Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Families and Peers, General Psychology, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Moral Development, Personality, Personality Disorders, Personality Disorders, Psychological Disorders, The Self.

Description: What is a sycophant? Well, colloquially we sometimes use the term “suck up” as in “that person is a suck up” or “that person is really sucking up to the boss”. But what is going on in situations like that psychologically? There are a couple of hints for possible hypotheses in the pictures posted below. Have a look at them and then think a bit about what sorts of circumstances or developmental experiences might give rise to someone being a sycophant or to someone needing to have one or several or hundreds of sycophants around them at all times. Also think a bit about why this is a relatively new phenomenon, at least at the levels we have been seeing examples of it in the news lately. Once you have your thoughts in order read the article linked below and see what several psychological researchers have to say on this topic.

Source: The Psychology of Sycophants, Susan Scutti, Health, CNN.

Date: December 22, 2017

Photo Credit:  http://wordinfo.info/results/sycophant  and  CNN, Saul Loeb ATP/Getty Image

Links:  Article Link — http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/22/health/psychology-of-sycophancy/index.html

So, issues of praise and needing it to the extent that some seem almost addicted to it are part of what is at play here. As well, the dynamics of social media such as Facebook come into play. “Like mine and I will like yours”, “I have more likes that anyone in the world!” And all of this ties to narcissism as well and it all plays out with example after textbook example in media coverage of the political (and especially of the American) political arena. For a statement of concern about where this is at or where it may be going simply look at the title of the last entry in the References (Firther Reading) section below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is a sycophant?
  2. How does the behavior of sycophants play into the symptom patterns associated with Narcissism (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?
  3. What are some of the historical and developmental roots of the apparent jump in numbers of sycophants and narcissists in the last 20 to 40 years?

References (Read Further):

Matosic, D., Ntoumanis, N., Boardley, I. D., Sedikides, C., Stewart, B. D., & Chatzisarantis, N. (2017). Narcissism and coach interpersonal style: A self‐determination theory perspective. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 27(2), 254-261. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sms.12635/full

Sheldon, P., & Bryant, K. (2016). Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 89-97. http://www.academia.edu/download/40962052/Instagram_article.pdf

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, 0956797617724208. https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt5zq0d131/qt5zq0d131.pdf

Miller, J. D., Lynam, D. R., & Campbell, W. K. (2016). Measures of narcissism and their relations to DSM-5 pathological traits: A critical reappraisal. Assessment, 23(1), 3-9. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1073191114522909

Joiner, T. (2017). Mindlessness: The Corruption of Mindfulness in a Culture of Narcissism. Oxford University Press.

Buser, S., & Cruz, L. (Eds.). (2016). A Clear and Present Danger: narcissism in the era of Donald Trump. Chiron Publications.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Neuroscience, Physiology, Psychological Disorders.

Description: As the Dilbert cartoon below suggests there has been much research and more speculation about the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in explaining the focused nature of many people’s interest in video or online games. The American Psychiatric Association considered adding a disorder called Internet Gaming Disorder the latest 5th edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual but decided to include it as a special research category (needing more study). Internet-Based Gambling is covered in another category of Gambling Disorder. The articles linked below provide a general overview of this area of disorder and speculate as to possible brain based explanatory links. The most commonly noted link concerns the role of dopamine in the “pleasure” circuits” of the brain associated with basic pleasures like food and sex and perhaps also associated with the “rewards” of video gaming as suggested by Zimbu the monkey’s reaction to Dilbert’s new APP in the cartoon below. If you have not run across the connection between dopamine and video games before then read the two articles linked below for an overview. If you HAVE run across this hypothesized connection before then, as to you look through the articles try and think critically about alternative or additional hypotheses.

Source: Video Games Can Activate the Brain’s Pleasure Circuits, David j. Linden, The Compass of Pleasure, Psychology Today and Internet Gaming Disorder in DSM-5, Stephanie A. Sarkis, Here, There, and Everywhere, Psychology Today.

Date: December 19, 2017

Photo Credit:  Scott Adams Dilbert.com

Links:  Article Links — https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0 and https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201407/internet-gaming-disorder-in-dsm-5

As with a lot of initial hypotheses about links between sometimes alarming behavior in the world and brain functioning it may well be that the dopamine hypothesis for addictive video gaming is a bit too simple to be the only explanatory angle in play. If you are up for it, a couple of the articles listed in the References (Further Reading) section below provide concise reviews of recent research using brain scans and related techniques to examine what areas of the brain are activated during video gaming and what differences there may be in the brains of those individuals who meet the diagnostic criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder compared to those who do not. The array of ways in which video games engage our brains is rather amazing but then that is likely part of why the gaming industry is so lucrative ($99.6 billion worldwide in 2016, https://venturebeat.com/2016/04/21/video-games-will-become-a-99-6b-industry-this-year-as-mobile-overtakes-consoles-and-pcs/ ).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might the neurochemical dopamine be involved in video gaming?
  2. How might dopamine be involved in  the shifting of a bit of video gaming into a video gaming addiction?
  3. What other brain-bases systems, areas, or factors, might be involved in video gaming addiction issues?

References (Read Further):

Weinstein, A., Livny, A., & Weizman, A. (2017). New developments in brain research of internet and gaming disorder. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Aviv_Weinstein/publication/319311417_New_developments_in_brain_research_of_internet_and_gaming_disorder/links/59a32161458515fd1ff59845/New-developments-in-brain-research-of-internet-and-gaming-disorder.pdf

Weinstein, A. M. (2017). An Update Overview on Brain Imaging Studies of Internet Gaming Disorder. Frontiers in psychiatry, 8, 185. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00185

Nielsen, R. K. L., & Blom, J. H. (2017). Crimes Against Pokémon GO1: why dopamine does not explain the pleasure of video games. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joleen_Blom/publication/319153849_Crimes_Against_Pokemon_GO_1_why_dopamine_does_not_explain_the_pleasure_of_video_games/links/599559e7aca272ec908c4556/Crimes-Against-Pokemon-GO-1-why-dopamine-does-not-explain-the-pleasure-of-video-games.pdf

Choi, J., Cho, H., Kim, J. Y., Jung, D. J., Ahn, K. J., Kang, H. B., … & Kim, D. J. (2017). Structural alterations in the prefrontal cortex mediate the relationship between Internet gaming disorder and depressed mood. Scientific Reports, 7. https://scholar.google.ca/scholar?output=instlink&q=info:4XXIjjd70_8J:scholar.google.com/&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&as_ylo=2016&scillfp=11502996620639751515&oi=lle

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, General Psychology, Human Development.

Description: A seasonal question: at what point if ever should you tell your children the truth about Santa? Well, as any good developmental psychologist should, I am going to tell you to have a look at what the data says and the article linked below provides a number of things to think about in relation to this age old question. Think about what YOU think and try to link your thoughts to what you may know about children and child development (not just what you wish were true or are afraid might be true) and then read through the article.

Source: Lies about Santa? They could be good for you, Kristen Dunfield (Concordia University) The Conversation, Culture and Society.

Date: December 11, 2017

Photo Credit:  Shutterstock

Links:  Article Link –

https://theconversation.com/lies-about-santa-they-could-be-good-for-your-child-88855

Were any of your hypotheses or fears covered by research or theory from developmental psychology?  The data is pretty clear, children are not harmed by believing in Santa and, in fact seem to benefit from doing so developmentally. Parents can play along but they can also adjust their interactions (as they always should) to their children’s developmental level as reflected in the questions their children are asking. Again as always, address the questions actually being asked by the child, focus on what they really want to now not what you might think they should know. Let their developmental curiosity be your response guide.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. So, should parents tell their children about Santa at some age? And if so at what age?
  2. Are there positive outcomes from believing in Santa?
  3. What advice would you offer parents of children at 4, 6 and 8 years of age with regards to how to talk about Santa?

References (Read Further):

Shtulman, A., & Yoo, R. I. (2015). Children’s understanding of physical possibility constrains their belief in Santa Claus. Cognitive Development, 34, 51-62. http://www.academia.edu/download/39648129/Childrens_understanding_of_physical_pos20151103-13401-pwhrge.pdf

http://surveys.ap.org/data/GfK/AP-GfK%20Poll%20December%202011%20Topline_Santa.pdf

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/news/a41821/how-to-tell-kids-about-santa/

Prentice, N. M., Manosevitz, M., & Hubbs, L. (1978). Imaginary figures of early childhood: santa claus, easter bunny, and the tooth fairy. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 48(4), 618.

Anderson, C. J., & Prentice, N. M. (1994). Encounter with reality: children’s reactions on discovering the Santa Claus myth. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 25(2), 67-84.

Corriveau, K. H., Harris, P. L., Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Arnott, B., Elliott, L., … & De Rosnay, M. (2009). Young children’s trust in their mother’s claims: Longitudinal links with attachment security in infancy. Child development, 80(3), 750-761. http://dro.dur.ac.uk/10197/1/10197.pdf

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Group Processes, Human Development, Intergroup Relations, Personality, selfies, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, The Self.

Description: If you were born after 1980 then you are a “millennial”, at least according to Pop-Psyc (what non-psychologists are saying that is “based in” Psychology). And, what have you heard about your “generation”? Narcissistic? Entitled? Snowflakes? Etc. etc.? Other than the older generations dumping on the current youth/young adult cohort (believe me this has been going on for generations!) is any of this true? Well THAT sounds like a hypothesis doesn’t it? How about we look and see if it has been tested? The article linked below does a very nice job walking trough some of the current contradictory theories and findings in this area and even talks a bit about why the findings out there are so discrepant.

Source: Millennials are narcissistic? The evidence is not so simple, Christian Jarrett, Personology, Psychology, BBC Future.

Date: November 17, 2017

Photo Credit:  Getty Images

Links:  Article Link — http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20171115-millenials-are-the-most-narcissistic-generation-not-so-fast

So which line of theory and research feels more right to you (and yes I know what things “feel like” is not really scientific or thoughtful but nevertheless which feels right (based on what you know about how to evaluate theories and research in Psychology? Does Jean Twenge’s work based on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory track? How about Peter Arnett’s work on emerging adulthood? How about Brent Robert’s work on cross generational views? In sorting this out it is important to pay close attention to what one or the other of the researchers/theorists did, measured, or considered that the others did not. You may have to go and read the original studies to fully understand the differences but it is in those differences that you will start to see how the various research strands might start to fit together, where they overlap and where, it turns out, they are actually looking at different things or at least at things differently than are the other researchers. Sorting out such differences can be a very engaging way to get your head around an area of study within Psychology and this one may actually apply to you so perhaps that will make it even more interesting.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are millennials (university students of today) more narcissistic than previous students?
  2. What is the current state of the debate over answers to question 1 above with the Psychology research literature?
  3. What are some factors that might, at least to some extent, help account for the discrepancies within this research area?

References (Read Further):

Barry, C.T., Kerig, P.K., Stellwagen, K.K., & Barry, T.D. (Eds.). (2011). Narcissism and Machiavellianism in youth: Implications for the development of adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Washington, D.C.: APA.

Trzesniewski, K.H. & Donnellan, M.B. (2010). Rethinking “Generation Me”: A study of cohort effects from 1976–2006. Perspectives in Psychological Science, 5, 58–75. http://news.msu.edu/media/documents/2010/03/d86dd7ab-adb0-4887-a043-96b559595fe2.pdf

Twenge, J.M., & Campbell, W.K. (2009). The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. New York: Free Press. http://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/twenge2009.pdf

Twenge, J. M., Konrath, S., Foster, J. D., Keith Campbell, W., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Egos inflating over time: A cross‐temporal meta‐analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Journal of personality, 76(4), 875-902.  http://www.academia.edu/download/30457618/twengekonrathfoster2008ajop.pdf

Dingfelder, Sadie F. (2011) Reflecting on narcissism. APA Monitor, 42(2) 64, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/narcissism.aspx

Posted by & filed under Aggression, General Psychology, Intelligence, Intelligence-Schooling, Language-Thought, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Ah politicians are a never-ending source of possible research topics! Assuming you have not been successful in selectively ignoring any political news from south of our border (and if you have please tell us how, as long as it does not involve a lobotomy or copious amounts of alcohol!) then you have heard about concerns and issues related to what is being referred to a ‘fake news’. I am not going to get into the “debate” about who is faking news, which news is fake, or why the person who is talking about it the most seems also to be the person most inclined to produce it or reproduce it via twitter. But, here is an interesting question that arises from that gnarly debate and that is; if someone who has been exposed to fake news is told by an authoritative (trustworthy) source that the news they have seen or heard is fake can and do they adjust their thinking so as not to take the fake news into account in forming their judgments? What do you think? And, keeping in mind that nothing is ever straightforward, what other variables are at play in the question of whether or if or when people can discount fake news “information” once they know it is not true?

Source: ‘Fake news’ study finds incorrect information can’t be corrected simply by pointing out it’s false, Eric W. Dolan, Cognition, PsyPost

Date: December 4, 2017

Photo Credit:  diy13

Links:  Article Link — http://www.psypost.org/2017/12/fake-news-study-finds-incorrect-information-cant-corrected-simply-pointing-false-50328

So, were you surprised by the findings of the study?  The key to putting fake news aside seems to be cognitive functioning or intelligence. People with higher levels of cognitive ability were better able to change their thoughts and evaluations of a person once they wee told that something they had “learned” about them was in fact fake news or wrong. Oh my but the implications of this finding for stereotyping in areas of the social world where fake news is found and at issue are immense and hard to avoid. It is worth reflecting a bit on how fake news should be thought of, approached and dealt with. But, of course, more research is needed before we use the results we have to start arguing for public policy, press regulation, or socio-political activity.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are people influenced by “fake news”?
  2. Can the effects of fake news be undone and if so for who and how?
  3. What sorts of things do the results of this study perhaps get us thinking about in relation to fake news, media policy and media activities (reporting guidelines)?

References (Read Further):

Roets, A. (2017). ‘Fake news’: Incorrect, but hard to correct. The role of cognitive ability on the impact of false information on social impressions. Intelligence, 65, 107-110.

Conroy, N. J., Rubin, V. L., & Chen, Y. (2015). Automatic deception detection: Methods for finding fake news. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 52(1), 1-4. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Victoria_Rubin/publication/281818865_Automatic_Deception_Detection_Methods_for_Finding_Fake_News/links/55f96b1608ae07629dea2f43.pdf

Rubin, V. L., Chen, Y., & Conroy, N. J. (2015). Deception detection for news: three types of fakes. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 52(1), 1-4. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Victoria_Rubin/publication/281818851_Deception_Detection_for_News_Three_Types_of_Fakes/links/55f96a9b08aeafc8ac24260e/Deception-Detection-for-News-Three-Types-of-Fakes.pdf

Chen, Y., Conroy, N. J., & Rubin, V. L. (2015). News in an online world: The need for an “automatic crap detector”. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 52(1), 1-4. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Victoria_Rubin/publication/281818866_News_in_an_Online_World_The_Need_for_an_Automatic_Crap_Detector/links/55f96b5d08ae07629dea369a/News-in-an-Online-World-The-Need-for-an-Automatic-Crap-Detector.pdf

Alowibdi, J. S., Buy, U. A., Philip, S. Y., & Stenneth, L. (2014, August). Detecting deception in online social networks. In Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM), 2014 IEEE/ACM International Conference on (pp. 383-390). IEEE. http://ai2-s2-pdfs.s3.amazonaws.com/e864/195ce2f24938893eaebb015a76c19ef31ca5.pdf

Silverman, C., & Singer-Vine, J. (2016). Most Americans who see fake news believe it, new survey says. BuzzFeed News. https://online225.psych.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/225-Master/225-UnitPages/Unit-02/Silverman_Singer-Vine_BuzzFeed_2016.pdf

Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Student Success, The Self.

Description: How quickly can you come up with a personal example of a situation where you’re a choice that you made (or did not make) resulting in regrets, wishing you had done something different or simply wondering if perhaps you should have done something different or not acted at all. If people are honest then they can usually come up with an example or two pretty quickly. It seems that having regrets (even if it just a few, …. too few to mention; according to Frank Sinatra in his classic “I did it my way”) is a part of being human. But can our experience of regret be managed and where does the whole business of regret come from? The brief article linked below provides a light overview of how we might begin to answer these questions. Give it a look and if anything there peaks your curiosity then have a look in the Further Reading section down at the bottom of this post for a few places to start expanding your understanding of regret.

Source: How to Have Fewer Regrets, Malia Wollan, The New York Times, Magazine.

Date: December 8, 2017

Photo Credit:  Radio, The New York Times

Links:  Article Link — https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/08/magazine/how-to-have-fewer-regrets.html

So, the onset of the ability to experience regret is developmental. That is, we have to be able to consider counterfactuals (coulda, woulda, shoulda…..) before regret is possible. From there it can be quite demanding. We can think of OCD as perhaps at least partially driven by regret (going back over a behavioural scheme over and over and over again). Regret can also figure in life choices. Leaving romance aside for another time, regret can play a central role in how we make decisions about things like our career directions. Think about this standard life process: you generate a list of career options, you gather data about what each is like, what each involves, and you think about what each would be like if you picked it and you narrow your choices down to 2 to 4 of the better options and then you  …. What?…….., you agonize…. Well, if you have difficulty letting go of counterfactuals you do and you especially do if you decide or believe that you have only made the right choice of a career path if it is, in fact, the very best possible career path for you (be the best you, you can be) and as a result your life could be quite miserable. This is a good example, however, of how we can benefit greatly from a mental set change. I think of this as akin to the travelers’ dilemma (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0TemlxiMdw&t=414s) . You are planning a trip to an exotic part of the world and you are going to stay for 2 weeks. You read extensively about what there is to do there you research accommodations, historical sites, day trips to nearby amazing places and you plan an itinerary. At some point either before you go or after you get there you will likely be hit with the paralyzing realization that you are not going to be able to “do it all” and there are going to be some wonderful things you are going to miss in or around your destination. So what are you to do? How are you going to be sure you put together the “best possible” itinerary? Agonize, agonize, agonize and regret regret, regret. Counterfactuals have you firmly in their life sapping grip! Except, you do not have to be in that place, full of mental/emotional agony and regret. The solution to the travelers’ dilemma that also applies to career and other life decisions is to shift you thinking and to start with the understanding that while there ARE many possible voyages or journeys, if you build one based on what interests you, what engages you and what energizes you, the results will be a wonderful trip (and a wonderful life). In my own work on identity development and life planning and decision making among people of all ages but particularly among emerging adults (18 to 28) an appreciation of this mind set adjustment virtually eliminates the “agonize” stage of the process and also virtually eliminates pre-and post-decision regrets. It is well worth thinking about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are regrets and how do they arise in the course of human decision making?
  2. How do regrets arise in the course of trip or life planning?
  3. What sorts of strategies make sense to you as ways of dealing with regret?

References (Read Further):

Krott, N. R., & Oettingen, G. (2017). Mental contrasting of counterfactual fantasies attenuates disappointment, regret, and resentment. Motivation and Emotion, 1-20. http://www.psych.nyu.edu/oettingen/Krott,%20N.%20R.%20&%20Oettingen,%20G.%20(2017).%20Motivation%20and%20Emotion.pdf

Byrne, R. M. (2016). Counterfactual thought. Annual review of psychology, 67, 135-157. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ruth_Byrne2/publication/282126362_Counterfactual_Thought/links/5640e30b08aebaaea1f6bd39.pdf

Roese, N. J., & Epstude, K. (2017). The Functional Theory of Counterfactual Thinking: New Evidence, New Challenges, New Insights. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. https://www.scholars.northwestern.edu/en/publications/the-functional-theory-of-counterfactual-thinking-new-evidence-new

McCormack, T., O’Connor, E., Beck, S., & Feeney, A. (2016). The development of regret and relief about the outcomes of risky decisions. Journal of experimental child psychology, 148, 1-19. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022096516000436

Feldman, G., & Albarracín, D. (2017). Norm theory and the action-effect: The role of social norms in regret following action and inaction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 111-120. http://mgto.org/wp-content/uploads/Feldman-Albarracin-2017-JESP-norms-action-effect-finalsupplementary.pdf

 

Posted by & filed under Cultural Variation, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Here is a good example of how we need to think a bit when we are going to try and conduct research into something like a social behaviour that we are fairly sure we already understand completely. If you were having a conversation with someone and, throughout the conversation while you were speaking they nodded their head regularly. How would you feel about that interaction? What about if you did not actually consciously notice the head nodding? Yes, of course, it would suggest that they agree with you but how might that behavior effect your liking of that person or your ratings of their attractiveness and approachability? Once you have hypotheses in mind in relation to these questions read the brief article linked below that discuses research into these questions. BUT, as you read the article, pay close attention to questions about the research and its generalizability, among other things, that occur to you as you read it. Those sorts of thoughts/questions are an important part of what it means to hold yourself, and others, to criteria of scientific validity and credibility in terms of our thoughts and beliefs about the social world and THAT is a big part of doing Psychology properly.

Source: Nodding raises likability and approachability, Science Daily, Science News.

Date: November 27, 2017

Photo Credit:  Kawahara J. and Osugi T., Perception, September 24, 2017

Links:  Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171127091602.htm

So, what additional studies do you think are needed in this area? It is particularly important to be able to think clearly about what other research is needed in areas where the behaviors in question are so much a part of typical social interaction. While we might not think of ourselves as biased when looking at research or theories about the impact of nodding on social interaction and social beliefs and expectations it is certainly true that when we think that we understand something (a social behaviour) outside of any knowledge or awareness of research looking at that behavior we DO run a risk of assuming we know all there is to know about that social, behavior and THAT IS a form of bias. No we do need to read or conduct research in advance of every single social move we make but we DO need to be aware that knowledge based on our personal experiences may NOT be generalizable. So, did you think of the need to replicate the described study with male anima’s and with real people? Good for you if you did (before the researcher raised those issues). But what else might we need to think and potentially do research about? Well how about the fact that the study described was conducted in Japan, a culture where nodding and bowing (https://www.tofugu.com/japan/bowing-in-japan/) are important and subtly nuanced features of formal social interaction. And what about if the study were done in India where a nod signifies disagreement? Cultural variation is often something we need to remember to consider especially when reflecting upon research into aspects of social interaction.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does nodding or head shaking impact our perceptions of others in social interaction?
  2. How might Jung’s view of dreams be viewed as different than that of Freud?
  3. What might we gain by taking some time to reflect upon our dreams (on those we can recall upon waking up)?

References (Read Further):

Takayuki Osugi, Jun I. Kawahara. Effects of Head Nodding and Shaking Motions on Perceptions of Likeability and Approachability. Perception, 2017; 030100661773320 DOI: 10.1177/0301006617733209

Kawato, S., & Ohya, J. (2000). Real-time detection of nodding and head-shaking by directly detecting and tracking the” between-eyes”. In Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition, 2000. Proceedings. Fourth IEEE International Conference on (pp. 40-45). IEEE. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ed53/ead39a3628ce64469d1884b1da380cdf2ab5.pdf

Fukunaga, N. (2006). “Those anime students”: Foreign language literacy development through Japanese popular culture. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(3), 206-222. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Natsuki_Fukunaga/publication/227759662_Those_Anime_Students_Foreign_Language_Literacy_Development_Through_Japanese_Popular_Culture/links/550c70dc0cf2752610961194/Those-Anime-Students-Foreign-Language-Literacy-Development-Through-Japanese-Popular-Culture.pdf

 

 

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, Psychological Intervention.

Description: If you have had an introductory psychology course you have likely learned something about phobias. Phobia’s are usually described as irrational fears. Learning theorists (John Watson foremost among them) argued that phobias are learned when a situation or object or animal is associated with a fear inducing stimulus such as an unexpected loud sound. Watson demonstrated the formation of such an association in his work with “Little Albert” (if you do not know that name then have a look at the links in the Further Reading section below and prepare yourself for a textbook description of unethical research behavior). A major challenge to the learning theorists’ view of phobias is the observation that some phobic associations are much much easier to establish than others. In simple term this means that phobias to snakes are common and easy to establish whereas phobias to chairs or bowties are either nonexistent or at least very difficult to create via associative terrors. What might that be? Well, perhaps we have genetically linked fears that were created through evolutionary forces. Think of it this way. Would children in hunting and gathering societies who though all snakes were cute and huggable likely survive to reproduce (and thus pass on their genes)? How about children who so love to look at vast open views that they rush right up to the edge of every cliff top they find to better see the new view? What about children who so love confined spaces they craw into every bear sized cave they find without a moment’s hesitation? I think you probably get the picture. But how to assess this claim? After all, as it sits, it is really just a good story, much like the origin myths of many cultures. So what sorts of things might we do, empirically, to at least partially test this evolutionary theory? Well, think about that and then, once you have, read the article linked below to see how the researchers who designed the study discussed went about addressing this question.

Source: Scaring Babies for Science, Bill Andrews, D-Brief, Discover.

Date: October 20, 2017

Photo Credit:  Sutterstock

Links:  Article Link — http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2017/10/20/scaring-babies-for-science/#.Wi3DgzdrzmE

Ethical considerations aside (no babies were harmed in the conducting of this study.?) the researchers demonstrated that very young infants show more signs of trepidation or fear when shown pictures of snakes or spiders that other things. While not entirely conclusive it seems likely that such early fears may well be “primordial” or genetically wired in.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are phobias?
  2. Can phobias be learned? Are all phobias learned?
  3. What sorts of ethical considerations might apply or at least be at play in relation to the study described in the article linked above?

References (Read Further):

Hoehl, S., Hellmer, K., Johansson, M., & Gredebäck, G. (2017). Itsy bitsy spider…: Infants react with increased arousal to spiders and snakes. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1710. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01710/full

Harris, B. (1979). Whatever happened to little Albert?. American psychologist, 34(2), 151. http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~grahamh/RM1web/Classic%20papers/Harris1979.pdf

Beck, H. P., Levinson, S., & Irons, G. (2009). Finding little Albert: A journey to John B. Watson’s infant laboratory. American Psychologist, 64(7), 605. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hall_Beck/publication/26890384_Finding_Little_Albert_A_Journey_to_John_B_Watson%27s_Infant_Laboratory/links/57b0894e08ae15c76cba2713/Finding-Little-Albert-A-Journey-to-John-B-Watsons-Infant-Laboratory.pdf

 

 

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Depression, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Physical Illness, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: In Egypt, rates of clinical depression are highest in December and rates of mania are highest in June. Why might that be? ….“Sunlight on my shoulders makes me happy” to quote John Denver. A signature line in a kitschy song but is there some truth to it from a clinical perspective? What do you think? How does being in sunlight make you feel? How might being in sunlight relate to things like mood and rates of recovery from physical illness, surgery and even depression? How do you think they might be related? Once you have a hypothesis in mind read the article linked below that will take you back to detailed observations made by non-other than Florence Henderson (nursing pioneer and inveterate data gatherer) and provide an overview of research into the possible impact of sun and of light therapy on a range of conditions and disorders.

Source: Sunlight is the Best Medicine, Abigail Strubel, in blog of Michael Terman, Chronotherapy, Psychology Today.

Date: December 1, 2017

Photo Credit:  wikipedia

Links:  Article Link — https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/chronotherapy/201712/sunlight-is-the-best-medicine

So what do you think about the relationship between sun/light exposure and many many positive things? If the results did not surprise you, what thoughts do you have about how it is that sunlight has the effects it seems to have? The work described is a good example of how certain things that have demonstrably positive clinical value can be used as part of treatment even if we do not actually know why they seem to help and what their mechanism of action actually is. The key is the collection of consistent and copious data that can support our treatment plans and remaining open to figuring out just why the treatment is having a positive effect.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the conditions and situations that seem to be helped by sunlight?
  2. How is it that sunlight has the effects it has been shown to have?
  3. What sorts of evaluation research design considerations should we have in mind if we were to attempt to evaluate the effects and impacts of sunlight therapy on disorders like depression, surgical patient recover rates and schizophrenia?

References (Read Further):

Hobday, R. (2007). The Light Revolution: Health, Architecture and the Sun. Findhorn Press.

Benedetti, F., Colombo, C., Barbini, B., Campori, E., & Smeraldi, E. (2001). Morning sunlight reduces length of hospitalization in bipolar depression. Journal of affective disorders, 62(3), 221-223. http://www.academia.edu/download/40104638/Morning_sunlight_reduces_length_of_hospi20151117-27862-1i7fsym.pdf

Lambert, G., Reid, C., Kaye, D., Jennings, G., & Esler, M. (2003). Increased suicide rate in the middle-aged and its association with hours of sunlight. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(4), 793-795. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.160.4.793

Walch, J. M., Rabin, B. S., Day, R., Williams, J. N., Choi, K., & Kang, J. D. (2005). The effect of sunlight on postoperative analgesic medication use: a prospective study of patients undergoing spinal surgery. Psychosomatic medicine, 67(1), 156-163. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.537.947&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Labban, L. (2017). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Vitamin D Deficiency and Diabetes Mellitus. of, 2, 2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dr_Louay_Labban/publication/319549782_Journal_of_Global_Diabetes_Clinical_Metabolism_Seasonal_Affective_Disorder_SAD_Vitamin_D_Deficiency_and_Diabetes_Mellitus/links/59b2d5a90f7e9b37434ea6eb/Journal-of-Global-Diabetes-Clinical-Metabolism-Seasonal-Affective-Disorder-SAD-Vitamin-D-Deficiency-and-Diabetes-Mellitus.pdf

Swanson, V., Sharpe, T., Porteous, C., Hunter, C., & Shearer, D. (2016). Indoor Annual Sunlight Opportunity in Domestic Dwellings May Predict Well-Being in Urban Residents in Scotland. Ecopsychology, 8(2), 121-130. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/eco.2015.0059

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Language Development, Language-Thought, Learning, Neuroscience.

Description:  You may have heard in and an Introductory Psychology course or in a Child Development course that when a mother talks to her infant (fathers too) the parent changes their vocal patterns by exaggerating aspects of their speech in what we sometimes call “Motherese.” You may have also heard or even seen video examples of how infants will babble conversationally and takes turns with their parent while the parent is talking to them. As well infants will synchronize their physical movements, so they match with the pace and tonal patterns in their parent’s speech when they are speaking to their infant. Given all of this, what might you predict about an infant’s brainwave patterns when their parent is looking at them and talking to them? Have a read through the article linked below and see what brainwave recordings of parents and infants interacting tell us about these interactions.

Source: Eye contact with your baby helps synchronize your brain-waves, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: November 29, 2017

Photo Credit:  University of Cambridge

Links:  Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171129104230.htm

So infant and parent brainwaves become synchronized when the parent is singing nursery rhymes to the infant but ONLY when they are making eye contact. What might we make of that? They key seems to be a mutual intention to communicate, signaled by eye contact. The synchronization did not occur when the parent was not making eye contact with the infant. It also seems that infants pick up on the deliberateness of the parent’s eye contact (when the parent’s face is slightly averted but they are still making eye contact). The infants also responded to eye contact by vocalizing more (again in turn-taking fashion). What might we make of this synchronization? One of the rsearchers indicates that while they are not sure what is driving the synchronization they are not yet thinking it is a form of telepathy. But is IS fascinating to consider what might be going on. Related work on empathy and mirror neurons might suggest that humans are prepared to engage in face-to-face communication and that the synchronization is an adaptive part of that process that assist with the processing of communicative context including things like body language. I was discussing this study with my wife, Erika, and she suggested a fascinating question. Given that one of the signature features of Autism Spectrum Disorder is a regular failure to make eye contact during social interactions it would also suggest that ASD individuals do not engage in this synchronization process while interacting with their parents or others. This gives rise to the question of what the impact of that lack of synchronization might be on the development of social understanding and on communication development and functioning in general for those with ASD. And, of course, one could also wonder if the lack of eye contact is simply a symptom of the disorder or, to some unknown extent, a contributory factor.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things “synchronize” when infants interact (have “conversations”) with their primary caregivers?
  2. How might vocal and movement synchronization relate to brainwave synchronization between infants and their primary caregivers?
  3. What might the relationship be between the lack of eye contact by children with ASD and others in social interaction and the development of communicative competence and social understanding on the part of the individual with an ASD diagnosis?

References (Read Further):

Leong, V., Byrne, E., Clackson, K., Georgieva, S., Lam, S., & Wass, S. (2017). Speaker gaze increases information coupling between infant and adult brains. bioRxiv, 108878. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2017/02/15/108878.full.pdf

Delaherche, E., Chetouani, M., Mahdhaoui, A., Saint-Georges, C., Viaux, S., & Cohen, D. (2012). Interpersonal synchrony: A survey of evaluation methods across disciplines. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 3(3), 349-365. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mohamed_Chetouani/publication/233807151_Interpersonal_Synchrony_A_Survey_of_Evaluation_Methods_across_Disciplines/links/09e4150dec32cd30f6000000.pdf

Feldman, R. (2007). Parent–infant synchrony: Biological foundations and developmental outcomes. Current directions in psychological science, 16(6), 340-345. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ruth_Feldman/publication/258834289_Parent-Infant_Synchrony_Biological_Foundation_and_Developmental_Outcomes/links/02e7e52aaa557db143000000.pdf

Tunçgenç, B., Cohen, E., & Fawcett, C. (2015). Rock with me: The role of movement synchrony in infants’ social and nonsocial choices. Child Development, 86(3), 976-984. http://users.ox.ac.uk/~soca0093/pdfs/TuncgencCohenFawcettCD2015.pdf