Posted by & filed under Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Intelligence, Language-Thought, Memory, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: We would all like to think that we are well aware that politicians sometimes play fast and loose with the numbers related to issues and that we are not likely to be fooled by them when they do. The reality, however, is that we buy more of what we hear politicians say about the numbers or statistics behind issues both than we should AND than we think we do. Why might that be? Once you have your hypotheses in order, read through the article linked below for a concise overview of a number of lines of research that addresses these questions.

Source: 3 reasons people fall for politicians lies about statistics, Mack Clayton Shelly, II, The Conversation.

Date: February 28, 2019

Photo Credit: EQRoy/

Article Link:

There are lies, damned lies and statistics and a huge debate about just where THAT quote was first offered ( Being able to think critically about statistics is as important as being able to think critically about research findings that are reported or sometimes just tossed around by people trying to convince us of something.  We do not generally do very well with numbers and particularly with probabilities which are at the heart of statistics. In addition, we do not think logically about the information we review when we try and inform ourselves about an issue. Instead, we are likely to suffer from confirmation bias where we are more likely to note and remember information that supports rather than challenges our previous beliefs (even or especially when they were already less than fully informed). And lastly, the less we know about something the more we are likely to overestimate what we know about that subject. The Dinning-Kruger effect can get us into all sorts of trouble (for more about that listen to the podcast linked in the Further Reading Section below). What should we do about this? Well, spend some time reflecting on what it means to think critically would be a good start!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things get in the way of our avoiding being led around by politicians’ playing fast and loose with numbers (statistics)?
  2. Thinking about each of the reasons suggested for why we are led along by politicians mis-use of numbers and come up with one or two things we could do or try and do to avoid or reduce being misled.
  3. Are there any good (adaptive) reasons for why we do the sorts of things outlined in the article?

References (Read Further):

David Dunning on the Dunning-Kruger Effect, The Current Podcast, CBC radio (at time stamp 1:51:51)

Anderson, Jenny (2016) Americans are spectacularly bad at answering even the most basic math questions,

Peters, E., Västfjäll, D., Slovic, P., Mertz, C. K., Mazzocco, K., & Dickert, S. (2006). Numeracy and decision making. Psychological science, 17(5), 407-413.

Peters, E. (2012). Beyond comprehension: The role of numeracy in judgments and decisions. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(1), 31-35.

Wheeler, Gregory, “Bounded Rationality”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

Heshmat, Shahram (2015) What is Confirmation Bias?

Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of personality and social psychology, 77(6), 1121.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Life is not a walk in the park. Have you heard that saying? It is usually taken to suggest that life, at times at least, is not easy, but what if we put it slightly differently by saying that life should include regular walks in the park. What about THAT might be good for you and why? Sure, the exercise would be a good thing. Sure, taking time out of your day to have some down time by walking through a park could also be a healthy way of dealing with stress. But what if, beyond those sorts of things, simply being in nature (in a park) was psychologically good for us? How would we look into THAT question? Well think about it for a moment and then read the article linked below to see how some recent research looked into that question.

Source: Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here’s What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health, Jamie Ducharme,

Date: February 28, 2019

Photo Credit: Images

Article Link:

So, being in nature is good for you even if you do not go into nature to exercise (though the two things together are REALLY good for you). In designing their study, the researchers’ whose work was discussed in the linked article, were careful not tell their participants what their study was about. That is important because demand characteristics do not have to consist only of researchers hints and pressure for certain types of responses but sometimes it is simply enough for participants to have a sense of what you are hoping to see in order for them to try and provide you with it. Participants were just asked to spend time in a park and were not even told how much time to spend in the park. The result that ratings of subjective wellbeing increased significantly in 60% of partivpants even if they did not exercise while in the park suggest that simply being in a greenspace is enough to provide a bump in wellbeing. The data supporting this sort of finding is strong enough now that physicians in some jurisdictions are prescribing parks to quite a few of their patients with a variety of conditions. So, self-prescribe some park the next time you are feeling a bit stressed (or find an indoor green opportunity for cold winter high stress days).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why did the researchers NOT tell their research participants exactly what their study was looking at?
  2. Why did the researchers NOT tell their participants what to do in the park?
  3. Why might it be that simply being in nature is good for us?

References (Read Further):

Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 18.

Li, Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 9.

Houlden, V., Weich, S., & Jarvis, S. (2017). A cross-sectional analysis of green space prevalence and mental wellbeing in England. BMC public health, 17(1), 460.

Yuen, H. K., & Jenkins, G. R. (2019). Factors associated with changes in subjective well-being immediately after urban park visit. International journal of environmental health research, 1-12.

South, E. C., Hohl, B. C., Kondo, M. C., MacDonald, J. M., & Branas, C. C. (2018). Effect of greening vacant land on mental health of community-dwelling adults: a cluster randomized trial. JAMA network open, 1(3), e180298-e180298.

Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., & Depledge, M. H. (2011). Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environmental science & technology, 45(5), 1761-1772.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: Think back to when you were in elementary school. What did you do during recess? Did you ever think of recess as an important component of your educational day or just as a cherished break away from the demands of the classroom? From a developmental psychological perspective how should we look at, think about and design elementary school recesses? How many should there be in a day? How long should they be? What should the playground look like? Collect you own thoughts on these questions and then listen to the radio story about recess linked below to see what school children, educators and developmental psychologists have to say about these questions.

Source: Why experts say school shouldn’t shy away from a little physicality during recess, The Current, CBC Radio.

Date: February 27, 2019

Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinal

Article Link:

For all children and especially for young children play is their work. By that developmental psychologists mean that play (especially creative free-play) is what children should be doing as it helps them develop cognitively, physically, emotionally, and socially. So, recess is not just a break from the important educational experiences of a school day, it is a developmentally important part of each child’s daily experience and should be supported and considered a part of a school educational/developmental responsibilities to its attending students.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How should we define “recess” as part of an elementary school schedule?
  2. What are some of the links between what goes on outside of school at recess and what goes on inside of school the rest of each day?
  3. How should schools (and parents) approach and think about the issues of school yard (recess) safety and risk?

References (Read Further):

Barros, R. M., Silver, E. J., & Stein, R. E. (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics, 123(2), 431-436.

Ridgers, N. D., Salmon, J., Parrish, A. M., Stanley, R. M., & Okely, A. D. (2012). Physical activity during school recess: a systematic review. American journal of preventive medicine, 43(3), 320-328.

Ramstetter, C. L., Murray, R., & Garner, A. S. (2010). The crucial role of recess in schools. Journal of School Health, 80(11), 517-526.

Cardon, G., Van Cauwenberghe, E., Labarque, V., Haerens, L., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2008). The contribution of preschool playground factors in explaining children’s physical activity during recess. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5(1), 11.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Try and design a study that would not just look at but actually make a difference in people’s lives using the following finding from other research studies: Social isolation and loneliness is harmful to you not just in terms of your social wellbeing but also in terms of your physical health AND your longevity. Your intervention cannot involve therapy (helpful but time consuming and expensive) nor can it involve even telling people that you are trying to help them become more socially engaged and less lonely (lonely people do not react well to “get more social” intervention attempts). Once you have your thoughts in order on this question read the article linked below to see how some researchers developed an app to address just this question.

Source: Loneliness Is Bad for Your Health. An App May Help Gretchen Reynolds, Well, The New York Times.

Date: February 22, 2019

Photo Credit: Celia Jacobs, The New York Times.

Article Link:

So, receiving stress reduction and coping suggestions does not help and neither does mindfulness meditation BUT mindfulness meditation and “equanimity” or being consciously and verbally attentive to one’s sensations increased sociability AND decreased feeling of loneliness. What is equanimity? It is defined as mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper and like mindfulness it can be linked to Buddhist thinking and practices. In essence, being at peace with yourself, it is argued, makes you less self-critical and, as a result, more open to social connection. Consciously acknowledging your perceptions and feelings out loud was used as the operationalization of equanimity in the study discussed in the article linked above and it seemed to make a difference to those who practiced it compared to the simple stress advice and just mindfulness medication group. This sort of “search for the active ingredient(s)” approach to research can be quite illuminating especially when it suggests things we might not have come up with based on our current views of or assumptions about the world and how it works. Want more “how to” information about equanimity? Try the two links down at the bottom of the References list below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might loneliness and stress be related?
  2. What is equanimity and how might it be related to loneliness and stress?
  3. What might we do to expand on our “search for active ingredients” in relation to loneliness and stress ?

References (Read Further):

Lindsay, E. K., Young, S., Brown, K. W., Smyth, J. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Mindfulness training reduces loneliness and increases social contact in a randomized controlled trial. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201813588.

Cacioppo, S., Grippo, A. J., London, S., Goossens, L., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2015). Loneliness: Clinical import and interventions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 238-249.

Rosenstreich, E., & Margalit, M. (2015). Loneliness, mindfulness, and academic achievements: A moderation effect among first-year college students. The Open Psychology Journal, 8(1).

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

Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E. A., Hölzel, B. K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S. W., … & Vago, D. R. (2015). Moving beyond mindfulness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness, 6(2), 356-372.

Kraus, S., & Sears, S. (2009). Measuring the immeasurables: Development and initial validation of the Self-Other Four Immeasurables (SOFI) scale based on Buddhist teachings on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Social Indicators Research, 92(1), 169.

Equanimity Links:

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Adult Development and Aging, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Depression, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, General Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: Here is a research-based claim you may have heard about recently. Jean Twenge, based on data she drew from several huge population (big sample) surveys, suggests that 5 or more hours of daily involvement with social media is having negative impacts on teenagers these days. Now, rather than thinking about whether you agree or disagree with this statement (you know the sorts of statement I mean here, “Kids these days……”) think about it as if you were a psychology researcher. What methodological and interpretive questions might you raise about the research itself in this area? Give that some thought and then read the article linked below to see some reflection and research focused on this question.

Source: Is Tech Really Hurting Teens? Devon Frye, Brainstorm, Psychology Today.

Date: February 22, 2019

Photo Credit: Darren Baker/Shutterstock.

 Article Link:

There is a concept that is typically presented early on in most basic courses on psychological research methods and statistics that basically cautions against data fishing. Data fishing involves asking research participants many, many questions and then pulling out and reporting upon only those answers or results that please you. The problem is that if you ask a lot of questions odds are that some will produce significant results by chance. The article linked above talks about a research paper that looked at the Twenge research from this perspective. Essentially, the population survey data sources Twenge drew here data from  asked many, many questions and so one could argue that she “fished” or “cherry picked” the data that suited her hypotheses. The researchers involved took a look at all of the possible comparisons that could have been made with the data gathered in the large surveys so they could properly characterize the magnitude and direction of the possible effects of social media use on anxiety among adolescents. They suggest that while there IS a negative impact of social media use on wellbeing it is not very strong and, in fact, comparable to the impact of eating potatoes on wellbeing. We can add to this the other observation that the data Twenge refers to is correlational and thus make it hard if not impossible to say whether social media use causes depression or that depression causes social media use. So, what do we do now? Well we do not simply conclude that social media use is either innocuous or peachy. Rather, we realize things are rarely simple and we dig in and think about and design more research into this important question. The rates of anxiety and depression and suicide ARE higher among teens and emerging adults born since 1994 and while social media IS a more ubiquitous part of their lives than of previous generations, we need to look both more closely psychologically and developmentally and more broadly socially and historically if we hope to begin to understand what is going on. So, yes, big surprise, more research is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might be problematic about the findings that high levels of social media use may be associated with higher rates of teen anxiety and depression?
  2. What should be done to sort out the concerns noted in possible responses to the first question?
  3. Are debates like this one more of a challenge to how research findings are reported or to how we think about them when they are reported upon, sometimes in rather sensationalistic manners, in the media?

References (Read Further):

Twenge, J. M. (2017). Have smartphones destroyed a generation. The Atlantic, 3.

Orben, A., & Przybylski, A. K. (2019). The association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use. Nature Human Behaviour, 1.

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.

Heffer, T., Good, M., Daly, O., MacDonell, E., & Willoughby, T. (2019). The Longitudinal Association Between Social-Media Use and Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents and Young Adults: An Empirical Reply to Twenge et al. (2018). Clinical Psychological Science.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: You have probably heard about FOMO or the fear of missing out which is often discussed as a serious hazard of involvement in social media. The idea is that postings on social media sites (like Instagram) are typically created and posted with the purpose of showing that the poster is having a great time, is living the good life, is hanging out with better people, and is generally having a better time than you are and as a result you may fear you are missing out on the better times and lives you could be living. FOMO is the sort of thing that researchers have in mind when they are talking about the possible negative effects of significant engagement (5 hours a day) with social media (see Jean Twenge reference below). One type of challenge to research claims regarding the possible evils of social media use has been methodological (see my related post — ) and such challenges are important. Another type of challenge, however, is also important as it involves examining different ways of thinking about the issues of FOMO. If FOMO is bad for us then what is better for us or even, ore simple, what is good for us? How about turning FOMO on its head theoretically and considering JOMO? What is JOMO, well it is the joy of missing out. Think about what that might mean, what it might involve and how it might help us. Oh, and while you are at it, think about how we might research JOMO and then read the article linked below to see how it fits with your own thoughts, speculations, and hypothesizing.

Source: JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out, Kristen Fuller, Happiness is a State of Mind, Psychology Today.

Date: February 22, 2019

Photo Credit: Book Cover, The Joy of Missing Out by Christina Crook.

Article Link:

There are many versions of the suggestion that you should put your technology down from time to time if only to give yourself a rest from its many, constant cognitive demands and stressors. The article linked above more explicitly suggests we consider tying such techno-breaks to the increasing researcher supported notion that practicing mindfulness, being in the moment, and doing things purposefully and deliberately is generally good for us and our overall sense of wellbeing. Finding things that do that for us seem to be increasingly important for us these days and research that explains why AND shows us how is important and needed. More research is definitely needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are FOMO and JOMO and how are they related?
  2. What psychological concepts and theories does JOMO possibly relate to?
  3. What should some of the central components be of a systematic research agenda aimed at helping us to properly understand and manage the effects of technology and social media on our lives and our wellbeing?

References (Read Further):

Crook, C. (2015). The joy of missing out: Finding balance in a wired world. New Society Publishers.

Suler, J. R. (2016). Psychology of the digital age: Humans become electric. Cambridge University Press.

Twenge, J. M. (2017). Have smartphones destroyed a generation. The Atlantic, 3.

Baer, R., Crane, C., Miller, E., & Kuyken, W. (2019). Doing no harm in mindfulness-based programs: Conceptual issues and empirical findings. Clinical psychology review.

Posted by & filed under Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Student Success.

Description: Do you know what Advanced Placement exams are? High school students can study or take courses on advanced (beyond high school) topics and then, in May, write an exam in their chosen topic area and if they score high enough they can be granted an advanced standing that most colleges and universities will redeem for credit for a post-secondary course so the students can move to higher level courses quicker and perhaps graduate more quickly as well. In addition, beyond the leg-up in their chosen AP course subject area, students who take AP courses my also obtain a boost in their developmental readiness and their academic preparedness for their coming transitions to post-secondary lives and endeavors. So with this background information in mind do you think that particular AP courses or course topics might do a better job in these areas of post-secondary readiness and preparedness? Well, the College Board is an organization that works with all post-secondary education institutions. It maintains and administers all AP courses and exams and it also manages the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and related selection tests. Because the College Board is supported by its affiliations with post-secondary education institutions it can, and does, amass huge amounts of longitudinal data looking at things like SAT scores, who takes which AP courses/exams AND how well do they all do once they engage in post-secondary studies? So, the College Board asked the question about which AP courses/exams most contributed to post-secondary success and what do you think those two courses/exams were focused on? Well, have a guess or two and then read the article linked below to find out what the data says. Oh, and do not get captured by the American context of College Boards analysis of their data. Instead, think about what the results might suggest if they are viewed within a more general context that the United States

Source: The Two Codes Your Kids Need to Know, Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times.

Date: February 12, 2019

Photo Credit: Sarah Blesener for the New York Times

Article Link:

A large part of what makes the world and the future that students are looking towards as they make their post-secondary transitions are the complexities and uncertainties associated with the challenge of figuring out what to do, where to get and how to get there. What the AP courses that the College Board data suggests are of most assistance in the process of post-secondary transition share is that they shed some light on the complexities and they offer means to address some of the uncertainties associated with the emerging adults’ challenge of charting their own path in to the future these days. It is not so much the “codes” themselves that are of value but, rather, the understanding of what the codes do and how they came about that are of value. So understanding how building an app linked to an area of personal interest, curiosity, and creativity could provide a clearer view on the future through the informational/virtual realities we are moving towards could certainly be encouraging and empowering. As well, understanding the need for more, complex rather than fewer, simpler social engagements as students try and figure out what their own and their communities’ futures will be like could also be very helpful. So now all we have to do is to figure out how to provide these sorts of experiences to ALL high school students in ways that are more general and pervasive that American AP courses and exams.


Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might learning how to code and develop App relevant to your own interests and curiosities be good for you?
  2. How might we generalize what focusing on the development of the US constitution can provide to high school students and emerging adults beyond the American Constitution?
  3. AP courses are typically viewed as something that academically “high flying” students do. How might we approach what the linked article suggests more generally in order to provide something of the suggested experience to most rather than just to a relative few students?

References (Read Further):

Côté, J. E. (2002). The role of identity capital in the transition to adulthood: The individualization thesis examined. Journal of youth studies, 5(2), 117-134.

Johnson, E. A., & Nozick, K. J. (2011). Personality, adjustment, and identity style influences on stability in identity and self-concept during the transition to university. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 11(1), 25-46.

Berzonsky, M. D., & Kuk, L. S. (2000). Identity status, identity processing style, and the transition to university. Journal of adolescent research, 15(1), 81-98.

Phillips, T. M., & Pittman, J. F. (2007). Adolescent psychological well-being by identity style. Journal of Adolescence, 30(6), 1021-1034.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Physical Illness, Physiology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Not feeling well? Perhaps a good night’s sleep is just what you need. Even if you believe this to be true do you know why it is true? What is actually going on at the cellular level in our immune system while rest and recover? No idea? Well, have a read through the article linked below to see what a recent study is suggesting about what sleep does for us and what the costs of sleep deprivation could involve at the cellular level.

Source: New Study Pinpoints Why Sleep is Often the Best Medicine Chris Bergland, The Athlete’s Way, Psychology Today.

Date: February 12, 2019

Photo Credit: Dimitrov et al, 2019

 Article Link:

Rather than just being interesting in terms of what is going on in our immune system at a microscopic level the article linked above points in two directions. It certainly suggests a line of inquiry and potential development that could postnatally lead to treatment strategies that involve nudging and supporting the natural actions of the immune system. In addition, however, the article also shows that research and development work done at the cellular level can actually support the sorts of folksy, holistic examples of health advice captures by the Irish saying quoted in the article: “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are “T cells” and what role do they play in the functioning of our immune system?
  2. What do sleep, and sleep deprivation, do to our sleep cells?
  3. How might old sayings be of assistance in guiding our research at the cellular level?

References (Read Further):

Dimitrov, S., Lange, T., Gouttefangeas, C., Jensen, A. T., Szczepanski, M., Lehnnolz, J., … & Besedovsky, L. (2019). Gαs-coupled receptor signaling and sleep regulate integrin activation of human antigen-specific T cells. Journal of Experimental Medicine, jem-20181169.

Sakaguchi, S., Yamaguchi, T., Nomura, T., & Ono, M. (2008). Regulatory T cells and immune tolerance. Cell, 133(5), 775-787.

Kamdar, B. B., Needham, D. M., & Collop, N. A. (2012). Sleep deprivation in critical illness: its role in physical and psychological recovery. Journal of intensive care medicine, 27(2), 97-111.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Depression, Emerging Adulthood, General Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Psychological Disorders, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: The article linked below is important and potentially interesting on three levels. First, if you are currently an undergraduate student somewhere then it is important because it may be directly relevant to you or to a friend close to you. Second, It is important because it shines light onto and asks important questions about a potential crisis in mental health care involving emerging adults attending post-secondary education institutions across the country. Third, it poses but only hints at possible directions we might search for answers to the important questions of where this issues came from, whether it is new or just new to our awareness and what social, developmental, and historical factors might we consider as we try to get a handle of just what is going on. Here is the “tag line:” Alarming numbers (more than before) of undergraduate students are seeking assistance at campus mental health centers across the country for issues relating to anxiety, stress, and depression and many are presenting with complex combinations of mental health issues and campus wellness centers are struggling to address the needs for assistance. So, think for a moment about which of the three levels of potential interest in this article may apply to you (perhaps all three) and then give it a read.

Source: As more students seek mental health care, they face long waits – or pay out of pocket – as universities struggle with demand, Victoria Gibson, The Globe and Mail.

Date: February 14, 2019

Photo Credit: Jackie Dives/The Globe and Mail

Article Link:

So, the questions you likely have in mind after reading the article linked above will vary depending upon which, or how many, of the three levels of interest/analysis noted above apply to you. If it applies directly to you or to someone you know then it describes the challenges being encountered by you in trying to obtain access to stable and reliable supports. If you are wondering where this issue came from you likely did not find much in the article to help you get traction on beginning to answer your questions. Has the incidence of mental health issues increased among undergraduate students recently or has it only seemed to do so as the result of the success of recent efforts to reduce the stigma historically associated with mental health issues? In either case the issues of the challenges to access to services and support remain but if there has been an increase then what sorts of social and psychological events and forces are at play in causing that to occur? Possible lines of thought and inquiry were hinted at in the article but not developed. If you search emerging adulthood on this blog site you will see a number of possible lines of investigation.  My own view is that this is one of the most important areas currently in need of developmental inquiry to come along in quite a while. Instead of asking versions of questions like “what is wrong with post-secondary students these days” we need to try to understand the social, historical, and (developmental) psychological forces involved in producing this situation AND, regardless, we need to figure out how to fund and make available sufficient treatment and support resources that the current crisis of access to mental health care among emerging adults goes away while we are trying to figure out where it came from.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are more students (than 10 or 20 years ago) in need of assistance for mental health issues or has the number feeling able to seek assistance increased due to other factors?
  2. What social, historical, and developmental-psychological areas should we be looking in for possible answers to some of the questions raised by the article linked above?
  3. What legislative e or social policy changes might we consider in order to address this issue?

References (Read Further):

Hussain, R., Guppy, M., Robertson, S., & Temple, E. (2013). Physical and mental health perspectives of first year undergraduate rural university students. BMC public health, 13(1), 848.

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.

Lukianoff, G., & Haidt, J. (2015). The coddling of the American mind. The Atlantic, 316(2), 42-52.

Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Motivation-Emotion, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I have posted a number of times on a related cluster of topics including: Identity Development, Life Planning, and Emerging Adulthood (you can search these terms on this site to see the posts). The topics in this cluster reflect the developmental task or moment that is at play through that life phase — figuring out what you are going to do, what you are going to believe and how you are going to live your life. There are many ways to look at how young people are managing this task. We can assess their Identity Style, we can look at their stress/anxiety levels as they negotiate the transition from high school to post-secondary pursuits and we can look at population data that tells us a bit about how emerging adults (18 to 25 or 29 years of age) are doing “these days” as opposed to how previous generations managed this transition. All of this is wonderfully descriptive but if you happen to be in the middle of this and are trying to figure out what you can do to feel like things are moving forward positively for you and the anxiety you are experiencing is, or may soon, abate then what you likely want to know is what you can DO. A good place to start is to begin by understanding that your developmental task right now is to determine what your life purpose is – what your Ikigai is (you can search that term on this site too). Yah, I know, even that is rather vague and unhelpful isn’t it. Ok how about this as a sort of ‘fake it until you make it’ strategy – set some goals and get going on them. The idea is that if set some goals and get going on them your life purpose will slowly become clearer to you as you move along. That is the is the huge paradox of this developmental stage – if you believe you have to know exactly where you are going to end up before you get started you will go nowhere. So, the article linked below does not try to answer these sorts of big existential questions it just tells you about what research has to say about what works and what does not work in relation to setting goals, working towards goals and attaining goals. It is very practical advice that could be just what you need to get going. Give it a read — life purpose and lower stress and anxiety levels await!

Source: Five tips to help year 12 students set better goals in the final year of school, Joanne Dickson, The Conversation.

Date: January 30, 2019

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Article Link:

There is a sort of ‘Just do it’ quality to the suggestions offered in the linked article but if you found yourself wondering why or how one or the other of the suggestions offered might work you can follow the link in the article and see the research studies that support the suggested goal setting and working strategies. Through those links you can see that setting goals and working towards them are just what you need now developmentally. If the goals you set are truly yours (and not what you think you should do), are specifically worded (rather than simple aspirational statements like work harder or bee smarter), and if you are somewhat flexible as to exactly what your goals require or involve (so you can balance your various goals and current realties and make adjustments as needed or as things change nor as further opportunities open up) you will be getting somewhere. Don’t think of the goal setting process as aiming and pulling a trigger but rather think of it as a design project (search Life Design on this site) in which you are going to start with a possible goal and you are going to build or try out a number of prototypes and you are going to pay close attention to how those prototypes work (how they feel, what they show you about yourself and where you are and where you could go) and you will find a sense of purpose and direction building for you not because you are wishing for it but because you are working on, on purpose.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why is it helpful to spend time working on setting goals as you enter or prepare to enter the stage of emerging adulthood?
  2. What are some of the characteristics of good (life purpose generating) goals as opposed to self-defeating goals?
  3. What are some of the psychological theories and concepts that underly good goal setting or that help us to understand just what good goal setting involves (e.g., Internal Locus of Control)?

References (Read Further):

Dickson, J. M., Johnson, S., Huntley, C. D., Peckham, A., & Taylor, P. J. (2017). An integrative study of motivation and goal regulation processes in subclinical anxiety, depression and hypomania. Psychiatry research, 256, 6-12.

Winch, A., Moberly, N. J., & Dickson, J. M. (2015). Unique associations between anxiety, depression and motives for approach and avoidance goal pursuit. Cognition and Emotion, 29(7), 1295-1305.

Watkins, E. (2011). Dysregulation in level of goal and action identification across psychological disorders. Clinical psychology review, 31(2), 260-278.

Wrosch, C., Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Schulz, R. (2003). The importance of goal disengagement in adaptive self-regulation: When giving up is beneficial. Self and Identity, 2(1), 1-20.

Schmuck, P. E., & Sheldon, K. M. (2001). Life goals and well-being: Towards a positive psychology of human striving. Hogrefe & Huber Publishers.