Nada, niente, nichts, bupkis…” (David Lindon, from the linked article).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you define and think about the relationship between Nature and Nurture?
  2. What gets added to your definition when you take a developmental perspective and think about Nurture as “experience”?
  3. Given the areas of historical nastiness when Nature/Nurture debates focused upon race and opportunity what sorts of things might the sophisticated account of these matters provided in the linked article do for us?

References (Read Further):

Linden, David (2020) Unique: The New Science of Individuality, Basic Book, New York, NY.

Morgan, I. G., & Rose, K. A. (2019). Myopia: is the nature‐nurture debate finally over?. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 102(1), 3-17. Link

Witherington, D. C., & Lickliter, R. (2017). Transcending the nature-nurture debate through epigenetics: Are we there yet? Human Development. Link

Ward, P., Belling, P., Petushek, E., & Ehrlinger, J. (2017). Does Talent Exist?: A re-evaluation of the nature–nurture debate. In Routledge handbook of talent identification and development in sport (pp. 19-34). Routledge. Link

Royle, N. J., & Moore, A. J. (2019). Nature and Nurture in Parental Care. Genes and Behaviour, 131-156. Link

Barlow, F. K. (2019). Nature vs. nurture is nonsense: On the necessity of an integrated genetic, social, developmental, and personality psychology. Australian journal of psychology, 71(1), 68-79. Link

Weissman, M. M. (2020). Is Depression Nature or Nurture? Yes. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 177(5). Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Intelligence, Language-Thought, Learning, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: What do you know about how memory works? You likely have a basic understanding of how information comes in through or senses (via a very short term sensory store), pauses in working memory (if we work on it) and perhaps eventually gets processed into long term memory. Does that take you bac to a basic Psychology course? You may also recall that the hippocampus seems to be particularly important as the area of the brain where short-term, working, memory contents are processed into long term memory. The well known case study of HM who had his hippocampus removed for medical reasons and who, after, could recall long term memories he had before surgery but who could not lay down any new long term memories most clearly showed that the hippocampus is critical to long term memory storage. Now, here is an important question. How are memories actually stored? How do we manage to keep the similarities and, sometimes, subtle differences in people, objects, or events we take in sorted out? And do we humans do this in similar or different ways than do animals? Answering this question requires that we go beyond talking generally about memory stores and get specific about how memories get stored at the level of neurons, because they are doing the storage work right? Now THAT is something you probably have not heard anything about. It is new to me and I teach Introductory Psychology. To begin to follow what the linked article has to say (and to even glimpse why it might be a huge deal), it will help if you have a definition of pattern separation in mind. Pattern separation involves amplifying the, sometimes subtle, differences between similar people, places, event, or things so they can be recalled later as distinct and not get mushed together as more of the same. How we do that (perhaps within the hippocampus or in an area called the dentate gyrus) has been considered an important part of how we can get down to understanding memory at the level of neurons or patterns of neuronal firing. Ok, now with that in mind I am not going to ask you to generate nay hypotheses, just hold onto your hat and read the article linked below.

Source: Human intelligence just got less mysterious, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: November 5, 2020

Photo Credit: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Article Link:

OK, so, are you enthused about  the whole new way of looking at human memory as compared to animal memory and about the potential insights this view might provide use with regarding our ability to think in complex reflective ways? Well, I have to admit that I am still a bit foggy about the details of this new perspective, but I am very interested to see what comes of it. I will be looking for more work on the concept of pattern separation and on this new way to look at human memory that may not be built on pattern separation they way our animal models of memory currently are.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that human thought might be seen as different than animal thought or information processing (look past our desire to attribute all sorts of deep thoughts to our pets)?
  2. What is pattern separation and why might it be an important part of memory?
  3. Now the tough question, what is the discussion within the linked article saying about pattern separation an human memory that might be very important?

References (Read Further):

Quiroga, Rodrigo Quian (2020) No Pattern Separation in the Human Hippocampus. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2020.09.012

Quiroga, R. Q. (2019). Plugging in to human memory: advantages, challenges, and insights from human single-neuron recordings. Cell, 179(5), 1015-1032. Link

Quiroga, R. Q. (2019). Neural representations across species. Science, 363(6434), 1388-1389.

Yassa, M. A., & Stark, C. E. (2011). Pattern separation in the hippocampus. Trends in neurosciences, 34(10), 515-525. Link

Rolls, E. (2013). The mechanisms for pattern completion and pattern separation in the hippocampus. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 7, 74. Link

Stark, S. M., Yassa, M. A., Lacy, J. W., & Stark, C. E. (2013). A task to assess behavioral pattern separation (BPS) in humans: Data from healthy aging and mild cognitive impairment. Neuropsychologia, 51(12), 2442-2449. Link

Azab, M., Stark, S. M., & Stark, C. E. (2014). Contributions of human hippocampal subfields to spatial and temporal pattern separation. Hippocampus, 24(3), 293-302. Link

Engle, R. W. (2018). Working memory and executive attention: A revisit. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), 190-193. Link

Ji, Y., Gamez, D., & Huyck, C. (2018, December). A brain-inspired cognitive system that mimics the dynamics of human thought. In International Conference on Innovative Techniques and Applications of Artificial Intelligence (pp. 50-62). Springer, Cham. Link

Rolls, E. T. (2018). The storage and recall of memories in the hippocampo-cortical system. Cell and tissue research, 373(3), 577-604. Link


Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As I write this we are right on top of our semi-annual exercise in time-shifting; we are “falling back” as we move off of daylight savings time and back to standard time, at least assuming you do not live in Saskatchewan or Russia or Morocco or any of the other places that stick with standard time year-round. You have likely heard of the health issues associated with the changes in time, especially the spring forward one, but here is a question. Assuming we decide to stick with one time which one should we pick? Think about it these ways. First, which would YOU pick if it was just up to you, and why? Second, which would science suggest we should pick and why? Once you have your answers and arguments in mind have a read through the article linked below for a light scratch of the options or dive into the Further Reading list below for more Psychological science on the subject.

Source: Daylight saving or standard time? Should we stick with one or the other? Joanne Laucius, Health, Ottawa Citizen.

Date: October 30, 2020

Photo Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Article Link:

So, did your answers to the questions posed fall out along the same lines as discussed in the article? It seems that individuals want permanent daylight savings time. I once got to play a full 18 holes of golf AFTER a later dinner in Whitehorse in June (though the mosquitoes were nasty).  Retailers want permanent daylight savings time as it stimulates consumer spending and children are often said to enjoy permanent daylight savings time as it gives them more after school outdoor play time. But, but, but…. What does the science say? Well, it says we evolved on solar time, our circadian rhythms are deeply linked to our sleep patterns and general health AND to morning light which calibrates and regulates us and as such daylight saving time has rolling and accumulating negative consequences. So, like some other decisions lately, do we listen to what we want that we think feels good or do we listen to science? Hmmm……

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which time would you pick if you got to pick one for us ALL to stay on all year and why?
  2. Now, be scientifically honest …. which time should we pick and why?
  3. Now the tough question…. How should we decide which time to pick or should we just wimp out and stay with things as they are, and why would/should we do that?

References (Read Further):

Flynn-Evans, Erin & Hilditch, Cassie (2020) Why we should let the sun set on Daylight Saving Time, Clocks in the Spotlight, Society for Research in Biological Rhythms. Link

Smith, A. C. (2016). Spring forward at your own risk: Daylight saving time and fatal vehicle crashes. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 8(2), 65-91. Link

Poteser, M., & Moshammer, H. (2020). Daylight saving time transitions: impact on total mortality. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(5), 1611. Link

e Cruz, M. M., Miyazawa, M., Manfredini, R., Cardinali, D., Madrid, J. A., Reiter, R., … & Acuña-Castroviejo, D. (2019). Impact of Daylight Saving Time on circadian timing system: An expert statement. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 60, 1-3. Link

Tarquini, R., Carbone, A., Martinez, M., & Mazzoccoli, G. (2019). Daylight saving time and circadian rhythms in the neuro-endocrine-immune system: impact on cardiovascular health. Internal and emergency medicine, 14(1), 17-19. Link

Skeldon, A. C., & Dijk, D. J. (2019). School start times and daylight saving time confuse California lawmakers. Current Biology, 29(8), R278-R279. Link

Roenneberg, T., Winnebeck, E. C., & Klerman, E. B. (2019). Daylight Saving Time-A Battle Between Biological and Social Time. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 944. Link

Rishi, M. A., Ahmed, O., Barrantes Perez, J. H., Berneking, M., Dombrowsky, J., Flynn-Evans, E. E., … & Abbasi-Feinberg, F. (2020). Daylight saving time: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. Journal of clinical sleep medicine, 16(10), 1781-1784. Link

Zhang, H., Dahlén, T., Khan, A., Edgren, G., & Rzhetsky, A. (2020). Measurable health effects associated with the daylight saving time shift. PLOS Computational Biology, 16(6), e1007927. Link