Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Ok, after a couple of rather dense posts looking at issues related to Indigenization I think it would be helpful to look at a very pragmatically focused piece of research bearing on the education experiences of aboriginal children in mainstream schools. There are a number of belief stigma and biases held to vastly varying extents by teachers in the mainstream school system. How do those biases and stigma influence the academic performance of aboriginal students? Well, think about it for a few minutes and come up with your own hypotheses and then skim through the article linked below to see what it has to say. Skip around in the article (introduction then discussion then conclusions) to get a sense of what the authors found.

Source: Self-fulfilling Prophecy: How Teachers’ Attributions, Expectations, and Stereotypes Influence the Learning Opportunities Afforded Aboriginal Students, Tasha Riley and Charles Ungerleider, link to article below.

Date: May 20, 2018

Photo Credit:

Article Links: follow the link to the full text online screen to read the article. For more detailed information use the thesis link:

So you can see from the conclusions section of the article that good intension can still include bias or stereotypic expectations.  What is also clear is that the approach is aimed at understanding what can be done to increase the likelihood of success for aboriginal students in mainstream schools and classrooms. I am NOT arguing to segregated schools or classes but there is little in the article about how to address the teachers’ assumptions or biases. It is worth considering that while mainstream psychology views assumptions and biases as individually held (and thus perhaps open to policy manipulation) it may be more advantageous to see the biases, stereotypes and stigma as culturally held within mainstream culture. This opens up a broader array of opportunities for adjustment and does not stand on how effectively “biased” teachers can be moved to getter perspectives. We need to dig in a bit more to what we can use to expand out cultural understanding of the psychology of aboriginal people and especially of aboriginal students and how they are viewed from mainstream perspectives.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What obstacles are there in the way of Aboriginal student academic achievement according to the authors of this article?
  2. How might the predictive weight associated with identifying a student as “low achieving” be better managed if that student is aboriginal?
  3. Do the recommendation is the article for addressing the issues it examines make sense? What else might be helpful to know?

References (Read Further):

Timmermans, A. C., de Boer, H., & van der Werf, M. P. (2016). An investigation of the relationship between teachers’ expectations and teachers’ perceptions of student attributes. Social psychology of education, 19(2), 217-240.

McInerney, D. M., & King, R. B. (2013). Harnessing the power of motivational factors for optimizing the educational success of remote indigenous students: A cross-cultural study. In Seeding success in indigenous Australian higher education (pp. 81-111). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Description: In my previous post I went on at some length about ways in which I am going to try and create some context and related understanding of what we might understand the term “indigenization” to mean as applied to Universities and to Disciplines like Psychology. The article linked to the previous post provided an overview of some efforts towards institutional indigenization. The question of what this might mean at the disciplinary level (say Psychology) was not addressed. To get you to start thinking in that direction I would like you to have a look at the downloadable document linked below in which an academic at the University of Regina lays out 100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses (thus its title). Have a look through the list and as you do, especially with the recommendations offered to course instructors and think about what they might mean to a Psychology course instructor.

Source: 100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses, Shauneen Pete, University of Regina.

Date: May 20, 2018

Photo Credit: Julie Flett

Article Links:

So how did it go? My sense was that while there were a few recommendations I could see ways to apply to Psychology and some that rather clearly did not apply I could also see that there were quite a few where a bit more information about how indigenous knowledge and culture does or does not map onto mainstream Psychological concepts, theories and assumptions is needed before one to contemplate how at act on the recommendations in a Psychology class. So there is more to be done!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is meant by the word indigenization in relation to universities?
  2. What is potentially gained by indigenizing universities?
  3. What might it mean to indigenize Psychology?

References (Read Further):

Ragoonaden, K., & Mueller, L. (2017). Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Indigenizing Curriculum. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 47(2).

Richards, H. V., Brown, A. F., & Forde, T. B. (2007). Addressing diversity in schools: Culturally responsive pedagogy. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39(3), 64-68.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: I am going to spend some time over the next little while writing about and posting links to articles and other media about the need to indigenize Psychology. (Note: in what follows I will be referring to features and aspects of the Canadian historical and current experience, however, indigenization and all that it involves certainly has implications globally as well). If you do not know what that is or what it might involve you are not alone. It is a big, broad and foundational issue which cannot be summarized in a single post. To understand what could be involved in indigenizing Psychology and to understand why it is something that needs to be undertaken requires that you gather and stich together your own understanding of an array of facts, theories, histories, and perspectives. You will need to consider what you know or what you can find out about the historical treatment of aboriginal and Metis people in Canada from broad issues of colonization to historical events and practices such as residential schools and the jump in the number (proportion) of aboriginal children and youth in foster care or adopted into non-aboriginal families known as the “60’s scoop.” You will need to reflect on your own assumptions, and beliefs about the impacts of those and other historical events on aboriginal and Metis people and about how they are viewed and treated within society not just historically but today. You will need to consider the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which worked towards the following goals:

“There is an emerging and compelling desire to put the events of the past behind us so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future. The truth telling and reconciliation process as part of an overall holistic and comprehensive response to the Indian Residential School legacy is a sincere indication and acknowledgement of the injustices and harms experienced by Aboriginal people and the need for continued healing. This is a profound commitment to establishing new relationships embedded in mutual recognition and respect that will forge a brighter future. The truth of our common experiences will help set our spirits free and pave the way to reconciliation.” ( )

You should also look at the work going on in colleges and universities, partly in response to a number of recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, to indigenize post-secondary institutions, programs and courses. The core of those recommendations involve the view that universities are both the generators and the purveyors of knowledge and that they have been engaging in those activities largely from within a perspective or world-view grounded in a experiences and interests of  the colonizers or settlers with little or no acknowledgement of or understanding of the perspectives or world-views of aboriginal, Metis, First Nations, Inuit — gathered under the heading of indigenous people, indigenous communities or indigenous cultures and with no understanding of the impact such a lack of understanding has contributed to the standing and experiences of indigenous people.

Finally, all of these have implications for how we might understand what it could mean to indigenize Psychology. Psychology is one of the disciplines found on most, perhaps all, University campuses and as such it will be involved in whatever initiatives are untaken to indigenize the universities in which it resides. But, it is potentially useful to step back a bit, to consider the various historical, socio-political, and University operational and governance matters noted above as background or context for a direct examination of the foundational assumptions of the discipline of Western Psychology. So, is Psychology and all that it studies simply and universally true about and for human beings? If not, then are there assumptions about the basic nature of human beings and their psychological functioning, development, adaptation and wellbeing underlying Psychological theory and research that are linked to and reflective of the mainstream (majority, settler) population and consequently either ignorant of or, worse, damaging to the assumptions about the basic nature of human beings and their psychological functioning, development, healing and wellbeing held by indigenous persons, communities and cultures. This question regarding the universality of Psychological concepts and theories is going to be central to my efforts to help you investigate, reflect upon, and understand what it might mean to indigenize Psychology.

Where to start? Well, when I teach Human Development (infancy through adolescence) I try to find opportunities to discuss the role of culture, history and community in shaping what it means to be an infant, a child, a teenager, an adult, a parent, and a citizen, I start by having students consider what they believe to be the appraise response to questions like: What are infants like—what is their basic nature? Most responses to these questions involve talking about movement from the dependency of infancy towards the autonomy of adolescent and the responsibilities of parenthood and citizenship. I ask students to consider how universal this general developmental pathway is. I point out that most Western developmental Psychology textbooks run about 16 chapters in length and in most of them the first 12 to 14 chapters are typically devoted to coverage of human development including discussions of physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development. The chapters towards the end of these textbooks are sometimes grouped into a section called “Contexts of Development” and focus upon the social and family contexts within which individual children grow and development they also talk about the institutional and geographic contexts such as schools, urban versus rural counties, and cultural and geographic reginal variation in developmental contexts. The impression is that humans develop and some of the flavors of individual or community or cultural covariation are surface-added by the contexts in which otherwise universal human development proceeds. What is less obvious but still directly tied to this approach to human development is perhaps the central assumption of Western Psychology, that being that the unit of analysis or focus within Psychology is and ought to be the individual.

Individuals grow, development, learn, make plans, move out into the world, take up responsibility and, eventually, become adults. Contexts, such as friends, family, schools, communities, and historical timeframes all influence individual developmental trajectories, but the key focus remains the development of individuals. Now this may seem so obvious to you that the very idea that there might be other ways to think about developing persons is simply unthinkable. An indigenous Psychology begins with a position that viewing persons entirely as autonomous individuals is only one of a number of possible assumptions or starting places and not seeing the possibilities of other sorts of assumptions about peoples’ basic natures can amount to a version of racism that is grounded not in fear or hatred directed towards indigenous others (though such racism is a very serous problem), but rather, a racism grounded in indifference, ignorance, or unawareness. Think of it this way (by way of analogy); we can think of fish as living within an aquatic culture. The fish, however, despite being surrounded by water, are essentially unaware of it and do not appreciate its essential role in their existence (unless, of course, they are suddenly without it). Members of the mainstream, settler/colonizer population are essentially unaware of their own culture and often have a great deal of difficulty understanding that the ongoing struggles of second and third generation children of Residential School attendees are not a reflection of their individually flawed natures but are consequences of issues of transgenerational trauma and of their ongoing struggles with cultural contexts that are not their own and within which they are not fully welcomed. This can apply to refugees and immigrants as well. It can also apply to anyone who, by virtue of difference, diversity or disability, is outside of the normative, outside of the mainstream.

All right, OK, yes, I know, perhaps us “fish” DO know a little bit about the water in which we swim or about the cultures and their assumptions in which we grow and develop. However, given the nature and extent of the harm that can be done when we may be defining people, groups, and communities using inappropriate assumptions, isn’t it worth putting some effort into understanding the nature of those assumptions and ways in which our understanding of human psychology and human development may be incomplete, flawed, underinformed or perhaps even a bit racist?

Let’s start by bouncing around a bit in the various domains I mentioned above and, where opportunities arise, dig in a bit into what it might mean to indigenize Psychology. Let’s start by looking at an article the provides a general overview of efforts by Canadian universities to indigenize themselves. While this article does not mention Psychology directly keep the idea of variability in assumptions about the nature of persons in mind as you read through the article.

Source: Indigenizing the Academy, Moira MacDonald, University Affairs

Date: April 6, 2016

Photo Credit: Julie Flett

Article Links:


In the posts that will follow this one we will further explore the various domains described above and lay the foundation for the development of an understanding of Psychology that does not, purposely or out of ignorance create conditions that could damage aboriginal or Metis culture and which would not apply concepts of healing or challenge that are culturally foreign to aboriginal people. .

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is meant by the word indigenization in relation to universities?
  2. What is potentially gained by indigenizing universities?
  3. What might it mean to indigenize Psychology?

References (Read Further):

Website of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Kim, U., Yang, K. S., & Hwang, K. K. (2006). Contributions to indigenous and cultural psychology. In Indigenous and Cultural Psychology (pp. 3-25). Springer US.

Pickren, W. E. (2009). Indigenization and the history of psychology. Psychological Studies, 54(2), 87-95.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Indigenous Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, mental illness, Research Methods.

Description: In my previous post (, I wrote about the distinct cultural perspectives that give diverse meanings to the terms Elder (aboriginal culture) and elderly (mainstream cultures). In this post I am shifting ages a bit and am asking you to consider how aboriginal and mainstream teenagers and youth in Northern British Columbia access and respond to online resources relating to mental illness, mental health and mental wellbeing. Before you read the article linked below, think a little about whether you think there will be any differences in the whether, and in the ways in which, aboriginal versus mainstream youth access web-based resources about mental illness and mental health. If you think there might be differences, what do you think they might look like? Are the resources likely to be different depending upon who they are aimed at (developed for)? What do you think aboriginal youth might have to say or want to say or do regarding these sorts of online resources, especially to make them more useful and accessible to other aboriginal youth? If you are not sure how to address these questions no problem, just keep them in mind as you read the linked article.

Source: Ward, V., & de Leeuw, S. (2018). Web of culture: Critically assessing online mental health resources for Indigenous youth in northern British Columbia using digital storytelling. UBC Medical Journal, 9(2). Download link below.

Date: March 1, 2018

Photo Credit:

Article Links:

There is a lot in the linked article that may be unfamiliar to you. Concepts and phrases like decolonization, social determinants of health, strength-based approaches, privileged voices, indigenous voices, action-based principles, and digital storytelling to point out a few.  I am not going to discuss these terms in detail here (we will return to many of them in future posts). For now I would like you to think about what it might mean to “have a voice” in relation to thinking and talking about mental health and wellness. The finding noted in the study that indigenous youth are much more likely to seek out resources, connections, and supports related to mental health and wellness on-line than are mainstream youth is particularly worth reflecting upon and it is essential to note that this difference should not be tritely dismissed as simply reflective of greater need. The key to understanding the difference lies in understanding the “have a voice” finding. Basically, people in mainstream culture typically see “having a voice” as involving speaking loudly enough to be heard. When the culture or social forces that surround you are yours (are of your culture) then “having a voice” can be translated as “speak and you shall be heard (and/or understood).” Being part of minority culture, or particularly a part of indigenous culture can mean that you can be viewed as not having standing to speak or not being treated respectfully or even heard at all if you do speak. As we will see in more detail as we get into this topic in future posts, the history of treatment of indigenous peoples by mainstream colonizing (there is THAT word again) culture and population reflects a consistent lack of standing based on an array of (racist) beliefs and aggressive actions against indigenous people and cultures within Canada and North America. Think about that when you reflect upon what might bring indigenous youth to say they do not “have a voice” and think about how that could impact their identity development, community engagement and developmental and psychological wellbeing. Finally, with that in mind think about how we might understand why or how it might be that indigenous youth find on-line opportunities connection and online communities with which to engage particularly helpful and empowering.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What issues are there that are particularly important when we consider the mental health and wellness of indigenous youth in North BC communities?
  2. What might it mean when indigenous youth say they do not feel they “have a voice” in matters of their own mental health and wellness?
  3. What role(s) does culture play in youth’s definitions of mental illness, health and wellness and how might online resources support the role of culture in these areas?

References (Read Further):

Smith, L. T. (2013). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd.

Westerman, T. (2004). Guest Editorial: Engagement of Indigenous clients in mental health services: What role do cultural differences play?. Australian e-journal for the Advancement of Mental Health, 3(3), 88-93.

Kirmayer, L., Simpson, C., & Cargo, M. (2003). Healing traditions: Culture, community and mental health promotion with Canadian Aboriginal peoples. Australasian Psychiatry, 11(sup1), S15-S23.,community%20and%20mental%20health%20promotion%20with%20Canadian%20Aboriginal%20Peoples.pdf

Rickwood, D. J., Deane, F. P., & Wilson, C. J. (2007). When and how do young people seek professional help for mental health problems?. Medical Journal of Australia, 187(7), S35.

Kirmayer, L. J., Brass, G. M., & Tait, C. L. (2000). The mental health of Aboriginal peoples: Transformations of identity and community. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45(7), 607-616.


Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: In my previous post ( I introduced a new thread I am going to be focusing on, among other things, over the spring and summer. In that post I introduced an article looking at the place of the concept of wisdom in western society and thought and introduced the idea of rethinking about what it might mean to “indigenize” (in quoted because I am not sure I like the term) Psychology. I suggested that in order to get started on this quest we need to begin by noticing some of the assumptions in which our Psychological theories and concepts about persons, individuals, abnormality and wellness (among other concepts) are grounded. I have found that discussions involving foundational criticisms of Psychology are a bit hard to follow (though perhaps it is just because I may not be a particularly wise person) and so I thought we could start by considering some research that is sniffing around some potentially foundational and yet diverse assumption. Following along with a consideration of the concept and cultural and community role of Elders in aboriginal communities consider these two questions. First, what roles might indigenous Elders (recognized by their communities as such) play in the development and implementation of health strategies in aboriginal communities? Second, think about potential roles that old people (the elderly) might play in the development and implementation of health strategies in the cities states or provinces of mainstream society in North America. After some reflection on these questions, read the article linked below which describes a qualitative study intended to address the first question above in several communities in the Gitxsan Territory in Northern British Columbia.

Source: Varcoe, C., Bottorff, J. L., Carey, J., Sullivan, D., & Williams, W. (2010). Wisdom and influence of elders: Possibilities for health promotion and decreasing tobacco exposure in First Nations communities. Canadian Journal of Public Health/Revue Canadienne de Sante’e Publique, 154-158.

Date: May 11, 2018

Photo Credit: CIHR,

Article Links:

After looking through the article linked above do you have a sense of the differences between Elders (among the Gitxsan) and “the elderly” within mainstream culture? If so it is worth reflecting upon what those differences might mean for developing a workable Psychology of health, addictive behavior, and individual and community change. The roles that Elders might play in both community and personal development and health points not only to Elders’ roles but also to something of the relationship between persons, their communities, and their culture – people are understand not just as “who” they are but simultaneously by where they are and what relationships they are defined though. I will come back to this observation in later posts, but it may well be one of the important foundational differences we will need to better understand if we are to properly think about what an Indigenous Psychology might look like.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is there a difference between Elders and the elderly?
  2. If, within Gitxsan culture and society the elderly are not necessarily Elders what is the difference?
  3. What do you now understand about the potential role of Elders in the advocacy of healthy lifestyle strategies?

References (Read Further):

Smith, L. T. (2013). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd.

Eady, M. J. (2016). The community strength model: A proposal to invest in existing Aboriginal intellectual capital. in education, 22(1), 22-41.

Ljubicic, G. J. (2017). ” The Caribou Taste Different Now”: Inuit Elders Observe Climate Change, edited by José Gérin-Lajoie, Alain Cuerrier, and Laura Siegwart Collier. Arctic, 70(1), 102-104.

Whitewater, S., Reinschmidt, K. M., Kahn, C., Attakai, A., & Teufel-Shone, N. I. (2016). Peer Reviewed: Flexible Roles for American Indian Elders in Community-Based Participatory Research. Preventing chronic disease, 13.

Sanderson, D., Picketts, I. M., Déry, S. J., Fell, B., Baker, S., Lee‐Johnson, E., & Auger, M. (2015). Climate change and water at Stellat’en First Nation, British Columbia, Canada: Insights from western science and traditional knowledge. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien, 59(2), 136-150.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Intelligence, Neuroscience, Successful Aging, The Self.

Description: As we enter into spring I am shifting gears a little bit on my posts. Specifically, I am going to focus a little bit on the edges of Psychology – on things that are not part of the mainstream parts of the discipline or on approaches to Psychology that are based on different assumptions or different cultural foundations than mainstream Western Psychology. I am not doing this to simply focus on aspects of the obscure. Rather, I am going to focus on a couple of areas that many people — many psychologists — believe need to be considered by Psychology. One such area involves the perspectives and experiences of aboriginal/indigenous/First Nations people, communities, and cultures. There is an increasing realization, not entirely tied to the works of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that indigenous perspectives on personhood, community, world views, and other aspects of culture are not well articulated within mainstream Psychology (and are, in fact, somewhat ignored or denigrated). Just as many post-secondary educational institutions are working on some form of what is referred to as “indigenization,” there is a drive to indigenize Psychology arising from a number of areas including Cultural Psychology and concerns over the impacts of colonization, racism, and stigma on Psychological accounts of psychological, health and wellness issues within First Nations, aboriginal and Metis communities.

The second area of reconfiguration, to be introduced more fully in an upcoming post, concerns developmental psychological accounts of the transition from adolescence to adulthood (and to citizenship or engagement in community) that has, over the past few decades appeared to become a much more complex and protracted process than it was even just a generation ago. A new developmental life stage of Emerging Adulthood has been proposed as a means of seeing and understanding the processes of experience acquisition, self-reflection, and life designing that occupies emerging adults in the decade spanning 18 to 29 years of age. More on this later.

There is no simple description of what an indigenized Psychology might look like as whatever that process involves goes beyond simply considering previously ignored or understudied content from a Psychological or Cultural Psychological perspective. Rather, we need to start by understanding the assumptions about the basic nature of personhood, individuality, and community connectedness that are at the heart of Western Psychological perspectives. Much like how emerging adults need to get to where they can see the diversity of perspectives ways of being that exist in the world only after we have a corner of a realization the implication of that same diversity for doing Psychology can we begin to develop a respectful understanding of indigenous perspectives, world views and psychologies.

So where to begin? Let’s start fairly simply by looking at a concept that will not seem particularly exotic – let’s think about wisdom. What would someone need to be like, act like, think like, for you to think of them as wise? They would likely have to be old as we are to inclined to view young people as wise, but what else? Well, before getting too far into your reflections think about something the author of the article linked below opens their discussion of the concept of wisdom with – we, western civilization people, don’t actually use the concept much at all these days. Consider why this might be as you read trough the article linked below. In addition, as you read, keep inn mind that most aboriginal cultures and communities deeply respect and value the actively roles played by their Elders in their communities. It is not much of a leap to note that Elders are considered to be wise, and to be the keepers (and deployers) of traditional cultural knowledge and practices. So, a small step towards awareness of the foundational assumptions of Western Psychology can be taken by reflecting upon our societal disuse of the concept of wisdom. Start that step by reading through the article linked below.

Source: A word to the wise: Why wisdom might be ripe for rediscovery, Jonathan Rauch, Opinion, Globe and Mail.

Date: May 11, 2018

Photo Credit: Bryan Gee. Source Image: Bettmann / Getty Images

Article Links:

So, what did you think of the discussion of the concept of wisdom? It is rather fascinating, I think, to note that we (as in people in mainstream modern day western society) do not think or speak much of wisdom, do not ascribe it people who we respect, and we do not typically desire our potential political leaders to aspire to it. Despite this, wisdom is clearly a core concept for us historically. As well, some areas within Psychology (including neuroscience) are noting places for wisdom in their view of the Psychological world. This does not mean that we need to try and convince people to look more seriously at wisdom (though that view as articulated by the author of the article linked above IS rather compelling), but rather, it is valuable to simply see the gap between Psychological theory and research and the day-to-day thinking, acting, and assumptions of members of mainstream North American communities. I will take this question up in relation to consideration of the place of Elders in indigenous (Aboriginal and Metis) communities and cultures in North America (and perhaps beyond) in subsequent posts.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  1. What is Wisdom?
  2. How, if at all, is consideration of wisdom involved in our thinking about and acting in relation to our industrial, political, and spiritual leaders?
  3. What roles might we see wisdom playing in the ongoing functioning of community, culture and individual wellbeing?

References (Read Further):

Depp, C. A., & Jeste, D. V. (2006). Definitions and predictors of successful aging: a comprehensive review of larger quantitative studies. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 14(1), 6-20.

Jeste, D. V., & Oswald, A. J. (2014). Individual and societal wisdom: explaining the paradox of human aging and high well-being. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 77(4), 317-330.

Weststrate, N. M., Ferrari, M., & Ardelt, M. (2016). The many faces of wisdom: An investigation of cultural-historical wisdom exemplars reveals practical, philosophical, and benevolent prototypes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(5), 662-676.

Landes, S. D., Ardelt, M., Vaillant, G. E., & Waldinger, R. J. (2014). Childhood adversity, midlife generativity, and later life well-being. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69(6), 942-952.

Ardelt, M., & Oh, H. (2016). Correlates of wisdom. The encyclopedia of adulthood and aging.

Dennis, M. K., Kepple, N. J., & Brewer, I. I. (2017). Grandparents of the community: Lakota elders’ view of intergenerational care. GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 4(1), 9.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Child Development, Cultural Variation, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Research Methods, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Let’s start by thinking about the role that culture can play in individual behavior. First, do you believe your culture can influence your behavior? Well, cross-cultural developmental psychologists make the clear argument that, generally speaking, Japanese mothers work to socialize their young children to be more dependent upon or to see themselves as less important than their larger family or other social groups whereas American mothers are more likely o focus upon ways to increase the individuality and independence of their young pre-school children. The difference or the “reason”? Yup, its culture (or the influence of culture on child rearing practices). Now how about this hypothesis: Whether one’s ancient ancestors (think many generations back) grew wheat or rice will have an impact upon how one will navigate through a crowded Starbucks coffee shop in search of a place to sit. Those with wheat farmer ancestors will be more likely to move chairs that are in their way while those with rice growing ancestors will be more likely to leave the chairs alone and creatively contort their body and walking path in order to get around in the coffee shop. The difference, which is seen in actual in Starbucks behavior, is ascribed to cultural differences arising from the fact that rice is harder to grow and requires social collaboration and adaptation to environmental conditions whereas wheat growing is less complex and thus allows individuals to make changes to their environments in order to expand their wheat growing advantages and crop yields. So, what do you think of that hypothesis? Is it a solid example of how culture can influence behavior? Think about it and think about what else you might want to know or find out before agreeing that this is an example of culturally influenced behavior tied to the crops grown by one’s ancestors and then read the article linked below to see if that clears up any doubts or uncertainties you might have about this “cultural” hypothesis.

Source: Your Behavior in Starbucks, and the Link to Your Ancestors, Nathaniel Scharping, D-brief, Discover Magazine.

Date: April 25, 2018

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images

Article Links:

So, what do you think after reading the article? Are you convinced that farming behavior is the (or an) active causal cultural variable in predicting behavior in a Starbucks café? Did you notice the comment added down at the end of the article which pointed out that Northern Chinese are, at least partly, descended from the Mongolian people that included Genghis Khan who would, I suspect, be more the chair mover rather than the chair dodger type were he looking for a place to sit with his Starbucks coffee. An interesting historical cultural question might be, does the wheat growing make the Mongol or does the Mongol pick or prefer wheat farming? Which is the cultural causal force? Or are they both correlationally, and thus not directly causally, linked? I DO appreciate that the researchers indicate that they worked diligently to control for other possible causal variables (though I will need to go and find and read their original article before deciding how I feel about that). I DO strongly believe that there are may ways in which our current and our historic cultures and cultural practices reflect and perhaps, in some cases, influence our current behavior. I ALSO think we need to be VERY cautious about trying to draw any simple causal lines across generations in the cultural space as there are a great many ways in which the past can influence the present. Take, for example, what we have relatively recently come to more fully understand about the transgenerational traumas among Canadian aboriginal people that can be linked back to Residential Schools, the 60’s child welfare scoop and the related consequences of damaged parents, stigma, and related developmental impacts upon generations of aboriginal children, youth and adults. Such “cultural” impacts are every bit as present today in the lives of aboriginal children and youth as were the effects of residential schooling on their ancestors. I believe that cultural psychology has the potential to tell us a LOT that is useful about why we are the ways we are and about what we need to look at more closely and work on in order to change things that are problematic or stressful or developmentally counterproductive but to do so there must be more examined than ancestral agricultural practices, I think.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do the researchers whose work is discussed the article linked about think is the relationship between ancestral farming practices and Starbucks café navigation?
  2. Can you think of any alternative possible cultural links that could contribute to explaining people’s Starbucks navigating behaviors?
  3. Describe, in general terms, how things that happened to ones’ ancestors or things that one’s ancestors did could have developmental or behavioral impacts upon people growing and living today.

References (Read Further):

Talhelm, T., Zhang, X., & Oishi, S. (2018). Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences in daily life in China. Science advances, 4(4), eaap8469.

Sasaki, J. Y., & Kim, H. S. (2017). Nature, nurture, and their interplay: A review of cultural neuroscience. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48(1), 4-22.

Kline, M. A., Shamsudheen, R., & Broesch, T. (2018). Variation is the universal: making cultural evolution work in developmental psychology. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 373(1743), 20170059.

Chopik, W. J., O’Brien, E., & Konrath, S. H. (2017). Differences in empathic concern and perspective taking across 63 countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48(1), 23-38.

McQuaid, R. J., Bombay, A., McInnis, O. A., Humeny, C., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2017). Suicide Ideation and Attempts among First Nations Peoples Living On-Reserve in Canada: The Intergenerational and Cumulative Effects of Indian Residential Schools. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(6), 422-430.

Wilk, P., Maltby, A., & Cooke, M. (2017). Residential schools and the effects on Indigenous health and well-being in Canada—a scoping review. Public Health Reviews, 38(1), 8.

Kuhl, J. L. (2017). Putting an End to the Silence: Educating Society about the Canadian Residential School System. Bridges: An Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Connections, 2(1), 1.

Jaramillo, J. M., Rendón, M. I., Muñoz, L., Weis, M., & Trommsdorff, G. (2017). Children’s Self-Regulation in Cultural Contexts: The Role of Parental Socialization Theories, Goals, and Practices. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 923.

Posted by & filed under Group Processes, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Personality, Personality Disorders, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Ok so, I am going to talk about Narcissists but as many of us are not entirely familiar with the myth of Narcissus and, regardless, Narcissus did not live in the modern world, so we need another example to hold in mind as we consider the role that the generation of social chaos plays in the day-to-day lives of narcissists. After reading the article linked below you may well be able to bring to mind, as examples, several people with whom you have regular contact. In the meantime, it might help the call up your recent memories involving a rather high ranking politcal figure in North America who shall not be named but whose behaviors often work quite well as examples for the purposes of psychological consideration and discussion. The research discussed in the article linked below looked a tendency for those high on the personality dimension of Narcissism to engender social chaos in the situations in which they find themselves (e.g., workplace settings, friend or family gatherings). Think about what you know about the trait of narcissism and see if you can predict why it might be that people high on this dimension might actively sow seeds of social chaos even if they find it somewhat distressing. Once you have an hypothesis or two in mind have a look at the article linked below to see what the researchers found.

Source: Why Narcissists Thrive on Chaos, Susan Krause Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today

Date: May 5, 2018

Photo Credit: J.W. Waterhouse, 1903. Public domain. And

Article Links:

So do the behavior and social attribution patterns found to be associated with narcissism in the research article make sense? Do the patterns of contingent self-esteem, entitlement rage, hiding the self, and devaluating others fit the social chaotic behaviors of people you know who may have narcissistic tendencies? How about he who shall not be named? Seeing the patterns over time can be quite fascinating. The article also suggests research based strategies for engaging with or even confronting the chaotic person in your life (other than through the ballot box).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does Narcissism involve?
  2. How and perhaps why do narcissists create and take advantage of social chaos?
  3. What are some of the strategies you might consider using when you find yourself in social situations with a narcissist?

References (Read Further):

Dawood, S., & Pincus, A. L. (2018). Pathological narcissism and the severity, variability, and instability of depressive symptoms. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 9(2), 144.

Wetzel, E., Brown, A., Hill, P. L., Chung, J. M., Robins, R. W., & Roberts, B. W. (2017). The narcissism epidemic is dead; long live the narcissism epidemic. Psychological science, 28(12), 1833-1847.

O’Reilly III, C. A., Doerr, B., & Chatman, J. A. (2017). “See You in Court”: How CEO narcissism increases firms’ vulnerability to lawsuits. The Leadership Quarterly.

Andreassen, C. S., Pallesen, S., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). The relationship between addictive use of social media, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. Addictive Behaviors, 64, 287-293.

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Child Development, Consciousness, Health Psychology, Human Development, Psychological Health, Social Psychology, Student Success, The Self.

Description: I have written about growth mindsets and other mindsets previously but have tended to focus upon the research that has been done on the differences between growth and fixed mindsets and academic performance. Soooo you may be thinking, well, I don’t need to look further at this blog post as I already know about that stuff. Buy wait a moment and consider how well you actually understand what a mindset is and more importantly what a growth mindset is. More importantly   think about the extent to which (the REAL extent to which) you consistently deploy a growth mindset in your day to day life and especially in terms of your goal, career and life planning. Carol Dweck herself points out that people and organizations typically assume too quickly they they, or their organizations are doing everything they can and should to deploy or support growth mindsets when, in fact it simply is not true. The article linked below does a very good job of laying out the particulars of growth versus fixed mindsets and talking about ways to ensure you are tending in the direction of utilizing a growth mindset more often. One you have read the article and thought a bit more about how consistency you use a growth mindset in your day to day activities spend a few more minutes exploring the website where the article is located. You may find it quite interesting!

Source: Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset: Your Success Hinges On It, Anna Kucirkova, Careers in Psychology

Date: May 5, 2018

Photo Credit: Careers in Psychology

Article Links:

It is important to see that a mindset is perhaps best thought of a thought “tendency” or as a typical way of thinking, interpreting your experiences and relating to the world. In other words, a mindset need not be something that we are typically very aware of. This means that, like many of our more behavioral habits, we often have to work hard to even see them and, more importantly, we have to work even harder to change them as they are typically rather deeply ingrained. So, if you are convinced of the value in moving towards more consistently using a growth mindset then you should set aside some time weekly to review how you have been approaching tasks and especially task outcomes and see how consistently you are using a growth mindset. Sticking with it will produce more of the benefits discussed in the article inked above.  Lastly as to the Careers in Psychology website I have discussed elsewhere how Psychology is a “Hub” science. This means that many areas of study and work are grounded either in whole or in part in Psychological theory and research. The Careers in psychology site talks about some of the core careers in Psychology but as you look through the site it is worth thinking of the many other career pathways that draw on Psychology.  Everyone needs a little (or a lot) of psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is a growth mindset?
  2. What are some on the things you can do to ensure you are more typically using growth mindset?
  3. What are some of the things you could do, or better yet, what are some of the things you are GOING to do to ensure you are using more of a growth mindset?

References (Read Further):

Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), 20-24.

Caniëls, M. C., Semeijn, J. H., & Renders, I. H. (2018). Mind the mindset! The interaction of proactive personality, transformational leadership and growth mindset for engagement at work. Career Development International, 23(1), 48-66.

Schroder, H. S., Yalch, M. M., Dawood, S., Callahan, C. P., Donnellan, M. B., & Moser, J. S. (2017). Growth mindset of anxiety buffers the link between stressful life events and psychological distress and coping strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 110, 23-26.

Haimovitz, K., & Dweck, C. S. (2017). The origins of children’s growth and fixed mindsets: New research and a new proposal. Child development, 88(6), 1849-1859.



Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Depression, General Psychology, Student Success.

Description: To carry the epidemiology theme a bit further think about the answer to this question: Are children and teens more anxious today than in the past (in previous generations)? Think about what you have heard or read in the media about this question and then think about whether you have seen any research data bearing on the question. Good research data is important as it should help us to decide whether things like the rates of Anxiety and Depression among north American children and youth are changing or have changed in ways that we should be thinking about. The article linked below discusses some data that bears on the incidence part of this question. Give it a read and then think about what it might suggest about how concerned and ready for intervention related action we should be in this area.

Source: More than 1 in 20 US children and teen have anxiety or depression, ScienceDaily.

Date: April 24, 2018

Photo Credit: Time Magazine

Article Links:

The research discussed in the article linked above points us in some important directions. It suggests that the rates of anxiety and depression among children and teens have been going up and that the burden this places on developing teens and their family’s needs to be understood and addressed.  When such changes occur over a relatively short time line it is important to consider the possible social, family and community changes that may be contributing to the change as these changes may be very informative of possible opportunities for intervention, support and management of anxiety among children and teens. Very worth thinking about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What seems to be happening to the rate of anxiety among children and teens?
  2. What sorts of things might be contributing to the increase in anxiety among children and teens (in the US)?
  3. What sorts of support or intervention strategies should we be considering in relation to this apparent increase in anxiety levels among children and teens?

References (Read Further):

Bitsko, R. H., Holbrook, J. R., Ghandour, R. M., Blumberg, S. J., Visser, S. N., Perou, R., & Walkup, J. T. (2018). Epidemiology and Impact of Health Care Provider–Diagnosed Anxiety and Depression Among US Children. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

January, J., Madhombiro, M., Chipamaunga, S., Ray, S., Chingono, A., & Abas, M. (2018). Prevalence of depression and anxiety among undergraduate university students in low-and middle-income countries: a systematic review protocol. Systematic reviews, 7(1), 57.

Mortier, P., Cuijpers, P., Kiekens, G., Auerbach, R. P., Demyttenaere, K., Green, J. G., … & Bruffaerts, R. (2018). The prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behaviours among college students: a meta-analysis. Psychological medicine, 48(4), 554-565.

Bruffaerts, R., Mortier, P., Kiekens, G., Auerbach, R. P., Cuijpers, P., Demyttenaere, K., … & Kessler, R. C. (2018). Mental health problems in college freshmen: Prevalence and academic functioning. Journal of affective disorders, 225, 97-103.