Posted by & filed under Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, Physical Illness, Prevention, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Have you heard the term “Chemobrain”? While it has been around for quite a while it has been coming up more frequently lately as a concern for those undergoing cancer treatments using chemotherapy as at least 50% of them currently will experience some of the aspects of cognitive imparement associated with Chemobrain and for some of them the effects will not go away after treatment is complete. While getting rid of cancer is a prized goal people living with ongoing cognitive issues or with memory issue or fatigue may understandably like to hear that work is going on the try and better understand Chemobrain and, one hopes, to work on ways to lessen or eliminate it from treatment. Read through the article link to see what myelinization or neurons in the brain has to do with Chemobrain.

Source: Chemobrain: The impact of chemotherapy on Cognition, Elanena Blanco-Suarez, Brain Chemistry, Psychology Today

Date: January 23, 2019

Photo Credit: Cisplatin crystals. Larry Ostby, photo released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency of the National Institutes of Health.

Article Link:

The account of the brain level factors associated with Chemobrain in the article linked above might have been a bit hard to get your brain around if you have not had at least part of a psychology course with a neuroscience focus. Regardless you can see some of the points of brain influence that are being looked at as we try to develop a better understanding of what is involved in Chemobrain and, one hopes, begin to develop ways not mitigate it, avoid it or treat it.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is chemobrain?
  2. Why has there only recently been a concerted focus on chemobrain, what causes it and what might mitigate its impacts?
  3. When and how should the issue of chemobrain be discussed with patients about to begin chemotherapy for cancer?

References (Read Further):

Gibson, E. M., Nagaraja, S., Ocampo, A., Tam, L. T., Wood, L. S., Pallegar, P. N., … & Woo, P. J. (2018). Methotrexate Chemotherapy Induces Persistent Tri-glial Dysregulation that Underlies Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Impairment. Cell.

Boykoff, N., Moieni, M., & Subramanian, S. K. (2009). Confronting chemobrain: an in-depth look at survivors’ reports of impact on work, social networks, and health care response. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 3(4), 223.

Simó, M., Rifà-Ros, X., Rodriguez-Fornells, A., & Bruna, J. (2013). Chemobrain: a systematic review of structural and functional neuroimaging studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(8), 1311-1321.

Argyriou, A. A., Assimakopoulos, K., Iconomou, G., Giannakopoulou, F., & Kalofonos, H. P. (2011). Either called “chemobrain” or “chemofog,” the long-term chemotherapy-induced cognitive decline in cancer survivors is real. Journal of pain and symptom management, 41(1), 126-139.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Legal Ethical Issues.

Description: You have no doubt heard the term “at-risk” used to refer to groups of individuals (perhaps children from low SES backgrounds or children with parents coping with mental illness. Think about the appropriateness of the general use of that term. What could be problematic about referring to groups or worse to individual students as “at-risk students?” Would it or should it make a difference if you were able to point at (and address) the things that are driving up the “risk levels”? What if being “at-risk” was simply applied to those who are members of particular groups when the actual or even likely causes of the “risk” are not known and therefore not directly addressable? And what if those groups were distinguished from others by racial or ethnic lines. What about the use of the term them? Think about the implications of these questions and then reads the article linked below for a detailed argument for a rethinking of our use of the term “at-risk.”

Source: Why it is wrong to label students ‘at-risk’, Ivory A. Toldson, The Conversation.

Date: January 23, 2019

Photo Credit: Diego Cervo/

Article Link:

So, is the distinction between practical (causally attributable and addressable) and post-poor outcomes applications to situations where causes are unknown, unclear or, at least out of the control of the students themselves, their parents or their teachers? As well, does the difference between “more resources for at-risk students” and “more resources to reduce risk factors for students” make sense? It is important to understand that “risk” is NOT a personal attribute but, rather, a probabilistic statement about possible outcomes that may not have any obvious links to specifiable (and fixable) causal factors.  Psychology and especially education has been talking about issues of labeling for years and the article’s author’s suggestion that we find ways to have broader discussion n about groups and communities that routinely include consideration of community assets – such as hope and resilience is timely and is a direction we should really commit to pursuing!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to say that a student or group of students are “at-risk”?
  2. What are some of the uses and the disadvantages of using the term “at-risk”?
  3. How should we talk about, think about, and/or address the fact that “risk” is usually a statement about groups or situations while outcomes in school usually apply to and potentially stigmatize individuals?

References (Read Further):

Placier, M. L. (1993). The semantics of state policy making: The case of “at risk”. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15(4), 380-395.

Brown, J. H., & D’Emidio Caston, M. (1995). On becoming” at risk” through drug education: How symbolic policies and their practices affect students. Evaluation review, 19(4), 451-491.

Barnett, K. (2015, March). The At-Risk Student’s Journey with Online Course Credit; Looking at Perceptions of Care and Their Lived Experience. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1454-1462). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Toldson, Ivory A. (2019) No BS (Bad Stats) Black People Need People Who Believe in Black People Enough Not to Believe Every Bad Thing They Hear about Black People, Personal/Public Scholarship, Volume 4,

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought, Learning, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Why do you think people fall for (believe) fake news stories? Is it because they simply want them to be true (confirmation bias – I KNOW that politicians are crooked!) when they align with our partisan leanings (It all political right?). Or, is it that we just find that we cannot build up enough concern to care to check sources – we are mentally lazy? Or do you have another explanation? Well, sort out what your hypotheses are and then read the article linked below in which a couple of Psychologists (one Canadian and one American) go through what light Psychological research can shine on this increasingly current and topical question.

Source: Why do People Fall for Fake News? Gordon Pennycook and David Rand, Grey Matter, The New York Times.

Date: January 19, 2019

Photo Credit: Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch/The New York Times

 Article Link:

So as is often the case, there is something to both general theories of why we bite on fake news. Each theory looks at a different part of the issue. The brighter we are the better we are at rationalizing that what we WANT to believe is what is true regardless or even in the direct face of opposing data. On the other hand, it turns out that using our reasoning skills and thinking analytically actually leads to clearer thoughts (thank goodness!). Thinking analytically rather than going with our “gut” or intuitions makes us less superstitious, les likely to buy conspiracy theories and less likely to accept vague or over generalized assertions. So maybe we buy into fake news when we are being cognitively lazy. In their own research the authors of the linked article showed that people who are better at reflective reasoning (sample test questions here: ) were significantly better at telling facts from falsehoods regardless of how what they were reading related to their political beliefs. So work at NOT being a lazy thinker and you will be safer from the potential influence by fake news.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are a couple of reasons people might believe a fake news story?
  2. Does whether the “fake news” we read supports our political views make a difference in whether we believe it or not?
  3. Why has it become more important in recent years to know about how people deal with the assertions made in fake news storied when they encounter them?

References (Read Further):

Pennycook, G., & Rand, D. G. (2018). Lazy, not biased: Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained by lack of reasoning than by motivated reasoning. Cognition.

Kahan, D. M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L. L., Braman, D., & Mandel, G. (2012). The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature climate change, 2(10), 732.

Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2010). When corrections fail: The persistence of political misperceptions. Political Behavior, 32(2), 303-330.

Wood, T., & Porter, E. (2016). The elusive backfire effect: Mass attitudes’ steadfast factual adherence. Political Behavior, 1-29.

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Attitude Formation Change, Child Development, Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Have you seen the ad recently produced by the Gillette company?  Their company tag line is “The Best a Man can Get” and in their ad they argue against toxic masculinity and that recent social change movements such as #MeToo have initiated changes in our thinking about masculinity. Gillette’s ad states that things have changed, and we cannot go back. There has been quite a storm of reaction to the Gillette ad. In the midst of that the American Psychological Association (APA) released a new set of guidelines for how clinical Psychologists should approach the concept of masculinity in their clinical practices. Following the release of the guidelines APA dove right into the social media water with Gillette with a tweet linked back to an article on their website talking about the guidelines that stated “more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage.” So, what do you think? Watch the Gillette video linked below and then read one or both the news/opinion articles that speak about the video and about the APA’s new guidelines. The APA guidelines and their article talking about them are linked in the References section below).

Source: In the #MeToo age, APA has new guidelines for psychologists talking about traditional masculinity, Annees Benferhat and Saumya Dave, ABC News.  Or In search of non-Toxic Manhood, Ross Douthat, The New York Times.

Date: January 17, 2019

Photo Credit: Gillette and Global News

Article Link: or  and  The Gillette video

The #MeToo movement is part of (and perhaps the catalyst that is driving) a general evaluation of a range of issues tied to masculinity and including, but not limited to, gender relations, workplace civility, equal pay, and male privilege. Thinking and talking about how we are dealing with masculinity at the individual, organizational, social and cultural levels has ramped up. Before Gillette put their video out there were others. David Schwimmer (of Friends fame) produced a series of videos showing examples of sexual harassment behavior (links to these are below) that also generated a lot of discussion. As we struggle to define and live a non-toxic version of masculinity it is worth noting that while this plays out at the individual level the issues are historically and culturally grounded and so what we are talking about and working on changing are some fairly deeply based meaning structures that are reflected in the actions of individuals. Talking about them is a critical part of managing the necessary changes that are underway.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is toxic masculinity?
  2. Is the concept of masculinity inherently toxic?
  3. Given that this issue is grounded in sociocultural norms and practices how do we as individuals (and as Psychologists) understand and deal with (come to terms with) the need for changes in our concepts of the nature of masculinity?

References (Read Further):

APA (2018) Harmful masculinity and violence,

Pappas, Stephanie (2019) APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys,

David Schwimmer’s Sexual Harassment Series,

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Student Success.

Description: Ok quick, don’t think just answer this question: What is the relationship between reason and emotion? Typically, our first reaction is to say that reason and emotion are in a bit of a tug of war. If you are thinking reasonably you are not being emotional and if you are being emotional you are not being reasonable – you are not thinking clearly. While it IS true that extreme emotions can limit our ability to think clearly but reason and emotion are not really black and white opposites. Think about it. What goes along with intellectual interest or intellectual insight? Good feelings, right? Emotions are how we assign value to things and so emotions may actually be essential to reason and to learning. Think a bit about how this relationship might work (and relationship IS a potentially useful active ingredient in understanding the relationship between thinking and emotion) and then read the article linked below that addresses this question as well.

Source: Students Learn from People They Love, David Brooks, The New York Times.

Date: January 17, 2019

Photo Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times

 Article Link:

Perhaps you had not thought of colleges and universities as places where you might go to experience emotions but emotions in the context of relationships (social interactions) drive knowledge acquisition. The example of children learning Mandarin phrases much better and faster in face-to-face lessons as opposed to video lessons is compelling. Can you think of a class you had, or have, where the professor was/is passionate about their subject and it felt like they were sharing that with you in their lectures? Learning is easier and better in those sorts of classes. We often ask if the instructor was enthusiastic on course evaluations, but we do not, typically, evaluate the nature and quality of the learning relationships that could (should) be built through our classes. Emotions generated while learning are something to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are thinking and emotions related?
  2. How are thinking and emotions related in a class you recall as being very engaging and enjoyable?
  3. What do you make of the differences discussed in the article between learning in face-to-face settings and via video recordings?

References (Read Further):


Kuhl, P. K., Tsao, F. M., & Liu, H. M. (2003). Foreign-language experience in infancy: Effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 9096-9101.

Dikker, S., Wan, L., Davidesco, I., Kaggen, L., Oostrik, M., McClintock, J., … & Poeppel, D. (2017). Brain-to-brain synchrony tracks real-world dynamic group interactions in the classroom. Current Biology, 27(9), 1375-1380.

Aspen Institute From a nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope: Recommendations from a National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Depression, Human Development, Personality in Aging, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Live a meaningful life and you will feel better and live longer. Sound good? Well, while you may have heard that somewhere do you know if it is true and if there is research supporting it? Think about how you would design a study to try and evaluate this statement. Who would you include in the study? What would the design look like (cross-sectional or longitudinal)? How would you assess meaningfulness and purpose? What else would you measure? After you have through those questions through (a bit) read the article linked below to see how researchers did so in a recently published study.

Source: The Power of Purpose and Meaning in Life, Lydia Denworth, Brain Waves, Psychology Today.

Date: January 12, 2019

Photo Credit: yacobchuck/iStock

Article Link:

So, the search suggests that the statute we started with above holds up. People who are socially engaged feel better about themselves and appear to also do better physically as they age. The question of whether the correlational nature of this sort of research is a problem (maybe being healthy and engaged socially makes you feel like your life has more purpose rather than the other way around). The longitudinal study discussed in the article suggests that the findings may not reflect an entirely correlational relationship. It may seem unrelated but as an example of the power of direct face-to-face social interaction consider this. Jean Twenge has done research with members of the population born since 1994 (called iGen). The oldest members of this generational cohort are now in or just graduating university and as a group their rates of anxiety and depression, self-harm and rates of suicide have jumped up rather alarmingly compared to previous generations at the same age. Why might that be? Well, this is the first generation ever to spend its entire teenaged years with smart-phones and on social media and, as a group, engaging in significantly lower rates of face-to-face social interaction with peers or anyone. Yes, of course, more research is needed but it IS something that should make you start to think a bit about how we are social (real social as in face-to-face social) beings and about what we are or should be doing to and for ourselves as we grow and age. Oh and by the way, there is a word for what older people should be working on, it is Ikigai (search it on this blog site and you will see a couple of posting about it).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are meaning and purpose related to wellness in aging populations?
  2. What does it mean to say that maybe the observed relationships are just correlational?
  3. What evidence is there that the reported associations between meaning, purpose and wellbeing are NOT correlational?

References (Read Further):

Steptoe, A., & Fancourt, D. (2019). Leading a meaningful life at older ages and its relationship with social engagement, prosperity, health, biology, and time use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201814723.

Carlson, M. C. (2011, May). Promoting healthy, meaningful aging through social involvement: building an experience corps. In Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science (Vol. 2011). Dana Foundation.

Power, M. B., Eheart, B. K., Racine, D., & Karnik, N. S. (2007). Aging well in an intentional intergenerational community: Meaningful relationships and purposeful engagement. Journal of Intergenerational relationships, 5(2), 7-25.

Brayne, C. (2002). Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives. David Snowdon. New York: Bantam Press, 2001, pp. 256, $24.95 (HB) ISBN: 0-553-80163-5.

Twenge, J. M. (2017). IGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Simon and Schuster.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Memory, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: You have most certainly heard, somewhere, that people who witness traumatic events do not make very good eye witnesses, but do you know why that is? Oh, and suggesting that it might be related to Freudian defensiveness is not allowed (it is uninvestigable). So why might it be that people do not simply NOT remember but often remember things wrong – such as the race of the gunman in the case discussed in the article linked below? Well, remember that memory is based on associations (it is NOT a PVR recording) so think about what else might be at play in the case of memory for traumatic events and then have a look at the article linked below which contains a number of research items on this topic.

Source: Jazmine Barnes Case Shows How Trauma Can Affect Memory, Sandra E. Garcia, Science, The New York Times.

Date: January 6, 2019

Photo Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Article Link:

So, our memories fit with our previous memories sometimes more than they fit with reality. Also, the tunnel vision associated with rapid activation of the H.P.A. axis (the stress response in the brain and nervous system) gets in the way of our being able to recall detailed memory for traumatic events and their contexts. Finally, when we add in the bottleneck that is working memory and you can see how messed up memory for traumatic events could be. An additional line of thinking and possible research would be to try and figure out what police officers and other who collect eye witness accounts of traumatic events ought to do about these factors.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How accurate are the accounts of eye witnesses to traumatic events?
  2. If their accounts are not so good, why might that be?
  3. What sorts of things would you suggest to police officer investigating traumatic events with the assistance of eye witness accounts in order to make their jobs easier or at least more effective in such cases?

References (Read Further):

McNally, R. J. (2005). Remembering trauma. Harvard University Press.

Southwick, S. M., Morgan, C. A., Nicolaou, A. L., & Charney, D. S. (1997). Consistency of memory for combat-related traumatic events in veterans of Operation Desert Storm. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(2), 173-177.

Byrne, C. A., Hyman Jr, I. E., & Scott, K. L. (2001). Comparisons of memories for traumatic events and other experiences. Applied Cognitive Psychology: The Official Journal of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 15(7), S119-S133.

Krinsley, K. E., Gallagher, J. G., Weathers, F. W., Kutter, C. J., & Kaloupek, D. G. (2003). Consistency of retrospective reporting about exposure to traumatic events. Journal of Traumatic Stress: Official Publication of The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, 16(4), 399-409.

Cordon, I. M., Pipe, M. E., Sayfan, L., Melinder, A., & Goodman, G. S. (2004). Memory for traumatic experiences in early childhood. Developmental Review, 24(1), 101-132.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Intelligence, Memory, Neuroscience, Physiology.

Description: Ok here is a neurological question. Creativity involves coming up with something new right? But not just new … something new that works or fits or otherwise impress, like a novel solution to an old problem or a new story or mystery plot line. So how does out brain come up with new things when a huge part of how our brain develops and works involves figuring out what is adaptive (like avoiding looking for food over where that bear was wandering around last week) and then sticking to what we have figure out is adaptive. In that light creativity can be downright dangerous. Perhaps that is why we are so comfortable with the idea that creativity and craziness (madness) go together. Think about what might have to happen in the brain for us to be creative and then read the article linked below which talks about a recent study that looked at precisely this question.

Source: Brainwaves suppress obvious ideas to help us think more creatively, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: December 10, 2018

Photo Credit: dragonstock / Fotolia

 Article Link:

I have often said in my classes that human memory is built on associations.  His means that we are built (or it is adaptive for us to) see the similarities between things or situations in front of us and things we have seen before. It is adaptive because we can recognize tasty food or spoiled or otherwise noxious foods and other such things, but it is NOT adaptive in the sense that it makes it less likely we will try anything new. That is the problem of creativity. Basically, the researchers in the article linked above demonstrated that right temporal lobe brainwaves called alpha oscillations assist us in ignoring the obvious associations and make creativity possible. While there ARE individual differences in creativity it is not clear if this relates to different levels of production of alpha oscillations, but it seems like a good hypothesis. As well, as the researchers indicate the other fascinating questions is how we all balance these two potential processing routes of creativity and relying on past associations and adaptations. But one take home message is reinforced by this research—if you want to be creative try and ignore the obvious!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are creativity and adaptation related?
  2. How are creativity and adaptation incorporated in the functioning of the brain?
  3. What might some of the implications of this research be (think science fiction rather than thinking ethically)?

References (Read Further):

Caroline Di Bernardi Luft, Ioanna Zioga, Nicholas M. Thompson, Michael J. Banissy, Joydeep Bhattacharya. Right temporal alpha oscillations as a neural mechanism for inhibiting obvious associations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201811465

Zeki, S. (2001). Artistic creativity and the brain. Science, 293(5527), 51-52.

DeFelipe, J. (2011). The evolution of the brain, the human nature of cortical circuits, and intellectual creativity. Frontiers in neuroanatomy, 5, 29.

Dietrich, A. (2004). The cognitive neuroscience of creativity. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 11(6), 1011-1026.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Depression, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, The Self.

Description: We have had personal electronics for like ever, right? Weeeellll, the answer is yes ONLY if you were born in 1995 or later and if you were you are probably in college or university now or just starting to figure out your career path in the work world. As members of iGen (i for internet) you exited your preteen years just as smartphones, and through them ongoing instant personal access to social media and other internet facets, became available to everyone with a smart phone, and quite quickly, most of you had such a device (uptake was exponential among all but children and the elderly). The difference was that you everyone else this was a new thing and they would have to figure out how to fir it into their lives whereas for you it was simply what everyone had. I have posted about the developmental and post-secondary life transition issues associated with your developmental immersion in technology and social media recently and will post again in the near future. For now, I would like you to think about the place, role and impacts of personal technologies, smartphones, and social media on your life now and on your development from childhood through to your current situation. But before you start, consider this: one of the most important developmental insights you can gain NOW, as you move into and through emerging adulthood, is that the was things were and are for you as you grew up and now are NOT the same as they were for people even just one generation (10 to 15 years) older than you OR for emerging adults living and growing in other cultural contexts. Thee is no shortlist of those differences mainly because they are woven quite deeply into who you are and into how to understand and view the world around you. So, how to start to gain some of this important developmental perspective? Well, read the article linked below. It will help you have a look back at the way things were for you throughout your later childhood and adolescent years. The article is intended as (research based) advice for parents on the developmental things they should consider doing in relation to the impacts of these relatively new personal technologies on their children’s growth and development. See what it gets you thinking about.

Source: Technoconference: A habit parents should ditch in 2019, Sheri Madigan, Dillon Thomas Browne, and Rachel Eirich, The Conversation.

Date: January 1, 2019

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Article Link:

So, what do you think? Can you see some of the developmental carry-forwards from the article in your own life? A long time again (when I was doing my own early development) there were similar concerns raised and advice offered about the potential developmental impacts of television watching. What the advice and strongly supporting research boiled down to was that time spent watching television was time spent NOT doing other things like reading or getting outdoor physical exercise and the drop in those activities had developmental impacts. As such it was recommended that parents limit the amount to time their children spent watching TV to an hour or so a day. We are not yet in a position with available research where we can boil down smartphone and social media use to such a simple statement BUT, there ARE strong indications that smartphone and social media use beyond 2 hours a day seems to be contributing to a significant drop in the amount of face-to-face social interaction people in general and teenagers in particular are engaging in these days. What might THAT mean? …. Well, now that IS something to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways in which parents’ and children’s electronic devices are impacting family life and child development these days?
  2. What are some of the developmental trajectories (future impacts) of some of the things you noted in responding to question 1 above?
  3. Are there some things you can take away from this article, and your thinking about it, that are suggesting some things you might want to think about regarding your current developmental point in life?

References (Read Further):

The Common Sense Consensus: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology: A National Survey, Center on Media and Human Development,

“Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world.” (2017): 461-468.

Eisenberg, M. E., Olson, R. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L. H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 158(8), 792-796.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Health, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: I have posted previously on the topic of smash rooms (places where, for a fee, you can go and smash things with hammers, bats or whatever you want). The video linked below shows a similar opportunity where groups of people can go to a junkyard and, while wearing appropriate protective gear, smash of car to pieces with hammers and pry bars. Why might people want to do this? To relieve stress? To get aggressive impulses out of their systems? To team build? As a pre-wedding (stag or stagette) party event? The owners of this smashing opportunity enterprise touts it as a stress and aggression relieving opportunity, suggesting it could reduce road rage and other forms of aggression. From a Psychological perspective what do you think? Maybe factor in the fact that many college or professional sports teams have provided their fans with an opportunity (for money for charity) to have a few hammer bashes at a junker painted with the logos and colors of the team their team is about to play. Does THAT sound like something intended to calm people down and reduce aggressive thoughts and tendencies? So, reflect for a minute on what you think such businesses or events might do for us and then have a look at the video which also contains some psychology commentary.

Source: The place where you can smash up cars for fun. Anna Holligan, BBC News

Date: January 3, 2019

Photo Credit: BBC News

Article Link:

The theory that taking advantage of these sorts of opportunities to safely behave aggressively might be good for use goes way back to Freudian theory. Freud believed that such safe opportunities for behaving aggressively (we might say to let off some steam) are good for us as they reduce our aggressive tendencies. The problem with this view is that it basically supports the notion that aggressiveness is an inevitable part of the human experience and that it is rather hard to control. As the Psychologist in the video posed, what if people smash a car and find that they REALLY like being aggressive? Perhaps some thinking about mindfulness and managing our frustrations, stresses and aggressiveness might be in order? You can look through some of the classic debates on this issue in the articles linked in the References section below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might smashing a car, safely and on purpose, do for you that could be positive?
  2. What might smashing a car, safely and on purpose, do for you that could be negative?
  3. How should we think about the place and role of aggression in human psychological functioning and adaptation?

References (Read Further):

Miller, N. E. (1941). I. The frustration-aggression hypothesis. Psychological review, 48(4), 337.

Sears, R. R. (1941). II. Non-aggressive reactions to frustration. Psychological Review, 48(4), 343.

Berkowitz, L. (1989). Frustration-aggression hypothesis: Examination and reformulation. Psychological bulletin, 106(1), 59.

Allen, J. J., Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2018). The general aggression model. Current opinion in psychology, 19, 75-80.