Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Description: You would have to have been under a non-internet enabled rock lately to have missed the rising tide of concern about the extent of smartphone use, social media use, and screen time in general. We though concern over television use was a big deal 30 to 40 years ago but that looks positively rural compared to today’s screen time concerns. So here is a simple (not really) question. What is it about screen time that we should be concerned about? The fact that screen time is associated with developmental delays is not to be taken lightly but is it going to be a simple thing like that which we eventually came to with television — that time spent watching TV was time spent not doing other things (that were better for you). So, what is it about screen time these days we should be worried about both for our children and for ourselves?

Source: What we talk about when we talk about excessive screen time, Mark Kingwell, Opinion, Special to The Globe and Mail. And Study Links excessive screen time to developmental delays in children, Wency Leung, Health, The Globe and Mail.

Date: February 2, 2019 and January 28, 2019

Photo Credit: ShutterStock

Article Link:  and

So, what are you thinking now about screen time?  The second article linked above appropriately suggests a version of the “time away from stuff that is better for you developmentally” hypothesis and that makes a lot of sense. The task that remains, however, is the big one – figuring out just what is being under done developmentally due to screen time totals. The first article linked above is somewhat more speculative in nature, but it is looking directly at this question of what is being missed. The existential hypothesis being explored is potentially quite a rich one (in my humble opinion). When we are bored we turn to screens to interest and engage us and screens these days do that very very well. But what is the boredom we experience is actually ‘pseudo boredom’? Plain old boredom is what we experience when we have nothing to do other than the same old same old. Pseudo boredom is what we experience when a parent of our basic situation of the moment directly or essentially tells us to “find something to do.” THAT is an important existential developmental ‘what-are-you-going-to-DO-about-it’ moment. As the author of the second linked article puts it in closing … “ Screen or no screen, you are still an individual, for now. Maybe your looming boredom is worth exploring rather than feeling.” Think about that, with your brain and no screens.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is screen time?
  2. What is the relationship (possible) between screen time and development?
  3. How might screen time be an existential developmental issue?

References (Read Further):

Madigan, S., Browne, D., Racine, N., Mori, C., & Tough, S. (2019). Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test. JAMA Pediatrics.

Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (2019) The health impacts of screen time: a guide for clinicians and parents,

Magee, C. A., Lee, J. K., & Vella, S. A. (2014). Bidirectional relationships between sleep duration and screen time in early childhood. JAMA pediatrics, 168(5), 465-470.

Maras, D., Flament, M. F., Murray, M., Buchholz, A., Henderson, K. A., Obeid, N., & Goldfield, G. S. (2015). Screen time is associated with depression and anxiety in Canadian youth. Preventive medicine, 73, 133-138.

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.


Posted by & filed under Aging Psychological Disorders, Aging-Psychological Disorders, Clinical Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology.

Description: Imagine you are a biochemist and you have been working on finding substances that could be used against the two main toxic proteins involved in Alzheimer’s, amyloid beta and tau. Further imagine that you have found a substance that seems to do what you want, at least when tested on the proteins in petri dishes. You get approval for human trials, but you are disappointed with the results as the substance does not seems to produce the results you hoped. You hypothesize that perhaps the substance is not getting to the targeted areas in the brain in sufficient qualities so you up the dosage and see some improvement but still not what you hoped. Direct injection into the brain is not a safe option so, what do you do? Well, read the article linked below to see what some researchers at the University of Toronto are trying.

Source: Trial Tests use of focused ultrasound on Alzheimer’s, Wency Leung, Health Reporter, The Globe and Mail.

Date: February 2, 2019

Photo Credit: GSO Images/Getty Images

Article Link:

The blood-brain barrier makes it difficult to get more than small quantities of potential therapeutic substances in to specific locations in the brain where they might help. Increasing dosage often brings unwanted side effects and so other delivery models are needed. Targeting specific areas of the brain such as the motor control brain regions of Parkinson patients is another example of a deliver problem. Direct into the brain injections do not work for ongoing treatment and substances taken by pill or IV cannot be steered to where they are needed. The ultrasound technique discussed in the linked article provides a means of increasing the delivery of therapeutic substances in to fairly specific brain regions and may give some of the new Alzheimer’s treatments a significant boost. Sometimes it is not that we need a treatment but rather a way to deliver it effectively.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What was the problem that focused ultrasound may be a solution for?
  2. How does focused ultrasound work?
  3. What are some other examples of treatment delivery issues?

References (Read Further):

Summers, W. K. (2006). Tacrine, and Alzheimer’s treatments. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 9(s3), 439-445.

Yiannopoulou, K. G., & Papageorgiou, S. G. (2013). Current and future treatments fo r Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders, 6(1), 19-33.

Galimberti, D., & Scarpini, E. (2011). Disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders, 4(4), 203-216.

Dunnett, S. B., & Björklund, A. (1999). Prospects for new restorative and neuroprotective treatments in Parkinson’s disease. Nature, 399(Supplementary), A32.

Hauser, R. A. (2011). Future treatments for Parkinson’s disease: surfing the PD pipeline. International Journal of Neuroscience, 121(sup2), 53-62.

Sacks, O. (1983). The origin of” Awakenings”. British medical journal (Clinical research ed.), 287(6409), 1968.

Sacks, O. (2010). Awakenings Revisited. Sacred Heart University Review, 12(1), 2.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Consciousness, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Emerging Adulthood, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, The Self.

Description: If you are currently in high school, college or university, or any other post-secondary educational/training setting you undoubtably regularly spend time wondering what the job market will look like when you complete your education and wonder what potential employers will want to see in you when you engage with them in search of employment. Well, in relation to those questions there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is that the nature of work is shifting as things like globalization and automation change what will be available in the way of work when you graduate. In addition, employers and recruiters are saying that they are looking for more that what you are currently learning through the curricula in the courses you are taking. So, this bad news may be a bit chilling, but it need not be. The good news is that while automation and globalization are changing work options, they are not eliminating them and second, there has really never been a simple one-to-one relationship between college/university curricula and desired job skills and even when there is it is short-lived with what you learn in school becoming outdated in only a few years. Ok well that does not sound like good news really does it but what IS good about it is that it will help you get focused upon what you can be doing NOW to prepare yourself for getting a good job when you graduate. A good place to start is with what recruiters ARE looking for. Read through the article linked below (there are other ‘takes’ on the same theme at the second link below) and then think a bit about how you might go about acquiring the skills recruiters say they are looking for.

Source: Employers Want ‘Uniquely Human Skills’, Dian Schaffhauser, Research, Campus Technology.

Date: January 17, 2019

Photo Credit: Campus

 Article Link:  Alternative versions can be reviewed here:

So, what do you think about the list of skills hiring managers are looking for these days? Are there opportunities in your current educational setting and experiences for you to acquire some or all of the things on that list? Well if you just think about the contents of your courses as listed on your course outlines and in your textbooks, you are likely not seeing many or any connections (unless you are taking a course in Industrial/Organizational Psychology). However, there ARE ways to turn that bad news into good news. First, consider the parts of the list that reflect what are generally referred to as ‘soft skills’ and including “the ability to listen, attention to detail and attentiveness, effective communication, and strong interpersonal abilities.” We call them soft skills because they are typically thought of as things that people are either inherently good at or that they pick up along the way. There is some truth to this characterization as soft skills or social/emotional understanding, insight and competence are built up developmentally as we grow and as we are socialized by our parents, teachers, peers, and other sociocultural involvements. Now that might sound like you either have soft skills or you do not have social skills and if you do not it is someone else’s fault, BUT, another aspect of development that is important for you to know about is that through adolescence (teenaged years) and emerging adulthood (18 to 25 or 29 years of age) you have been developing general higher order thinking skills that, if you notice them and work on them, help you to see some of the bigger picture of how the world around you works what and your possible places in it and pathways through it might involve. This higher order thinking can help you to understand that you are not simply finding things like knowledge, abilities or career prospects in the world but, rather, that you are creating them. Another way to say this is that you are beginning to see ways in which you can move beyond living reactively by taking up what comes by, and instead live with conscious purpose and chart your own way forward.

What does all that have to do with soft skills? Well, if you dig in and see what psychology has to say about emotional intelligence or EQ you will see that soft skills can be seen, understood, and learned. You can take advantage, for example, of any group projects you are assigned in your courses to hone your own soft skills and to see them (or their lack) in others. If you do that you will gain some insights and acquire some examples of your own soft skill that you can use in your future job interviews because teamwork skills are at the very top of most recruiters’ lists (and they are made up entirely of EQ/soft skills that you can develop).

As to the other things in the list, well, critical thinking is much more than just being crusty and negative. Critical thinking is a strong manifestation of the higher order thinking you are developing. It involves going beyond the obvious facts of a situation looking at how the facts are put together and at whether looking at them from other perspective might suggest other courses of action. “Being able to keep learning” or what is typically referred to as lifelong learning does not mean that you should stay in school forever. What is means, and why it is in the list with the soft skills, is that it too reflects the development of higher order thinking which allows you to understand that the facts and understandings of today may not apply to the situations of tomorrow or next year or may not be the facts we once though they were and if you can get your head around a corner of THAT then you can start to see that you should not simply keep on learning but SHOULD keep on thinking, reflecting, and living on purpose. “How to” manuals for these sorts of DIY (Do It Yourself) projects are hard to find but if you read a bit about the developmental stage of emerging adulthood (search the term and its developer JJ. Arnett) you can start to see that there is nothing soft about all of these developmental skills they are important parts of life these days. If you do you will begin to see the huge number of opportunities you have around you to develop and practice the higher order thinking and the soft skills that will give you lots to talk about with recruiters when you head out looking for work.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are ‘soft skills’ and why are they called ‘soft’?
  2. Why do employers want to have solid soft skills?
  3. How are soft skills and development through the teenage and emerging adulthood years related?

References (Read Further):

Robles, M. M. (2012). Executive perceptions of the top 10 soft skills needed in today’s workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 453-465.’s_Workplace/links/56095e8908ae4d86bb11d036/Executive-Perceptions-of-the-Top-10-Soft-Skills-Needed-in-Todays-Workplace.pdf

Schulz, B. (2008). The importance of soft skills: Education beyond academic knowledge.

Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American psychologist, 55(5), 469.

Arnett, J. J. (2007). Emerging adulthood: What is it, and what is it good for?. Child development perspectives, 1(2), 68-73.

Miri, B., David, B. C., & Uri, Z. (2007). Purposely teaching for the promotion of higher-order thinking skills: A case of critical thinking. Research in science education, 37(4), 353-369.

Posted by & filed under Early Social and Emotional development, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: There is a tired old social meme about relationship abandonment that went sort of like “Dad went out for cigarettes one night 15 years ago and never came back.” Now while the idea of people running away from relation ships is not new the ways people are doing the running away are changing. Have you heard of ghosting? It is usually invoked as a description of people who simply vanish from contact usually by simply do longer responding to text messages. Psychology must keep up with new social trends and so think about how we might define the concept of ghosting. What does it involve? Are there levels of severity associated with ghosting (perhaps related to the nature of the relationship that has been dropped by ghosting)? Once you have gathered your thoughts about these questions and, perhaps, posed one or two of your own have a read through the article linked below that talks about some of the initial efforts on the part of research psychologists to figure out how to characterize and study “ghosting.”

Source: Why People Ghost – and How to get Over It: Time to go ghostbusting, Adam Popescu, Smarter Living, The New York Times.

Date: January 22, 2019

Photo Credit: Pablo Rochat/The New York Times

Article Link:

So how does Psychology seem to be doing in trying to get our heads around what ghosting is and how to deal with it? It is clear that ghosting is tied into relationships and into how people cope with either side on ended relationships (the same way that people had to cope when “Dad” went out for some smokes and never returned). What is perhaps different about ghosting today is how it is played out through texting and other forms of communication media. Just as Facebook’s use of the term “Friends” to describe the entire array of people one is connected to through that social media platform is drawing us to ask if this represents a sort of concept creep or if we should avoid applying much of what we know (Psychologically) about the nature of friendship to those sorts of connections. Figuring out what is the same as before (ghosting = dumping and ignoring) and what is different (end of relationship expectations in the age of social media and electronic connectedness) are interesting and important research tasks as we all try and figure out how these things work these days both personally, relationally and psychologically.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is ghosting?
  2. What aspects of human relationship dynamics and outcomes does ghosting match up with and what does ghosting add into our considerations of relationships that was not here previously?
  3. Is thinking about and deciding what, if anything, needs to be done about concept creep (e.g., Friends before and after Facebook)?

References (Read Further):

Koban, L., & Pourtois, G. (2014). Brain systems underlying the affective and social monitoring of actions: an integrative review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 46, 71-84.

Durso, G. R., Luttrell, A., & Way, B. M. (2015). Over-the-counter relief from pains and pleasures alike: Acetaminophen blunts evaluation sensitivity to both negative and positive stimuli. Psychological science, 26(6), 750-758.

Freedman, G., Burgoon, E. M., Ferrell, J. D., Pennebaker, J. W., & Beer, J. S. (2017). When saying sorry may not help: the impact of apologies on social rejections. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1375.

Freedman, G., Powell, D. N., Le, B., & Williams, K. D. (2018). Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 0265407517748791.

Dwyer, C. (2007, January). Digital relationships in the” myspace” generation: Results from a qualitative study. In System Sciences, 2007. HICSS 2007. 40th Annual Hawaii International Conference on (pp. 19-19). IEEE.

Freedman, G., Powell, D. N., Le, B., & Williams, K. D. (2018). Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 0265407517748791.

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

Description: Have you heard the term “Chemobrain”? While it has been around for quite a while it has been coming up more frequently lately as a concern for those undergoing cancer treatments using chemotherapy as at least 50% of them currently will experience some of the aspects of cognitive imparement associated with Chemobrain and for some of them the effects will not go away after treatment is complete. While getting rid of cancer is a prized goal people living with ongoing cognitive issues or with memory issue or fatigue may understandably like to hear that work is going on the try and better understand Chemobrain and, one hopes, to work on ways to lessen or eliminate it from treatment. Read through the article link to see what myelinization or neurons in the brain has to do with Chemobrain.

Source: Chemobrain: The impact of chemotherapy on Cognition, Elanena Blanco-Suarez, Brain Chemistry, Psychology Today

Date: January 23, 2019

Photo Credit: Cisplatin crystals. Larry Ostby, photo released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency of the National Institutes of Health.

Article Link:

The account of the brain level factors associated with Chemobrain in the article linked above might have been a bit hard to get your brain around if you have not had at least part of a psychology course with a neuroscience focus. Regardless you can see some of the points of brain influence that are being looked at as we try to develop a better understanding of what is involved in Chemobrain and, one hopes, begin to develop ways not mitigate it, avoid it or treat it.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is chemobrain?
  2. Why has there only recently been a concerted focus on chemobrain, what causes it and what might mitigate its impacts?
  3. When and how should the issue of chemobrain be discussed with patients about to begin chemotherapy for cancer?

References (Read Further):

Gibson, E. M., Nagaraja, S., Ocampo, A., Tam, L. T., Wood, L. S., Pallegar, P. N., … & Woo, P. J. (2018). Methotrexate Chemotherapy Induces Persistent Tri-glial Dysregulation that Underlies Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Impairment. Cell.

Boykoff, N., Moieni, M., & Subramanian, S. K. (2009). Confronting chemobrain: an in-depth look at survivors’ reports of impact on work, social networks, and health care response. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 3(4), 223.

Simó, M., Rifà-Ros, X., Rodriguez-Fornells, A., & Bruna, J. (2013). Chemobrain: a systematic review of structural and functional neuroimaging studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(8), 1311-1321.

Argyriou, A. A., Assimakopoulos, K., Iconomou, G., Giannakopoulou, F., & Kalofonos, H. P. (2011). Either called “chemobrain” or “chemofog,” the long-term chemotherapy-induced cognitive decline in cancer survivors is real. Journal of pain and symptom management, 41(1), 126-139.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Legal Ethical Issues.

Description: You have no doubt heard the term “at-risk” used to refer to groups of individuals (perhaps children from low SES backgrounds or children with parents coping with mental illness. Think about the appropriateness of the general use of that term. What could be problematic about referring to groups or worse to individual students as “at-risk students?” Would it or should it make a difference if you were able to point at (and address) the things that are driving up the “risk levels”? What if being “at-risk” was simply applied to those who are members of particular groups when the actual or even likely causes of the “risk” are not known and therefore not directly addressable? And what if those groups were distinguished from others by racial or ethnic lines. What about the use of the term them? Think about the implications of these questions and then reads the article linked below for a detailed argument for a rethinking of our use of the term “at-risk.”

Source: Why it is wrong to label students ‘at-risk’, Ivory A. Toldson, The Conversation.

Date: January 23, 2019

Photo Credit: Diego Cervo/

Article Link:

So, is the distinction between practical (causally attributable and addressable) and post-poor outcomes applications to situations where causes are unknown, unclear or, at least out of the control of the students themselves, their parents or their teachers? As well, does the difference between “more resources for at-risk students” and “more resources to reduce risk factors for students” make sense? It is important to understand that “risk” is NOT a personal attribute but, rather, a probabilistic statement about possible outcomes that may not have any obvious links to specifiable (and fixable) causal factors.  Psychology and especially education has been talking about issues of labeling for years and the article’s author’s suggestion that we find ways to have broader discussion n about groups and communities that routinely include consideration of community assets – such as hope and resilience is timely and is a direction we should really commit to pursuing!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to say that a student or group of students are “at-risk”?
  2. What are some of the uses and the disadvantages of using the term “at-risk”?
  3. How should we talk about, think about, and/or address the fact that “risk” is usually a statement about groups or situations while outcomes in school usually apply to and potentially stigmatize individuals?

References (Read Further):

Placier, M. L. (1993). The semantics of state policy making: The case of “at risk”. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15(4), 380-395.

Brown, J. H., & D’Emidio Caston, M. (1995). On becoming” at risk” through drug education: How symbolic policies and their practices affect students. Evaluation review, 19(4), 451-491.

Barnett, K. (2015, March). The At-Risk Student’s Journey with Online Course Credit; Looking at Perceptions of Care and Their Lived Experience. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1454-1462). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Toldson, Ivory A. (2019) No BS (Bad Stats) Black People Need People Who Believe in Black People Enough Not to Believe Every Bad Thing They Hear about Black People, Personal/Public Scholarship, Volume 4,

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought, Learning, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Why do you think people fall for (believe) fake news stories? Is it because they simply want them to be true (confirmation bias – I KNOW that politicians are crooked!) when they align with our partisan leanings (It all political right?). Or, is it that we just find that we cannot build up enough concern to care to check sources – we are mentally lazy? Or do you have another explanation? Well, sort out what your hypotheses are and then read the article linked below in which a couple of Psychologists (one Canadian and one American) go through what light Psychological research can shine on this increasingly current and topical question.

Source: Why do People Fall for Fake News? Gordon Pennycook and David Rand, Grey Matter, The New York Times.

Date: January 19, 2019

Photo Credit: Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch/The New York Times

 Article Link:

So as is often the case, there is something to both general theories of why we bite on fake news. Each theory looks at a different part of the issue. The brighter we are the better we are at rationalizing that what we WANT to believe is what is true regardless or even in the direct face of opposing data. On the other hand, it turns out that using our reasoning skills and thinking analytically actually leads to clearer thoughts (thank goodness!). Thinking analytically rather than going with our “gut” or intuitions makes us less superstitious, les likely to buy conspiracy theories and less likely to accept vague or over generalized assertions. So maybe we buy into fake news when we are being cognitively lazy. In their own research the authors of the linked article showed that people who are better at reflective reasoning (sample test questions here: ) were significantly better at telling facts from falsehoods regardless of how what they were reading related to their political beliefs. So work at NOT being a lazy thinker and you will be safer from the potential influence by fake news.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are a couple of reasons people might believe a fake news story?
  2. Does whether the “fake news” we read supports our political views make a difference in whether we believe it or not?
  3. Why has it become more important in recent years to know about how people deal with the assertions made in fake news storied when they encounter them?

References (Read Further):

Pennycook, G., & Rand, D. G. (2018). Lazy, not biased: Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained by lack of reasoning than by motivated reasoning. Cognition.

Kahan, D. M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L. L., Braman, D., & Mandel, G. (2012). The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature climate change, 2(10), 732.

Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2010). When corrections fail: The persistence of political misperceptions. Political Behavior, 32(2), 303-330.

Wood, T., & Porter, E. (2016). The elusive backfire effect: Mass attitudes’ steadfast factual adherence. Political Behavior, 1-29.

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Attitude Formation Change, Child Development, Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Have you seen the ad recently produced by the Gillette company?  Their company tag line is “The Best a Man can Get” and in their ad they argue against toxic masculinity and that recent social change movements such as #MeToo have initiated changes in our thinking about masculinity. Gillette’s ad states that things have changed, and we cannot go back. There has been quite a storm of reaction to the Gillette ad. In the midst of that the American Psychological Association (APA) released a new set of guidelines for how clinical Psychologists should approach the concept of masculinity in their clinical practices. Following the release of the guidelines APA dove right into the social media water with Gillette with a tweet linked back to an article on their website talking about the guidelines that stated “more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage.” So, what do you think? Watch the Gillette video linked below and then read one or both the news/opinion articles that speak about the video and about the APA’s new guidelines. The APA guidelines and their article talking about them are linked in the References section below).

Source: In the #MeToo age, APA has new guidelines for psychologists talking about traditional masculinity, Annees Benferhat and Saumya Dave, ABC News.  Or In search of non-Toxic Manhood, Ross Douthat, The New York Times.

Date: January 17, 2019

Photo Credit: Gillette and Global News

Article Link: or  and  The Gillette video

The #MeToo movement is part of (and perhaps the catalyst that is driving) a general evaluation of a range of issues tied to masculinity and including, but not limited to, gender relations, workplace civility, equal pay, and male privilege. Thinking and talking about how we are dealing with masculinity at the individual, organizational, social and cultural levels has ramped up. Before Gillette put their video out there were others. David Schwimmer (of Friends fame) produced a series of videos showing examples of sexual harassment behavior (links to these are below) that also generated a lot of discussion. As we struggle to define and live a non-toxic version of masculinity it is worth noting that while this plays out at the individual level the issues are historically and culturally grounded and so what we are talking about and working on changing are some fairly deeply based meaning structures that are reflected in the actions of individuals. Talking about them is a critical part of managing the necessary changes that are underway.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is toxic masculinity?
  2. Is the concept of masculinity inherently toxic?
  3. Given that this issue is grounded in sociocultural norms and practices how do we as individuals (and as Psychologists) understand and deal with (come to terms with) the need for changes in our concepts of the nature of masculinity?

References (Read Further):

APA (2018) Harmful masculinity and violence,

Pappas, Stephanie (2019) APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys,

David Schwimmer’s Sexual Harassment Series,

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Student Success.

Description: Ok quick, don’t think just answer this question: What is the relationship between reason and emotion? Typically, our first reaction is to say that reason and emotion are in a bit of a tug of war. If you are thinking reasonably you are not being emotional and if you are being emotional you are not being reasonable – you are not thinking clearly. While it IS true that extreme emotions can limit our ability to think clearly but reason and emotion are not really black and white opposites. Think about it. What goes along with intellectual interest or intellectual insight? Good feelings, right? Emotions are how we assign value to things and so emotions may actually be essential to reason and to learning. Think a bit about how this relationship might work (and relationship IS a potentially useful active ingredient in understanding the relationship between thinking and emotion) and then read the article linked below that addresses this question as well.

Source: Students Learn from People They Love, David Brooks, The New York Times.

Date: January 17, 2019

Photo Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times

 Article Link:

Perhaps you had not thought of colleges and universities as places where you might go to experience emotions but emotions in the context of relationships (social interactions) drive knowledge acquisition. The example of children learning Mandarin phrases much better and faster in face-to-face lessons as opposed to video lessons is compelling. Can you think of a class you had, or have, where the professor was/is passionate about their subject and it felt like they were sharing that with you in their lectures? Learning is easier and better in those sorts of classes. We often ask if the instructor was enthusiastic on course evaluations, but we do not, typically, evaluate the nature and quality of the learning relationships that could (should) be built through our classes. Emotions generated while learning are something to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are thinking and emotions related?
  2. How are thinking and emotions related in a class you recall as being very engaging and enjoyable?
  3. What do you make of the differences discussed in the article between learning in face-to-face settings and via video recordings?

References (Read Further):


Kuhl, P. K., Tsao, F. M., & Liu, H. M. (2003). Foreign-language experience in infancy: Effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 9096-9101.

Dikker, S., Wan, L., Davidesco, I., Kaggen, L., Oostrik, M., McClintock, J., … & Poeppel, D. (2017). Brain-to-brain synchrony tracks real-world dynamic group interactions in the classroom. Current Biology, 27(9), 1375-1380.

Aspen Institute From a nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope: Recommendations from a National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Depression, Human Development, Personality in Aging, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Live a meaningful life and you will feel better and live longer. Sound good? Well, while you may have heard that somewhere do you know if it is true and if there is research supporting it? Think about how you would design a study to try and evaluate this statement. Who would you include in the study? What would the design look like (cross-sectional or longitudinal)? How would you assess meaningfulness and purpose? What else would you measure? After you have through those questions through (a bit) read the article linked below to see how researchers did so in a recently published study.

Source: The Power of Purpose and Meaning in Life, Lydia Denworth, Brain Waves, Psychology Today.

Date: January 12, 2019

Photo Credit: yacobchuck/iStock

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So, the search suggests that the statute we started with above holds up. People who are socially engaged feel better about themselves and appear to also do better physically as they age. The question of whether the correlational nature of this sort of research is a problem (maybe being healthy and engaged socially makes you feel like your life has more purpose rather than the other way around). The longitudinal study discussed in the article suggests that the findings may not reflect an entirely correlational relationship. It may seem unrelated but as an example of the power of direct face-to-face social interaction consider this. Jean Twenge has done research with members of the population born since 1994 (called iGen). The oldest members of this generational cohort are now in or just graduating university and as a group their rates of anxiety and depression, self-harm and rates of suicide have jumped up rather alarmingly compared to previous generations at the same age. Why might that be? Well, this is the first generation ever to spend its entire teenaged years with smart-phones and on social media and, as a group, engaging in significantly lower rates of face-to-face social interaction with peers or anyone. Yes, of course, more research is needed but it IS something that should make you start to think a bit about how we are social (real social as in face-to-face social) beings and about what we are or should be doing to and for ourselves as we grow and age. Oh and by the way, there is a word for what older people should be working on, it is Ikigai (search it on this blog site and you will see a couple of posting about it).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are meaning and purpose related to wellness in aging populations?
  2. What does it mean to say that maybe the observed relationships are just correlational?
  3. What evidence is there that the reported associations between meaning, purpose and wellbeing are NOT correlational?

References (Read Further):

Steptoe, A., & Fancourt, D. (2019). Leading a meaningful life at older ages and its relationship with social engagement, prosperity, health, biology, and time use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201814723.

Carlson, M. C. (2011, May). Promoting healthy, meaningful aging through social involvement: building an experience corps. In Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science (Vol. 2011). Dana Foundation.

Power, M. B., Eheart, B. K., Racine, D., & Karnik, N. S. (2007). Aging well in an intentional intergenerational community: Meaningful relationships and purposeful engagement. Journal of Intergenerational relationships, 5(2), 7-25.

Brayne, C. (2002). Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives. David Snowdon. New York: Bantam Press, 2001, pp. 256, $24.95 (HB) ISBN: 0-553-80163-5.

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