Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Consider this question. Who is more likely to cheat, someone who just won the competition for someone who just lost? From a social psychological perspective why do you think things will work out this way? After you’ve answered these questions read the article linked below and then think some more about this question.

Source: Does Winning Lend Itself to Cheating? Rick Nauert, Psych Central

Date: February 3, 2016

Winning and Cheating

Photo Credit: ShutterStock

Links: Article Link:

So how did you do? The study in which this article is based suggested that individuals who one a competition were more likely to cheat and subsequent situations than were those lost in the competition. The researchers were also able to show that the subsequent cheating was directed not so much a personal advantage as it was at winning again (or beating others again). The researchers speculate that this effect may have something to do with a sense of entitlement that can occur amongst winners of competitive events seem at least temporarily perhaps to perceive themselves as being better than and therefore more entitled to winnings than their competitors.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe the possible reasons offered by the authors of the research article being discussed for why winners might be more likely to cheat the losers on subsequent tasks?
  2. Can you think of situations in the real world perhaps in relation to sporting events or other competitions with the sorts of effects can or might be observed?
  3. What sorts of implications might this research have for how parents, teachers, and coaches ought to think about how they talk about winning and losing to their children, students, players?

References (Read Further):

Schurr, A., & Ritov, I. (2016). Winning a competition predicts dishonest behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201515102.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Consciousness, Human Development, Learning.

Description: Do you know what executive function is? Perhaps more importantly inlooking at your own academic performance or perhaps a child’s school performance with there be some value in hiring an executive function coach above and beyond finding a tutor in subjects where you were the child is struggling? This podcast from NPR looks at this question.

Source: The Science of Getting Kids Organized, Audio Story, All Things Considered, National Public Radio (NPR)

Date: February 3, 2016

Executive Function

Photo Credit: Richie Pope

Links: Video Link

There is a lot of research and, it sometimes seems, even more media discussion about the concept of executive function particularly in relation to children’s academic performances. Executive function is a general meta-cognitive function that essentially involves the exercise of control over one’s thought processes as well as over one’s attention and related cognitive resources. While we are aware that many children who are struggling in school (as well as many youth struggling in University settings) may demonstrate levels of executive function below those of their more successful peers is not entirely clear whether it might be possible through some form of coaching or intervention to close this gap or whether doing so would actually positively impact the participants academic functioning. This is an example of a situation where you would be well advised to take the kinds of claims made by individuals and firms trying to sell you coaching or tutoring in relation to things like executive function with caution. For laying out money is very are asking for be worth doing a little bit of research into whether or not systematic research supports the claims that they’re making.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of claims are being made by academic coaches and tutors and in relation to executive function?
  2. In what areas of psychology or within what theories of psychology do you think it would be good to investigate the claims made by academic coaches and tutors in relation to executive function?
  3. Take one or two of the claims made in the audio story about things that could be done to positively impact executive function and see what you can find either online or through your library that speaks directly about psychological research for or against the claims being made.

References (Read Further):

Volckaert, A. M. S., & Noël, M. P. (2015). Training executive function in preschoolers reduce externalizing behaviors. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 4(1), 37-47.

Kirk, H. E., Gray, K., Riby, D. M., & Cornish, K. M. (2015). Cognitive training as a resolution for early executive function difficulties in children with intellectual disabilities. Research in developmental disabilities, 38, 145-160.

Black, N., & Mullan, B. (2015). An intervention to decrease heavy episodic drinking in college students: The effect of executive function training. Journal of American College Health, 63(4), 280-284.

Jacob, R., & Parkinson, J. (2015). The Potential for School-Based Interventions That Target Executive Function to Improve Academic Achievement A Review. Review of Educational Research, 85(4), 512-552.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought.

Description: I blogged about the movie Ex Machina just under a year ago in the context of talking about the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity typically portrayed in science fiction films. I ran across the blog post linked below this past weekend and found it to be quite interesting. The question to consider as you look at the article is what do our depictions of artificial intelligence in the work in developing artificial intelligence as presented in science fiction films like Ex Machina tell us about the nature of work being done or the nature of the factors and thoughts being considered. Maybe best to watch the movie at least once before considering what is basically the “psycho-philosophy” of this article.

Source: Artificial Intelligence: Gods, egos and Ex Machina, Martin Robbins, Science, The Lay Scientist.

Date: January 26, 2016


Photo Credit: Allstar/FILM4/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

Links: Article Link —

So what does a story about an individual who artificially creates a “human” tell us about human cognition, human nature, views of self, views of creation or origin, basically about the question of why one might want to consider making an artificial the version of a human being on there so many other things one could be working on. In his blog on this topic Martin Robbins, considers these questions and more. While it is true that the general information processing theoretic approach to human cognition has its roots in the early versions of artificial intelligence within computer science there are bigger questions here. So open your mind read the article as you you think.


Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do films like ex machine and tell us, or rather suggested to us, about the nature of human nature and cognition? Is there anything in this sort of reflection that is useful to psychology and if so to what part of psychology?
  2. What other angles of analysis is Robbins suggest we take up in considering this film?
  3. In the end, you see Ex Machina as a film playing industry with scientific cutting edge or as a cautionary tale about this area of investigation and about the people who go into it?

References (Read Further):

Copeland, J. (2015). Artificial intelligence: A philosophical introduction. John Wiley & Sons.

Jones, M. T. (2015). Artificial Intelligence: A Systems Approach: A Systems Approach. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Ghahramani, Z. (2015). Probabilistic machine learning and artificial intelligence. Nature, 521(7553), 452-459.


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Neuroscience, Prevention, Schizophrenia.

Description: One of the keys to understanding the emergence of schizophrenia might be developmental and genetic. This article explores a recent finding looking at the way our system regulates the pruning of neurons in neural networks within adolescents in the role that malfunctioning of this planning process might play in the development of a disorder like schizophrenia.

Source: Here is Why People Get Schizophrenia, Scientists Say, Dennis Thompson, Health Day,

Date: January 27, 2016


Photo Credit: US News and World Report

Links: Article Link —

The factors that contribute to the emergence of the disorder like schizophrenia and gathered a great deal of research attention . The more we understand about the underlying causes of major disorders like schizophrenia the better able we are to focus treatments and interventions. The research described in this media post focuses on the role of a particular gene that plays a role in, among other things, synaptic pruning. Synaptic pruning is the process by which the brain sorts out which neural connections to keep and which ones to prune out throughout development and into the latter stages of adolescent brain growth and development when brain changes are being formally consolidated from a development perspective. To the extent that this finding is supported in subsequent research it may suggest a number of new, developmentally targeted, intervention opportunities for addressing and dealing with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia has typically been noted to arise first in late adolescence and young adulthood. As such, being able to point to some things that may be linked to this particular development are important for steps in developing a better understanding of the nature and genetic or neuro – biological course of this major disorder category.


Questions for Discussion:

  1. What role do the researchers the study was described in this article believe that the particular gene they are studying plays in the emergence of the symptoms of schizophrenia?
  2. What potential issues arise when we consider the role that genetic factors might have to play not just in group variation in the rates of schizophrenia but in the actual emergence of the symptoms of the disorder itself?
  3. Assuming that these results stand up, what might be some of the treatment implications of this finding for current and future individuals struggling with the symptoms of schizophrenia?

References (Read Further):

Sekar, A., Bialas, A. R., de Rivera, H., Davis, A., Hammond, T. R., Kamitaki, N., … & Genovese, G. (2016). Schizophrenia risk from complex variation of complement component 4. Nature.


Dhindsa, R. S., & Goldstein, D. B. (2016). Schizophrenia: From genetics to physiology at last. Nature.

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: So now, based on the previous post, you have heard of the Zika virus. While we are safe from this virus in Canada as the mosquitoes which bear it cannot survive here seems to be creeping into the United States where the climate is warmer. From a social psychological, rather than a developmental, perspective it is interesting to reflect upon the impact of a creeping threat on people’s reactions and psychological well-being.

Source: The Great Zika Freakout: A Teaching Moment in the Psychology of Fear, Davind Ropeik, Huffington Science

Date: January 29, 2016

Zika Fear

Photo Credit: Christophe Simon Via Getty Images

Links: Article Link —

So imagine that you live in the United States in an area where mosquitoes bearing the Zika virus are encroaching. Think about how you might react to this news. What information would you like to have access to? Where would you look for this information? How calmly and rationally do you think you would be able to evaluate this information? What sort of authorities or sources would you trust to provide you with appropriate information for making up your mind about how to think, feel, and act, in relation to this threat? Finally, are you aware of how you, either like or in contrast to other people, react to the sorts of threats? There is a lot to think about here.


Questions for Discussion:

  1. How big a risk does the Zika virus represent to those living in areas where mosquitoes bearing the virus live and survive?
  2. Thinking about the World Health Organization’s reaction to this issue in the way it’s been handled by the director of that organization you think it’s being managed well?
  3. Should we have specific guidelines readily prepared for how potential threats like this one are approached, and more importantly, about how information related to these threats is compiled and disseminated? What might psychology have to offer this regard?

References (Read Further):

Ropeik, D. (2010). How risky is it, really. Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts. McGraw-Hill Education, New York.

Posted by & filed under Child Development.

Description: Have you heard about the Zika virus? You may have run across a reference to it as a new concern for travelers and aid to countries like Brazil. However, have you heard about the possibility that exposure to this virus might be linked to increased rates of microcephaly in babies born in these regions? With the articles linked below and think about the implications of these possible connections for understanding of the potential teratogenic effects and issues.

Source: Possible association between music virus infection and microcephaly.

Date: January 29, 2016


Photo Credit: National Post

Links: Article/Video Link —

Center for Disease Control Update:

Any discussion of the prenatal effects on fetal development will at some point focus upon the potential impacts of the astonishingly large array of teratogens. The list of potential teratogens continues to increase partly as we discover new influences and, unfortunately, as new teratogens emerge. The zika virus, which is passed from human to human through mosquito intermediaries is one of these newer influences. While the World Health Organization is currently convening an investigation into the relationship between this virus and the rates of microcephaly (infants born with abnormally small heads and the potential for neurologic abnormalities) in countries such as Brazil and in areas that are already affected by another mosquito borne pathogen called dengue fever. Currently there is no known treatment or immunization available against the sink a virus consequently government actions have focused upon finding ways to limit exposure to mosquitoes and to reduce mosquito population.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do these articles suggest might be the role played by physical virus in the rates of microcephaly amongst infants born within Brazil recently?
  2. What factors might we need to consider in trying to understand the specific ways in which physical virus produces its possible teratogenic effects?
  3. What policies and practices and interventions might be considered in trying to deal with the impact of this possible connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly?

References (Read Further):

Schuler-Faccini, L. (2016). Possible Association Between Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly—Brazil, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65.


Tetro, J. A. (2016). Zika and microcephaly: causation, correlation, or coincidence?. Microbes and Infection.


Schuler-Faccini, L. (2016). Possible Association Between Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly—Brazil, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65.


Petersen, E. E. (2016). Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak—United States, 2016. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Health Psychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Psychological Health, Research Methods, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: What sort of activities make for healthier mental aging? Read this article and find out about some possibilities.

Source: Mentally Challenging Activities Key to a Healthy Aging Mind

Date: January 15, 2016


Photo Credit:

Links: Article Link —–+ScienceDaily%29

So here is a research question. Are older people who engage in mentally challenging hobbies or activities able to do so because they are mentally adept or does engagement in those activities make or keep them mentally adept? What sort of study design would be required to test this question and what would the result be? Read the article linked above and find out.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sort of study design is needed to address the question raised above?
  2. Are there limitations to the interpretability and applicability of the research study discussed in the article?
  3. What implications would this line of research (assuming it turns out to be replicable) have for advice on cognitive aging?

References (Read Further):

Ian M. McDonough, Sara Haber, Gérard N. Bischof, Denise C. Park. The Synapse Project: Engagement in mentally challenging activities enhances neural efficiency. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2015; 33 (6): 865

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Legal Ethical Issues, Memory, Persuasion, Social Psychology.

Description: Have you heard of the Netflix documentary called Making a Murder? Regardless think about this question. Is it possible to get someone to confess to a crime they did not commit or to even believe they actually did it? Read on!

Source: Making of a Murder Memory

Date: January 18, 2016

Murder Memory

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Links: Article Link —

Have you heard of the Netflix documentary called Making a Murder? If not then you are likely not paying attention to media trends but if so you are likely interested in the question of whether it is possible to make someone confess to something they did not do and if so is it possible to do so in such a way that they themselves believe they are actually guilty! The article linked above is written by Julia Shaw who conducts research and write on this question. The research results on this question may surprise you.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why (or when) might people confess to things they did not actually do?
  2. Do some people who confess to things they did not do actually believe they did those things?
  3. What implications does this area of research hold for criminal Justice investigation and adjudication?

References (Read Further):

Kessler, R. C., Sonnega, A., Bromet, E., Hughes, M., Shipherd, J. C., & Salters-Pedneault, K. (2015). False Memories: Effect of Post-Event Visual and Linguistic Information. Encephalon, 218, 32.

Kurkela, K. A., & Dennis, N. A. (2016). Event-related fMRI studies of false memory: An Activation Likelihood Estimation meta-analysis. Neuropsychologia, 81, 149-167.

Patihis, L., & Loftus, E. F. (2015). Crashing Memory 2.0: False Memories in Adults for an Upsetting Childhood Event. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Posted by & filed under Language-Thought, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, Memory, Research Methods, Social Influence.

Description: It is heading towards another exam time (of course it is!) and you are swamped with reading – maybe if you took a speed reading course your life would become manageable! Well, as we say in Psychology, how about looking to see if there is any data on the efficacy of that sort of decision?

Source: Speed Reading Promises are Too Good to be True, Scientists Find

Date: January 14, 2016

SPeed Reading

Photo Credit: Association for Psychological Science

Links: Article Link —

There are many bold claims made about the positive outcomes that are available to those who take speed reading courses. It is important to note that those claims are typically made by individuals or companies who are marketing their particular speed reading systems. When you see positive claims being offered it is worth digging in to see if there has been any objective research done on the topic or technique. Better still, look for a meta-analysis or a review article that collects together a large number of studies on the topic of interest and looks to see what sorts of claims can or cannot be made based on the weight of the overall evidence. In the case of speed reading the results of this sort of general review of research conducted by the authors of the paper referred to in this article suggests that you should save your money and make sure you have set aside enough time to do your required reading at your current pace. Take a couple of minutes (time well spent!) and read the article linked above to see what claims about speed reading make sense and which ones are just marketing hype and then get back to your required course reading!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does speed reading training help one to read faster?
  2. Some people seem to be able to read certain things very quickly. What sort of people and what sort of things does this work for and with?
  3. What do you do to ensure you get through your required readings over the term?

References (Read Further):

Rayner, Keith, Schotter, Elizabeth R., Masson, Michael E.J., Potter, Mary C. and Treiman, Rebecca (2016) So Much to Read, So Little Time: How do we Read, and Can Speed Reading Help? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 17(1), 4-34.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Neuroscience, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in CP, Schizophrenia, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: The social withdrawal and emotional blunting that often present as symptoms amongst individuals struggling with schizophrenia have been hypothesized to not be linked to the neuro-chemical functioning within an area or areas of the brain. The suggestion was made due to the lack of response of these symptoms to neuro-chemical treatments that were producing positive results in relation to other symptoms of schizophrenia. This article in the research study upon which it reports suggest, positively, that we may need to rethink this hypothesis.

Source: Mouse Study May Offer Clues to Mysteries of Schizophrenia, Health Day, USNews, Robert Preidt

Date: January 6, 2016


Photo Credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Links: Article Link –

The distinction between positive (e.g., hearing voices, feeling paranoid) and negative (e.g., social withdrawal and emotional blunting) symptoms of schizophrenia used to be partially based on the observation that the positive symptoms responded to drug therapy and negative symptoms did not. This lead to the suggestion that positive symptoms were due to neuro-chemical imbalances in the brain while negative symptoms were more likely due to physical changes in the brain as a consequence of struggling with schizophrenia. This article describes a study using a mouse model brain of schizophrenia which suggests that this distinction may not be a useful one. It’s worth reading because of what it has to say about this distinction but also as a way to understand how brain based research on schizophrenia is being conducted using mouse models.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How have we historically distinguished between positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia?
  2. What area or areas of the brain may be involved in the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia?
  3. What might some of the implications be if the results of this study are supported through replication for our thinking about and her treatment approaches to symptom patterns that are characteristic of schizophrenia?

References (Read Further):

Piskorowski, Rebecca A., Nasrallah, Kaoutsar, Diamantopoulou, Anastasia, Mukai, Jun, Hassan, Sami I., Siegelbaum, Steven A., Gogos, Joseph A., and Chevaleyre, Vivien (2016) Age-Dependent Specific Changes in Area CA2 of the Hippocampus and Social Memory Deficit in a Mouse Model of the 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, Neuron, Volume 89, Issue 1, 163-176.

Arguello, P. A., & Gogos, J. A. (2006). Modeling madness in mice: one piece at a time. Neuron, 52(1), 179-196.

Paus, T., Keshavan, M., & Giedd, J. N. (2008). Why do many psychiatric disorders emerge during adolescence?. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(12), 947-957.

Edwards, A. C., Bigdeli, T. B., Docherty, A. R., Bacanu, S., Lee, D., de Candia, T. R., … & Walsh, D. (2015). Meta-analysis of Positive and Negative Symptoms Reveals Schizophrenia Modifier Genes. Schizophrenia bulletin, sbv119.

Dyck, D. G., Short, R. A., Hendryx, M. S., Norell, D., Myers, M., Patterson, T., … & McFarlane, W. R. (2014). Management of negative symptoms among patients with schizophrenia attending multiple-family groups. Psychiatric services.