Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Moral Development, Personality, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Can you tell when someone is lying to you? If you do a You Tube search on lie detection you will find a great many postings showing versions of the classic lie detection game where someone tells you several things about themselves one of which is a lie and you have to figure out which one it is based on your “reading” of their body language, tone of voice eye contact or lack thereof etc. It is a hard thing to do with strangers but not quite as hard to do with people we know. Why do you think that might be? Well, of course, one possibility is that you simply know more of the truth about people you know well and can therefore check facts within your own memory. It may be that your knowledge of the other person will give you the ability to note atypical body language or vocal characteristics and thus to spot lying. But think about that a minute. What if the person you know well is simply a good liar? I am not suggesting that you conduct a psychological audit of all your friends in order to calibrate how you will think about them or act in response to them (that might not help your relationship with them if they found out) but think for a minute about what sort of data might help you sort out this question of just how honest the people you know actually are. Might there be some part of their personality profile that could be informative about this question? Which personality dimensions might be useful? Think about that, and about what sorts of dimensions would be useful if the standard Big Five dimensions do not seem to give you what you can use here, and then read the article linked below that makes use of the HEXACO personality model developed by a colleague of mine Kibeom Lee of the University of Calgary.

Source: Get to the Truth with This New Way to Spot a Liar, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today.

Date: February 24, 2018

Photo Credit: Pam Douglas, Huffington Post / Adam the Teacher WordPress

Links:  Article Link –

Kibeom Lee’s work with the HEXACO model includes the development of a dimension that seems to capture honesty-humility (Kibeom’s book on the subject is listed in the Further Reading section below). Certainly honesty, or the lack thereof, would potentially be related to lying and cheating but the way the personality dimension relates to real-world cheating and lying is a bit more complicated. In a two-part predictive process, the suggestion is that being honest translates to being fair and trustworthy and thus unwilling to gain through unethical means. When this is paired with humility, wherein people avoid being greedy because they do not feel entitled to special treatment, you have a personality combination that makes it less likely people who possess it will exploit, steal, lie or cheat. That is the hypothesis that the study discussed in the article/post linked above evaluated. The results supported the hypothesis. So, you now have an audit tool to use quietly. Consider a person’s sense of fairness and their greed avoidance and you will have a angle on their character in this area. You can do this without having to figure out how to get them to complete a HEXACO profile. Simply watch how they behave in situations with limited resources such as a shared meal or after a meal in a restaurant or an evening in a bar when it comes time to address the shared bill. Both of these situations are good sources of evaluative data related to the honesty-humility dimension.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are honesty and humility (in terms of personality dimensions)?
  2. How do honesty and humility relate to behaviors like cheating, lying, and stealing?
  3. Besides the ones noted in the paragraph above what are some social situations where you might be able to gather data from people on these dimensions? Be specific about the sorts of behaviors you would look for and how you would do so in ways that would not influence the behavior of the person or persons you are observing (and yes this sounds sneaky but, think about it, a LOT of personality data gathering IS rather sneaky, isn’t it?

References (Read Further):

van Rensburg, Y. J., de Kock, F. S., & Derous, E. (2018). Narrow facets of honesty-humility predict collegiate cheating. Personality and Individual Differences, 123199-204.


Lee, Kibeom, and Aston, Michael, C. (2012) The H Factor of Personality: Why some people are manipulative, self-entitled, materialistic and exploitive – Why it matters for everyone, Wilfred Laurier University Press.

Baiocco, R., Chirumbolo, A., Bianchi, D., Ioverno, S., Morelli, M., & Nappa, M. R. (2017). How HEXACO Personality Traits Predict Different Selfie-Posting Behaviors among Adolescents and Young Adults. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 2080.

Visser, B. A., Book, A. S., & Volk, A. A. (2017). Is Hillary dishonest and Donald narcissistic? A HEXACO analysis of the presidential candidates’ public personas. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 281-286.


Posted by & filed under Clinical Assessment, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: The Calgary Distress Centre (in my home town) started out as a call-in center, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Until recently its only form of contact with distressed individuals was over their phone lines and that worked very well as a way for people to find someone to talk to in critical moments of personal crisis and, besides a human contact and a friendly ear, potentially receive suggestions and even direct referrals for additional assistance. Recently the Distress Center has added a chat interface option and more recently a text connection option. Initially they offered this service through their “ConnectTeen” service aimed at teens in crisis but are looking at expanding this to their other services. While there are concerns about the validity of non-face-to-face therapy, in crisis situations any contact that works is good. Putting aside for the present purposes the question of whether non-face-to-face therapy is viable think a bit about the huge potential that social media and the web in general could have on issues of mental health and wellness. Of course, we need a lot of data on these possibilities BUT to get data we also need to have possibilities out there to examine and evaluate. Now, if you have heard of the show Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneurs and product/service developers pitch their ideas to a panel of deep pocketed potential investors, imagine what an opportunity to pitch web or app-based ideas for promoting mental health and wellness might look like. With those thoughts in mind read the article linked below to see some bold thinking and actions in this area.

Source: ‘Money Supermarket for mental health’: Could the future of treatment be digital? Mark Rice-Oxley, Mental Health: The Upside, The Guardian.

Date: February 15, 2018

Photo Credit: Fixing a hole. Illustration: Blok Magnaye

Links:  Article Link –

“…this [metal health] is a crisis that is ripe for innovation.” Isn’t THAT a fascinating quote? And how about this one: “We want to build a whole new global system for mental health. A platform with answers for people rich and poor,” (Jim Woods). I have written previously about the challenges associated with mental health when compared to our (In Canada) commitment to global health care provision. Moving large on mental health issues is a HIGE challenge. If you are interested in this new angle on mental health and related issues, then check out Zinc ( ) and start developing your pitch!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the way we approach physical health different than the way we approach mental health?
  2. How might we re-think how we talk about and think about mental illness (and mental health) in ways that would get us moving in some of the direction suggested by the Zinc initiative?
  3. What are some of the ways in which thinking about mental health is different than thinking about mental illness?

References (Read Further):

Links to Check Out (provided for interst not as a recomendation):


Rochlen, A. B., Zack, J. S., & Speyer, C. (2004). Online therapy: Review of relevant definitions, debates, and current empirical support. Journal of clinical psychology, 60(3), 269-283.

Cook, J. E., & Doyle, C. (2002). Working alliance in online therapy as compared to face-to-face therapy: Preliminary results. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 5(2), 95-105.

Sundram, F., Hawken, S. J., Stasiak, K., Lucassen, M. F., Fleming, T., Shepherd, M., … & Merry, S. N. (2017). Tips and traps: lessons from codesigning a clinician e-monitoring tool for computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. JMIR mental health, 4(1).

Sprenger, M., Mettler, T., & Osma, J. (2017). Health professionals’ perspective on the promotion of e-mental health apps in the context of maternal depression. PLoS One, 12(7), e0180867.

Grist, R., Porter, J., & Stallard, P. (2017). Mental health mobile apps for preadolescents and adolescents: a systematic review. Journal of medical internet research, 19(5).

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, Language Development, Language-Thought, Neuroscience, Sensation-Perception.

Description:  Two questions before we get into this topic. First, who has strokes? Second, if someone has a massive left hemisphere stroke what will likely happen to their spoken language abilities? Old people and language will suffer right? Well, not entirely. You see, infants, and in fact, newborns (about 1 in 4000) can have strokes. The birth process is stressful and can involve huge spikes in baby blood pressure which, in turn, can lean to strokes. What are the impacts of such strokes, especially when they are large? Well, before you try to answer make sure your response involves using the term “plasticity.” If you are unsure what that means then read the article linked below to find out and even if you do know what plasticity is read the article to see if what it says matches your responses to the first two questions I posed above.

Source: Newborn babies who suffered stroke regain language function I opposite side of brain, Science Daily.

Date: February 17, 2018

Photo Credit: Elissa Newport, Georgetown University

Links:  Article Link –    and

If you have had an introductory level Psychology course you have likely heard about Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, their roles in the processing and production of spoken language and the finding that they are typically located in the left hemisphere of your brain. You also have likely heard about how stroke damage in the left hemisphere of the brain can be associated with mild to severe loss of language production or language processing ability (look up the two areas of the brain noted above for more information). All this is supported by a lot of research. But, if the person who has the stroke is a newborn language development and language processing may not be impacted at all and, in fact those tasks might actually be taken up by the right hemisphere of the brain. THAT is neural plasticity, where other brain areas take up functions that would “normally” be in areas of the brain damaged by strokes. An additional, and potentially quite important finding of the study reported in the linked article is that there are constraints on precisely what areas of the brain take over what functions following stroke. In other words language processing does not get written any old place but in specific regions of the right hemisphere following severe left hemisphere strokes. The researchers are looking ahead to study the molecular basis of plasticity as an understanding of those processes may be very informative as to opportunities for assisting in the recovery of function following stroke at any age.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why do some newborns have strokes?
  2. Why do newborns who have strokes often show little or no long term detrimental effects?
  3. Why might there be specific “back-up” areas for certain specifically located functions in the opposite hemisphere of the brain and how might that back-up function (or back-up potential) work?

References (Read Further):

Westmacott, R., Askalan, R., MacGregor, D., Anderson, P., & Deveber, G. (2010). Cognitive outcome following unilateral arterial ischaemic stroke in childhood: effects of age at stroke and lesion location. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 52(4), 386-393.

Oakes, L. (2017). Introduction to Special Issue:“Current Perspectives on Neuroplasticity”. Cognitive Development, 42, 1-3.

Oakes, L. M. (2017). Plasticity may change inputs as well as processes, structures, and responses. Cognitive development, 42, 4-14.

Chen, C. Y., Georgieff, M., Elison, J., Chen, M., Stinear, J., Mueller, B., … & Gillick, B. (2017). Understanding brain reorganization in infants with perinatal stroke through neuroexcitability and neuroimaging. Pediatric physical therapy: the official publication of the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association, 29(2), 173.

Stiles, J. (2017). Principles of brain development. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 8(1-2).

Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Intergroup Relations, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: There is an increasing large research literature on Sports Psychology in generally and on Olympic performance in particular. I have posted about parts of this research work previously in this blog ( The British Psychological Society has suggested in the posting linked below that it would be interesting to consider what the winter Olympics mean to us individually (that is also Psychology!). The Olympics are not regular occurrences. They twig thoughts of national identity and international connectedness and competitiveness. The Olympics present sports activities that could be considered a part of who we are (especially the Winter Olympics for Canadians). So, think for a minute…..What do the Winter Olympics mean to you? Once you have reflected on this question have a read through the postings linked below and see what else they may bring to mind.

Source: What does the Winter Olympics mean to you? Paul Gorczynski, The Psychologist, The British Psychological Society.

Date: February 18, 2018

Photo Credit: Getty Images, The Sun, UK.

Links:  Article Link –

For me the Winter Olympics are a place and time where Canadian athletes get to content at things that are very close to the Canadian heart ,… like hockey (even if the NHL kept their players playing here in North American instead of allowing them to go to Korea). I get to watch our athletes content on snow and ice, where, like it or not, we are at home for a (this year what feels like a LARGE) number of months. I most like seeing sports we do not typically get to see, like “big air” boarding and skiing, skeleton, luge and bobsledding and that weird event that involves skiing fast and shooting (OK maybe that is nor Nordic that Canadian). At the same time that I contemplate the parts of my identity as a Canadian that the Winter Olympics tweaks I am fascinated by the number of warm climate countries with representation at the Winter Games (Togo, Eritrea, and Nigeria, oh and Jamaica, of course). I have not reached any clear conclusions about what the Winter Olympics means to me in relation to my identity but, at least, they provide something entertaining and diversionary to watch and engage with as the cold winter February winds and snows blow.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some ways in which large international sporting events like the Winter Olympics might increase or feed into our reflections about personal, cultural, and national identity?
  2. What is your favourite Winter Olympic sport? What do you think that might suggest about you?
  3. If the Olympics are in any way “good for us” (psychologically speaking) what might we do to optimize this “goodness”?

References (Read Further):

Clift, B.C. & Manley, A. (2016). Five reasons why your city won’t want to host the Olympic Games. The Conversation. Retrieved December 4, 2017 from

Petro-Canada – Share the flame (1987). Share the flame. Retrieved December 1, 2017, from

Holt, N. L., & Dunn, J. G. (2004). Toward a grounded theory of the psychosocial competencies and environmental conditions associated with soccer success. Journal of applied sport psychology, 16(3), 199-219.

Hill, D. M., Hanton, S., Matthews, N., & Fleming, S. (2010). Choking in sport: A review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 3(1), 24-39.

Hill, D. M., & Shaw, G. (2013). A qualitative examination of choking under pressure in team sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14(1), 103-110.

Gould, D., Guinan, D., Greenleaf, C., Medbery, R., & Peterson, K. (1999). Factors affecting Olympic performance: Perceptions of athletes and coaches from more and less successful teams. The sport psychologist, 13(4), 371-394.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Aggression, Classification Diagnosis, General Psychology, mental illness, Personality, Personality Disorders, Prevention, Psychological Disorders, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As I contemplated whether to choose to blog on this particular topic I ran across the article linked below and while reading through it, for a number of associative reasons (I suspect), I was reminded of a song by Canadian Blues artist Lest Quitzau called Home on the Range. It contains the line “Welcome to America, ain’t it strange.” The song was on an album from back in 2001 but the line still reverberates today.  Specifically, what struck me as “strange” about America in relation to this blog topic is that America actually has a large enough sample of mass shootings in recent years (even on an annual basis) to ask the question implied by the title of the article. That question is something like, “what do mass shooters have in common?” The picture below is from the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shootings last October and last night while at the Calgary Flames game against the Florida Panthers we were asked to stand a minute’s silence for those killed just north of where the Panthers play at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There is a LOT in this that is strange. It is strange that a common response to such events is to dig into the North American and particularly into the American focus on individual responsibility is all things to try and figure out both what was wrong with all those shooters and what could have been done to identify them and their future actions early enough to stop them. Unfortunately, this strategy runs up against the documented research fact that if the issue is one of mental instability or mental illness (just if) then it places the individuals of concern into a very small subgroup of all mentally unstable or mentally ill persons – those that may become violent and, further, it places them in the even smaller (microscopic) subgroup of mentally instable or mentally ill people who act in mass violent ways. It is strange that there is profound resistance towards the taking of steps toward gun control in America and that State legislative steps taken in Connecticut following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012 has only managed to track (and only slightly restrict) access to automatic weapons and to limit the size of the magazines in such weapon to 10 bullets.

So….. while it may not be something you feel comfortable doing (and if so them please do not do so and move on to another posting) but reflect for a moment on what you have heard seen and read about the large American mass shootings dataset (its constituent elements are intensely focused upon I the news media) and see if any candidate hypotheses come to mind that could be applied to the question of what mass shooters might or might not have in common. Once you have done that, have a read through the article linked below.

Source: Mass Shooters Are All Different. Except for One Thing: Most are Men. Daniel Victor, The New York Times.

Date: February 17, 2018

Photo Credit: The Washington Post

Links:  Article Link –  

So, the explanation for mass shootings is NOT a clear mental illness. Shooters are often paranoid, resentful or narcissistic but typically NOT to the level of disorder and at least half have no clear evidence of mental illness before they start “crazy” shooting. As such, improved access to mental health care would likely not have resulted in therapeutic engagement for most shooters prior to their acting. A past involving exposure to or engagement in domestic violence may be a factor but certainly NOT a definitive one in that suspecting all involved in the perpetration of domestic violence of being potential mass shooters would result in exponentially more false positives than true positives (although engaging therapeutically with all who perpetrate or observe domestic violence would not be a bad idea). A sense of grievance and a desire for notoriety (particularly in adolescent and young adult shooters) are useful descriptors of mass shooter’s mental states but, again, taking social change or just pushes for social change personally would, like paranoia, resentfulness or narcissism, hardly get us focused closely enough on potential shooters in any way that would be preventatively useful. So what to do? It is not entirely and American problem. Canada had Marc Lepine at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, but that was nearly 30 years ago and was only followed by enough subsequent shooters to fill an automobile as opposed to the 2 to 2.5 busses that could be filled with American mass shooters in the same time frame (and American numbers are increasing – see the figure above). The big difference between Canada and the United States? Well its NOT psychology, at least in relation to the shooters (Marc Lepine certainly had a sense of grievance), hmmm, maybe it is access to guns? Ain’t it strange?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What psychological traits, issues, or illnesses may be involved in cases of mass shooters?
  2. Could any of the things you noted in response to the previous question be used to identify and stop or to at least warn more effectively about potential mass shooters?
  3. If gun control IS the best road to addressing the increasing rate of mass shooting in America what psychology will need to be brought to bear on the challenge such an approach would represent?

References (Read Further):

Berkowitz, Bonnie, Lu, Denise, and Alcantara, Chris (December 14, 2012 and updated February 18, 2018) The terrible numbers that grow with each mass shooting, The Washington Post,

Ansair, Sadiya (2014) 10 of the worst mass murders in Canada, The Toronto Star,

Metzl, J. M., & MacLeish, K. T. (2015). Mental illness, mass shootings, and the politics of American firearms. American journal of public health, 105(2), 240-249.

McGinty, E. E., Webster, D. W., Jarlenski, M., & Barry, C. L. (2014). News media framing of serious mental illness and gun violence in the United States, 1997-2012. American Journal of Public Health, 104(3), 406-413.

Fox, J. A., & DeLateur, M. J. (2014). Mass shootings in America: moving beyond Newtown. Homicide studies, 18(1), 125-145.

McGinty, E. E., Webster, D. W., & Barry, C. L. (2014). Gun policy and serious mental illness: priorities for future research and policy. Psychiatric services, 65(1), 50-58.

Ferguson, C. J., Coulson, M., & Barnett, J. (2011). Psychological profiles of school shooters: Positive directions and one big wrong turn. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, 11(2), 141-158.

Posted by & filed under Health and Prevention In Aging, Human Development, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, The Self, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: When you read the words “retirement planning” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Well, probably money and pension (and even at an early age you SHOULD be thinking about this) but what else should folks be thinking about as they approach and enter their retirement? I have written in an earlier post to this blog about Ikigai (search it) and about other retirement considerations beyond finances. What do you think folks approaching retirement should be thinking about from a psychological point of view? Once you have a few hypotheses in mind read through the news article linked below and see if any of what it suggests was on your list. Research links to some non-financial retirement planning ideas are down at the bottom of this post if you want to see if your ideas have been studied.

Source: What people don’t tell you about retirement, Dani-Elle Dube, Smart Living, Global News.

Date: January 3, 2018

Photo Credit: Calvert Investment Council,

Links:  Article Link –

So how did your hypotheses do?  Did you come up with one or two of the things that have been studied as part of retirement transition? Certainly, things like the changes in routine and the related shifts in day-to-day activities are important factors in retirement adjustment. The extent to which people’s identities are wrapped up in what they do occupationally can make for a huge post retirement transition. Bridge employment or encore careers are one way in which some people ease their retirement transitions. In previous postings to this site I have written about Developmental Life Design (mainly focusing upon how it applies to emerging adults) and much of what it involves could be a very useful part of peoples’ ongoing retirement planning. This, of course, brings us back to ikigai, the Japanese word on this topic referring to one’s search for inner meaning, self and purpose. Now THAT is a psychological concept worth exploring and what better time to do that but when you have more free time in your retirement! So, start preparing for this NOW by searching for the Developmental Life Design posts I put here at the beginning of this year (2018) and you will find what they suggest useful at ANY age.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Beyond financial matters what else should we think about a plan for as we look ahead to retirement?
  2. When should you start to think about these things?
  3. What sorts of benefits might you accrue today by thinking about retirement planning using Life Design concepts and strategies (regardless of your age today)?

References (Read Further):


Osborne, J. W. (2012). Psychological Effects of the Transition to Retirement/Effets psychologiques de la transition vers la retraite. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online), 46(1), 45.

Chamberlin, Jamie (2014) Retiring minds want to know: What’s the key to a smooth retirment?, APA Monitor, 45(1), 61.

Latif, E. (2013). The impact of retirement on mental health in Canada. The journal of mental health policy and economics, 16(1), 35-46.

Zhan, Y., Wang, M., Liu, S., & Shultz, K. S. (2009). Bridge employment and retirees’ health: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of occupational health psychology, 14(4), 374.

Wang, M., Zhan, Y., Liu, S., & Shultz, K. S. (2008). Antecedents of bridge employment: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of applied Psychology, 93(4), 818.

Reitzes, D. C., & Mutran, E. J. (2004). The transition to retirement: Stages and factors that influence retirement adjustment. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 59(1), 63-84.

Teuscher, U. (2010). Change and persistence of personal identities after the transition to retirement. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 70(1), 89-106.


Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Depression, General Psychology, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: Consider these questions. Is loneliness a problem for healthy human functioning and for basic health? If so, what is the current rate of (prevalence of) loneliness in the population? Does the rate of loneliness vary by age? Does it vary by other factors? What, if anything, should be do about this? From a psychological perspective should we look at loneliness as a symptom or as a causal factor? Once you have pondered these questions a bit a read through the article linked below which essentially asks how concerned we (as a society) should be about loneliness.

Source: Is Loneliness a Health Epidemic? Eric Klineberg, Gray Matter, The New York Times.

Date: February 11, 2018

Photo Credit: Jing Wei, The New York Times

Links:  Article Link –

So did you notice the relative lack of psychology in the article? The article itself is more general, more sociological, and somewhat critical of how research is sourced and utilized in making arguments about things like loneliness. Essentially it tells us that claims about the prevalence of loneliness these days have been overstated and the rate of loneliness in the general population is about where it was back in the 1940’s.  This despite concerns over the potential levels of social isolation associated with the massive prevalence of the use of social media and other factors that reduce the level of genuine face-to-face interactions people typically have day-to-day and week-to-week. I suppose a more surprising finding might actually be that the rate of loneliness has not declined given that we can seek friends virtually through Facebook and other forms of social media. Be clear, loneliness IS associated with many challenging health issues including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes and with psychological issues like depression and anxiety. What we need to do is to not leap to conclusions about levels of social, isolation but, rather, to think carefully about what sorts of situations and circumstances give rise to loneliness and then think creatively about what we might do about it.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do today’s rates of loneliness in the general population compare to those in previous decades?
  2. How concerned should we be about the ubiquitous use of social media as a primary form of social “connection” these days?
  3. From a psychological perspective how concerned should we be about loneliness and what should we do about it?

References (Read Further):

Shankar, A., McMunn, A., Demakakos, P., Hamer, M., & Steptoe, A. (2017). Social isolation and loneliness: Prospective associations with functional status in older adults. Health psychology, 36(2), 179.

Matthews, T., Danese, A., Gregory, A. M., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., & Arseneault, L. (2017). Sleeping with one eye open: loneliness and sleep quality in young adults. Psychological medicine, 47(12), 2177-2186.

Smith, K., & Victor, C. (2018). Typologies of loneliness, living alone and social isolation and their associations with physical and mental health. Ageing and Society.

Cacioppo, J. T., & Cacioppo, S. (2018). The growing problem of loneliness. The Lancet, 391(10119), 426.

Nowland, R., Necka, E. A., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2017). Loneliness and Social Internet Use: Pathways to Reconnection in a Digital World?. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1745691617713052.



Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Neuroscience.

Description: When individuals do horrible things we, of course, want to know why they did what they did. We want to know if there was something specifically wrong with them and, in particular, we want to know if there was either something that could or should have been done to prevent the person doing what they did or something that would have indicated their horrible potential and serve as some wort of warning. Forensic Psychology is a growing area of work and study that involves trying to figure some of this out. Forensic Neuropsychology is a newer and even faster growing area that looks to the brain for clues to help understand why people do criminal, dangerous, or horrible things. On Friday (February 9, 2018) a forensic neurology report was released that reported on a neuropathological (a brain autopsy) that had been conducted by Dr. Hannes Vogel, the director of neuropathology at Stanford University on the brain of Stephen Paddock, the gunman who killed 68 people in Las Vegas last October before killing himself. Think for a minute about what sorts of things such a forensic brain autopsy might be looking for that could potentially be correlated with the inexplicable behavior of opening fire from a hotel window into a crowd at a concert and then read the article linked below to see what the brain autopsy found.

Source: Brain Exam Keeps Las Vegas Gunman’s Motive a Secret, Sheri Fink, The New York Times, February 11, 2018.

Date: February 11, 2018

Photo Credit: Wikkipedia Commons,_HE_1.JPG

Links:  Article Link –   

Well, the title of the article gave the result, or rather the lack of a definitive result, away. At this point in our developing understanding of the brain we are looking in such autopsies for things like tumors or stroke damage that could have changed how the brain works perhaps by lowering inhibition or bumping up paranoia or both or something else.  The brain autopsy could not tell us about the possibility of manic depressive and or anxiety disorder that were suggested by a physician who treated the gunman up to about a year before he opened fire and, even so, those issues may be only vaguely correlated with the Paddocks decision to short at the concert crowd. None of that would have been useful in predicting or perhaps stopping the incident and focusing on those symptoms runs a larger risk of stigmatizing the huge number of people who deal with manic depressive or anxiety disorders without picking up a gun. The one possibly anomalous finding was a preponderance of corpora amylacea which are small spheres comprised of carbohydrates, proteins and other substances attached to a number of brain structures. The presence of corpora amylacea are related to age but also to Alzheimer’s. Their presence in high numbers as seen in Paddock’s brain could be an indication that “something is not right” according to scientists involved in research into corpora amylacea. What their presence in Paddock’s brain might mean is not at all clear, and, as always, more research is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of anomalies might a forensic post mortem study of a brain from a person like Stephen Paddock be looking for?
  2. What did the neuropathologist in this case conclude?
  3. What research might we do (or imagine doing) in order to better understand the role of corpora amylacea in human behavior in general and possibly in forensic neuropsychology in particular?

References (Read Further):

Schmidt Case, Mary (2016) Forensic Neuropathology, Medscape,

Forensic Psychology and Neuropsychology: What are the differences?

Hom, J. (2003). Forensic Neuropsychology: are we there yet? Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 18(8), 827-845.

Cisse, S., Perry, G., Lacoste-Royal, G., Cabana, T., & Gauvreau, D. (1993). Immunochemical identification of ubiquitin and heat-shock proteins in corpora amylacea from normal aged and Alzheimer’s disease brains. Acta neuropathologica, 85(3), 233-240.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Learning, Personality, Social Psychology, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Are you a courageous person? Do you know anyone who you would describe as courageous? Where do we need courage in our day-to-day lives? If courage is associated with dragon slaying and other sorts of battles, then perhaps we do not need it much these days. However, if courage is part of what it means or what it takes to take risks and to do things that we might find difficult then perhaps we need to be thinking a bit more about courage and about how to encourage its development in children and how to nurture it within ourselves. What do you think courage is related to? Is it part of personality? Is it in the genes? Is it related to the settings (family or organizational) in which we live and act? Once you have a few hypotheses in mind read the article linked below that describes three studies looking at these sorts of courage related questions.

Source: New Research Shows How to Facilitate Social Courage, Melanie Greenberg, Psychology Today.

Date: January 30, 2018

Photo Credit: Geralt/Pixabay

Links:  Article Link –

So, it seems that courage is an internal quality of persons that can be nurtured in childhood by the sorts of things that support the development of “grit” and determination and self-confidence. It is also something that can be organizationally encouraged by organizations that are “flat” (power is not solely held by authorities of bosses and not used to keep people “in line.” Courage is also associated with age in the same way that wisdom is associated with age (you only get it as you get older) and it can be modelled. All things to think about, if we would like to be more courageous in our lives!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is courage?
  2. What is courage related to, psychologically speaking?
  3. What sorts of things can we do to help children develop courage or to develop it within ourselves?

References (Read Further):

Howard, M. C. & Cogswell, J. E. (2018). The left side of courage: Three exploratory studies on the antecedents of social courage. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 17 January, 2018

Fiat, A. E., Cook, C. R., Zhang, Y., Renshaw, T. L., DeCano, P., & Merrick, J. S. (2017). Mentoring to Promote Courage and Confidence Among Elementary School Students With Internalizing Problems: A Single-Case Design Pilot Study. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 33(4), 261-287

Polirstok, S. (2017). Strategies to Improve Academic Achievement in Secondary School Students: Perspectives on Grit and Mindset. SAGE Open, 7(4), 2158244017745111.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Chronic Illness, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Neuroscience, Physical Changes In Aging, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Alzheimer’s main impact is on peoples’ memories, right? Well, we can debate the depth of impact of the various features of the disease but it is the case that more than memory is affected. Specifically, the array of frontal lobe functions involving various aspects of what is called Executive Function (thinking, reflecting, planning and overseeing other activities and functions) are also negatively impacted by the creeping spread of Alzheimer’s disease. This means that many of the things people do that keep them functioning and independent are threatened (e.g., things like preparing meals and planning outings). Drug based therapies that have impacts on the memory related symptoms of Alzheimer’s may or may not impact executive function. So what else to do? Well how about if it were possible to use something similar to a pace-maker (an implanted device that stimulates and regulates heart function) in the frontal lobes rather than in the heart? Think about what that might involve and what it might produce in the way of changes in executive function and then read the article linked below to see what a study of a few case-study interventions with Alzheimer patients suggested. By the way, brain pacemakers have been used quite a bit with Parkinson’s patients.

Source: Brain pacemaker study shows promise in slowing decline of Alzheimer’s, ScienceDaily.

Date: January 30, 2018

Photo Credit: Feng Yu/ Fotolia

Links:  Article Link –

So, while not a “cure” a brain pacemaker, like a heart pacemaker, may have a profound impact upon the disease course and the disease impact over time for potentially many Alzheimer’s patients and their families. Lots more needs to be examined but the prospects are quite interesting and intriguing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is executive functioning?
  2. How is executive function affected in Alzheimer’s patients?
  3. What do brain pacemakers do and what, additional research should we consider doing in this area?

References (Read Further):

Douglas W. Scharre, Emily Weichart, Dylan Nielson, Jun Zhang, Punit Agrawal, Per B. Sederberg, Michael V. Knopp, Ali R. Rezai. Deep Brain Stimulation of Frontal Lobe Networks to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2018; DOI: 10.3233/JAD-170082

Parsons, T. D., Rogers, S. A., Braaten, A. J., Woods, S. P., & Tröster, A. I. (2006). Cognitive sequelae of subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease: a meta-analysis. The Lancet Neurology, 5(7), 578-588.

Benabid, A. L., Chabardes, S., Mitrofanis, J., & Pollak, P. (2009). Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The Lancet Neurology, 8(1), 67-81.