Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Aging Psychological Disorders, Consciousness, Depression, Health and Prevention In Aging, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Physical Changes In Aging, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Uncategorized.

Description: Feeling like your thinking is less sharp or even describable as “fuzzy’ is a fairly common subjective report offered by people struggling with depression or bipolar disorder. However, there has been debate as to whether such feeling are reflections of actual changes in brain function or related, instead to changes in mood or motivation often associated with these disorders. This article reports on a large study that suggests the “fuzziness” may be due to changes in brain function associated with depression and bipolar disorder.

Source: Science Daily: “Fuzzy thinking” in depression, bipolar disorder: New research finds effect is real

Date: May 4, 2015

Depressions and fuzzy thinking

Photo Credit:


Physical and cognitive “slowing” are often noted as associated with depression and the depressive parts of bipolar disorder. What is not clear is whether those observations reflect changes in concentration or mental focus or whether they are simply correlates of the general depression of mood and motivation often associated with these disorders. The study described in this article used a sustained concentration task (watching for particular target letters in a visual stream of other letters). The researchers found that while there were some women with depression or bipolar disorder who did as well and non-disordered women on the task nearly all of the women scoring in the bottom 5% of the sample had one or the other of these two disorders. Beyond this the authors of the study suggest that the gradations in functioning they observed supports the recently suggested possibility that “mood disorders [could be viewed] dimensionally, as a continuum of function to dysfunction across illnesses that are more alike than distinct”. It may make more sense to view the symptom components (and the possible underlying causes) of such disorders as existing along graded continua rather than as categorical groups or domains (as they are typically treated diagnostically).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the results of this study suggesting about our view of depression and bipolar disorder?
  2. The researchers reported that they “focused on results from women to take gender differences out of the mix”. What does this sort of investigative or experimental control allow them to say about the generalizability of their results?
  3. How might the diagnosis and perhaps even the treatment of depression, bipolar disorders and other disorders shift if we move towards viewing them as reflecting continua of functioning?

References (Read Further):

  1. A. Ryan, E. L. Dawson, M. T. Kassel, A. L. Weldon, D. F. Marshall, K. K. Meyers, L. B. Gabriel, A. C. Vederman, S. L. Weisenbach, M. G. McInnis, J.-K. Zubieta, S. A. Langenecker. Shared dimensions of performance and activation dysfunction in cognitive control in females with mood disorders. Brain, 2015; 138 (5): 1424 DOI: 10.1093/brain/awv070

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Uncategorized.

Description: Do you think of your car as male or female? How about your smartphone? What about your fridge? Oh and what about your robot? Don’t have one of those yet? This CBC story looks at the question of why it is that in our science fiction books and films and, it turns out, in our robotics labs, when we build a human looking robot and give it a male or a female appearance we also seem to provide them with VERY stereotyped characteristics as well?

Source: CBC Radio, The Current: Ex Machina’s portrayal of gendered robot perpetuates stereotypes

Date: April 24, 2015

ex machina

Photo Credit: CBC Radio “The Current” website and Universal Pictures


Story Podcast Link:

So ships are general female but what about other machines and what about robots? What about R2D2? Despite in-film references to it as a “little guy” “his” gender is not entirely clear. Is the robot “AVA” in the new film Ex Machina portrayed as stereotypically as “it” (she) is because of the fantasies of its predominantly male creators? It IS a fact that the field of robotics these days is predominantly male. This story asks the question of why our “creations”, when gendered, are so stereotypically rendered. Consider Ava (in Ex machine) versus T-800 Model 101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator film series) or Hal from 2001 a Space Odyssey. Given that built creations like robots cannot be said to have any sort of “inner genetic essence” it is clear that any gendered features of behaviours were put there or built in by their creators, in a concrete form of social construction. The results are worth serious reflection.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Identify several “robots” from science fiction books or films and describe how they are viewed from a gender perspective.
  2. How might we use robots or aspects of robotics to investigate children’s understandings or beliefs about gender?
  3. Are there examples on non-gendered robots (that actually interact with humans in a dynamic non-machine like way? If so what is our experience of them like? If not why not?

References (Read Further):

Atkinson, D. J., & Clark, M. H. (2014, October). Methodology for study of human-robot social interaction in dangerous situations. In Proceedings of the second international conference on Human-agent interaction (pp. 371-376). ACM.

Nicolescu, M. (2014). Improving the modeling of dog-owner interactions for the design of social robots. Interaction Studies, 15(2), 180-183.

Liu, P., Glas, D. F., Kanda, T., Ishiguro, H., & Hagita, N. (2014, August). How to train your robot-teaching service robots to reproduce human social behavior. In Robot and Human Interactive Communication, 2014 RO-MAN: The 23rd IEEE International Symposium on (pp. 961-968). IEEE.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Intelligence, Uncategorized, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: Browse through the linked page showing the “Best of 2014 from Organizational Behavior” and get a feel for the impressive breadth of research that is being done in this growing area of Psychology (think potential career paths!).

Source: Wiley Online Library: The Best of 2014 from Organizational Behavior

Date: April 21, 2015

Wiley Business Psychology Journals

Photo Credit: Wiley Online Library


Links between business and psychology are growing rapidly. Industrial/Organizational or I/O Psychology is the area of Psychology in which we study people in organizational and work-place settings and the Psychology or teams, groups and organizations. In addition to conducting research in a broad array of business/organizational areas I/O psychologists also consult or work in industry in areas such as team building, personnel selection and retention, organizational dynamics and culture, and a broad array of human resources domains as well. Explore the topic list on the right side of the linked page for a detailed look at the research domains in this part of Psychology.

If you are going to major in Psychology but are not yet sure about what part of Psychology will be your main focus you might want to have a look at the I/O psychology offerings at your college or university.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Pick one area of I/O or business psychology and describe the sorts of research questions they investigate. What areas of basic Psychology, as covered in your textbook and course(s) do these research areas draw from?
  2. What business areas or origination departments might you might you want to investigate or network with if you were an I/O psychologist looking for consulting work?
  3. What elective courses would be good to consider taking if you were working towards a degree in I/O Psychology and why?

References (Read Further):

Check out the free article links in the featured web page and if you find one or two that are of particular interest to you use your library’s web links to explore the journals containing those article further. Start with the most recent journal issues and/or the “online first” offerings if they have any and then work back a few years to get a feel for the kind of research being done in the area of Psychology or Business or Business (I/O) Psychology covered by that journal.

Posted by & filed under Aging Psychological Disorders, Assessment: Self-report Projective Measures, Chronic Illness, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Health Psychology, Consciousness, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Managing Pain, Serious Physical Illness, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self, Uncategorized.

Description: What subjective/psychologically experiences do we associate with disease? Oliver Sacks, the deeply respected physician and professor of neurology discusses about how patients with migraines talk about the psychological experiences associated with their migraine headaches. The 81 year old Sacks goes on to talk about his own experiences with a particular palliative treatment for the metastatic cancer that is throughout his liver. If you have not read anything by Sacks, well you should, he brings medicine neurology and psychology vibrantly to life.

Source: Oliver Sacks on Feelings of Disorder (or Dis-ease) New York Time Review of Books

Date: April 23, 2015

Olver Sacks

Photo Credit: Newcastle Beach, New South Wales, Australia, 2000; photograph by Trent Parke, Magnum Photos


Much has been said, suggested and even researched about the relationship between things (cancer and other illnesses) going on in our physical body and our psychological or subjective experiences. In this article Oliver Sacks provides us with a grounding account of the subjective/psychological experiences of some of his patients struggling with migraines. He then goes on to talk about his own physical and psychological experiences dealing with a particular course of palliative (help with quality of life but not cure) treatment for terminal metastatic liver cancer. As with all of his work (find it and read it!), Sacks brings us right up to the front lines and into the lived experiences of people (in this case himself) dealing with physiological (medical) and psychological events. He provides us with MUCH to think about!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. We cannot simply describe Oliver Sacks accounts of the effects of his treatment as only psychology. What else is involved and what does it suggest about how we ought to be thinking about our biological, social and psychological experiences?
  2. What implications does Sacks’ account suggest for how medicine and psychology thinks about and becomes involved in the whole of people’s medical treatments?
  3. Outline the links between Sacks’ accounts of his Migraine patients’ experiences and his own experiences with the impacts of his palliative treatment for liver cancer?

References (Read/Watch Further):

Oliver Sacks, (2009) Ted Talk What hallucination reveals about our minds.

Sacks, O. (1970). Migraine: the evolution of a common disorder. Univ of California Press.

Sacks, O. (1990). Neurology and the soul. Fidia.

Sacks, O. (1991). Awakenings. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (1997). The island of the colour-blind: and, Cycad Island. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (1998). A leg to stand on. Simon and Schuster.

Sacks, O. (1998). The man who mistook his wife for a hat: And other clinical tales. Simon and Schuster.

Sacks, O. (2001). Uncle Tungsten: memories of a chemical boyhood. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (2006). The power of music. Brain, 129(10), 2528-2532.

Sacks, O. (2009). Seeing voices: A journey into the world of the deaf. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (2010). Musicophilia: Tales of music and the brain. Vintage Canada.

Sacks, O. (2010). The mind’s eye. Vintage.

Sacks, O. (2011). An anthropologist on Mars: Seven paradoxical tales. Pan Macmillan.


Posted by & filed under Assessment: Interviewing Observation, Early Social and Emotional development, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Language Development, Language-Thought, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Uncategorized.

Description: What can we learn about how we are being perceived or received by paying attention to the head movements and related gestures of the people we are interacting with? Perhaps more than we are aware of.

Source: Psych-Mechanics: Hanan Parvez  (Link below)

Date: April 13, 2015

Body Language

Photo Credit:


Study Body Language Website:

Toastmasters Guide to Body Language:

Can or should people work when they are struggling with depression? Many do not have a choice. Recent alarm about the issue of pilots and depression and other aspects of mental health have created a media discussion that is often not well grounded in research data. This article and the related audio recording of the NPR itself looks at a few sides of these questions.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which of the gestures or body language “tells” discussed on this website surprised you? Which ones were you already aware of and have used regularly?
  2. Who might benefit from becoming better at reading the body language of other? How might they best be trained?
  3. Is it important to be aware of our body language ort will trying to pay attention to is mess up our interaction skills?

References (Read Further):

Hachaj, T., & Ogiela, M. R. (2014). Rule-based approach to recognizing human body poses and gestures in real time. Multimedia Systems, 20(1), 81-99.

Sokolov, A. A., Krüger, S., Enck, P., Krägeloh-Mann, I., & Pavlova, M. A. (2011). Gender affects body language reading. Frontiers in psychology, 2.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health, The Self, Uncategorized.

Description: Despite the media putting heavy emphasis on the depression of the Germanwings pilot who is believed to have crashed his plane on purpose just what are the work implications of depressi0on? Can people work through or with depression? This article and audio file link (on the article webpage) discusses these issues.

Source: National Public Radio: Working Through Depression: Many Stay on the Job, Despite Mental Illness

Date: April 12, 2015

Working through depression


Can or should people work when they are struggling with depression? Many do not have a choice. Recent alarm about the issue of pilots and depression and other aspects of mental health have created a media discussion that is often not well grounded in research data. This article and the related audio recording of the NPR itself looks at a few sides of these questions.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the impacts of depression on work?
  2. Should employees disclose their depression to their employers? Might the answer to this vary according to circumstances and if so what are those circumstances?
  3. How might Psychology and psychological (clinical) research inform these issues?

References (Read Further):

Simon, G. E., Barber, C., Birnbaum, H. G., Frank, R. G., Greenberg, P. E., Rose, R. M., … & Kessler, R. C. (2001). Depression and work productivity: the comparative costs of treatment versus nontreatment. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 43(1), 2-9.


Brohan, Elaine, Claire Henderson, Kay Wheat, Estelle Malcolm, Sarah Clement, Elizabeth A. Barley, Mike Slade, and Graham Thornicroft. (2012) Systematic review of beliefs, behaviours and influencing factors associated with disclosure of a mental health problem in the workplace.” Bmc Psychiatry 12, no. 1 11.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, Physical Illness, Physiology, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Uncategorized.

Description: Does chemo therapy have an impact upon brain functioning? If so, what are the impacts, how does chemo therapy affect the brain and how permanent are the results?

Source: Science Daily: Cancer and chemo brain: Cancer diagnosis affects cognitive function

Date: April 17, 2015

CHemo Brain

Photo Credit:


Chemo brain and physical brain changes

What is chemo brain video of talk by Tracy Vannorsdall PhD

Health psychologists and oncologists are increasingly discussing the impact that chemo therapies can have on brain or cognitive functioning. At issue are the nature and extent of the effects that diagnosis and treatment of cancer via chemo therapies can have on cognitive function. It is important to remain open to there being a complex interplay of issues at play. The powerful drugs used in chemo therapy may well have significant short and perhaps long term effects of cognitive/brain functioning. The stress associated with receiving a cancer diagnosis may also be a factor (as the lead article linked here indicates clearly). As well, there may be a wide array of psychosocial factors, before during and after treatment in addition to the impact of chemo treatment. Work related to chemo brain and related issues and phenomena represent a growing area of research in both neuroscience and health psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of effects are associated with the term chemo brain?
  2. What challenges does the term chemo brain present to oncologists, health psychologists, and cancer patients?
  3. Are there other areas of research that should be considered in relation to the issue of chemo brain?

References (Read Further):

Hermelink, V. Voigt, J. Kaste, F. Neufeld, R. Wuerstlein, M. Buhner, K. Munzel, D. Rjosk-Dendorfer, S. Grandl, M. Braun, F. E. von Koch, K. Hartl, S. Hasmuller, I. Bauerfeind, G. Debus, P. Herschbach, N. Harbeck. (2015) Elucidating Pretreatment Cognitive Impairment in Breast Cancer Patients: The Impact of Cancer-related Post-traumatic Stress. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 107 (7): djv099 DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djv099

Raffa, R. B., P. V. Duong, J. Finney, D. A. Garber, L. M. Lam, S. S. Mathew, N. N. Patel, K. C. Plaskett, M. Shah, and H‐F. Jen Weng. (2006) “Is ‘chemo‐fog’/‘chemo‐brain’caused by cancer chemotherapy?.” Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 31, no. 2 (2006): 129-138.


Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Child Development, Cognitive Development: Piagetian and Vygotskian Approaches, Development of the Self, Disorders of Childhood, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Social Cognition, The Self, Uncategorized.

Description: Figuring out how other people are feeling, especially when they are experiencing different emotions than we are is quite a challenge. When can preschoolers do this? Do they have to figure it out using some sort of cognitive emotional analysis or might they start by more simply empathically resonating with another’s emotional state?

Source: Medical Press: Children begin to empathize with others at a younger age than expected

Date: April 10, 2015

Toddler Empathy

Photo Credit: Henrike Moll


Developmental psychologists have suggested based on research that young children (in their early preschool years) are not capable of reading or empathizing with the emotional states of others when other persons’ emotions are different than their own. But perhaps asking toddlers to engage in a cognitive critical analysis of how someone else might be feeling is simply asking an unnecessarily complex question. Research by Henrike Moll takes a simpler approach. If you find yourself watching a scary or emotionally gripping film with friends watch how your friends respond to what they see on the screen or television. Can you see signs of empathy for the characters in the film in your friends’ actions? Moll watched closely how two and three year olds reacted physically as they watched a puppet who had most of their cookies stolen by an evil (well at least a not nice) other puppet. It was clear to Moll that her young participants knew (empathically) how the puppet felt when realizing its cookies were gone.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What would you ask a 3 year old if you were trying to figure out whether he or she tracked the emotional experiences of others?
  2. What would you look for in the behaviour of a 3 year old if you were trying to figure out whether he or she tracked the emotional experiences of others?
  3. What are some of the implications of Moll’s research findings (in terms of family functioning, children’s television programming etc? How might her findings relate to the foundations of intervention programs like the (Canadian) “Roots of Empathy” program (

References (Read Further):

Moll, H., Thompson Kane, S., & McGowan, L. (in press). Three-year-olds express suspense when an agent approaches a scene with a false belief. Developmental Science.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Language-Thought, Research Methods, Uncategorized.

Description: The characters in Shakespeare’s plays from the increasingly dementia ridden King Lear to the suicidal Hamlet (the melancholy Dane) have provided a LOT for us to consider from a Psychological perspective. But what can Psychology tell us about Shakespeare? Or more specifically, what can an analysis of Shakespeare’s writing style tell us about the playwright from a psychological point of view?

 Analyzing Shakespeare

Source: Raw Story: What Shakespeare’s plays may say about his Psychology.

Date: April 10, 2015

Photo Credit: Marcel “MadJo” de Jong, CC BY-SA 2.0


Think about an author whose writing you have read a lot. Have you developed a mental psychological profile of the author, of what they are like, based on the works they have written? Well perhaps you have not thought about it but Ryan Boyd and James Pennebaker have not only thought about it but have developed a detailed psychological analysis process looking at word use word frequency, use of function words and types of content words. Using this tool they have analyzed plays written by Shakespeare and other playwrights and have been able to claim that it was likely Shakespeare that write a play called Double Falsehood. They suggest that Shakespeare was likely the author as his writing suggests a more open social character consistent with the writing in Double Falsehood and different than the rigid and abrasive psychological profile associated with Lewis Theobald another possible author for the work.

So perhaps all the worlds IS a stage and that the playwrights themselves are also psychological actors up there right alongside their characters.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Can you think of several psychological dimensions that people vary along that might be observable not so much in what they write but how they write it?
  2. What sorts of markers did Boyd and Pennebaker use to develop a Psychological profile of Shakespeare?
  3. Besides addressing scholarly debates about the authorship of contested plays what other uses might there be for the Psychological analyses used in this new study?

References (Read Further):

Boyd, Ryan L. and Pennebaker, James W. (2015) Did Shakespeare write Double Faslehood? Identifying individuals with text analysis, Psychological Science, April 8, 2015, doi: 10.1177/0956797614566658.

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual Cognitive Measures, Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Health, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Uncategorized.

Description: So just what are the psychological consequences of spending a long time (1 year) in space? Well from 2001 a Space Odyssey to Interstellar there has been a lot of science fiction film speculation but what do we know from a scientific point of view. Quite a bit actually.

Source: PA Pacific Standard: What Spending a Year in Space Does to Your Mind — It’s stressful, but transcendental too.

Date: March 24, 2015



NASA and the Russian Federated Space Agency are each sending a man into space to stay on the international space station for a year. We can predict something of how their prolonged experience with zero gravity (Morphew, 2001) will affect them physically, (decreased bone density and muscle mass) but how will it affect them psychologically. Well, American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko are going to provide psychologists with a lot of psychological data during their upcoming year in space completing cognitive tests and regularly writing journal entries that will later be reviewed by psychologists.

NASA has been a bit vague about how it selects potential; space station astronauts from a psychological point of view – generally preferring individuals who are easygoing, resilient and have good social skills (so they will get along with their fellow astronauts in close quarters). There has been some work of the subject of space psychology. Depression and conflicts can arise during such missions (Harrison, 2004) and earlier research suggests that anxiety, depression, psychosis and psychosomatic symptoms can also arise (Kanas, 1990).

To make things easier NASA has provided astronauts with inter-cultural training (as they will be living in space with Russians). As well NASA has developed a software program with cognitive behavioral techniques built in to assist astronauts in dealing with depression in in-mission conflict.

Three may be some positive psychological experiences for the astronauts to look forward to including increases in fortitude, perserverence3, independence, self-reliance, ingenuity, comradeship and perhaps even some transcendental experiences (have you seem Interstellar yet?). We await the data on this interesting psychological experiment.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What aspects of prolonged space time might have psychological impact and why?
  2. Do you think that astronauts should be selected for the psychology of space time or should they be trained for it?
  3. What earth-bound professions or situations might prepared or select people for space travel??

References (Read Further):

Harrison, Albert quoted in Sadie Dingfelder (2004), Mental preparation for Mars: Psychologists craft systems to lessen the mental strains astronauts might face 100 million miles away from earth. APA Monitor, 35(7), 24.

Kanas, Nick (1990) Psychological, psychiatric, and interpersonal aspects of long-duration space missions, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, 27(5) 547-463.

Kanas, Nick et al., (2009) Psychology and culture during long-duration space missions, Acta Astronautica, 64(7-8) 659-677.

Treating depression with Virtual Space Station James Cartreine Interview,

Morphew, M. E. (2001). Psychological and human factors in long duration spaceflight. McGill Journal of Medicine, 6(1), 74-80.