Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Physiology, Psychological Health, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: You have no doubt heard a story or two about an elderly couple where, when one of them dies, the surviving partner also passes away fairly soon after. Can you recall if an explanation as to why this occurred was offered? Some version of a broken heart perhaps? Or maybe that the surviving partner did not want to go on without their life-companion and so gave up? Well, maybe think about this for a minute and hypothesize about why it might actually be the case that the death of a close loved one predicts increased mortality in the surviving member of the couple? Assuming that broken hearts, as poetic as that might be, are not mortality causal factors unless they are actually physically broken, which is not likely how a bereavement effect would work. Oh, and we should probably check to see if there actually IS a bereavement mortality effect as well. Once you have your hypotheses worked out have a read thought eh article lined below to see what research has had to say about this question.

Source: How Does Bereavement Impact the Immune System? Tim Newman, Medical News Today.

Date: April 15, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

Indeed, bereavement seems to increase mortality (peaking 9 to 12 months after loss). More importantly, recent meta-analytic studies (that gather together available studies to provide a bigger picture view of what is going on) are beginning to show more clearly how this works – by driving inflammation which dampens the activity and effectiveness of the immune system. As well, some research is suggesting that depression is a mediating factor in this re4lationship and that could serve as a clinical marker of who should be provided treatment in addition to bereavement support. The results suggest  number of ways in which the story of the elderly couple who die within weeks or months of one another might be re-written more positively (if less romantically.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does bereavement impact mortality?
  2. How does bereavement impact mortality? What other factors mark or moderate between bereavement and mortality?
  3. What medical/psychological practice guidelines might we suggest for GP’s and Psychologists working with bereaved clients?

References (Read Further):

Bartrop, R. W., Lazarus, L., Luckhurst, E., Kiloh, L. G., & Penny, R. (1977). Depressed lymphocyte function after bereavement. The Lancet, 309(8016), 834-836.

Knowles, L. M., Ruiz, J. M., & O’Connor, M. F. (2019). A Systematic Review of the Association Between Bereavement and Biomarkers of Immune Function. Psychosomatic Medicine.

Kaprio, J., Koskenvuo, M., & Rita, H. (1987). Mortality after bereavement: a prospective study of 95,647 widowed persons. American Journal of Public Health, 77(3), 283-287.

Schaefer, C., Quesenberry Jr, C. P., & Wi, S. (1995). Mortality following conjugal bereavement and the effects of a shared environment. American Journal of Epidemiology, 141(12), 1142-1152.

Stroebe, M. S. (1994). The broken heart phenomenon: An examination of the mortality of bereavement. Journal of community & applied social psychology, 4(1), 47-61.

Moon, J. R., Kondo, N., Glymour, M. M., & Subramanian, S. V. (2011). Widowhood and mortality: a meta-analysis. PloS one, 6(8), e23465.

Elwert, F., & Christakis, N. A. (2008). The effect of widowhood on mortality by the causes of death of both spouses. American journal of public health, 98(11), 2092-2098.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As the article linked below states at its outset, today (April 28) is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. It is certainly the case that we have seen a general push to de-stigmatize issues of mental health so that it can and will be talked about and addressed in all settings (family, work and community) and that is all good and important. However, another important emerging reality is that workplaces and the nature of work in general is becoming more stressful. As well, the changing nature of work, relying increasingly on knowledge and creativity, means we are more profoundly impacted by mental health challenges when they arise. Think about what you know and about what you feel you need to find out about mental health in your workplace and in workplaces in general in honor of World Day for Safety and Health at Work and then read the article linked below to see what else might be involved in these critical questions.

Source: Putting Mental Health on the Workplace Health Agenda, Camille Preston, Mental Health in the Workplace, Psychology Today.

Date: April 26, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

So it is not just that we need to spend some time thinking about the work side of the work/life balance question. Rather, the very nature of work is changing is ways that both add to general stress levels and which are, by works new nature, MORE susceptible to negative impacts when mental health issues arise. What to do? Well the fact that all not only comes with individual cost but it also comes with a significant impact on organizational bottom lines. That being the case there is both need and motivation for corporate leaders to invest in changes to their organizational cultures that will destigmatize mental health issues and challenges and which will positively predispose (incentivize) members of organizational communities to advantage themselves and their workplaces in relation to mental health. Something important to contemplate on World Day for Safety and Health at Work, most certainly.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What would be involved in destigmatizing mental health issues in workplace settings?
  2. How has the nature of work changed in recent years and how do those changes increase the costs associated with unaddressed mental health issues in the workplace?
  3. What sorts of individuals, organization officers, agencies, and/or regulatory or legislative groups should be involved in these matters and what sorts of things should they be doing?

References (Read Further):

Goetzel, R. Z., Roemer, E. C., Holingue, C., Fallin, M. D., McCleary, K., Eaton, W., … Mattingly, C. R. (2018). Mental Health in the Workplace: A Call to Action Proceedings From the Mental Health in the Workplace-Public Health Summit. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 60(4), 322–330.

Morra Aarons-Mele (November 1, 2018), We Need to Talk More About Mental Health At Work, Harvard Business Review,

World Health Organization (September 2017), Mental Health in the Workplace,

Aarons-Mele, Morra (2018) We Need to Talk More About Mental Health at Work, Harvard Business review, November 1, 2018

Preston, Camille (2011) Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World, Aim Leadership, Cambridge, MA.


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Depression, Health Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: Do you think you would be able to tell if someone close to you was contemplating suicide? There ARE things you could/should look for (more on those below). However, how do you think a mental health professional (Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, Psychiatric Nurse, or Social Worker) would respond to this question? Does the typical “what to look for …what to do” advice apply to some or to most suicidal cases? Do the drugs that psychiatrists have access to help? Do the therapy techniques that are available make a difference? Think about what you hope the answers to those questions might be (and perhaps a bit about what they might actually be) and then read the article linked below to see what a practicing Psychiatrist has to say on the matter.

Source: The Empty Promise of Suicide Prevention, Amy Barnhorst, The New York Times.

Date: April 26, 2019

Photo Credit: Rachel Levit, The New York Times

Article Link:

The first case talked about in the article describes a build up towards suicide that was noticed by members of the individual’s family, got the person referred to a psychiatrist who suggested a course of drug treatment that successfully curtailed the individuals suicidal thoughts and lead to them moving back towards a positive life view. The author then goes on to point out that such cases are rare and that, while there are drugs that can be of assistance in treating suicidal ideation (thinking about killing one’s self), there are impulsive acts that arise with little or no warning signs and there are life circumstances that do not improve when the person living those circumstances starts taking lithium or clozapine. What to do? Well we should all be familiar with signs of suicidal ideation (see further reading section below), we should not shy away from asking people we know how they are doing and if they are thinking about suicide, and we should be thinking hard about ways that we (at community and legislative levels) can reduce access to lethal means of attempting suicide and address the social circumstances that give rise to despair. It is not even close to being all about psychiatric drugs.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the indicators that someone may be contemplating suicide?
  2. What are some of the non-psychological factors that can increase the possibility of suicidal actions?
  3. What sorts of things need to be considered when we are trying to think of ways to address suicide rates?

References (Read Further):

Suicide Prevention and Support,


Rudd, M. D., Berman, A. L., Joiner Jr, T. E., Nock, M. K., Silverman, M. M., Mandrusiak, M., … & Witte, T. (2006). Warning signs for suicide: Theory, research, and clinical applications. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 36(3), 255-262.

Van Orden, K. A., Lynam, M. E., Hollar, D., & Joiner, T. E. (2006). Perceived burdensomeness as an indicator of suicidal symptoms. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 30(4), 457-467.

Smith, J. M., Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (2006). Cognitive vulnerability to depression, rumination, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation: Multiple pathways to self-injurious thinking. Suicide and Life-threatening behavior, 36(4), 443-454.

Thompson, R., Proctor, L. J., English, D. J., Dubowitz, H., Narasimhan, S., & Everson, M. D. (2012). Suicidal ideation in adolescence: Examining the role of recent adverse experiences. Journal of adolescence, 35(1), 175-186.

Madjar, N., Walsh, S. D., & Harel-Fisch, Y. (2018). Suicidal ideation and behaviors within the school context: Perceived teacher, peer and parental support. Psychiatry research, 269, 185-190.

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Personality, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: At least intellectually, we tend to be drawn towards the dark side. Why this may be is perhaps due to a belief that understanding the darker personality profiles that people around us may be operating under better equips us to notice and to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of. Within personality theory and research there has been much consideration of the so called dark triad of personality types including Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. As fascinating and as potentially useful as an understanding of the dark triad may be, think for a minute about what the opposite of the dark triad might involve? Of course, we could simply define the opposite of the dark triad as scoring low on the scales that assess tendencies towards Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism but are you satisfied by a definition of good as simply “not dark?” What might a Light Triad look like or involve? Think about that and then read the article linked below that describes an effort of several psychologists define a Light Triad.

Source: The Light Triad: Psychologists Outline the Personality Traits of Everyday Saints, Lacy Schley, The Crux, Discover Magazine.

Date: April 5, 2019

Photo Credit: Melitas/Shutterstock

 Article Link:

Do you like the Light Triad which includes Kantianism (treating people and people rather than instrumental opportunities for self-gain), Humanism (valuing others’ dignity and worth) and Faith in Humanity (viewing humans as basically good)? Do you have a sense of where you might fall on BOTH the dark AND light triads? If not, go to the link the article author’s provide to take a test and find out. So, while it may not be quite as fascinating, we now have a “light side” we can lean towards as a proper balance against the dark side.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the Dark Triad and why are we so fascinated with it?
  2. Is the light triad the opposite of the dark triad and if not, how is it located?
  3. There has already been a LOT of use of the dimensions of the dark triad to discuss things like presidents and other people. How might we make use of the light triad?

References (Read Further):

Kaufman, S. B., Yaden, D. B., Hyde, E., & Tsukayama, E. (2019). The Light vs. Dark Triad of Personality: Contrasting Two Very Different Profiles of Human Nature. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 467.

Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. M. (2002). The dark triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of research in personality, 36(6), 556-563.

Furnham, A., Richards, S. C., & Paulhus, D. L. (2013). The Dark Triad of personality: A 10 year review. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7(3), 199-216.

Garcia, D., & Sikström, S. (2014). The dark side of Facebook: Semantic representations of status updates predict the Dark Triad of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 92-96.

Laborde, S., Guillén, F., Watson, M., & Allen, M. S. (2017). The light quartet: Positive personality traits and approaches to coping in sport coaches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 32, 67-73.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, Early Social and Emotional development, Health Psychology, Human Development, Physiology, Research Methods, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: We are seeing more and more research in recent years examining the physiological and developmental consequences of stress. For example, we now better understand the ongoing impact of developmentally early traumatic experiences on subsequent development and psychological functioning and well being at both an observational level and increasingly at a physiological causal level. We know that a better understanding of the roles and impacts of stress related hormones like cortisol will help us to better understand, and potentially cope more effectively, with the physiological impact of both childhood and adult stress experiences. It would also be valuable to better understand how childhood and adult stress experiences are related not just at the historical or social level but also at the physiological level. Think a moment about how childhood experiences with stress, at the physiological level, might be related to adult experiences with stress, also at the physiological level and then have a read through the article linked below to see what a study looking exactly at that question had to say.

Source: Stress in Childhood and Adulthood Have Combined Impact on Hormones and Health. Ethan S. Young, APS.

Date: April 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Association for Psychological Science

Article Link:

So, adult cortisol level patterns were NOT predicted by total life stress OR by childhood stress (or by stress at other points in development) but rather by the combination of both child and adult stress levels and experiences. The researchers suggest that points to the possible importance of early life experience in calibrating the stress response system in ways that could have life-long consequences for physical health. These findings fit very well with increasingly well-articulated concerns about self-regulation in infancy and childhood and its later developmental impact on a wide array of developmental outcomes. It is important to do more than just notice what early life events seem to be related to which later life events. A more useful (actionable) understanding includes knowing something about what carries the early events forward and cortisol pattern levels are one possible location for the developmental ‘‘baggage” of life stress. Understanding this better will indicate possible avenues for intervention.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you see early (childhood) stress being related to stress and coping (or the lack thereof) in adulthood?
  2. What does an understanding of the role of cortisol in stress reactions and in developmentally later physical wellbeing help us with?
  3. What might we want to consider in the way of social interventions to mitigate the impact of childhood stress on adult stress?

References (Read Further):

Young, E. S., Farrell, A. K., Carlson, E. A., Englund, M. M., Miller, G. E., Gunnar, M. R., … & Simpson, J. A. (2019). The Dual Impact of Early and Concurrent Life Stress on Adults’ Diurnal Cortisol Patterns: A Prospective Study. Psychological science, 0956797619833664.

Dube, S. R., Fairweather, D., Pearson, W. S., Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., & Croft, J. B. (2009). Cumulative childhood stress and autoimmune diseases in adults. Psychosomatic medicine, 71(2), 243.

Ortiz, R., & Sibinga, E. (2017). The role of mindfulness in reducing the adverse effects of childhood stress and trauma. Children, 4(3), 16.

Nurius, P. S., Green, S., Logan-Greene, P., & Borja, S. (2015). Life course pathways of adverse childhood experiences toward adult psychological well-being: A stress process analysis. Child abuse & neglect, 45, 143-153.


Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Depression, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Human Development, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP.

Description: Even if you are barely paying attention you cannot have missed media accounts and speculations regarding the impacts of screen time on development in childhood and on wellbeing among adolescents. Before we push panic buttons and start to crusade against another new technology (like we did about television a few decades ago) we should consider how recent research might inform us about screen time AND what such research may NOT tell us or, more specifically, are we asking the right research questions in the right way to build a valid and useful understanding of screen time and its potential effects (and its potential benefits). Two vital questions we should be considering in relation to screen time include first: What do we mean by “screen time” and what negative effects are we concerned about? This question requires that we be more specific about our interests and concerns. So rather than just is screen time good or bad we might ask something more specific like; Does social media use predict the subsequent emergence of depressive symptoms? A well designed study looking at this question (here is one) would clearly define and measure social media use and would assess depressive symptomology after, or developmentally downstream from) social media use. A second, and perhaps more important question, at least as we start to fire up debate on screen time, is to ask whether the studies looking generally at screen time and wellbeing have been properly designed and executed AND whether they make it clear exactly what they mean by “screen time.” Think for a moment about what a good (well designed) study on screen time and wellbeing among adolescents should look like and then read through the article inked below that describes a concerted effort to get it right (are at least to take a step in that direction.

Source: Screen Time – Even Before Bed A – Has Little Impact on Teen Well-Being. Anna Mikulak, APS.

Date: April 5, 2019

Photo Credit: Association for Psychological Science

Article Link:

So, what did you take away from your read of the linked article? The big finding was that screen time, simply defined, does not seem to predict much of anything in the way of negative developments or outcomes. Less flashy but perhaps even more important are the methodological statements addressed by the article about sample sizes and about the importance of a priori (up front before you gather and examine the data) statement of hypotheses so that you do not engage in a fishing expedition (casting around in a large dataset until you find one or two things that are statistically significant and potentially interesting against the backdrop of a lot of stuff that did not turn out the way you might have hoped). So, again, what did you take away from the account of the study included in the article linked above? Do you have a clear understanding of what “digital engagement” is or means as a working definition of screen time? Which of your own questions regarding screen time does this study settle for you, which are still open, and did any new questions arise for you during your reading? What next research steps would you like to see?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is screen time and how much of your definition of that term is captured by the term “digital engagement?”
  2. Beyond the impact of big numbers on a study’s statistical power what other factors are potentially better addressed by have a LOT of people in your study?
  3. After reading the article linked above and, perhaps, having had a look at the actual research article itself, what sorts of studies do you think we need to consider undertaking now in relation to screen time and wellbeing?

References (Read Further):

Orben, A., & Baukney-Przybylski, A. K. (2018). Screens, Teens and Psychological Well-Being: Evidence from three time-use diary studies. Psychological Science.

Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2019). Digital Screen Time Limits and Young Children’s Psychological Well‐Being: Evidence From a Population‐Based Study. Child development, 90(1), e56-e65.

Okely, A. D., Tremblay, M. S., Reilly, J. J., Draper, C., & Robinson, T. N. (2019). Advocating for a cautious, conservative approach to screen time guidelines in young children. The Journal of pediatrics.

Lissak, G. (2018). Adverse physiological and psychological effects of screen time on children and adolescents: Literature review and case study. Environmental research, 164, 149-157.

Knell, G., Durand, C. P., Kohl, H. W., Wu, I. H., & Gabriel, K. P. (2019). Prevalence and Likelihood of Meeting Sleep, Physical Activity, and Screen-Time Guidelines Among US Youth. JAMA pediatrics, 173(4), 387-389.


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

Description: How would you define empathy? Would feeling another person’s feelings capture it or at least part of it? Some sort of positive response would likely also need to be included in the definition, but it could be seen to follow from the first part. So how do we feel what someone else feels? We could figure it out based on our own previous experience or based on what we have heard, seen or read about other people’s feelings. However, that would require conscious reflection and a fair bit of experience not to mention the desire to pay attention to opportunities to learn about others’ feelings and, if all of that is true then would it make sense to say that rats have empathy? If rats DO have empathy how might that work or develop and what might it suggest about human empathy? Think about that for a minute and then read the article linked below to find out about rat empathy

Source: I feel you: Emotional mirror neurons found in the rat, Science News, Science Daily.

Date: April 11, 2019

Photo Credit: Pakhnyushchyy/Fotolia

Article Link:

So, rats have neurons in the cingulate cortex of their brains that fire when they feel pain but that also fire when they see another rat experiencing the same pain. That does, indeed, sound like it could be related to empathy or at least to a necessary prerequisite to a full blown empathic response that involves noticing AND then responding to pain in another. This would suggest that we do not need to figure out what others are feeling and that empathy perhaps need not rely entirely on higher order thinking. It also suggests that the roots of empathy may be more basic and less uniquely human that we may have thought. Oh, and here is another interesting finding. Psychopaths, who seem able to think about what other people feel but who do not seem to empathically share those feelings have structural and functional abnormalities in the anterior cingulate cortex, the area in rats’ brains where the mirror neuron for pain were located (see the Koenigs reference below). Curious huh?.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is empathy and how uniquely human would you say it is?
  2. Does it make sense to call the firing of mirror neurons in rats, empathy?
  3. How do mirror neurons fit within an account of empathy in humans?

References (Read Further):

Maria Carrillo, Yinging Han, Filippo Migliorati, Ming Liu, Valeria Gazzola, Christian Keysers. Emotional Mirror Neurons in the Rat’s Anterior Cingulate Cortex. Current Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.024

Fabbri-Destro, M., & Rizzolatti, G. (2008). Mirror neurons and mirror systems in monkeys and humans. Physiology, 23(3), 171-179.

Gallese, V., Eagle, M. N., & Migone, P. (2007). Intentional attunement: Mirror neurons and the neural underpinnings of interpersonal relations. Journal of the American psychoanalytic Association, 55(1), 131-175.

Williams, J. H., Whiten, A., Suddendorf, T., & Perrett, D. I. (2001). Imitation, mirror neurons and autism. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 25(4), 287-295.

Koenigs, M. (2012). The role of prefrontal cortex in psychopathy. Rev Neurosci. 23(3): 253–262.



Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Motivation-Emotion, Physiology, Social Psychology.

Description: There are a broad array of human emotions. Think of how many basic emotions you can name. Now, a harder question: Are there feelings or emotions that are hard to name or that, while we know them when we feel them or when we see them being experienced by others, we cannot come up with a name? Have you heard of kama muta? I bet not. Read the article linked below to find out what it is (you WILL recognize the patterns or feelings/emotions associated with it).

Source: The Experience of Being Emotionally Moved, Andy Tix, The Pursuit of Peace, Psychology Today.

Date: April 11, 2019

Photo Credit: 

Article Link:

So now you have a name for that emotion, the warmhearted, soulfelt, goosebumps and tear generating feeling of kama muta and there is even a research lad dedicated to studying just it (see link below in the references section). If there ever was a part of the human experience worthy or “further research” it is certainly kama muta for its grounding in a basic humanity of social connection. I would be interested in participating in that line of research. Oh and the wild thing in the title of this post? Well, it is from a song of that name by the Troggs which contains the line “You move me.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is kama muta?
  2. Why might studying kama muta more closely be a good idea?
  3. If you were going to take up the study of kama muta what would be several things (images, movie clips, stories etc.) you could use to generate the emotion and what sorts of things would the stimuli have in common?

References (Read Further):

Zickfeld, J. H., Schubert, T. W., Seibt, B., Blomster, J. K., Arriaga, P., Basabe, N., … & Ding, Y. (2018). Kama muta: Conceptualizing and measuring the experience often labelled being moved across 19 nations and 15 languages. Emotion.

Steinnes, K. K., Blomster, J. K., Seibt, B., Zickfeld, J. H., & Fiske, A. P. (2019). Too Cute for Words: Cuteness Evokes the Heartwarming Emotion of Kama Muta. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 387.

Zickfeld, J. H., Schubert, T. W., Seibt, B., & Fiske, A. P. replicate the authoritative document published in Emotion Review at.

Website of the Kama Muta Lab

Fiske, A. P., Seibt, B., & Schubert, T. (2019). The sudden devotion emotion: Kama muta and the cultural practices whose function is to evoke it. Emotion Review, 11(1), 74-86.

Seibt, B., Schubert, T. W., Zickfeld, J. H., Zhu, L., Arriaga, P., Simão, C., … & Fiske, A. P. (2018). Kama Muta: Similar Emotional Responses to Touching Videos Across the United States, Norway, China, Israel, and Portugal. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 49(3), 418-435.

Schubert, T. W., Zickfeld, J. H., Seibt, B., & Fiske, A. P. (2018). Moment-to-moment changes in feeling moved match changes in closeness, tears, goosebumps, and warmth: Time series analyses. Cognition and Emotion, 32(1), 174-184.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: If you believe another person is not thinking properly about something what is the best way to get them change their mind and to think more clearly? If you thought that showing them some facts would be a good idea you are not alone as that is what most people think, especially when the thing being thought about is grounded in science, like the value of vaccinations for example. There is ample evidence that we are not as rational as we like to think we are (not by half!). No news there, but here is a question that may not have occurred to you. If thinking irrationally is so wide-spread how did we survive, evolutionarily speaking? Or put another way, how might we look at irrational thinking as an advantage from an evolutionary point of view? Puzzle on that one for a minute and then read the article linked below for an informative overview of the emergence of research on irrationality and several angles on the question of what used to be in it for us, or rather for our evolutionarily distant ancestors.

Source: Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds, Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker.

Date: April 14, 2019

Photo Credit: Gerard DuBois

Article Link:

So, our first impressions are powerful enough to survive fact-based refutation and we preferentially perceive data that supports our existing beliefs and fake news continues to influence our beliefs even when we are shown definitively that it IS fake. In what reality could this be of survival value? Well, in a hyper-social, tribally organized one, into which we evolved, where inventions and break throughs created new “realms if ignorance” in which incomplete knowledge is actually empowering. It seems that perhaps we were built (or rather we evolved) more for living in a world with alternative facts than a world of science. Hopefully this makes you want to think harder and more carefully and to rise above where we came from.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that we seem to consistently be irrational?
  2. What sort of survival value might some of these examples of irrational thinking have had for our ancestors?
  3. Individual resolutions to try harder to think more clearly, rationally and scientifically aside what sorts of things might we do to help others who are not trying so hard and why might it be important for us to do such things?

References (Read Further):

Gorman, S. E., & Gorman, J. M. (2016). Denying to the grave: Why we ignore the facts that will save us. Oxford University Press.

Sloman, S., & Fernbach, P. (2018). The knowledge illusion: Why we never think alone. Penguin.

Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2017). The enigma of reason. Harvard University Press.

Mercier, H. (2016). The argumentative theory: Predictions and empirical evidence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(9), 689-700.

Trouche, E., Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Mercier, H. (2016). The selective laziness of reasoning. Cognitive Science, 40(8), 2122-2136.



Posted by & filed under Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders.

Description: Answer this question quickly off the top of your head: Is it possible for someone to become addicted to internet gaming? If you said yes, think about whether you mean that it is possible for someone to become genuinely addicted to internet gaming like someone could become addicted to heroin or whether you mean that someone could just be more focused on, and spend more time, internet gaming than you, personally, think is a good idea? The question of whether an Internet Gaming Disorder should be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological disorders was hotly debated during the run up to the 2013 publication of its 5th edition, and the debate is still raging. Whether you answered yes or no to the initial question, have a read through the article linked below for some additional food for thought on this topic.

Source: Reevaluating Internet Gaming Disorder, Christopher J. Ferguson, Checkpoints, Psychology Today.

Date: April 5, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

So, if we decide to identify Internet Gaming Disorder as a disorder, do we also have start to talk about cat addicts, and running addicts, or even quilting addicts? Those things impact your brain chemistry too. Is the fact that the potential label contains the word “game” (as in something people do that is not a serious part of the “real” world (hockey, football, baseball, and basketball aside, of course – and they are addictive, aren’t they?). The author of the article linked above points out that we are on and perhaps even art way down a very slippery slope in our consideration of Internet Gaming Disorder. Before we simply say more research is needed I think it would be better to say “let’s think about this – think about our assumptions – a bit before proclaiming a new disorder or even before doing more research.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the proposed Internet Gaming Disorder involve?
  2. Can we see useful similarities between possible Internet Gaming Addiction and heroin addiction?
  3. So, what do you think? Should the DSM follow the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Include Internet Gaming Disorder?

References (Read Further):

Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., & Murayama, K. (2016). Internet gaming disorder: Investigating the clinical relevance of a new phenomenon. American Journal of Psychiatry, 174(3), 230-236.

Ferguson, C. J., & Ceranoglu, T. A. (2014). Attention problems and pathological gaming: Resolving the ‘chicken and egg’in a prospective analysis. Psychiatric Quarterly, 85(1), 103-110.

Petry, N. M., Rehbein, F., Gentile, D. A., Lemmens, J. S., Rumpf, H. J., Mößle, T., … & Auriacombe, M. (2014). An international consensus for assessing internet gaming disorder using the new DSM‐5 approach. Addiction, 109(9), 1399-1406.

King, D. L., & Delfabbro, P. H. (2014). The cognitive psychology of Internet gaming disorder. Clinical psychology review, 34(4), 298-308.

Lemmens, J. S., Valkenburg, P. M., & Gentile, D. A. (2015). The Internet Gaming Disorder Scale. Psychological assessment, 27(2), 567.