Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Think about one or two things about yourself or your life or your regular habits that you would like to change. Now without too much reflection think about what you would do if you wanted to implement a change in each of those areas. How big a first step did you imagine taking? If you think you need more sleep perhaps you thought about going to bed 30 minutes earlier each night. If you need to exercise more perhaps you thought about getting to the gym for an hour every day (or perhaps every other day). We typically think in terms of big changes … of fixing our faults or addressing our shortcomings in short order. I suspect I do not have to tell you that such big steps or leaps forward fail almost every time and our knowing that may well be why we do not attempt such big steps very often. So, what should you do if you want to make a sustainable change? How does the suggestion that you should think insignificantly small sound? Do not dismiss the suggestion so quickly. Read the article linked below for a rationale.

Source: To Achieve Big Goals, Start with Small Habits, Sabina Nawaz, Motivating People, Harvard Business Review.

Date: January 20, 2020

Photo Credit: Steffen Zimmermann from Pixabay

Article Link:

A very large proportion of the huge numbers of self-help books, sites, blogs, and videos talk about how we can accomplish big changes without actually telling us how to do so and without research supporting the claims made or tracking peoples’ actual experiences with the various “miracle” fixes offered. So, perhaps the advice to think small, no smaller, wait no smaller still is worth considering. Many complex behavior patterns are grounded in small habits and changing behavior and sustaining those changes so that they can accrue to larger changes and accomplishments could be worth trying. As well, as with all good research, keeping good simple reliable data records helps us see and stay focused on the outcomes we are achieving (or wanting to move towards). So think small….no smaller….. and get started.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. If you want to change some aspect of your life is it better to plan big or plan small?
  2. Why might focusing on what might seem like insignificantly small changes in our behavior or habits help us make positive change over time?
  3. Think of something about yourself or your life that you would like to change and then talk with one or two other people about how you might identify, implement and keep track of a small habit change in your desired direction?

References (Read Further):

Wood, W., Tam, L., & Witt, M. G. (2005). Changing circumstances, disrupting habits. Journal of personality and social psychology, 88(6), 918.

Webb, T. L., Sheeran, P., & Luszczynska, A. (2009). Planning to break unwanted habits: Habit strength moderates implementation intention effects on behaviour change. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48(3), 507-523.

Webb, T. L., Sheeran, P., & Luszczynska, A. (2009). Planning to break unwanted habits: Habit strength moderates implementation intention effects on behaviour change. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48(3), 507-523.

Adriaanse, M. A., Gollwitzer, P. M., De Ridder, D. T., De Wit, J. B., & Kroese, F. M. (2011). Breaking habits with implementation intentions: A test of underlying processes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(4), 502-513.

Wood, W. (2017). Habit in personality and social psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 21(4), 389-403.

Posted by & filed under Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: When you buy a gift for a friend how accurately are you able to predict how well they like the gift once they open it or receive it? When you think about possible trips, merchandise purchases or watching a movie or a play how do you think your experiences of those things would compare to other’s experiences of those same things? What about rating how others, compared to you, would respond to negative things like eating an unexpectedly spicy dish or going without enough sleep over night? If I told you there is a systematic bias in terms of how people typically make such comparisons what would you hypothesize the direct ion of bias to be and would the bias be different for positive compared to negative or unpleasant events? Finally, if there are situations where the bias(es) vanish what sorts of circumstances would they involve? Once you have your hypotheses in order have a read through the article linked below and see what a recently published research article suggests about this bias.

Source: We Consistently Overestimate How Much Other People Will Enjoy Or Pay For Stuff, Emma Young, Research Digest, The British Psychological Society

Date: January 14, 2020

Photo Credit:  Anna Prosekova from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did your hypotheses fare? What did you make of the possible explanation for the biases offered by the researchers? Does it make sense that we may tend to thin k that other’s experiences are less nuanced than our own? Social Psychologists we have pointed out a number of similar tendencies that turn on us having MUCH better access to our own thoughts and emotions than we do to those of others. The fundamental attribution error is one good example where we tend to attribute other people’s behavior to their dispositions and our own to more variable situational influences. This social overestimation bias also joins an increasingly long list of cognitive biases that can mess up our decision making in many areas. We are really not nearly as rational as we like to think we are!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is overestimation bias?
  2. How does over estimation bias play out in relation to positive and negative situations, experiences or events?
  3. Why might it be that overestimation bias vanishes with some events like winning money?

References (Read Further):

Jung, M. H., Moon, A., & Nelson, L. D. (2019). Overestimating the valuations and preferences of others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Gawronski, B. (2004). Theory-based bias correction in dispositional inference: The fundamental attribution error is dead, long live the correspondence bias. European review of social psychology, 15(1), 183-217.

Maruna, S., & Mann, R. E. (2006). A fundamental attribution error? Rethinking cognitive distortions. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 11(2), 155-177.

Sabini, J., Siepmann, M., & Stein, J. (2001). ” The Really Fundamental Attribution Error in Social Psychological Research”. Psychological inquiry, 12(1), 1-15.

Mayer, R. E., Stull, A. T., Campbell, J., Almeroth, K., Bimber, B., Chun, D., & Knight, A. (2007). Overestimation bias in self-reported SAT scores. Educational Psychology Review, 19(4), 443-454.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: You have no doubt heard about the difficulty small towns and rural or northern communities face in recruiting and retaining doctors, but have you heard or wondered about whether this same issues plays out in relation to mental health and mental illness related services? In Canada over one third of psychiatrists (physicians specializing in treating mental issues and illness) practice in either Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal. This along with the general finding that rates of mental illness increase with latitude (see references below) means this is an important issue. Think a bit about how this issue might be addressed and try and go beyond just providing Northern living allowances. Once you have your thoughts in order read the article linked below to see how your proposals line up with things that are currently being implemented in Canada.

Source: Canada grapples with challenge of drawing psychiatrists to small towns from big cities, Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail.

Date: January 20, 2020

Photo Credit:  Tumisu from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, had you come up with northern recruiting and training, training rotations in northern settings or teletherapy as possible ways of addressing this issue?  In addition to those approaches did you note the mention in the article of the importance of team-based approaches to providing mental health care? Such teams can include individuals from a number of professions (including psychologists) in ways that both enhance care and treatment as well as reducing concerns over professional isolation. The idea of teletherapy as a standard part of all psychiatric (and perhaps also of clinical psychological) practices is intriguing though it would be good to know more about the efficacy of such approaches before advocating strongly for it becoming part of standard practice.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the impediments to recruiting mental health professionals to work in northern regions?
  2. How might the impediments noted above be addressed (beyond just paying people more)?
  3. What sorts of things (research) would you like know about teletherapy before feeling comfortable with the suggestion that it become a standard part of all psychiatric and clinical psychological practice?

References (Read Further):

Saha, S., Chant, D. C., Welham, J. L., & McGrath, J. J. (2006). The incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia varies with latitude. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 114(1), 36-39.

Mersch, P. P. A., Middendorp, H. M., Bouhuys, A. L., Beersma, D. G., & van den Hoofdakker, R. H. (1999). Seasonal affective disorder and latitude: a review of the literature. Journal of affective disorders, 53(1), 35-48.

Martin, A. C. (2013). Legal, clinical, and ethical issues in teletherapy. JS Scharff. Psychoanalysis online, 75-84.

Tutty, S., Spangler, D. L., Poppleton, L. E., Ludman, E. J., & Simon, G. E. (2010). Evaluating the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral teletherapy in depressed adults. Behavior therapy, 41(2), 229-236.

Turgoose, D., Ashwick, R., & Murphy, D. (2018). Systematic review of lessons learned from delivering tele-therapy to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of telemedicine and telecare, 24(9), 575-585.

Waska, R. (2015). Psychoanalysis Online: Mental Health, Teletherapy and Training.

van den Berg, N., Grabe, H. J., Freyberger, H. J., & Hoffmann, W. (2011). A telephone-and text-message based telemedical care concept for patients with mental health disorders-study protocol for a randomized, controlled study design. BMC psychiatry, 11(1), 30.

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Child Development, Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: You know about the Marshmallow Test, don’t you? A preschool child is seated in a small room at a table on which is a plate and single marshmallow. The child is told that the adult researchers is going to leave the room for a time (usually 10 to 15 minutes) and that the child can eat the marshmallow wherever they want BUT if they wait until the researcher returns they will get a second marshmallow and thus double their reward payout for having delayed gratification. About 1/3 of preschoolers manage to hold off and await the return of the researcher and earn a second marshmallow. Even if you have not heard about this classic research situation you can probably come up with some thoughts about why things work out this way when preschoolers are left along with a marshmallow but what do you think would happen in a different situation? Specifically, what if two preschoolers are brought together and play a game to get to know one another and are then placed in separate rooms each with their own marshmallow and are told that their getting a second marshmallow is dependent on not just delaying their own gratification but also depends upon the other child that they just played a game with also delaying their gratification. What do you hypothesize will happen in THAT situation? Once you have your predictions in order red the article linked below to find out what the researchers found.

Source: ‘Marshmallow test’ redux: Children show better self-control when they depend on each other, Association for Psychological Science.

Date: January 14, 2020

Photo Credit:  Walter Mischel

Article Link:

So, two children in separate rooms are were significantly more likely to delay gratification and hold out for a two-marshmallow deal than children facing the task alone.  The researchers suggest this is due to the paired children having a sense of obligation to their partner in the other room. What do you think and what do you see as some of the implications this result might have for our developmental theories of executive function and self-regulation? Interesting possibilities!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the marshmallow test intended to demonstrate?
  2. Compared to the original marshmallow test, what does the version utilized by the researchers whose work is described in the linked article add in the way of theoretic consideration?
  3. What sorts of things might the research result discussed in the linked article suggest about our theories of the development of self-regulation, executive function and general self-management?

References (Read Further):

Koomen, R., Grueneisen, S., & Herrmann, E. (2020). Children Delay Gratification for Cooperative Ends. Psychological Science, 0956797619894205.

Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. I. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244(4907), 933-938.,Shoda,%26Rodriguez%281989%29.pdf

Mischel, W., & Ebbesen, E. B. (1970). Attention in delay of gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16(2), 329.

Carlson, S. M., Shoda, Y., Ayduk, O., Aber, L., Schaefer, C., Sethi, A., … & Mischel, W. (2018). Cohort effects in children’s delay of gratification. Developmental psychology.

Benjamin, D. J., Laibson, D., Mischel, W., Peake, P. K., Shoda, Y., Wellsjo, A. S., & Wilson, N. L. (2019). Predicting mid-life capital formation with pre-school delay of gratification and life-course measures of self-regulation. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Twito, L., Israel, S., Simonson, I., & Knafo-Noam, A. (2019). The Motivational Aspect of Children’s Delayed Gratification: Values and Decision Making in Middle Childhood. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1649.

Rybanska, V., McKay, R., Jong, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Rituals improve children’s ability to delay gratification. Child development, 89(2), 349-359.

Watts, T. W., Duncan, G. J., & Quan, H. (2018). Revisiting the marshmallow test: A conceptual replication investigating links between early delay of gratification and later outcomes. Psychological science, 29(7), 1159-1177.

Mischel, W., Ayduk, O., Berman, M. G., Casey, B. J., Gotlib, I. H., Jonides, J., … & Shoda, Y. (2010). ‘Willpower’over the life span: decomposing self-regulation. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 6(2), 252-256.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: Ok, at work or any formal group setting (a class, a club, a team, etc.) how do you manage your emotions and your expression of your emotions as they arise? Do you let them show and express them? Do you cover or hide them and ‘show’ and even calm exterior or one that is aligned with what you think is the ‘right’ way to respond? Thinking of what you typically do think a bit more about how that works, or will work, for you in long run. Specifically, what might the consequences be of faking a positive attitude when you do not really have such an attitude inside? The colloquial phrase for this is ‘fake it until you make it.’ Think a bit about how that might work out for you (or for whoever uses it, in the  long run and then read the Article linked below to see what recent research suggests about such work practices.

Source: Faking Your Emotions at Work Could Take a Heavy Toll, Christopher Bergland, The Athlete’s Way, Psychology Today Canada.

Date: January 19, 2020

Photo Credit:  clikpartsworld

Article Link:

So, are you a surface actor, a deep actor, a regulator or a non-actor at work or in formal social groups? Have you noted any of the specific consequences of your approach suggested by the research discussed in the linked article? The implications of the various emotional expression strategies suggested by the research discussed in the, linked article tie in to the related areas of emotional intelligence and emotional self-regulation, both of which have deep, early developmental roots but which are also areas with many opportunities for conscious focus, strategy development and greater self and social knowledge when approached from the advanced self-reflective advantage point of late adolescence and thought emerging adulthood. They are worth looking into as they can provide big payoffs in terms of development, wellbeing, mental health, and general success. Sound like a lot, well look into it and see what you can find.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the different types of social-emotional acting described in the linked article?
  2. What are the potential short- and long-term consequences of each of the types of social-emotional acting that are part of an answer to the previous question?
  3. The research described in the linked article was largely cross-sectional. What sorts of studies would need to be done if we are interested in verifying and expanding the researchers’ claims and in also better understanding the developmental roots of the acting styles they describe?

References (Read Further):

Gabriel, A. S., Koopman, J., Rosen, C. C., Arnold, J. D., & Hochwarter, W. A. (2019). Are coworkers getting into the act? An examination of emotion regulation in coworker exchanges. The Journal of applied psychology.

Grandey, A. A. (2003). When “the show must go on”: Surface acting and deep acting as determinants of emotional exhaustion and peer-rated service delivery. Academy of management Journal, 46(1), 86-96.

Mesmer-Magnus, J. R., DeChurch, L. A., & Wax, A. (2012). Moving emotional labor beyond surface and deep acting: A discordance–congruence perspective. Organizational Psychology Review, 2(1), 6-53.

Yoo, J., & Arnold, T. J. (2016). Frontline employee customer-oriented attitude in the presence of job demands and resources: the influence upon deep and surface acting. Journal of Service Research, 19(1), 102-117.

Deng, H., Walter, F., Lam, C. K., & Zhao, H. H. (2014). Emotional Labor Interactions and Coworker Harming: A Self-Regulatory Depletion Perspective. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2014, No. 1, p. 12423). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Language Development, Language-Thought, Neuroscience.

Description: The nature of our spoken communication skills is most certainly a big part of our adaptive evolutionary advantage as a species. Using language, we can break out of the ‘here and now’ and discuss past events and future possibilities and we can organize and coordinate complex individual and social tasks and strategies using our spoken language skills. The big question, from an evolutionary perspective, is how and when did spoken language emerge and develop with our ancestors (assuming that it was not gifted to us by gods or aliens). Part of tis question concerns accounts of the brain evolution or jump-ups in brain complexity that were likely correlated with the emergence and evolutionary development of spoken language. Did the emergence of language grow our brains (the cortex regions) or did a more complex brain make the emergence of language possible? Put your thought (or your questions) on this topic in order and then read the article linked below to find out about bold recent speculations regarding these issues and about the firm theoretic speculative push back by some BIG names in the areas of language development and evolution.

Source: A Sneaky Theory of Where Language Came From. Ben James, The Atlantic.

Date: January 19, 2020

Photo Credit:  Kike Calvo / AP 

Article Link:

So, what do you think? Does it make sense to speculate that the development of complex carefully sequenced tool building techniques produced the jumps in brain complexity that made spoken language possible? As well, does it seem compelling that the vital importance of specific order to actions in tool making might have been ‘hijacked’ by the production of grammatically organized language where order matters just as deeply in the transmission of meaning? It IS easier to see how complexity and order might evolutionarily emerge tough developments in tool making than in spoken utterances isn’t it? Or is that just a metaphoric appropriation as suggested by Noam Chomsky and other staunch, articulate critics of this perspective. Evolutionary theorizing is not nearly as amenable to the ‘more research’ fix to theory and knowledge shortfalls in other parts of Psychology so what we can say here, perhaps, is that more thinking and discussing are needed!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did tool make evolve as a skill set in human history (and what data do we have to look at)?
  2. How might complex toolmaking and spoken language be similar (actually and/or metaphorically)?
  3. What are some next steps that might be taken to sort out some of the theoretic claims and counter claims in this area?

References (Read Further):

Stout, D. (2016). Tales of a stone age neuroscientist. Scientific American, 314(4), 28-35.

Gould, S. J., & Vrba, E. S. (1982). Exaptation—a missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology, 8(1), 4-15.

Traugott, E. C. (2004). Exaptation and grammaticalization. Linguistic studies based on corpora, 133-156.

Bolhuis, J. J., Tattersall, I., Chomsky, N., & Berwick, R. C. (2014). How could language have evolved?. PLoS biology, 12(8), e1001934.

Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N., & Fitch, W. T. (2002). The faculty of language: what is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?. science, 298(5598), 1569-1579.

Posted by & filed under Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Did you watch the recent Golden Globe Awards (January 2020)? The MC was Ricky Gervais, well known for his caustic sharp comedic lines and he did not hold back. Because the audience was full of VERY recognizable people (film, TV, and music mega-stars) cameras cut many times to their reactions to things that Gervais said from the podium, particularly in his opening monologue. Tom Hank’s facial expressions were particularly intense. Search You Tube and you will find several compilations of Gervais’ holding forth and stars reacting. In such situations one might wonder why the stars are, in fact, so expressive, given that they are actors (very good actors) who likely have more control over their facial expressions of emotions than almost anyone else on the planet. Of course, perhaps they wanted us to see how they were feeling about what was being said. Think about how much control you do (or do not) have over your own expressions of emotion and think about situations (at work or in social situations or relationships) where it might be a good idea for you to control how ‘emotionally readable’ you are. What sorts of things do you do or what sorts of things do you try to control in such situations? Once you have your thoughts in order read the article linked below to see some things you likely missed in your considerations.

Source: Your Emotions May Be Easier to Read Than You Realize, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today.

Date: January 7, 2020

Image Credit:

Article Link:

So what did you make of the research finding that emotions read by tracking body language are more likely viewed as reflecting negative feelings (even when they actually reflect positive feelings) and that body language become harder rather than easier to ‘read’ when its intensity increases? What might these finding suggest about the expression of emotion through body language? Perhaps that it reflects more important emotions from a social tracking perspective and that it is most important when the emotions that should be “read’ are negative, and therefore potential reflection of danger. If we need or want to control what we are showing other of our emotions, we need to add a ‘poker body’ to our poker face.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might someone (like Tom Hanks) who is very adept at managing his non-verbal expressions of emotion be, at times like the Golden Globe Awards, so easy to read?
  2. How do we sometimes non-verbally express our emotions without using our facial expressions?
  3. How would YOU theoretically account for the patterns of non-verbal emotion reading I mentioned just above and which were discussed in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Reynolds, R. M., Novotny, E., Lee, J., Roth, D., & Bente, G. (2019). Ambiguous bodies: The role of displayed arousal in emotion [mis] perception. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 43(4), 529-548.

Keltner, D., Tracy, J. L., Sauter, D., & Cowen, A. (2019). What basic emotion theory really says for the twenty-first century study of emotion. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 43(2), 195-201.

Keltner, D., Sauter, D., Tracy, J., & Cowen, A. (2019). Emotional expression: Advances in basic emotion theory. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 1-28.

Friedman, H. S. (2019). Introduction to the Special Issue on Theory in Nonverbal Communication.

Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2003). Universals and cultural differences in recognizing emotions. Current directions in psychological science, 12(5), 159-164.

Keltner, D., & Cordaro, D. T. (2015). Understanding multimodal emotional expressions: Recent advances in basic emotion theory. Emotion Researcher, 1-17.



Posted by & filed under Human Development, Language-Thought, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology.

Description: Think back to the last time you saw a magician at work and in particular when they either made something disappear or, perhaps, appear or reappear unexpectedly or ‘magically’. What were you thinking about as they made those things happen? Were you trying to figure out how they did it? Were you trying to figure out why you did not see how they did it? You likely were not thinking about the how Psychology might have been involved I bet but do that now. As the title of the editorial article in the special issue of Frontiers in Psychology linked below suggests, there is Psychology in Magic and there is Magic in Psychology. Our brain magically fills in all sorts of missing bits of information in the incomplete reports our senses provide us with about the world around us so maybe both parts of the title are worth looking into. At least read the editorial article available through the link below and then consider having a look at one or two of the other papers on the site. This may be a whole new way to look at human Psychological functioning (and a new way to look at magic as well)!

Source: The Psychology of Magic and the Magic of Psychology, Amir Raz, Jay Olson, and Gustav Kuhn,

Date: January 12, 2020

Image Credit: Frontiers in Psychology

Article Link:

As the editorial states, developmental researchers have been using magic quite a bit lately as a way of presenting infants and preschoolers with perceptual and conceptual ‘surprises’ in order to gain some insight into how they understand the world (magic can indeed be surprising). The bigger conceptual possibility is that we might benefit from starting to understand how our own seemingly stable perceptions and conceptions about the world are perhaps better understood as magic tricks played on us by our brains. Now THERE is an interesting Psychological angle to reflect upon!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things might fall into the category of the Psychology of Magic?
  2. What sorts of things might fall into the category of the Magic of Psychology?
  3. What are some ways you can think of that Psychology might change (for the better) if we were to seriously try and consider the Magic of Psychology?

References (Read Further):

Kuhn, G., Olson, J. A., & Raz, A. (2016). The psychology of magic and the magic of psychology. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1358.

Tompkins, M. L., Woods, A. T., & Aimola Davies, A. M. (2016). The Phantom Vanish Magic Trick: Investigating the Disappearance of a Non-existent Object in a Dynamic Scene. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 950.

Phillips, F., Natter, M. B., & Egan, E. J. (2015). Magically deceptive biological motion—the French Drop Sleight. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 371.

Smith, T. J. (2015). The role of audience participation and task relevance on change detection during a card trick. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 13.

Rensink, Ronald A., and Gustav Kuhn. “A framework for using magic to study the mind.” Frontiers in Psychology 5 (2015): 1508.



Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: So, what comes to mind as a definition when you see the term Psychiatric Therapeutics? Psychiatric relates to what Psychiatrists and Psychiatry is the medical specialty that focuses upon mental functioning, mental illness etc. It also involves the training necessary to be permitted to prescribe medications to treat the symptoms of mental disorders. Psychologists, with the exception of those in 5 states (Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico and Louisiana), are not permitted to prescribe drugs. As such Psychologists are typically associated with Psychotherapies or talking treatments. This division often leads to either/or discussions of how to treat the symptoms of mental disorders such as whether anti-depressant medications treat the symptoms of depression more effectively than talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (they are actually equally effective). Rather than an either/or approach, however, research into the effectiveness of different approaches to treating the symptoms of mental disorders looks across these professional boundaries and, in particular, at the efficacy of combining drugs and Psychotherapy techniques. The article linked below describes two recent studies looking at the efficacy of combined approaches to treatment. When you look though the article pay attention not only to the treatment findings but also to the research design issues noted (and others that may occur to you as you read the article).

Source: New Directions in Psychiatric Therapeutics, Demystifying Psychiatry, Eugene Rubin, Psychology Today.

Date: January 8, 2020

Image Credit: kadroi poldma / FreeImages

Article Link:

The array of treatment options currently available for treating the symptoms of mental disorders is very broad and includes, in addition to drugs and Psychotherapy new treatments like trans cranial magnetic stimulation which treats the brain without using drugs at all. It is particularly important to note the effectiveness of combined therapeutic approaches that address distinct aspects of complex mental disorders and, together, provide more positive and longer lasting treatment results. We are well beyond waiting to find the one thing that will provide better treatment outcomes and are finding better outcomes with combinations of treatments. And, of course, this will require more research!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the differences between Psychiatrists and Psychologists in terms of how they treat the symptoms of mental disorders?
  2. Why might combination treatments (drugs and talk) be more effective than one or the other alone?
  3. How is transcranial magnetic stimulation different than drugs as a brain focused treatment for the symptoms of mental disorders?

References (Read Further):

Dakwar, E., Nunes, E.V., Hart, C.L., Foltin, R.W., Mathew, S.J., Carpenter, K.M., Choi, C.J., et al. (2019). A single ketamine infusion combined with mindfulness-based behavioral modification to treat cocaine dependence: a randomized clinical trial. Am J Psychiatry. 176: 923-930.

Carmi, L., Tendler, A., Bystritsky, A., Hollander, E., Blumberger, D.M., Daskalakis, J., Ward, H., et al. (2019). Efficacy and safety of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder: a prospective multicenter randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Am J Psychiatry. 176: 931-938.

George, M.S. (2019). Whither TMS: a one-trick pony or the beginning of a neuroscientific revolution? Am J Psychiatry. 176: 904-910.

Hallett, M. (2000). Transcranial magnetic stimulation and the human brain. Nature, 406(6792), 147.

Loo, C. K., Taylor, J. L., Gandevia, S. C., McDarmont, B. N., Mitchell, P. B., & Sachdev, P. S. (2000). Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in controlled treatment studies: are some “sham” forms active?. Biological psychiatry, 47(4), 325-331.


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: There is a LOT of talk, research and theorizing these days about stress and anxiety including discussion of the possibility that there is an epidemic of anxiety among high school, college and university students and emerging adults in general. Early, over-simplistic blame has been laid on smartphone and social media use among adolescents and emerging adults and on heir parents who have not allowed or encouraged them to be more ‘free ranging’ throughout their childhood. We are gaining much deeper insights into the functioning of the evolutionarily old systems through which we experience stress and the useful vigilance it can engender but can sometimes over-produce. All of this together can sometimes take on a semblance of collective catastrophizing or hand wringing about how much anxious trouble we are all potentially in these days. Interestingly, catastrophizing is a core (bad) cognitive habit tightly associated with anxiety issues – something it would be good to figure out how to do less of. Luckily one of the most solidly research supported approaches to helping people deal with symptoms of many mental issues – Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – can suggest things we can all do to manage, and reduce, our anxiety by ourselves. Now, if anxiety is a consistent issue for you it is a really good idea to go and see someone about it, perhaps starting with your doctor but then, perhaps with referral assistance, to a psychologist with practice expertise related to anxiety. That said, learning a few steps you can take to better understand the patterns of thought you may be engaging in around things that produce anxiety can potentially help you manage your anxiety. If you think this might be helpful for you read the article linked below which was written by a person who coaches managers and CEO’s (people who can have a lot of anxiety to deal with from time to time).

Source: How Anxiety Traps Us, and How We Can Break Free, Sabina Nawaz, Harvard Business Review.

Date: January 2, 2020

Photo Credit:  aluxum/Getty Images

Article Link:

Was there anything in the article you found useful? There is a lot a research that clearly informs us that we are not nearly the rational clear-thinking species we would like to believe. By attending to the potential multitude of ways in which our thinking or our beliefs or assumptions may be distorting our view of our actual situations and circumstances we can more clearly see and potentially address the ruminative aspects of our feeling of anxiety. Doing so will not make ALL our stress and anxiousness go away but it could help us to manage enough it that we can see our current realties more clearly AND more clearly see things we might be able to do to move things along more positively thus reducing our anxiety levels. A little self-CBT can be quite helpful and is worth looking in to and thinking about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might the evolutionary advantages of some aspects of anxiety or anxiousness be?
  2. How might the evolutionary advantages play out or be adapted for positive purposes in our own day-to-day week-to-week lives?
  3. The article was written from a coach’s perspective based on experience and a case study example from their private coaching practice. Outline a broader research strategy we might take to “prove out” the possible positive impact of the coach’s practice approach for people (managers, CEOs, students etc.) trying to cope with anxiety in their lives?

References (Read Further):

National Institute of Mental Health (2017) prevalence of Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults,

Anxiety Canada: Youth — Thinking Traps

Anxiety Canada – Self Help – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Hofmann, S. G., & Smits, J. A. (2008). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult anxiety disorders: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 69(4), 621.

Hirai, M., & Clum, G. A. (2006). A meta-analytic study of self-help interventions for anxiety problems. Behavior Therapy, 37(2), 99-111.

Cuijpers, P., Donker, T., van Straten, A., Li, J., & Andersson, G. (2010). Is guided self-help as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy for depression and anxiety disorders? A systematic review and meta-analysis of comparative outcome studies. Psychological medicine, 40(12), 1943-1957.

Cuijpers, P., Donker, T., Johansson, R., Mohr, D. C., van Straten, A., & Andersson, G. (2011). Self-guided psychological treatment for depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis. PloS one, 6(6), e21274.

Bennett, S. D., Cuijpers, P., Ebert, D. D., McKenzie Smith, M., Coughtrey, A. E., Heyman, I., … & Shafran, R. (2019). Practitioner Review: Unguided and guided self‐help interventions for common mental health disorders in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.