Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Depression, Emerging Adulthood, Health and Prevention In Aging, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: There has been much media discussion and a lot of individual reflection on how to endure the restrictions and losses of access, social contact, and even employment associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, we need to process our new current reality. On the other hand, many people are saying they are trying to limit their exposure to or are outright ignoring the mainstream media as part of their efforts to reduce stress and lower their anxiety levels. As I have written about in recent posts to this site (search Covid-19) Psychology has a lot to offer in the way of understanding, perspectives, and coping strategies as we adapt to and endure current realties. Though much less is said of this, our current circumstances can also provide us with opportunities for personal reflections, for focusing on wellbeing, and even for considering and starting to work towards new personal futures. What can you work on right now? You could spend some time thinking about and exploring your personal curiosities and interests, much of which can be done online. One of the most significant challenges to the development and implementation of a positive sense of personal identity, particularly for emerging adults today, are the levels of uncertainly and precarity in the world’s immediate and longer-term futures. Solutions to these challenges – positive pathways into the future — are not going to emerge out in the world and especially not in the world around us today. Where they ARE going to emerge is within individuals who are contemplating their futures. Seeking, nurturing, and building on your curiosities and interests will feed development of the sorts of inner purpose or compass necessary to help you find ways forward. Our current social circumstances can be seen to be making this longer term personal developmental reality clearer at the same time that it has provided us with an opportunity to start to work on it. How to do that? Well search Identity on this site for some suggestions. As well, if you are having difficulty thinking clearly due to anxiety then Psychology can help with that too. The link below will take you to the Coursera website and show you a course being offered for free by Steve Joordens a University of Toronto professor that, in just 10 hours, will provide you with some perspective on what drives our (VERY) basic and sometimes adaptive anxiety response. He then talks about how you can manage stressors and develop positive coping strategies for dealing with anxiety and avoiding depression. And, once you have all that mastered you can start working on the development of your identity and on building the sense of inner purpose that can serve as a life compass for before and after we get to go back out into the world.

Source: Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During Covid-19, Steve Joordens, Coursera, and the University of Toronto.

Date: April 4, 2020

Photo Credit:  Pintera Studio from Pixabay 

Article Link:

I am going to leave the afterword on this post up to you. Psychology has a lot to offer you in the way of understanding and insights into your current reality but, taking advantage of these things is up to you. Stepping back from you understandably activated vigilance and anxiety can be difficult but doing so can put you into a place with a new perspective on the current world and on your future with it. Take a few purposeful steps towards planning and living your future with purpose.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the things you notice about your current thoughts and feelings that may be linked to your general levels of stress and anxiety?
  2. Much of anxiety involves rumination or thinking in circles about unknowns, uncertainties, and possible noxious futures. Are you doing any of that and if you are what can you do about it (rather than worry)?
  3. What sorts of things are you curious about or interested in (and DO NOT say Corvid-19)? What could you do to explore those curiosities and interests right now and over the coming weeks?

References (Read Further):

Canadian Psychological Association Covid-19 resource site:

American Psychological Association Covid-19 resource site:

Life Design Suggestions (Mike Boyes – this

Posted by & filed under Cultural Variation, Group Processes, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Almost everyone is doing much more online in recent weeks as a result of social distancing requests and requirements related to the Copvid-19 pandemic. If you are working from home or completing the current school. College or university term online it can be helpful to know a bit about what Psychological research can tell us about how workplace meeting go and about how parameters shift or can be optimized when meetings shift from face-to-face to online. Think about what sorts of variables you think might be important or operate differently in online as opposed to face-to-face meetings and once you have your hypotheses in order have a read through the article linked below, and perhaps pursue one or two of its embedded research links and see how your hypotheses, and your recent experiences, map onto the Psychological research discussed.

Source: 4 Psychological Findings to Know Before Your Next Online Meeting, Kelly Strain, Helping People Connect, About the Collaborative Exchange,

Date: February 26, 2020

Photo Credit:  Tumisu from Pixabay

Article Link: the entire blog site is relevant as well

If you think about it, you will likely see that our adaptive standard for social interaction is face-to-face. This allows us to make use of many channels of information beyond just seeing the words other are producing. We can hear tone of voice and we can see facial expressions of emotion. We can see body language and we can track eye contact. We take all that information in often quite automatically and the result is that when we start to meeting others online for the first time the experience can be quite frustrating and disorienting. High quality communication in online settings requires planning and awareness of what is missing or harder to track. Connection quality is important, good audio, good real-time video and planning mechanisms to support turn taking and encourage general participation (it is NOT supposed to be like watching television). Managing local distractors like siblings, pets, children or distracting background noise is also important and something for which each participant must take responsibility. I suspect we will be seeing a huge spike in research and interest in online social interaction as a result of current circumstances with very useful results.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might an online conversation or meeting and an old-style face-to-face conversation or meeting differ?
  2. How might those differences impact the quality of online conversations or meetings?
  3. What tips or guidelines would you suggest groups consider before diving into their future meetings online in real-time?

References (Read Further):

Scott, P., Tomadaki, E., & Quick, K. (2007). The shape of online meetings. The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, 3(4), 1-16. Link

Pongolini, M., Lundin, J., & Svensson, L. (2011, June). Global online meetings in virtual teams: from media choice to interaction negotiation. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Communities and Technologies (pp. 108-117). Link

Kropf, R. (2002). How shall we meet online? Choosing between videoconferencing and online meetings. Journal of Healthcare Information Management—Vol, 16(4), 69. Link

Brooks, C. F. (2010). Toward ‘hybridised’faculty development for the twenty‐first century: blending online communities of practice and face‐to‐face meetings in instructional and professional support programmes. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47(3), 261-270. Link

Davis, K. (2012). Friendship 2.0: Adolescents’ experiences of belonging and self-disclosure online. Journal of adolescence, 35(6), 1527-1536. Link

Chen, J., Nairn, R., & Chi, E. (2011, May). Speak little and well: recommending conversations in online social streams. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 217-226). Link


Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Depression, Health Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Physiology, Psychological Health, Sensation-Perception, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: OK, what is the point of staying two arms lengths (one bicycle length) away from each other in these days of Coivd-19? Well, so we do not pass the virus but in effect, so we do not touch, even via a few drops at a short distance. While we are self-isolating, we can stay connected via phone, virtual meeting systems or social media so all is well right? Well, sort of, but look at this a bit more closely. We distance so we do not touch. By not touching (aside from not passing coronavirus or other viruses) what else are we missing? In other words, how important is touch to human well-being? Very early research by Harry Harlow that involved separating feeding part of parenting in Macaque monkeys from the haptic (touch) parts showed that while feeding is important it was the contact, the touch, that most strongly drove early attachment security in infant Macaques. Videos of Harlow’s work are hard to watch because of how much is missing from the lives of his tiny barely mothered infant Macaques but what does Psychological research since Harlow have to tells us about the value and role of touch in human mental health and well-being, especially now that we are potentially getting a lot less of it than usual? Have a look through the linked article and, while doing so, think about your current touch quotient as compared to a couple of months ago. The differences might be important.

Source: The Psychology of Human Touch: Why Physically Connecting With Others Improves Well-Being, Steven Handel, The Emotion Machine.

Date: March 29, 2020

Photo Credit:  Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, are you now worried about your current touch quotient? The phrase, “look but don’t touch” is typically used when we want people to be careful when they are within touching distance of something fragile or precious. We have all, essentially, been told to do this a LOT more than we perhaps did even a few weeks ago in relation to other people and it is worth reflecting upon the consequences this may be having for us. It is not clear what the “work around” for this current enforced haptic shortfall might look like (search haptic gloves online for an odd possible future) but it helps to notice that we might need to figure one out if we are to stay healthy mentally and physically.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the many (non-offensive) ways that touch is used in our regular social interactions?
  2. What sorts of things, psychologically speaking, does touch signify for humans?
  3. What sorts of things might we safely do to address our current touch quotient shortfalls?

References (Read Further):

Hutmacher, F., & Kuhbandner, C. (2018). Long-term memory for haptically explored objects: fidelity, durability, incidental encoding, and cross-modal transfer. Psychological science, 29(12), 2031-2038. Link

Fairhurst, M. T., Travers, E., Hayward, V., & Deroy, O. (2018). Confidence is higher in touch than in vision in cases of perceptual ambiguity. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1-9. Link

Crucianelli, L., Metcalf, N. K., Fotopoulou, A. K., & Jenkinson, P. M. (2013). Bodily pleasure matters: velocity of touch modulates body ownership during the rubber hand illusion. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 703. Link

Goldstein, P., Weissman-Fogel, I., & Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. (2017). The role of touch in regulating inter-partner physiological coupling during empathy for pain. Scientific reports, 7(1), 3252. Link

Suomi, S. J., Van der Horst, F. C., & Van der Veer, R. (2008). Rigorous experiments on monkey love: An account of Harry F. Harlow’s role in the history of attachment theory. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 42(4), 354-369. Link

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, General Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: The requests and demands for social distancing in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic are new and novel for almost everyone. In addition, the novelty of this experience and the serious uncertainty about how long it will last and what it will involve is adding to our anxiety and potentially eroding our wellbeing. While we wait for our immediate futures to come into better focus, it may be useful to see what Psychological research can tell us about the nature and extent of the impact of isolation and about things we might do to lessen the impact of our isolation on our mental and physical health and wellbeing. No need to try to form your own hypotheses before proceeding, simply read the article linked below and as you do so think about what the research it describes might suggest that could be of assistance to you and to other you care about. Consider this a Psychological prescription for positive reflection and action.

Source: What Coronavirus Isolation Could Do to Your Mind (and Body), Emma Grey Ellis, Science, Wired

Date: March 25, 2020

Photo Credit:  Alf-Marty from Pixabay

Article Link:

A lot to think about, at a time when we may already feel a bit overwhelmed with all that is spinning around in our minds. The article linked above is one example of the sort of opportunities for focused thinking that could be of great assistance to us at times like this.  A large portion of problematic anxiety often involves tendencies to ruminate or to go around and around with possible futures, possible threats and possible negative outcomes. This tendency, unfortunately, increases when the possible paths forward into the future are unclear and changing. Focusing on our local realities and by thinking about ways in which we can connect socially with friends and loved ones using the wide array of online resources available to many of us serves the dual purpose of recharging our social contact needs and giving us something to do that is not ruminative – a research-supported double win. Psychological research will continue to provide insights into our shifted realties as well as providing us with ways of thinking about and problem solving in our current novel social realities. You need to do more research and the effort in and of itself will potentially be Psychologically beneficial.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why is social isolation such a clearly negative things for humans?
  2. What does the author of the linked article mean by the line “Be kind to your local extrovert. They’re having a hard time.”?
  3. What sorts of things are you thinking you might try and work on in your own situation that could help address the potential impacts of isolation for you?

References (Read Further):

Singer, C. (2018). Health effects of social isolation and loneliness. Journal of Aging Life Care, 28(1), 4-8. Link

Rohde, N., D’Ambrosio, C., Tang, K. K., & Rao, P. (2016). Estimating the mental health effects of social isolation. Applied research in quality of life, 11(3), 853-869. Link

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. Link

Holt-Lunstad, J. (2017). The potential public health relevance of social isolation and loneliness: Prevalence, epidemiology, and risk factors. Public Policy & Aging Report, 27(4), 127-130. Link

Vega, G., & Brennan, L. (2000). Isolation and technology: The human disconnect. Journal of Organizational Change Management. Link

Baecker, R., Sellen, K., Crosskey, S., Boscart, V., & Barbosa Neves, B. (2014, October). Technology to reduce social isolation and loneliness. In Proceedings of the 16th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers & accessibility (pp. 27-34). Link

Posted by & filed under Cultural Variation, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Research Methods, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: If you are enrolled at a college, university, school at almost any level or work somewhere you have probably not only heard of but are now regularly using Zoom. What is Zoom? Well it is a platform that makes it possible to set up online meetings for everything from a friend’s chat, to a business meeting, to Virtual Office Hours, to a class presentation to 3 or 400 students in an introductory psychology class. From a Psychological perspective why do you think it is that the downloading and use of Zoom and other online meeting apps have skyrocketed in recent days? Also, whether or not you are now taking classes that suddenly became Zoom classes last week what do you see as some the potential Psychological benefits and hazards or drawback associated with using such platforms as replacements for what we did before? What sorts of research should we consider doing and how might we design that research given that essentially everyone is being asked to social distance? Finally, how might we explore important questions like will distant socialization (like Zooming) be an appropriate replacement for now old school “real” social connections?

Source: We Live in Zoom Now, Taylor Lorenz, Erin Griffith and Mike Isaac, The New York Times.

Date: March 22, 2020

Photo Credit:  Matthew Henry

Article Link:

I honestly do not have any answers to the above questions and, given how quickly the social distancing measures hit I have not seen anything but the rawest speculation out there and no research to speak of on the topic. Worth some thought and definitely worth some research. I can think of a few universities and a few tech companies who might be interested in such research (and maybe in finding such research). Interesting times!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might an online class and an old style “in a room” class differ?
  2. How much will those differences mater and to whom?
  3. What sorts of topic or content areas might a Psychology Online Social Interaction include?

References (Read Further):

Ally, M. (2004). Foundations of educational theory for online learning. Theory and practice of online learning, 2, 15-44.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies.

Kropf, R. (2002). How shall we meet online? Choosing between videoconferencing and online meetings. Journal of Healthcare Information Management—Vol, 16(4), 69.

El Mansour, B., & Mupinga, D. M. (2007). Students’ positive and negative experiences in hybrid and online classes. College student journal, 41(1), 242.

Lashgari, K., Talkhabi, A., & Nazarpour, M. (2011). Comparison between online classes and traditional classes. Nature & Science, 9(6), 18-23.

Wojciechowski, A., & Palmer, L. B. (2005). Individual student characteristics: Can any be predictors of success in online classes. Online journal of distance learning administration, 8(2), 13. Link



Posted by & filed under Clinical Psychology, Cultural Variation, Emerging Adulthood, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As noted in another recent post, and as you have no doubt noticed, there is a LOT is life change (and related stress) associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is worth reflecting for a bit on the changes we are experiencing that are not as objectively defined as a lack of income, a lack of entertainment options or a lack of toilet paper. Specifically, our social contacts have shifted so we are spending more time alone than usual or we are spending far more time with immediate family members that we usually do and consequently we missing or perhaps locally over-loading the consistency or continuity we typically rely on in the form of our unreflected social norms or social meanings. Think about what it typically means to a teenager when one or both of their parents tell them they want to “talk with them.” Think about what adults might be feeling as they speak with good neighborhood friends from opposite sides of the street or from their respective front or back porches. Social norms about social distance about the frequency and anticipated intensity of social interactions are all messed up by or current circumstances and we may not have really been consciously aware of them in the first place. When people describe their current living situations as chaotic, they are likely only able to point to or articulate a portion of what makes up that chaos. Think about it. You may feel that handshaking was just a stupid, useless social habit but for many people it had significant social meaning. It reflected trust, openness, and established a social distance that was thought to be comfortable for a friendly social engagement. Now we have to maintain a safe physical distance of about 2 arm lengths and while we know why that is (to make viral transmission less likely) we may not be automatically or effectively adjusting for the impact of these new requirements on the violations some of our social norms. Think about how many social norms, that you adhere to, are now regularly violated due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Not sure? Well, over 80 years ago Social Psychologist Muzafer Sherif used the Autokinetic Effect to demonstrate the formation of Social Norms. Individuals in a dark (light sealed) room were shown a tiny (point source) light several arms lengths away from them and were asked what they saw. All said the light was moving except that it was not moving at all, what was moving were their heads and eyes but, in the dark with no external reference points participants could not factor out their eye and body movements and so attributed them to the light. The amount of (illusory) movement they reported varied from a few centimeters to a couple of feet. Sherif then put different people into the dark room in groups and asked them to share their perceptions of movement and come up with a group consensus as to how much the light was moving and the results? Well, the groups tended to fairly quickly come up with am movement estimate that they all agreed with AND those estimated varied about as much as had those of individuals ranging from a few centimeters to a couple of feet. When Sherif brought group member back weeks later and tested them again individually rather than in groups they tended to continue to report that they were seeing the amount of movement their group had decided was happening. In the groups, not certain as to what they were seeing, they formed a social norm which then informed their individual perceptions month later even when they were alone in the room and they did not tend to say anything like “we voted on it and decided on this number so I am sticking with that” instead they simply reported what they were “seeing” even though it was a social (rather than an objective) norm. Social norms are not stupid habits, they provide meaning that we can assume or rely on in situations that do not have objective meaning on their own. Like handshaking, like many other cultural practices, they just are what they are. Over the past few days and weeks, a great many social conventions have been challenged or deemed dangerous. If Life Change = Stress then it would be a good idea to work at bringing some of these social norms and conventions that we are no longer engaging in to mind and at least acknowledging the costs, in terms of chaos, uncertainty, anxiety and stress associated with no longer being able to just do them. Just as important is to think about what we are going to replace them with. I mean, how do you modulate an elbow bump, wave, or bow in order to communicate the same social nuances that could be included in a handshake? In light of this, dismissing the lost opportunities for handshaking as just a stupid ritual anyway is a little bit like for preschool and early grade school children dismiss things they do not understand, like manners or thank-you notes, as “stoopid.”

Source: Is Obsessing Over Daily Coronavirus Statistics Counterproductive?, Ellen Peters, Opinion, The New York Times

Date: March 12, 2020

Photo Credit:  Gerd Altmann from Pixabay and kiquebg from Pixabay

Article Link:

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some examples of social norms that we use in some or many of our social interactions?
  2. What roles or purposes do the social norms you listed above play in our social interactions?
  3. Can you think of some ways in which we could or are replacing lost social behaviors such as handshakes in our social interactions going forward?

References (Read Further):

Sherif, M. (1937). An experimental approach to the study of attitudes. Sociometry, 1(1/2), 90-98.

Abrams, D., & Levine, J. M. (2012). The formation of social norms: Revisiting Sherif’s autokinetic illusion study. Social psychology: Revisiting the classic studies, 57-75. Link

Moscovici, S., & Moscovici, S. (1991). Experiment and experience: An intermediate step from Sherif to Asch. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 21(3), 253-268. Link

Walter, N. (1955). A study of the effects of conflicting suggestions upon judgments in the autokinetic situation. Sociometry, 18(2), 138-146.


Goldstein, N. J., Griskevicius, V., & Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Invoking social norms: A social psychology perspective on improving hotels’ linen-reuse programs. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 48(2), 145-150. Link

Lewis, M. A., & Neighbors, C. (2006). Social norms approaches using descriptive drinking norms education: A review of the research on personalized normative feedback. Journal of American College Health, 54(4), 213-218.

Rakoczy, H., & Schmidt, M. F. (2013). The early ontogeny of social norms. Child Development Perspectives, 7(1), 17-21.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Psychological Health, Research Methods, Social Psychology, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: This is another installment in my efforts to talk about, and to get you to THINK about what the Covid-19 pandemic and our experiences of it can show us about the nature of human Psychology. What I am suggesting is that we can learn more about ourselves and our communities and about how we might be able to move forward more positively (or at least less negatively) into our complex and uncertain futures if we use Psychology to help us reflect on ourselves and our social connections and social meanings rather than wasting time focusing on the Psychology or toilet paper panic buying and hand sanitizer hoarding. So, here is a bit of Psychology history. Back in the 1960’s two Psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe wanted to study how stress effects susceptibility to physical illness (somewhat currently relevant, right?). They wanted to operationalize stress in a way they could assess using a survey or inventory as opposed to biological measures. They came up with the idea/theory that stress was equal to or the result of life change. The more that things change in your lifer over, perhaps a year or two the more stress you will have experienced. Using general surveys and by asking experts (Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists – or stress experts) ratings they arrived at a long list of life change events and tagged each of them with a number for 0 to 100 indicating how much life change they involved. One insight they provided was that BOTH negative AND positive life events involve life change. So, while separation and divorce are fairly high in their assigned life change points getting married or reconciling are not that much lower down the list. Change is stress. Their biggest finding was of a strong correlation between life change (stress) and physical illness – more life change = greater likelihood of illness. Now, in the years since their initial work many caveats have been pointed out: E.g., their scale included illness items (which contributed to their correlational results) and their scale did not take individual interpretation into account (for some people separation or divorce are huge stress reducers). Nevertheless, as any of the articles listed below suggest, thinking about stress and life change can help us to see more clearly just how MUCH stress we are currently coping (not coping so well) with in recent days and weeks.

Source: Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of psychosomatic research.

Date: March 22, 2020

Photo Credit:  Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay

Article Link:  Life Change Index Scale

There are a multitude of How to Cope with isolation due to Covid-19 sites out there (many quite well done) but if you think just a little bit about the conceptual work behind Holes and Rahe’s Social Readjustment Rating Scale (Life Change = Stress) you can better understand why you likely are feeling so disoriented and perhaps anxious. As well, this conceptualization also suggests tings you can do to address your current Psychological situation.  Parents are being told to create and stick to schedules for your children (and for yourself as well). We have lost SO much social structure through imposed social isolation requirements and a lot of it we are not even aware of – think of all the little things that provided order to our days before like the ebb and flow of rush hour or of neighbourhood foot traffic. Setting a few new routines in place can relieve a LOT of stress and can help us to see that a lot of how we are feeling has to do with social norms and social conventions that we may not have noticed before. We are all now part of the Zoom generation (look it up!) looking for new ways to maintain old but essential social connections despite demands for social distancing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did Holmes and Rahe suggest that stress and social change might be related
  2. Sit down and write up a list of all the things in your life that have changed in just the past 2 weeks and pay particular attention (mark with a star) the things you added to your list that surprised you (that you were not thinking about until after reading this post and the linked articles?
  3. In light of this reflection what are a few things you can start doping right away that could mitigate the impacts (stress) some of the changes you put into your previous list?

References (Read Further):

Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of psychosomatic research.

Noone, P. A. (2017). The Holmes–Rahe Stress Inventory. Occupational Medicine, 67(7), 581-582.

Linden, W. (1984). Development and initial validation of a life event scale for students. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 18(3).

Grant, I., Gerst, M., & Yager, J. (1976). Scaling of life events by psychiatric patients and normals. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 20(2), 141-149.

Linn, M. W. (1986). Modifiers and Perceived Stress Scale. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 54(4), 507.









Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Consciousness, General Psychology, Group Processes, Health and Prevention In Aging, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As of today (March 15, 2020) the COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and there is a LOT going on at the international, national, community and individual level. The university where I am currently teaching a couple of courses has decided to finish this term with all our courses converted from face-to-face to online delivery models. We are all trying to figure out what this all means. Psychology can help us to do that in a calm, rational, and effective manner. As such my posts this week will all focus in one way or another on our current global (and individual) situation(s).  The Fact Sheet, linked below, provides basic information and links for additional information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic but it also provides something of a Psychological context for that information. While we are being inundated with information about our current situations the novelty of the situation and its potentially broad-reaching implications can leave us wondering what sense to make of it all, and uncertain as to how we should think, feel and act. Psychology can help with questions like “do I really touch my face that much?” to, “am I under or over responding to the COVID-19 Threat and how can I tell the difference?” Read through the article linked below and perhaps one or two of the articles in the further reading section below and perhaps at parts 2 and 3 of this week’s posts on this site for a bit of Psychological perspective.

Source: “Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Coping with and Preventing Covid-19, Canadian Psychological Association.

Date: March 13, 2020

Photo Credit:  CDC, Canadian Press

Article Link:

While a lot of the information in the fact sheet linked above could have been found elsewhere there are parts of the sheet, the Psychological parts, that could be quite helpful. In particular, the section on how to tell if you should seek professional help for COVID-19 related stress or anxiety could be very useful. One last Psychological word, from my perspective, experience as a Developmental Psychologist and from research in Developmental Psychology regarding talking with children about COVID-19. It is important for parents to listen very carefully to the questions that their children are asking so that they can answer those questions directly and specifically. Young children may be worried about getting sick (less likely than adults), seeing friends (restrictions on social contact keep everyone safer and will be temporary), or about their grandparents given what is being said about vulnerable populations (perhaps have children talk to grandparents on the phone to be reassured that they are well and safe). We adults need to remember that the broader impacts of COVID-19 on things like the stock market, the economy, work life and the health care system are likely not things children are worried about but they can and will notice our anxiety about such things and we can help them with that by helping ourselves. Psychology and science can help.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are you thinking about the current situation involving the COVID-19 virus?
  2. Are you strategically adjusting your search or and reflections upon information related to the virus in way that help you clarify your feelings and plan your actions?
  3. In what ways can Psychology help people understand and cope as effectively as possible with their current situations in relation to COVID-19?

References (Read Further):

Lopez-Goni, Ignacio (March 6, 2020) Coronavirus: Ten reasons why you ought not to panic, The Conversation.

Racine, Nicole and Madigan, Sheri (March 14, 2020) How to talk to your kids about COVID-19, The Conversation,

Mohammed, Manal (March 13, 2020) Coronavirus: not all hand sanitizers work against it – here’s what you should use, The Conversation,

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 2: Coming to Terms with Anxiety

Psychology of COVID 19 Part 3: Statistical Overfocus

The Psychology of Risk Assessment: The Case of the Coronavirus

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Health Psychology, Language-Thought, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: I have been thinking a lot about and posting a lot about anxiety recently — it is a central part of the current times what with COVID-19 and all. I recently finished teaching the section on one of my introductory Psychology courses having to do with Psychological Disorders and Treatment. Our class discussions about cognitive behavior therapy began by considering the three general over-generalizations that make up Becks cognitive triad of negative automatic thinking associated with depression (self as worthless, current world of noxious and the future as bleak) and then turned to the catastrophizing and over focus of negative possibilities associated with anxiety disorders. One question/comment that came up was a version of, “So, clinical psychologists point out people’s biased assumptions and tell them top stop using them?” A simple answer to that question could be “Well yes but how they help people do it for themselves is the cognitive behavioral key to effective treatment.”  But the problem with that is that it tends to treat the who business, the client, their anxiety issues, and therapy as an exclusively cognitive exercise. People who have tried to stop bad habits will tell you that it is not all cognitive and that simply deciding to stop does not tend to lead to much in the way of success. To understand why not it is helpful to consider the subjective experience of anxiety at the individual level of someone who is experiencing and trying to come to terms with it. For one such account of anxiety issues read the article linked below and, while doing so, think about what it may be suggesting about cognitive behavioral therapeutic approaches to anxiety.

Source: This Is a Good Time to Stop Fighting Anxiety, Laura Turner, Opinion, The New York Times.

Date: March 12, 2020

Photo Credit:  Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Article Link:

I think the most useful line in the article is this one: “Anxiety in inherently irrational – it deals in what-ifs and worst-case scenarios – and so, for me, it did not respond to training my mind”. The anxiety driving systems of our brains are evolutionary much older than the cognitive/rational part of our brains and as such we likely should be open to the possibility that they might, sometimes, hijack our thought processes. Put another way, feeling can be thought about and talked about, but they are not rational, they are feelings and they may not (definitely are NOT) consistently linked to objective reality. So, maybe the assumptions of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), while a part of cognitive behavior therapy, provide a usefully broader foundation for helping people with anxiety issues. Worth thinking about, especially these days.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the central assumptions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
  2. What is it about recurrent ruminative anxiety that might make it difficult to treat from a standard cognitive behavioral perspective?
  3. Who might benefit from ACT and why?

References (Read Further):

Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour research and therapy, 44(1), 1-25.

Powers, M. B., Vörding, M. B. Z. V. S., & Emmelkamp, P. M. (2009). Acceptance and commitment therapy: A meta-analytic review. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 78(2), 73-80.

Arch, J. J., Eifert, G. H., Davies, C., Vilardaga, J. C. P., Rose, R. D., & Craske, M. G. (2012). Randomized clinical trial of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for mixed anxiety disorders. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 80(5), 750.

Zettle, R. D. (2003). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) vs. systematic desensitization in treatment of mathematics anxiety. The psychological record, 53(2), 197-215.

Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2008). Acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: Different treatments, similar mechanisms?. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 15(4), 263-279.

Arch, J. J., Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., Eifert, G. H., & Craske, M. G. (2012). Longitudinal treatment mediation of traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy for anxiety disorders. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50(7-8), 469-478.

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

Psychology of COVID 19 Part 3: Statistical Overfocus

The Psychology of Risk Assessment: The Case of the Coronavirus

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Research Methods, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Here is a simple question. How many times each day these days do you seek out and look at the latest COVID-19 statistics (locally, nationally or internationally)? OK, that is what you say but is that really true (be honest with yourself, you do not have to share that with anyone else)? What might regularly checking or not checking the COVID-19 numbers relate to (correlate with) in terms of how people are coming to terms with, understanding, and coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic? Thank about that for a moment and then read the article linked below for one researcher’s recent efforts to address at least a corner of this question.

Source: Is Obsessing Over Daily Coronavirus Statistics Counterproductive?, Ellen Peters, Opinion, The New York Times

Date: March 12, 2020

Photo Credit:  Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

Now before you dismissively wave your hand at the article linked above and derisively declare it “correlational” maybe place it in a slightly broader context. COVID-19 aside, there has been growing evidence of an anxiety epidemic arising, particularly among emerging adults. A big part of anxiety involves rumination or mentally going around and around with what-ifs and could be and inflationary perspectives on the bleakness of future possibilities. In light of that COVID-19 is a an ideal “worry -toy” for anxiety prone people. Such anxiety fueled rumination over COVID-19 drives our inherent cognitive information processing biases. For example, looking and relooking at the current numbers of those infected and those who have died as a result of COVID-19 tends to have those who do so focused upon the increasing large numbers without proportionally contextualizing them and noting that many, many more people are not and will not become infected and a very large proportion of those that do become effected with survive with little or no discomfort. The researcher who wrote the article acknowledges the correlational nature of her research but indicates that she is following many of her participants longitudinally with is one of beginning to address the causal attribution question. Looking at the COVID-19 statistics CAN motivate us to take requests for self-imposed social distancing and handwashing more seriously but, it can also fuel a catastrophizing bias that, in tern ramps up anxiety. So, check your motives, check base-rates, and review your behavior and perhaps you will reduce your anxiety AND behave in more positive ways.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship between COVID-19 statistics checking and anxiety?
  2. How does this relationship relate to general issues of anxiety at the individual and at the socio-historical levels?
  3. What are several thigs people can do in order to reduce their COVID-19 related anxieties?

References (Read Further):

Christie, Tim (March 14, 2020) Study will look at perceived risk of new coronavirus in real time.

Mitchell, Cory (June 25, 2019) Randon Reinforcement: Why Most Traders Fail. Investopedia,

Obrecht, N. A., & Chesney, D. L. (2016). Prompting deliberation increases base-rate use. Judgment and Decision making, 11(1), 1.

Turpin, M. H., Meyers, E. A., Walker, A. C., Białek, M., Stolz, J. A., & Fugelsang, J. A. (2020). The environmental malleability of base-rate neglect. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 1-7. Link

Holzworth, R. J., Stewart, T. R., & Mumpower, J. L. (2018). Detection and selection decisions with conditional feedback: Interaction of task uncertainty and base rate. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 31(4), 508-521. Link

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 2: Coming to Terms with Anxiety

The Psychology of Risk Assessment: The Case of the Coronavirus