Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Psychological Disorders, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Are you in your room or in your home or apartment? If you are, look around and if you are not, close your eyes and call up an honest image of what it usually looks like. So? Is it tidy and neat or stacked and cluttered (or creatively flung about)? Also, is that state entirely your own doing (you live alone) or did you have help, or do you just have that sort of room mate and it has nothing to do with you at all? Well, regardless of how you answered those questions think, psychologically for a moment about what sorts of characteristics, personality factors or behavioral tendencies (of YOURS) the degree of clutter in your living spaces might be related to and then have a read through the article linked below to see what psychological researchers might have to tell you about yourself based the degree of clutter in your living spaces.

Source: The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter, Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Mind, The New York Times.

Date: January 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Getty Images

 Article Link: and

So, clutter correlates, in psychology research, with a tendency to procrastinate (no real surprise there) but also with stress and increasing life dissatisfaction with age. Cluttered living spaces add most stress to the person who feels responsible for it or who thinks they are viewed as responsible for dealing with it suggesting that there are some gender related stigma attached to clutter that should be addressed both personally and in relationships. The note about the possibility of over-attachment to some of our objects making it hard to declutter is interesting as well. That was certainly some thing that was often shown in that spate of television shows showing interventions with hoarders who seemed to do better with the exit of their hoard if they did not handle much of it throughout the process ( It is worth thinking a bit about how we relate to our things, especially when they start to pile up and threaten to overwhelm us.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does your level of living space clutter (from non-existent to high) relate top how you feel, especially when you are supposed to be relaxing and de- stressing in the evening?
  2. How might you figure out if the stated relationships between clutter, stress and wellbeing are causal or correlational?
  3. The television shows I mentioned from a few years ago showing interventions, by relatives and usually up against threatened evictions, of hoarders showed a clearly disordered pattern of behavior. Is there a relationship between clutter and hoarding and if so what sort of relationship is it (one of degree or is there a qualitative distinction)?

References (Read Further):

Ferrari, J. R., & Roster, C. A. (2018). Delaying disposing: examining the relationship between procrastination and clutter across generations. Current Psychology, 37(2), 426-431.

Ferrari, J. R. (2018). Introduction to “Procrastination, Clutter, & Hoarding”. Current Psychology, 37(2), 424-425.

Saxbe, D., & Repetti, R. L. (2010). For better or worse? Coregulation of couples’ cortisol levels and mood states. Journal of personality and social psychology, 98(1), 92.

Saxbe, D. E., & Repetti, R. (2010). No place like home: Home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(1), 71-81.

Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Tolin, D. F. (2011). Comorbidity in hoarding disorder. Depression and anxiety, 28(10), 876-884.

Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Grisham, J. (2004). Measurement of compulsive hoarding: saving inventory-revised. Behaviour research and therapy, 42(10), 1163-1182.

de la Cruz, L. F., Nordsletten, A. E., Billotti, D., & Mataix‐Cols, D. (2013). PHOTOGRAPH‐AIDED ASSESSMENT OF CLUTTER IN HOARDING DISORDER: IS A PICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS?. Depression and anxiety, 30(1), 61-66.

Frost, R. O., Hristova, V., Steketee, G., & Tolin, D. F. (2013). Activities of daily living scale in hoarding disorder. Journal of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, 2(2), 85-90.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Most of us know, at least on a good day, that people need to care more about climate change. What we tend to do with that, though, is to point to other people as being the ones to blame for this lack of caring and lack of significant action — like politicians who ask how there could be global warming when it is so cold outside? But, in fact, the “why don’t we care about climate change” question could be asked of most of us. But before you get defensive, consider this: maybe the problem is NOT that we do not care but that we cannot seem to hold the need for climate related behavior change high enough in our day-to-day list of action priorities to make consistent positive changes and maybe we cannot do that NOT because we are uncaring or stupid or generationally selfish but maybe it has something to do with how our brains work. Think about THAT for a minute and then go and read the article linked below that digs deeply into this possibility.

Source: Why Don’t We Care About Climate Change? Dan Gardner, Opinion, The Globe and Mail.

Date: December 21, 2018

Photo Credit: Bryan Gee (Getty Images)

Article Link:

I particularly like how Dan Gartner (the author of the linked article) uses climate change as a way to help us understand Daniel Kahneman’s theory of Fast (System 1) and Slow (System 2) thinking and then then shows us how we can, perhaps, get people moving on climate change by understanding why we are having trouble with the sort of sustained long-term thinking needed to grapple with climate change as opposed to simply thinking about the weather. It is not that we are all in denial about climate change but rather that we are all using brains evolved for living and adapting without the long-term perspective that made it possible for us to notice and then to care about climate change in the first place. Psychology can help us change or social and personal tactics to start to affect a difference in climate change, hopefully be fore it is too late!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the reasons (aside from those in the linked article) that you have heard for why we cannot seem to get people to care enough about climate change?
  2. What are some of the reasons provided in the linked article for why we cannot seem to get people to care enough about climate change?
  3. What are some ways in which we can put your answer to question 2 above into play to get people moving individually on positive climate change initiatives?

References (Read Further):

Brief overview of Daniel Kahneman’s Fast/Slow thinking:

Not so brief overview of Daniel Kahneman’s Fast/Slow thinking, by the man himself:

Moser, S. C., & Ekstrom, J. A. (2010). A framework to diagnose barriers to climate change adaptation. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 201007887.

Biesbroek, R., Lesnikowski, A., Ford, J. D., Berrang‐Ford, L., & Vink, M. (2018). Do Administrative Traditions Matter for Climate Change Adaptation Policy? A Comparative Analysis of 32 High‐Income Countries. Review of Policy Research, 35(6), 881-906.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I am writing this post on New Years Eve Eve (Dec 30) and thought it might be timely to link back to a series of posts I put up last year at this time. New Year’s often involves resolutions, stated intentions to do something differently and better than before. The previous posts linked in the Further Reading section below look at an area of particular interest to me which we could call developmental resolutions. Developmental resolutions are a way to talk about how emerging adults (18 to 25-9 year old’s) plan, commit to and engage in the steps they need to take to make the transition form childhood/adolescence to adulthood. Whether this process is examined from the perspective of Identity Development, Life Design, College/University preparedness or readiness (they are not the same), or whatever it is a process of, hopefully, thoughtfully examining your past accomplishments, your current interests and skills, the current world around you and where it seems to be headed in the future and making some developmental resolutions about your own career, relationship, and community/political future. This differs from earlier developmental moments (like starting to think symbolically at around 2 years of age or starting to think logically at around 5 or 6 years of age) that make it possible for you to see the world around you as it is more clearly. Rather, the developmental moment of emerging adulthood involves realizing that you can make you own clarity in the world. What does that mean? Well some data (an example) might help. Highschool guidance counsellors used to tell their students to pick a career and then go do it and that was good advice when the world was simpler and the pathways into career and adulthood more clearly marked and more stable than they are today. At least that is how it feels. You may have heard references to a 1999 study which stated that 65% of the jobs then grade school children would end up doing did not yet exist or reference to a more recent 2017 study which suggested that the percentage of yet to be invented jobs is now up to 85%. Now this may not actually be true (see Derek Newton’s article for a detailed analysis), but the general thought that it might be even a little bit true is making parents twitchy (to use a technical term) and high school and college/University students significantly more anxious than previous generations of students (see the Jean Twenge references below). What those who write about the jobs-no-invented-yet theme typically do not do is provide specific examples about what emerging adults can do about this developmental challenge, other than perhaps suggesting the development of a commitment to lifelong learning (which is not bad advice but a little vague). So, here is an example. The article linked below talks about how this precise problem is being addressed in the emerging photonic sector (using light, or photons, as an energy source rather than electricity resulting, potentially, in “light-based technologies [that] are energy-efficient, reliable and fast.” The article explains how industry and post-secondary institutions are partnering to provide training and development opportunities for current students and those already working to prepare them for coming-but-not-here-yet jobs of the near future. As you read through the article pay particular attention to what is suggests about what the developmental resolutions of today’s emerging adults might look like and how you can make some of your own developmental resolutions this year.

Source: Teaming Up on Technology, Ellen Rosen, Fast Forward, Learning, The New York Times.

Date: December 16, 2018

Photo Credit: SUNY (Cleanroom facility at SUNY)

Article Link:

Even if you are not inclined to aim to enter the emerging field of photonics there are a n umber of potentially useful take-aways for you in the article linked above. First, it can prime you to read look and listen for references to similar initiatives in other areas, that may be of more interest to you. While it IS true that emerging adulthood involves charting your way into a future that you will make happen you may not be as alone in that as it might feel or as the 65% or 85% of jobs-not-yet-invented themes suggests. Second, the article suggests that while it may seem somewhat daunting to be designing your life in an increasingly uncertain world at least, if you are currently a high school student or an emerging adult, you have the time and the opportunity to develop and work on some wayfinding skills, unlike those already working in the world who will likely have to re-tool on the fly. Finally, there is also more specific advice in the article regarding the importance of including some training in “softer skills like public speaking, teamwork, and collaboration” in your developmental resolution plans. Maybe in the future it will be New Year’s all year around?!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is being a high school student or an emerging adult different today that 20, 30, or 40 years ago?
  2. What are developmental resolutions and how do they fit it with one or another of the various theoretic accounts of factors within emerging adulthood noted above?
  3. What are some examples (you have heard about) of other areas of discussion and/or collaboration like those in the photonics domain discussed in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Blog Series on Developmental Life Design


Degree of Independence and Social Media: Socio-Historical Impacts on Development in Emerging Adulthood

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

Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among US adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17.

Twenge, J. M., Martin, G. N., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Decreases in psychological well-being among American adolescents after 2012 and links to screen time during the rise of smartphone technology.

Twenge, J. M. (2018). Amount of Time Online Is Problematic if It Displaces Face-to-Face Social Interaction and Sleep. Clinical Psychological Science, 2167702618778562.

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 12, 271-283.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Families and Peers, Group Processes, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Do you remember a time when you and your friends did something a bit ill-advised or a bit sketchy and when your parents asked why you went along you said, “because all my friends were doing it”? And, of course, one or the other or both of your parents said …. what? …. “if your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too?” The parental point was some version of the belief that sometimes going along with a group just because it is the group is not smart or responsible (or even legal). We are supposed to be individuals, to make our own decisions, and not get dragged along by the mob that our parents were worried our peers could become. Our parents thought they had reason for concern. Have you (you must have) heard about the Asche conformity experiments? Solomon Asch, a social psychologist after the second world war, was trying to figure out why people go along with a group even if the group seems to be making bad decisions. He had a group of university students come into his lab and do a simple line judgement task. They would be shown one line and asked to pick which of several other lines was the same length as the select line (one was, and one was longer, and another was shorter). Unbeknownst to the one naive participant in the study all of the other “participants” were confederates of the experimenter (working for him and told what to say). The one naïve participant was seated so they always answered last in the group. (Have a look: ). If you were in that group and everyone else in the group was making what seemed to you to be a wrong choice (picking a line that did NOT match the test line) what would you do when your turn came along? The classic finding in that study was that most people go along with the group some of the time, even when they believe the group is wrong (and even when they are led to believe they are all just a bunch of research volunteers and not otherwise a group. So, we go along with groups even when it is barely a group (see why our parents were worried?). Just how strong is this minimal group membership effect? What if you never actually met the other members of your “group”? What do you think would happen then? Once you have your answer in mind, read the article linked below that describes an recent experiment in minimal group formation and impact.

Source: People adopt made-up social rules to be part of a group, John Timmer, ARS Techinca.

Date: December 28, 2018

Photo Credit:

 Article Link:

So, why is it that we seem to be “built” to notice the groups we are in and to go along with those groups in areas where we could just as easily have our own opinion (so not when the group is made up of friends whose positive regard we care about)? Well, as you think about that consider this…. Before Solomon Asch was doing his early research, another social psychologist named Muzafer Sherif was also conducting a study. He placed research volunteers into a dark (light sealed) room and after they had dark adapted he turned on a point light source (a light so small that while it was easy to see it did not light up anything else in the room, it was just there by itself, and asked individuals to tell him whether the light was moving and if so to judge how much it seemed to be moving. The light was perfectly still but everyone saw it as moving because their eyes and head were moving, and they had no external reference points to use to cancel those movements out of their perceptions. When asked how much the light was moving individual judgments varied from a few centimeters to many centimeters. If Sherif had people go into the room in groups (not friends just groups of random research volunteers) they all said the light seemed to be moving and when asked to take turns saying how much it was moving their judgements converged so that they eventually agreed on how much the light seemed to be moving. Across groups of volunteers the judgments varied about as much as they had varied across individuals, but all groups agreed on an amount of movement. Sherif also had the participants come back individually months later and when he placed them back in the room by themselves and turned on the small light, they all tended to stick with the amount of movement they had agreed to with their group in the dark months earlier. So, what is the difference between the Asch study and the Sherif study? Well think about this. When they believed (in the Asch study) the group was wrong, people went along with the group 37% of the time but when they were in the dark (in Sherif’s study) they went along 100% of the time. When there is no obvious meaning we (in our groups) make a social norm and then stand by it. Think about this from an evolutionary perspective. In the hunting and gathering tribes and communities we evolved into we were in the dark about a lot of things and forming social norms and group connections made the world manageable and, perhaps, kept us alive. So perhaps this group loyalty (sometimes called tribalism) is built into us and cone some time be a good thing. The trick, of course, is finding ways to make sure we are not being overly Paleolithic in our choices of belief and action.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the difference between Asch’s conformity and Sherif’s Social Norm formation?
  2. What sorts of things can and should we do to keep a check on how group versus individually focused we are in terms of our decision making (it’s not just about jumping off bridges)?
  3. Thinking about these different definitions of conformity and the different impacts they have on decision making can you see some ways they might be applied to the current (American or global) political climate?

References (Read Further):

Pryor, C., Perfors, A., & Howe, P. D. (2018). Even arbitrary norms influence moral decision-making. Nature Human Behaviour, 1.

Pryor, C., Perfors, A., & Howe, P. D. (2018). Reversing the endowment effect. Judgment and Decision Making, 13(3), 275.

Asch, S. E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: I. A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological monographs: General and applied, 70(9), 1.

Larsen, K. S., Triplett, J. S., Brant, W. D., & Langenberg, D. (1979). Collaborator status, subject characteristics, and conformity in the Asch paradigm. The Journal of Social Psychology, 108(2), 259-263.

Bond, R., & Smith, P. B. (1996). Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch’s (1952b, 1956) line judgment task. Psychological bulletin, 119(1), 111.

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

Gregory, R. L., & Zangwill, O. L. (1963). The origin of the autokinetic effect. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15(4), 252-261.

Bradley, A. B. (2012). Review of” The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt. Journal of Markets & Morality, 15(2).

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual Cognitive Measures, Emerging Adulthood, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence-Schooling, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Do you get, or/and do you think that your life would be entirely on the right path if, you got straight A’s in college/university? Well on the one hand, of course it would, right? Grades are the markers of accomplishment and content mastery in post-secondary institutions and, it might be said, the only serious metric we should be using to determine outcome standing or how well graduating students compare to their fellow graduates as we look to hire them. But even from within Industrial Organization (IO) Psychology that studies issues in recruitment, section, performance and retention within after-graduation jobs/careers there is ambivalence about this. IO psychology (I am just finishing teaching a survey course in IO Psychology) tell us cognitive ability, as reflected in things like IQ test scores and college/university grades, is one of the best predictors of positive job performance after hiring when compared to other measurable things like personality (though conscientiousness is a close second) and harder to measure things like interview performance. Yet…. IO Psychological research also tells us that “the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years” (see linked article and see Further Reading for the reference to this research).

Where should we go with this? Well, one possibility is to dig in statistically and point out that academic grades do not differentiate performance among Google employees because everyone comes in the hiring door at Google with or nearly with a 4.0 GPA and thus the restricted range problem accounts for the apparent big drop in predictability. This leads to a second possible “where we should go from here” option, that is, when everyone’s grades are equal at the beginning of their employment then, obviously, other things will predict differences in their job performance, assuming we can figure out what those things might be and measure them validly. See what the author of the linked article says about what academic grades “rarely assess” for some examples. We can feel like we are advancing this option by pointing to individuals who we know to be VERY successful and yet, we may be surprised to hear, did not do so well in terms of post-secondary GPA. The article linked below tells us about Steve Jobs, J. K. Rowling, and Rev. Martin Luther King’s university lowish GPA’s. Now, before you read the article linked below think about this: Is telling straight A hyper-focused students to ease back and look to do things like smell roses, take academic risks and broaden their interests a good or safe or fair thing to do, especially when the majority of colleges and universities really only offer one clear metric by which students can track their “progress” through their post-secondary academic experiences – that being grades?

Source: What Straight-A Students Get Wrong, Grant Adam, The New York Times. See also the letter to the editor regarding this article.

Date: December 8, 2018 and December 22, 2018

Photo Credit: Linda Huang, The New York Times

 Article Link: and

So, what do you think? Is it fair or helpful to have researchers and commentators say the “wish I knew then what I know now” sorts of things we most often hear about the college/university experience when the only metric students can clearly see as being available to them to track their “progress” through their post-secondary studies are grades? The students, current and alumni, who sent letters to the editor regarding the linked article seem to largely argue in support of the “grades are important” view. The author of the linked article suggests a number of things that colleges and universities and employers might do to lessen the focus (obsession?) with grades but that strategy seems to be based on the hope that if the one line of clarity or future-enabling metric students can see is undercut a bit that they will find some of the other things that will turn out to be of value to them later by themselves in the fog uncertainty about just what those things will be that swirls around and through post-secondary academic institutions. What is harder to find and what, I think, we need more of, are efforts to shine some clarifying lights on other developmental opportunities and metrics available to students in college/university, in what has been referred to (see John Warner’s blog) as the broader current historical reality of scarcity and precarity (swirling fog) that surrounds not just our post-secondary academic institutions but the world at large these days. Maybe students are clinging to grades as the only lifeline we are currently offering them within colleges and univesities. We ought to be doing better than this.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How important are college/university grades?
  2. Are there other things that are important about college/university opportunity that are not captured by grades and if so, what are they?
  3. Rather than generating lists of things that colleges and universities should be doing differently (an important things to do) what sorts of things should/could students do to move towards defining a broader developmental post-secondary pathway for themselves as they move through college/university (and email your thoughts on this to me please!

References (Read Further):

Baird, L. L. (1985). Do grades and tests predict adult accomplishment?. Research in Higher Education, 23(1), 3-85.

Roth, P. L., BeVier, C. A., Switzer III, F. S., & Schippmann, J. S. (1996). Meta-analyzing the relationship between grades and job performance. Journal of applied psychology, 81(5), 548.

Bock, L. (2015). Work rules!: Insights from inside Google that will transform how you live and lead. Twelve.

MacKinnon, D. W. (1962). The nature and nurture of creative talent. American psychologist, 17(7), 484.

Arnold, K. D. (1995). Lives of promise: What becomes of high school valedictorians: A fourteen-year study of achievement and life choices. Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, A. P., Carlson, K. D., Mecham III, R. L., D’Angelo, N. C., & Connerley, M. L. (2003). Recruiters’ Use Of GPA In Initial Screening Decisions: Higher GPAs Don’t Always Make The Cut. Personnel Psychology, 56(4), 823-845.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Families and Peers, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: You have likely heard about research showing that the nature of our early attachment relationships with our primary caregivers have potential implications for our friendships go in grade school , our peer relations go in high school, our intimate relationships go in adulthood and what kind of parents we become if we take on the task of raising children of our own. Our early attachment relationships essentially provide us with a template for human relationships go and it is that template or internal working model of attachment and of relationships (see what Bowlby had to say about this). Securely attached individuals have more stability and success in their adult relationships while insecurely attached individuals have less relationship stability and success. Given this, what might you expect, if anything, in the way of a relationship between attachment style or type and sexual desire/interest among adults? Sex is a part of most healthy relationships and as such the question above is worth asking, though it largely has not been addressed until the research discussed in the article linked below. So, what how do you think these two things might be related? And, would you expect to find any variation in your hypothesized results when considering LGBTQ+ individuals? Once you have your hypotheses in order, read the article linked below to see what the researchers found (and how they went about looking for it).

Source: Does Attachment Style Impact Our Interest in Sex? Sarah Hunter Murray, Myths of Desire, Psychology Today.

Date: December 22, 2018

Photo Credit:

 Article Link:

The first thing to note about the account of the study in question is the important statement that studies of sex and of relationships typically do not include the experiences and perspectives of members of the LGBTQ+ communities. We tend to assume that the stereotypic heterosexual relationship is the one to study (even in the picture included above – do a Goggle image search on relationships and sex and see what is returned). The study discussed in the article linked above did not start with this sort of assumption but instead was able to ascertain that, at least in terms of how they chose to assess attachment and sexual desire there were no differences in terms of sexual preference/orientation. The results they go on to speak about are thus more likely to be generalizable to human relationships, an important point. Their results show a relationship between attachment style and sexual desire that makes sense. If sex is best understood (and works best) in the context of a close, intimate relationship then it makes sense that a secure attachment history is associated with sexual desire through relationship quality.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are patterns of attachment in infancy related to adult patterns of relationship?
  2. How important is it (or why is it important) to include consideration of sexual desire in our considerations of the variabilities in relationships?
  3. Why is it important to include consideration of LGBTQ+ choices in our considerations of human relationships and human development?

References (Read Further):

Murray, S. H. (2019). Not Always in the Mood: The New Science of Men, Sex, and Relationships. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Mark, K. P., Vowels, L. M., & Murray, S. H. (2018). The impact of attachment style on sexual satisfaction and sexual desire in a sexually diverse sample. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 1-9.

Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of personality and social psychology, 58(4), 644.

Set, Z., & Altınok, A. (2016). In lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals: Attachment, self-compassion and internalized homophobia: A theoretical study. Journal of Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy and Research. Advanced online publication.

Diamond, G. M., & Shpigel, M. S. (2014). Attachment-based family therapy for lesbian and gay young adults and their persistently nonaccepting parents. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(4), 258.

Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, General Psychology, Human Development, Intelligence, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: I am often asked in my Introductory Psychology classes, just before exams, “do we have to memorize the names of the you talked about in class?” My answer to that question is not No but rather “I will not ask you any questions on the exam where the answer is a Psychologist’s name.” It is not that I think the concepts and theories that I am introducing my student to are any more important than the people who developed and tested them. Provide the names of many of the researchers and theorists we talk about in class partly out of respect for them, partly as part of providing some interesting life context to the research and theories we talk about and partly to help students to see that the science of Psychology is not just about human being but it is also a human enterprise that they, themselves can actively participate in and, at a minimum, think about and usefully apply to themselves and the world they find around them. The article linked below is to an obituary for Eleanor Maccoby, a psychologist of great stature and a good example of another little secret reason why I tell my students I do not ask name-answer questions. If one gets interested in and engaged with the theoretic debates and research activities associated with an area of study within Psychology (as I did with the issue of gender differences in self-reflection while working on my graduate degrees in developmental Psychology) the names of the key players in those areas will, along with their work, bury itself deep within your memory along with appreciation, respect, and curiosity such that you will never forget who they are or what they added to the discipline. As a result, I learned Eleanor Maccoby’s name early on and have not, not will I not ever, forget her and her work. The obituary linked below does not get into details of her work, but it does point to a number of key insights and motivations Eleanor provided over her many years of work. Imagine what it was like to be working on the general question of gender differences in areas of Psychological functioning while a faculty member at Harvard University and as such a member of the Harvard Faculty club and yet not be permitted to enter through the “men only” front door of the club? Imaging noticing that the results of a single or small number of studies showing sex differences in an area of functioning are taken to define the truth about sex differences in spite of the fact that many more well-designed studies showing no sex differences in those areas are not published due to being viewed as uninteresting by journal editorial boards. Have a read through the description of Eleanor Maccoby’s life and work in the link below and look for some of the wisdom or just plain thought provoking insights she offered us about Psychology and the nature of human development.

Source: Eleanor Maccoby, Pathbreaker on How Boys and Girls Differ, Dies at 101, Katharine Q. Seele, The New York Times.

Date: December 22, 2018

Photo Credit: Linda Cicero/Stanford News Service

Article Link:

Eleanor Maccoby DID conduct a lot of research but she also built and shared a very well informed and broad perspective on what Psychological research was or could be telling us about the sex differences – that there are not nearly as many as we believe, that those that exist are not as large as we believe, and that we socio-culturally follow patterns of development that socialize the thinking of our children in ways more in line with our beliefs than with what the data is telling  us is the truth. Researchers and theorists like Eleanor deserve our respect, our thanks, and space in our memories as we move forward within and with Psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Who was Eleanor Maccoby and what did she contribute to Psychology in terms of our understanding of sex differences?
  2. What were one or two of Eleanor Maccoby’s larger scale observations about the extent to which males and females are different (or not)?
  3. What did Eleanor Maccoby suggest about the enterprise of Psychological research in relation to sex differences in human  ability and functioning and what, of that might generalize to other areas of Psychology?

References (Read Further):

Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1978). The psychology of sex differences (Vol. 2). Stanford University Press.

Maccoby, E. E. (1990). Gender and relationships: A developmental account. American psychologist, 45(4), 513.

Maccoby, E. E. (1992). The role of parents in the socialization of children: An historical overview. Developmental psychology, 28(6), 1006.

Maccoby, E. E. (2000). Parenting and its effects on children: On reading and misreading behavior genetics. Annual review of psychology, 51(1), 1-27.

Greeno, C. G., & Maccoby, E. E. (1986). How Different Is the” Different Voice”?. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 11(2), 310-316.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Language-Thought, Neuroscience, Personality, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Reflect on this quote for a second: [voters] “… fixated on sexual deviance, embraced conspiracy theories and aligned themselves with domineering leaders “to serve powerful interests and so participate in their power,…”. Does that sound like part of a recently penned effort to account for the patterns of voting during the 2016 American presidential election? Would it surprise you to hear that it is from a book written by a psychologist named Theodor Adorno and published in a book called The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950? That was before even I was born! Adorno was, like many psychologists after the second world war, trying to understand the large number of supporters following authoritarian, fascist leaders like Mussolini, Franco, or Hitler. He developed a measure called the F-Scale that measured what he saw as a dimension of Authoritarianism in peoples’ personalities. Now Adorno’s theory is rather dated but the question is still worth considering: is support for strongmen and authoritarian figures a result of socio-cultural and historical factors, personality factors, or perhaps even genetic factors? Think about what your own hypothesis are and then read the article linked below that provides an interesting retrospective and current reflection on thee questions.

Source: Is There Such a Thing as an Authoritarian Voter? Molly Worthen, The New York Times.

Date: December 15, 2018

Photo Credit: Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Article Link:

So, now what do you think? I think that Adorno was partly on to something, BUT he was also limited by the assumption that the most important and most interesting influences on our behavior would be found within individuals, in their genes, in their personalities, in their upbringing. I agree with the quote included in the article that we should banish use of the word “determine” from our efforts to explain such thing and focus instead on words like shape, mold, or influence. Our genes are part of how we adapt to our environments (physical, social and political) but NOT a separable part. Support for the current political leader spectrum is a complex biopsychosocial amalgam and, indeed, we learn again that we are not as rational as we would like to believe.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did Adorno have in mind for his theory of the Authoritarian Personality?
  2. Are political choices psychologically explainable?
  3. If your answer to the second question above was “no” then what else do we need and how does psychology factor in?

References (Read Further):

Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality.

Lakoff, George (2016) Understanding Trump,

Hetherington, M., & Weiler, J. (2018). Prius Or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America’s Great Divide. Houghton Mifflin.

Fowler, J. H., & Dawes, C. T. (2008). Two genes predict voter turnout. The Journal of Politics, 70(3), 579-594.

Charney, Evan and English, William (2012) Why Genes Don’t Predict Voting Bevaior, Scientific American,

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Consciousness, mental illness, Neuroscience, Pain-General, Psychological Disorders, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Somatic Symptoms Dissociative Disorders, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: What would you think if you went to the emergency at your local hospital with intense stomach pain and were told after examination that they could find nothing wrong with you and that maybe the pain was “just in your head”? Does that mean you are crazy (to use the technical term)? Well the actual old technical terms that you may have heard before is psychosomatic meaning psychologically caused. However, the term psychosomatic has acquired a certain common usage cache over the years and often its use hints at malingering or faking or other mental health issues. But, such characterization, especially as a first attribution when “medical” cause is not apparent are inappropriate, cruel, and likely unethical. If you have had an introductory course in Psychology (or just read about it) think about what you have learned about the powerful physical aspects of the human stress response and about the potentially long-term consequences (psychosocial AND physical) of exposure to traumatic events. Yes, thoughts about stressful situations, circumstances or event ARE “in your head” but their being there can have serious physical impacts. The more recent dignostic category is somatic symptom and other related disorders and there are clinical psychologists and psychiatrists now specializing in understanding and treating them, sometimes with astonishing results. So, check your stereotypic assumptions about such things and read the article linked below which will introduce you to a psychiatrist, Allan Abbass, to intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP), and to the stories of several people who experienced medically unexplained pain and were helped by Abbass and ISTDP.

Source: It’s not all in your head, Erin Anderssen, Folio, The Globe and Mail.

Date: December 8, 2018

Photo Credit:

 Article Link:

So, yes, it could be “in your head” but that in no way dismisses your pain as not real or as crazy. Just as our understanding of the potentially profound impact that early exposure to traumatic events can have on subsequent development, adjustment and physical health (search Social Determinants of Health and Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACEs) improves so are we starting to better understand how what we used to dismiss as psychological stress can produce very, very real pain. This is another example of why we should, perhaps, reconsider the stereotypic belief that there is a significant gap between medical issues and psychological issues. Seeing more of the emerging number of cross links between these two domains will help many people get better help quicker.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to call something psychosomatic?
  2. Are somatic symptoms and other related disorders “real”?
  3. What does your reading of the article suggest to you in the way of things we might want to adjust in our primary health care systems?

References (Read Further):

Abbass, Allan (2018) Hidden from View: A clinician’s Guide to Psychophysiological Disorders, Psychophysiologic Press, LLC.

Some clarifications by Allan Abbass about the Globe and Mail article

Abbass, A. A., Joffres, M. R., & Ogrodniczuk, J. S. (2008). A naturalistic study of intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy trial therapy. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 8(2), 164.

Abbass, A. (2002). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy in a private psychiatric office: clinical and cost effectiveness. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 56(2), 225-232.

Abbass, A., Town, J., & Driessen, E. (2012). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of outcome research. Harvard review of psychiatry, 20(2), 97-108.,?sequence=2

Solbakken, O. A., & Abbass, A. (2013). Effective care of treatment-resistant patients in an ISTDP-based in-patient treatment program. Psychiatric Annals, 43(11), 516-522.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: If you are a student (high school, college or university) I suspect you have heard more than once that a good night’s sleep the night before big exams (finals!) is strongly recommended. If you are a psychology student, or have had a research aware teacher, you may have also heard some of the following, research derived findings: 60% of university students in a large American study were described as “poor-quality” sleepers (that is a majority); recommended sleep amounts for adults are 7 to 9 hour a night and for teenagers it is 8 to 10 hours a night; one less hour of sleep a night for a week is equivalent to a complete “all-nighter” with no sleep; shortened sleep increases susceptibility to colds, risk of automobile collisions, and incidence of depression; shortened sleep impairs the abilities to sustain attention, consolidate memories, and perform cognitively (a good idea during exam periods?); and, during finals weeks high school students average 6.38 hours of sleep a night and college/university students average 6.36 hours a night. So, when they need sufficient amounts of sleep most, during exams, students are routinely getting 2 to 3 hours less of it than they should every night. But you KNOW this right? And you get the sleep you need right? Well, putting aside whether you are telling the truth or deluding yourself or tracking your experience in a self-serving manner, it may also be that you are not taking into account the time you spend awake in bed at night during finals week. The researcher who wrote the article linked below calls this an important knowledge-behavior gap, intention-behavior, or implementation gap. You know what to do but you are not doing it. This leads to a research challenge as well as previous studies have tended to rely on self-reports of quality and quality of sleep. What to do? Well, some recently available actigraphy monitors (those things you wear on your wrist that track many factors related to your activity levels) also provide data about sleep amount AND sleep quality. Actigraphy monitors were used in this study. Students were taught in their psychology class about the impacts of sleep reduction and the benefits of sleep during exam weeks. They were then offered a challenge: Average 8 hours of nighttime sleep (naps do not count) each night and no night less than 7 hours during exam week and receive a mark bonus on your Psychology course final. Additionally, those that accepted the challenge and did not meet the sleep goals would lose some marks from their final exam. Before you read about the study using one of the sources listed below think about whether you expect that the challenge worked (lead to sufficient sleep AND better exam performance outside of bonus marks). As well, think about any research design issues that should be considered in this research and then go read about the studies.

Source: The Eight Hour Sleep Challenge During Final Exams Week, Michael K. Scullin, see reference in Reference (Read Further) section below along with links to two media articles on the research and a related academic article link (all added because the original research article is not available for free download  — you will need to access it through your library if you want to see it).

Date: December 14, 2018

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

The description of the sleep challenge provided above actually only applied to the first of 3 studies described in the article. You may have wondered if the way the challenge was set might have influenced which students decided to take the challenge and whether they were different than other or average students. In the second study the researcher dropped the “penalty” that was applied to the final exam scores of those who accepted the challenge but did not complete the sleep requirements. As well, the researcher had participants complete an actigraphy analysis of their sleep at the start of term so that their usual or typical non-exam week sleep patterns could be used to compare to their sleep challenge totals. Overall the results were clear: accepting the challenge beat the knowledge-behavior gap and more importantly, those that completed the challenge did better on their final exams than did those who did not complete the challenge (and who had lower levels of sleep during exam week) without the bonus marks being considered. So, the take home here: challenge yourself to get enough sleep during exam week (and, of course, to organize your daytimes to get your studying done so you Can meet the challenge) and you will likely do better on your exams. Yes, getting a good night’s sleep is NOT empty advice, it is supported by research data!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How much sleep do you get during the lead up to exams?
  2. How confident are you that your subjective sleep estimates are correct?
  3. How might versions of the sleep challenge be systematically implemented into Psychology (and other) classes?

References (Read Further):

Scullin, M. K. (2018). The Eight Hour Sleep Challenge During Final Exams Week. Teaching of Psychology, 0098628318816142. NOTE: To access this article (for free) you will need to go in through your college or university library in order to obtain access. I have asked the journal to consider making it available free on  line as a service to students.

A US News and World Reports article about the research can be found here:

and and Insider Higher Education article can be found here:

The Sleep Challenge research is also described in detail here:

King, E., & Scullin, M. K. (in press). The eight-hour challenge: Incentivizing healthy sleep during end of term assessments. Journal of Interior Design. (Sorry for the size of the link)