Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Have you noticed that there appears to be a correlation between the involvement of citizens in what might be thought of as fringe political perspectives and a belief that there are powerful secret and dark forces conspiring to manipulate how the political and economic world functions? Think for a moment about what holding a conspiracy theory-based worldview might mean in terms of how one would choose to proceed. Would they be more likely or less likely to vote? Would they be more likely to vote for fringe candidates? Would they be more, or less, likely to take non-normative and perhaps illegal action in support of their beliefs? Once you have your hypothesis worked, out read the article linked below that talks about a social psychological experiment that looked directly at these questions and see how your hypothesis are matched with what the researchers found.

Source: Conspiracy beliefs could increase fringe political engagement, shows new study, society for personality and social psychology, EurekAlert.

Date: February 28, 2020

Photo Credit:  Alex Yomare from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did your hypothesis line up with the findings of the research study? The researchers reported that individuals who are asked to take on a conspiracy mindset were less likely to endorse engagements with existing political entities and were more likely to support engaging in non-normative political actions such as sit-ins or occupations. The researchers indicate that one outstanding question has to do with whether or not those who endorse conspiracies on social media are different in any important ways from those who invent and disseminate them. If there are differences, they may be of causal importance. This line of research seems to be becoming increasingly relevant, politically, these days.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did the researchers in the study discussed in the article linked above manipulate the extent to which their participants held or did not hold to a conspiracy worldview?
  2. Are you confident that the way that the experimenters manipulated participants conspiracy worldviews maps onto, or is generalizable to, the functioning and thinking of individuals who actually hold conspiracy worldviews?
  3. How might the researchers design the sort of study that they say they want to move on to next looking at potential differences between those who endorses conspiracy worldviews on social media and those who invented disseminate them?

References (Read Further):

Imhoff, R., Dieterle, L., & Lamberty, P. (2019). Resolving the puzzle of conspiracy worldview and political activism: Belief in secret plots decreases normative but increases non-normative political engagement.

Lamberty, P., & Leiser, D. (2019). Sometimes you just have to go in-Conspiracy beliefs lower democratic participation and lead to political violence.

Sternisko, A., Cichocka, A., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2020). The dark side of social movements: Social identity, non-conformity, and the lure of conspiracy theories. Current Opinion in Psychology.

Sutton, R. M., & Douglas, K. (2020). Conspiracy theories and the conspiracy mindset: Implications for political ideology. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.

Dagnall, N., Drinkwater, K., Parker, A., Denovan, A., & Parton, M. (2015). Conspiracy theory and cognitive style: a worldview. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 206.

Franks, B., Bangerter, A., Bauer, M. W., Hall, M., & Noort, M. C. (2017). Beyond “monologicality”? Exploring conspiracist worldviews. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 861.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: What does it take to be a great leader? No, really, think about that question for a minute. Are great leaders visionaries who have figured out how to do something better than other people? Are great leaders people who can get other people to buy in and follow their vision? Now if you answered yes or even maybe to those questions, consider this question: might great leaders be a bit sociopathic (Antisocial Personality Disordered according to the DSM-5)? Looking back into Psychology, what sort of egos do great leaders have? According to Freud, our ego is the manager of reality working between the blindly self-serving demands of the Id and the must and ought demands of the Superego. Since Freud, there has been a lot of work in western Psychology looking at how we manage ourselves in a world comprised of others who are doing the same, managing their own self-interests. This tends to lead towards a view of a great leader as one who is better at this that others, whose ego is stronger and more effective than others. The problem is that such a view starts to sound like leaders are a bit or a lot “egotistical” (or narcissistic or self-involved). Are there things about this perspective that do not sit well with your hypothesis about what makes great leaders great? If so and even if not, read the article linked below for some reflection on these questions and, while doing that, think a bit about what the reflection might suggest about Psychology’s general assumptions about the how we study individuals.

Source: The benefit of silencing our own egos, Harvey Schachter, Managing, The Globe and Mail.

Date: March 7, 2020

Photo Credit:  Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Article Link:

So, how does the combination of leadership and humility strike you? Perhaps as a way of starting to see that much of how we excel and achieve in the world involves relating with others and developing trust and respect? All of which comes more easily if we dial our egos back from egotistical to humble. We have a Psychology of individuals which is working to better understand how we need and must have others to properly understand how we move ourselves forward in life. Thinking about how dialing your ego back might make you a better leader is part of this sort of self-defining rethink.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. In what ways might it make sense to hypothesize that some successful leaders might have aspects of Antisocial Personality Disorder?
  2. How might successful leadership and humility be strongly linked?
  3. What might the idea of dialing back one’s ego suggest about the sorts of approaches Psychologists might take in studying effective leadership?

References (Read Further):

Maidique, Mitch (2011) Are You a Level-Six Leader? Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School, accessed March 8, 2020,

Kaufman, Scott Barry (2018) The Pressing Need for Everyone to Quiet Their Egos, Beautiful Minds, Scientific American, Accessed March 8, 2020,

Leary, Mark R. The curse of the self: Self-awareness, egotism, and the quality of human life. Oxford University Press, 2007.

Tesser, A. (2001). On the plasticity of self-defense. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(2), 66-69.

Perry, C. (2015). The” Dark Traits” of Sociopathic Leaders: Could They Be a Threat to Universities?. Australian Universities’ Review, 57(1), 17-25.

Adams, J. (2017). Representations of CEO narcissism in films by Ethan and Joel Coen. Frontiers of Narrative Studies, 3(1), 122-141.

Wayment, H. A., Bauer, J. J., & Sylaska, K. (2015). The quiet ego scale: measuring the compassionate self-identity. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(4), 999-1033.

Posted by & filed under Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Long-Term Care, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health, Successful Aging, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: I suspect you’ve probably heard that having pets is good for us. You probably have also heard the pets are particularly beneficial for seniors. However, how much do you know about how those benefits actually play out? That is, what does research tell us about the benefits that pets provide to seniors? Think a little bit about what sorts of factors might be at play and then read the article linked below for a brief overview of some areas in which research supports the claim having a pet is beneficial, particularly the seniors.

Source: Amazing benefits to seniors having pets, The Oakland Press, March first, 2020.

Date: February 4, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay

Article Link:  

As the linked article suggests, there appeared to be a number of areas in which pets provide benefits to the health and wellness of seniors. You probably thought about exercise and companionship as two positive pet related areas and you could probably see how all those areas could be expanded to include having a sense of purpose and perhaps an altered focus but, I suspect you did not anticipate the pain reduction findings. Now here is one more question to consider, does the research mentioned in the article allow us to actually make causal attributions about the potential positive impacts of pets amongst the elderly? Could it be the case that seniors who have better lifestyle habits that are supportive health and well-being are also more likely to have pets than those who do not? What we need, of course, or studies with more experimental or longitudinal designs in which pets are introduced into the lives of seniors in order to see if the senior’s habits related to health and wellness improve when pets are enter their lives. That approach could turn out to suggest a rather cost-effective way of improving senior health.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some other ways in which senior’s health and well-being maybe positively influenced by the presence in their lives of pets?
  2. If the studies reported in the linked article are largely correlational in nature, what might some alternative causal factors be that are associated with health and Wellness and pets of seniors?
  3. How might we, ethically, design a study that would allow us to see whether the presence of pets in seniors’ lives is causally related two improved health and Wellness?

References (Read Further):

Marcus, D. A., Bernstein, C. D., Constantin, J. M., Kunkel, F. A., Breuer, P., & Hanlon, R. B. (2012). Animal-assisted therapy at an outpatient pain management clinic. Pain Medicine, 13(1), 45-57.

Antonacopoulos, N. M. D., & Pychyl, T. A. (2010). An examination of the potential role of pet ownership, human social support and pet attachment in the psychological health of individuals living alone. Anthrozoös, 23(1), 37-54.

Himsworth, C. G., & Rock, M. (2013). Pet ownership, other domestic relationships, and satisfaction with life among seniors: Results from a Canadian national survey. Anthrozoös, 26(2), 295-305. Link

Raina, P., Waltner‐Toews, D., Bonnett, B., Woodward, C., & Abernathy, T. (1999). Influence of companion animals on the physical and psychological health of older people: An analysis of a one‐year longitudinal study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 47(3), 323-329. Link

Cherniack, E. P., & Cherniack, A. R. (2015). Assessing the benefits and risks of owning a pet. CMAJ, 187(10), 715-716.

Siegel, J. M. (2011). Pet ownership and health. In The psychology of the human-animal bond (pp. 167-177). Springer, New York, NY. Link

Posted by & filed under Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Student Success, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: I cannot say I understand exactly why curiosity killed the cat; cats have always struck me as cautious but inquisitive explorers (though apparently a cat named Blackie had a run-in with a chimney back in 1916 that was the death of him). Is curiosity, or when is curiosity, a good thing? Perhaps almost always. What do you think? Does it play a vital role in child development? Does it play central roles in life planning, mental health and wellbeing? As you speculate on your answer to these questions read the article linked by a cognitive neuroscientist for a little food for existential thought.

Source: Curiosity killed the cat, but it is still a vital mindset, Daniel J. Levitin, The Globe and Mail.

Date: February 29, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Adrian Balea from Pixabay

Article Link:

Evaluate this conversation between a high school guidance counselor and a grade 10 student:

Student: I don’t know what I should aim for in terms of a job or career.

Counselor: Well, what are you passionate about?

Student: I don’t know.

Counselor: Well go and find out and then come back and I can help you figure out how to act on it.

Finding what you are passionate about is NOT a starting place and, in fact, passions that pop up out of the blue tend to be a bit suspect. Much better to work at being curious, at being interested and in pursuing curiosities and interests as they might lead to engagements and eventually to passions and if not, well having pursued interests and curiosities will have made for a richer life regardless. In addition, if you look at it from a developmental perspective, committing to curiosity may actually provide you with a solution to an increasing common challenge in the area of identity development and life planning that being that if you wait until you have a career choice clearly in your sights before you start working towards your future you may never get started. This is due to the fact that, more than ever before, that what high school students end up doing when they finish their education did not exist when they were in high school and trying to figure out where their career explorations was going to take them. Being curious can be like a life compass that can get you moving on figuring things out without yet having a final career goal in mind. Curiosity might have killed cats a century ago, but it builds futures, mental health and wellbeing today so find, expand, and follow yours! As Albert Einstein famously said: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What drives curiosity and interest for you?
  2. How might curiosity play a role in identity development?
  3. How might curiosity play an important role in future planning?

References (Read Further):

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2014). Curiosity is as important as intelligence. Harvard Business Review, 24(4), 166-171. Link

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2016). What the heck is inquiry-based learning. Retrieved October, 8, 2017. Link

Nojavanasghari, B., Baltrusaitis, T., Hughes, C. E., & Morency, L. P. (2016). The Future Belongs to the Curious: Towards Automatic Understanding and Recognition of Curiosity in Children. In WOCCI (pp. 16-22). Link

Karwowski, M. (2012). Did curiosity kill the cat? Relationship between trait curiosity, creative self-efficacy and creative personal identity. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 8(4), 547-558. Link

Clark, S., & Seider, S. (2017). Developing critical curiosity in adolescents. Equity & Excellence in Education, 50(2), 125-141. Link

Hirschi, A., Herrmann, A., & Keller, A. C. (2015). Career adaptivity, adaptability, and adapting: A conceptual and empirical investigation. Journal of vocational behavior, 87, 1-10. Link

Silverstein, J. (2005). Just curious: Children’s use of digital reference for unimposed queries and its importance in informal education. Library Trends, 54(2), 228-244. Link

Koen, J., Klehe, U. C., & Van Vianen, A. E. (2012). Training career adaptability to facilitate a successful school-to-work transition. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 81(3), 395-408. Link

Posted by & filed under Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Read the title of the article referenced under the picture below that the link further down will take you to. How would you answer that question (and yes, I realize you likely want more information before responding)? When I talk in class about genetic testing and pre-natal screening, I point out that with the leaps and bounds that the field of human genetics is moving forward a fast-growing career path is that of genetic counsellor. A big part of what genetics counselors do involves ethics and as such it is entirely appropriate that the article linked below is based on a question asked of a philosopher of ethics who contributes questions and answers to the New York Times Magazine every week. So, with your quick answer (or refusal to quickly answer) the initial question above and your related thoughts in mind, go to the linked article and read the question and the thoughtful considerations (answers is too simple a word) provided by the philosopher.

Source: I’ve Inherited a Fatal Disease. Can I Tell My Sister’s Children About Their Risk? Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine.

Date: February 4, 2020

Photo Credit:  Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Article Link:

Now that you have a big more of the context for the question in mind do you have an answer? The case study implied in the question is one of the most difficult from a parental decision-making perspective. What if you have a genetic condition or disease that will likely be fatal, that could potentially be passed along to your children but about which, without testing, you will not become aware until after you have had your children? See what I mean about genetic counselling being a fast growing, and important, field? Lots to consider!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do you think the question asker in the linked article should speak with her sister’s children? Why or why not?
  2. How are parental pre-conception responsibilities changing (potentially) given our hugely increased and increasing knowledge of genetics and genetic transmission?
  3. What sort of training do you think future genetic counselors should be required to take before they start work in their profession!

References (Read Further):

Resta, R., Biesecker, B. B., Bennett, R. L., Blum, S., Estabrooks Hahn, S., Strecker, M. N., & Williams, J. L. (2006). A new definition of genetic counseling: National Society of Genetic Counselors’ task force report. Journal of genetic counseling, 15(2), 77-83. Link

Biesecker, B. B. (2001). Goals of genetic counseling. Clinical genetics, 60(5), 323-330. Link

Kessler, S. (1997). Psychological aspects of genetic counseling. IX. Teaching and counseling. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 6(3), 287-295. Link

Bennett, R. L., Motulsky, A. G., Bittles, A., Hudgins, L., Uhrich, S., Doyle, D. L., … & Steiner, R. D. (2002). Genetic counseling and screening of consanguineous couples and their offspring: recommendations of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Journal of genetic counseling, 11(2), 97-119. Link

Braithwaite, D., Emery, J., Walter, F., Prevost, A. T., & Sutton, S. (2004). Psychological impact of genetic counseling for familial cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 96(2), 122-133. Link

Goldman, J. S., Hahn, S. E., Catania, J. W., Larusse-Eckert, S., Butson, M. B., Rumbaugh, M., … & Bird, T. (2011). Genetic counseling and testing for Alzheimer disease: joint practice guidelines of the American College of Medical Genetics and the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Genetics in medicine, 13(6), 597-605. Link

Veach, P. M., Bartels, D. M., & LeRoy, B. S. (2007). Coming full circle: A reciprocal‐engagement model of genetic counseling practice. Journal of genetic counseling, 16(6), 713-728.  Link



Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Research Methods in CP, Schizophrenia.

Description: Think about this statement. We have drugs that can treat the symptoms of schizophrenia for many who struggle with it and that means that we have figured out what causes schizophrenia or at least how it works on the brain. Is this true? Is it a little bit true? What do you think? The truth is we are really not very clear at all on what causes schizophrenia or on how it plays out in the brain, despite having drugs that seem to help some people with its symptoms. We are still looking for insights into the etiology (causes) of schizophrenia and part of that ongoing search involves looking for things, any things, that distinguish people with symptoms of schizophrenia from those without such symptoms. We are looking at genetic differences, experiential/developmental differences and brain differences to name but a few areas of research into this complex etiological question. One observation in this area, historically, was that the brains of individuals with symptoms of schizophrenia contain less grey matter (cortex) on average than do the brains of those without. What has not been clear is whether this is a pre-symptom correlate or if it is the result of atrophy in the brains of those with symptoms of schizophrenia and perhaps in those who are not treated or who do not respond well to treatments. But perhaps there is another possibility. Can you hypothesize as to what it might be? Once you have given it a bit of thought have a rad through the article linked below to see what the researchers whose work it discusses have speculated.

Source: Second type of schizophrenia discovered, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: February 26, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 

Article Link:

So, how did the article strike you? Were you  bit frustrated by the lack of speculation as to why there might be two types of schizophrenia, at least in terms of how they manifest in the neural structure of the brain? Well, the study is really just an initial step. Look at what the study DOES tell us. By carefully comparing the brains of schizophrenia patients and comparison individuals without symptoms of schizophrenia the researchers were able to partially sort out previous hypotheses regarding pre-existing or emerging over time differences in grey matter volumes and that is why they are confident in suggesting there are two types of schizophrenia potentially. Now, the work must begin to figure out the etiological (and experiential, prognosis and treatment) differences between the two types might be. Oh, and whether there might be more than two types if other factors are considered. We have a long way to go but we are moving.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do the researchers distinguish between the two types of schizophrenia they are suggesting?
  2. What do their results suggest about the previous hypotheses I noted earlier regarding the relationship between grey matter volume and schizophrenia?
  3. What research is needed NOW to move forward from here?

References (Read Further):

Christos Davatzikos, Daniel H Wolf, Nikolaos Koutsouleris, Theodore D Satterthwaite, Raquel E Gur, Ruben C Gur, Yong Fan, Haochang Shou, Russell T Shinohara, Chuanjun Zhuo, Stephen J Wood, Christos Pantelis, Benedicto Crespo-Facorro, Geraldo F Busatto, Eva Meisenzahl, Marcus V Zanetti, Hugo G Schnack, Rene S Kahn, Paola Dazzan, Alessandro Pigoni, Raymond Pomponio, Jimit Doshi, Dhivya Srinivasan, Erdem Varol, Aristeidis Sotiras, Guray Erus, Dominic B Dwyer, Ganesh B Chand. Two distinct neuroanatomical subtypes of schizophrenia revealed using machine learning. Brain, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/brain/awaa025

Kelsoe, J. R., Cadet, J. L., Pickar, D., & Weinberger, D. R. (1988). Quantitative neuroanatomy in schizophrenia: a controlled magnetic resonance imaging study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 45(6), 533-541. Link

Gaser, C., Nenadic, I., Volz, H. P., Büchel, C., & Sauer, H. (2004). Neuroanatomy of ‘hearing voices’: a frontotemporal brain structural abnormality associated with auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia. Cerebral Cortex, 14(1), 91-96. Link

Menon, V., Anagnoson, R. T., Mathalon, D. H., Glover, G. H., & Pfefferbaum, A. (2001). Functional neuroanatomy of auditory working memory in schizophrenia: relation to positive and negative symptoms. Neuroimage, 13(3), 433-446.  Link

Honey, G. D., Sharma, T., Suckling, J., Giampietro, V., Soni, W., Williams, S. C. R., & Bullmore, E. T. (2003). The functional neuroanatomy of schizophrenic subsyndromes. Psychological Medicine, 33(6), 1007-1018. Link

Whitford, T. J., Farrow, T. F., Rennie, C. J., Grieve, S. M., Gomes, L., Brennan, J., … & Williams, L. M. (2007). Longitudinal changes in neuroanatomy and neural activity in early schizophrenia. Neuroreport, 18(5), 435-439. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Consciousness, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Sensation-Perception, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Consider this question; Is the coronavirus more or less dangerous that the flu (influenza)? Now, think about how you answered that question. Do you actually know how dangerous the flu and the coronavirus are? What their death rates are for those that contract them? Or did you come up with your answer based on your feeling of fear or anxiety about viral infection of either sort? And, can you tell how much of each of those things (facts/knowledge or feelings/fears) you actually used in coming up with your answer? If you are not sure don’t worry you are not alone. We are actually not very good at judging risks especially when those risks are arising non-locally and are getting a LOT of coverage (though not much science reporting). Have a look through the article linked below to see what our thoughts and feelings about the coronavirus tells us or shows us about our (poor) abilities to properly assess risk.

Source: The Coronavirus ‘Hits All the Hot Buttons’ for How We Misjudge Risk, Max Fisher, The Interpreter, The New York Times.

Date: February 13, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

We do not yet know important things about the coronavirus, such as what mortality rate will be associated with it or how widely it will spread and that means that many other processes and factors are at work driving our perceptions of the risk we face. Understanding these factors can help us to understand why we do not typically do a very good job assessing risk and why, even when we have really good actuarial data, we still do a poor job of assessing risk. Hard to get around as it is so automatic.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did you arrive at your initial assessment of the risk level associated with the coronavirus?
  2. Do you actually know what the risk levels are associated with flu?
  3. What should we (you) do going forward to properly assess and manage risks associated with things like the coronavirus?

References (Read Further):

Pastoor, T. P., Bachman, A. N., Bell, D. R., Cohen, S. M., Dellarco, M., Dewhurst, I. C., … & Moretto, A. (2014). A 21st century roadmap for human health risk assessment. Critical reviews in toxicology, 44(sup3), 1-5. Link

Siegrist, M., & Cvetkovich, G. (2001). Better negative than positive? Evidence of a bias for negative information about possible health dangers. Risk analysis, 21(1), 199-206. Link

Slovic, P., Fischhoff, B., & Lichtenstein, S. (1980). Facts and fears: Understanding perceived risk. In Societal risk assessment (pp. 181-216). Springer, Boston, MA. Link

Dieckmann, N. F., Johnson, B. B., Gregory, R., Mayorga, M., Han, P. K., & Slovic, P. (2017). Public perceptions of expert disagreement: Bias and incompetence or a complex and random world?. Public Understanding of Science, 26(3), 325-338. Link

Slovic, P., Kunreuther, H., & White, G. (2016). Decision processes, rationality and adjustment to natural hazards. In The perception of risk (pp. 39-69). Routledge. Link

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 2: Coming to Terms with Anxiety

Psychology of COVID 19 Part 3: Statistical Overfocus


Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual Cognitive Measures, Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, Assessment: Self-report Projective Measures, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence, Legal Ethical Issues, Personality, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods.

Description: What do Psychologists do in courtroom when they serve as expert witnesses? This is a huge and complicated topic so let’s focus in a bit. If a Psychologist has been asked by the court to assess an accused individual and if they use a measure or two in order to develop their opinion of that individual what would you expect to be true of those measures? Think about your answer to that question as if you were the judge in the courtroom having to decide what sort of trust or weight to put on the resulting Psychologist testimony. What would you want to see or hear? These are important questions and they should be linked to the ethics that Psychologists hold themselves to when they serve as expert witnesses in court. Once you have your thoughts/answers in order read the article linked below and see if it suggests something you did or did not include in your thinking.

Source: Courtroom psychology tests may be unreliable, study finds, Christina Larson, The Associated Press.

Date: February 16, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did your ethical musings include the issues raised in the article and in the research, it reported upon? The issue is a very import ant one. When I lecture or write about the use of Psychological tests of any sort ion any decision-making situation, I offer the following advice. If a decision that will affect you or a loved one (or anyone) is going to me made wholly or partially on the basis of a Psychological measure or test then, ethically, the person administering the test should be able to answer two questions on the spot off the top of their head (they should be VERY familiar with the answers). First, is the measure reliable (as posed in the title of the linked article)? Second, is the measure valid (not really discussed directly in the linked article). Reliability is the extent to which a measure produces nearly exactly the same results when administered to the same people withing short periods of time. Imagine you measured something twice with the same ruler and got different results each time. If the thing being measured has not been cut or grown somehow then you should doubt the reliability of the rule (perhaps it is made of an unstable material, hyper-reactive to temperature or the like). Ether way a measure that produces different results when the thing being measured is very unlikely to have changed between assessments would suggest the measure is unreliable – basically useless. We assess the reliability of Psychological measures by measuring the same people twice over a short period of time (a few days to week) and if the results are not nearly identical (Test time 1 and Test time 2 scores correlate above 0.9 if you understand correlations where 1.0 is the highest they can go). If a measure is unreliable or produces inexplicably variable results when we do not think things have changed, then the measure should certainly NOT be used to inform decisions about people’s guilt or the appropriateness of their being hired, or permitted entrance to an educational program or anything. Those using Psychological measures, ethically, should know the reliability of their measures and be able immediately when asked, to explain how reliable the measure is. If they cannot do this, they should not be permitted to proceed with measurement or assessment. Once reliability has been established, the next ethical question concerns the validity of the measure. Validity is defined as whether the measure or test measures what it is purported to measure. Intelligence tests should measure intelligence, deviance measures should measure deviance – sounds obvious and bit stupid as a question, right? Well yes but remember, we use Psychological measures to assess things we cannot easily see directly. So, we cannot see intelligence directly, but we believe that scores on intelligence tests should predict how well children do in school (IQ tests do this pretty well) or how successful children become when they grow up (IQ tests do not do this very well if at all). So, a measure’s validity is an empirical question – a question for research and anyone using a test or measure ethically, MUST be aware of what research (lots of good research) has to say about the measures validity – the value of their expertise and their usefulness as an expert witness depends upon it. THIS is where courts struggle as answers to reliability questions are easily understood while answers to validity questions typically require much of the same expertise that the Psychologist expert witness has or claims to have and THAT is why this is a serious matter of professional ethics. OK, lecture done but remember it as you definitely need its main points at some point in your future and measures are everywhere!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is reliability and how do we determine if a measure is reliable?
  2. What is validity and how do we determine if a measure is valid?
  3. How should a Psychologist be assessed if he or she is being considered as a possible expert witness, particularly if they are going to talk about the results of an assessment or measure they have used? Does this apply to mother situations and to other professionals?

References (Read Further):

Garrett, B. L., & Neufeld, P. J. (2009). Invalid forensic science testimony and wrongful convictions. Virginia Law Review, 1-97. Link

Neal, T. M., Slobogin, C., Saks, M. J., Faigman, D. L., & Geisinger, K. F. (2019). Psychological Assessments in Legal Contexts: Are Courts Keeping “Junk Science” Out of the Courtroom? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 20(3), 135-164. Link

Hiller, J. B., Rosenthal, R., Bornstein, R. F., Berry, D. T., & Brunell-Neuleib, S. (1999). A comparative meta-analysis of Rorschach and MMPI validity. Psychological Assessment, 11(3), 278. Link

Meyer, G. J., Riethmiller, R. J., Brooks, R. D., Benoit, W. A., & Handler, L. (2000). A replication of Rorschach and MMPI-2 convergent validity. Journal of Personality Assessment, 74(2), 175-215. Link

Brodsky, S. L. (2013). Testifying in court: Guidelines and maxims for the expert witness. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Link

Grove, W. M., & Barden, R. C. (1999). Protecting the integrity of the legal system: The admissibility of testimony from mental health experts under Daubert/Kumho analyses. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 5(1), 224. Link

Ritzler, B., Erard, R., & Pettigrew, G. (2002). Protecting the integrity of Rorschach expert witnesses: A reply to Grove and Barden (1999) re: The admissibility of testimony under Daubert/Kumho analyses. Link

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Health Psychology, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Nutrition Weight Management, Prevention, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: What do you want to change about your life, about your habits, about your day-to-day behavior? If you are completely happy with how things are going for you and about how you are living your life then good for you, go find something else to read! If there are a few things you would like to change then this article may be for you. We tend to think of things we feel we need to change in broad stroke terms: get more exercise, eat better, sleep more, lower stress and there are thousands of self-help books, websites and blogs that claim to have the secrets for how we make our selves and our lives better. The problem is that most of those things are also written in broad strokes and are often NOT grounded in good Psychological research. Psychology knows about habits. Habits are engrained behavioral routines; they are things that we do ALL THE TIME. Some are good for us (brushing our teeth) and some are not so good for us (eating a donut with our drive through coffee every morning) but all habits are typically simple behavioral routines. So how do we change our habits or how do we add new habits (better habits) into our daily behavioral routines? Read the article linked below to find out.

Source: How to Build Healthy Habits, Tara Parker-Pope, Mind, The New York Times.

Date: February 18, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did you get the basic research supported message? Start small and slot the new behaviour you want to add into your existing habitual routines. Make it doable, not daunting, and plan to grow your new habit or habits over time AND realize that you may actually be surprised at HOW MUCH time it will take to deeply ingrain a new habit. A simple research finding like the Garcia Effect can be very helpful. Make your performing of an old habit (something you already do every day, like brushing your teeth) contingent on you having first having performed your new prospective habitual behavior (like flossing your teeth). Doing that much more quickly consolidates the new behavior into a solid habit that you will do automatically and routinely. Want to eat less, buy smaller plates. What to exercise more, start with a walk around the block or getting off the elevator a couple of floors early. Habits are small things, but they can be grown into powerful life changes. So, start small!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are two or three things that YOU do habitually?
  2. What are two or three things you wished you did habitually?
  3. Pick one of the things you noted above in response to the previous question and then sketch out a plan for how you might (for how you WILL) include it in your daily routines and in your life. Then go do it!

References (Read Further):

Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C. H., Potts, H. W., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European journal of social psychology, 40(6), 998-1009. Link

Hagger, M. S. (2019). Habit and physical activity: Theoretical advances, practical implications, and agenda for future research. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 42, 118-129. Link

Ashton, L. M., Sharkey, T., Whatnall, M. C., Williams, R. L., Bezzina, A., Aguiar, E. J., … & Hutchesson, M. J. (2019). Effectiveness of Interventions and Behaviour Change Techniques for Improving Dietary Intake in Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of RCTs. Nutrients, 11(4). Link

Schoenebeck, S. (2014). Developing healthy habits with social media: Theorizing the cycle of overuse and taking breaks. Proceeds of SIGCHI. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Anxiety OC PTSD, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: I have posted previously on research related to the question of the impacts of social media and smartphone use on adolescent and emerging adult wellbeing. While some of the findings seem quite dire and while there is no debate about the increasing levels of anxiety and stress among emerging adults in recent years the rush to blame it all on social media use has been rather quick and likely somewhat precipitous. I have previously suggested that we need to step back a bit and taker a broader view of the impacts (negative AND, perhaps, positive) of social media use. The review article linked below is, at least, one step in this desired direction. Give it a read and see what you think and think a bit, while reading it, of what other research we should consider doing.

Source: Abi-Jaoude, E., Naylor, K. T., & Pignatiello, A. (2020). Smartphones, social media use and youth mental health. CMAJ, 192(6), E136-E141.

Date: February 10, 2020

Photo Credit:  Pixelkult from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you think? Some good, quite a bit of Bad and a lot of variability in the middle. I think the closing paragraph is nicely crafted, stating that emerging adults today are broadly connected through social media and much of that can be good but as with so many things we are still discovering what the limits perhaps should be and how individuals can figure out what their personal practices with social media should involve. More research and, most importantly, more self-refection is certainly needed and should be encouraged.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is social media use good or bad in terms pf mental wellbeing? And if “it depends”, what does it depend upon?
  2. What areas of social media use would benefit from further research?
  3. What sorts of studies might we do if we are interested in figuring out if there are any benefits of social media use?

References (Read Further):

Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018). Teens, social media & technology 2018. Pew Research Center, 31, 2018.

Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). How people with serious mental illness use smartphones, mobile apps, and social media. Psychiatric rehabilitation journal, 39(4), 364.

Chen, H. T., & Li, X. (2017). The contribution of mobile social media to social capital and psychological well-being: Examining the role of communicative use, friending and self-disclosure. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 958-965. Link

Jacobsen, W. C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: Academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(5), 275-280.

Leist, A. K. (2013). Social media use of older adults: a mini-review. Gerontology, 59(4), 378-384.