Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Clinical Health Psychology, Group Processes, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Stress: Coping Reducing, Uncategorized.

Description: Natural disasters such as the 7.8 earthquake in Nepal recently are devastating; producing pain, hardship and a great deal of stress. This is, of course, most true for Nepalese people at home or abroad, worrying about friends and relatives but also for others hearing about, seeing the effects of, thinking about and empathically resonating with the people in and around Kathmandu. A psychologist, Sandra Wartski reflects on all of these in a blog post about the event and her relationship to and feeling about the earthquake and its aftermath.

Source: Nepal’s earthquake: reflections, resources and resilience – Your Mind Your Body – Sandra Wartski

Date: May 5, 2015


Photo Credit:


The stress and strains that follow as a result of a natural disaster such as a major earthquake are immense. Their effects are felt not just by the local survivors but also by others who hear about and empathically resonate with the ordeal of those close to the epicenter of the quake. In her blog, psychologist Sandra Wartski provides links to a number of good resources for thinking about our own and others thoughts and feeling when reflecting on such natural disasters – from managing your own feelings to understanding how others may react and how to talk with children about such world events Dr. Wartski gives us a lot to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might people here in North American (or anyone outside of Nepal) be effected by the earthquake (and its consequences) in Nepal?
  2. What can people do if they are finding themselves overwhelmed ort immobilized by news and related coverage of natural disasters such as the earthquake in Nepal?
  3. What should parents do in relation to their children’s exposure to or questions arising from media coverage of natural disasters or other world events like the earthquake in Nepal?

References (Read Further):

The National Child Trauma Stress Network, Tips for Parents on Media Coverage of the Earthquake,

The National Child Trauma Stress Network, Parent Guidelines for Helping Children after an Earthquake,

American Psychological Association, Managing your distress about the earthquake from afar –

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: Can communication mediums such as text messaging be used to increase the effectiveness of treatments for disorders like depression? This article and other sources linked below describes studies that suggest that this may be true.

Source: The ShrinkRap: Can your I-Phone prevent a relapse of depression?

Date: April 28, 2015

CBT to go

Photo Credit: iSTock Photo:


An important (the central) part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves working with people to help them change their thoughts or self-statements and to move them in more positive directions; challenging their self-defeating beliefs and thought processes. Text messages, short though they may be, can provide specific thoughts and encouragements that people can use during or after their more traditional face-to-face therapeutic encounters to sustain or bolster their changing thought/belief patterns. Sounds good? Well it may well be but, of course, we need to see some data from well-designed studies supporting their effectiveness. The study linked above and other studies cited below or linked through the second linked article above suggest there may be support for such claims.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might text messaging be used as part of (or as a follow-up to) a Cognitive Behavioural Treatment approach to depression?
  2. If such approaches are effective why might it be that they work (what do they add to the therapeutic relationship?
  3. Are there any ethical issues that may arise if text messaging is used as part of or even as the only means of intervention with depressed individuals (or with other mental health issues)?

References (Read Further):

Kok, G., Burger, H., Riper, H., Cuijpers, P., Dekker, J., van Marwijk, H., & Bockting, C. L. (2015). The Three-Month Effect of Mobile Internet-Based Cognitive Therapy on the Course of Depressive Symptoms in Remitted Recurrently Depressed Patients: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 84(2), 90-99.

Joo, N. S., & Kim, B. T. (2007). Mobile phone short message service messaging for behaviour modification in a community-based weight control programme in Korea. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 13(8), 416-420.

Watts, S., Mackenzie, A., Thomas, C., Griskaitis, A., Mewton, L., Williams, A., & Andrews, G. (2013). CBT for depression: a pilot RCT comparing mobile phone vs. computer. BMC psychiatry, 13(1), 49.

Aguilera, Adrian Text messaging as an adjunct to CBT in low-income populations: A usability and feasibility pilot study,

Boschen, M. J., & Casey, L. M. (2008). The use of mobile telephones as adjuncts to cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39(5), 546.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Consciousness, Disorders of Childhood, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Uncategorized.

Description: There may be a reciprocal relationship between sleep disorders in toddlers and psychological problems both concurrently and in the future. The research discussed in this article suggests that causality may go both ways with sleep issues giving rise to psychological problems and vice verse. The relationship is likely complex and other factors may be involved in causing both of these conditions. Sorting them out and designing appropriate developmental intervention strategies are very important.

Source: The ShrinkRap: Children’s sleep and Mental Health are Related

Date: May 7, 2015

Toddlers sleep and mental health

Photo Credit: The ShrinkRap


Parents will tell you that a sleepless night caused by a sleepless child is nerve racking. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 to 40% of young children have some difficulties sleeping but the questions of how many of them may have some form of sleep disorder and how many of them either have co-occurring mental health issues or may go on to develop mental health issues is very difficult to address. The researchers who conducted the study discussed in this article started with 1000 4 year olds and followed them up after 2 years (gathering additional data for 800 of the original sample). The researchers conducted detailed diagnostic interviews with the children’s parents (rather than just sending them questionnaires) and as such were confident they gathered clearer data about children’s sleep issues and related mental health problems.

Insomnia in 4-year-olds was related to increases in the risk for symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD and behavioural problems when they were six years old. But as well, children who show symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD and behavioural disturbances as four-year-olds have a greater risk of developing insomnia as six-year-olds. While not clear on whether there is a typical pattern of causation in these areas the authors of the research article suggest that early treatment of both sleep issues and mental health matters will reduce the number and seriousness of later developmental outcomes for preschoolers.
Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship (are the relationships) between sleep issues and psychological problems among preschoolers?
  2. What does this study suggest that parents and child psychologists ought to do with regards to both of these issues?
  3. What sorts of study or studies should be done next to make the relationship(s) between these issues and related issues and problems clearer?

References (Read Further):

Steinsbekk, S., & Wichstrøm, L. (2015). Stability of Sleep Disorders From Preschool to First Grade and Their Bidirectional Relationship with Psychiatric Symptoms. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 36(4), 243-251.

Posted by & filed under Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience, Uncategorized.

Description: This podcast looks at the ethical issues arising from a Chinese research study that involved manipulating the DNA of human embryos. As our research techniques in this area improve ethical issues such as this will become more and more prominent.

Source: CBC Radio: The Current – Study “Editing” Human DNA Divides Scientists

Date: May 8, 2015

editing human dna the current may 8 2015

Photo Credit: CBC Radio: The Current – Website:

Podcast Link:

Article Link:

Typically when we talk about the Nature side of the Nature/Nurture issue in Psychology we assume that the Nature side is fixed post conception and that it is the Nurture side where we have whatever opportunities as might be available for intervention. A Chinese study recently described an effort to change the human germ line by trying to influence the expression of a particular gene within a number of human embryos. There are a large number of ethical issues that arise from consideration of this sort of intervention. The podcast addresses questions like, should we be doing this sort of thing at all (working on techniques for producing GMO humans), if so should we have limits on what can be done, and should we consider differences between fixing “simple” single gene issues and perhaps “enhancing” embryos prior to implantation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the potential benefits of the sort of genetic manipulation described in the Chinese research article in question? What are the potential costs (undesirable consequences)? What is the “yuck factor”?
  2. What sorts of regulations (if any) might we consider for this type of research?
  3. Several scientific journals have stated that they would not publish such research. What are some of the arguments for and against that position?

References (Read Further):

Liang, P. et al. (2015) CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human cells Protein Cell .

Lanphier, E. et al. (2015) Don’t edit the human germ line, Nature 519, 410–411.

Baltimore, D. et al. (2015) A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification Science 348, 36–38.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Sensation-Perception, Somatic Symptoms Dissociative Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: Have you heard of anyone having an out of body experience? Well this article describes how some researchers produced the subjective experience of an out of body experience while people were in an MRI scanner to the researchers could see what parts of the participants’ brains were involved in the pout of body sensations.

Source: live science: Out of body experience is traced in the brain

Date: April 30, 2015

Out of Body

Photo Credit:


So leaving aside for a moment the question of whether we can or ever do actually travel outside of our bodies (look up lucid dreaming and flying sometime) what might it feel like to have such an experience and how would that experience map onto the functioning of our brain at the time (assuming we are not talking about an after death experience yet)? Researchers have devised ways of “convincing” people that they are no longer located in their body, or more specifically that their body is somewhere else in the room from where they are. Sound confusing, read the article to see what they did and how the participants’ experiences involved activities of a series of “GPS cells” in the hippocampal area of the brain. By the way, the discovery of the GPS cells lead to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year.

The second link above is to an article describing what some researchers have done to “test” the veracity of near death out of body claims by cardiac patients. Their methodology is simple and interesting though so far they have not been able to utilize it (though not for ethical reasons) and have had to rely on subjective patient accounts (which have been viewed with great skepticism by the psychological research community)

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did the researchers induce the feeling that the participants’ bodies were elsewhere in the room?
  2. What is your view of the experiences they created for their participants?
  3. What methodology has been set up to test the out of body claims of people experiencing near death moments?

References (Read Further):

Greyson, B. (2014). Corrigendum: Out-of-body experiences associated with seizures. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8.

Parnia, S., Spearpoint, K., de Vos, G., Fenwick, P., Goldberg, D., Yang, J., … & Schoenfeld, E. R. (2014). AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study. Resuscitation, 85(12), 1799-1805.

Charland-Verville, V., Lugo, Z., Jourdan, J. P., Donneau, A. F., & Laureys, S. (2015). Near-Death Experiences in patients with locked-in syndrome: Not always a blissful journey. Consciousness and cognition, 34, 28-32.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP, Uncategorized.

Description: There is a LOT of Psychology that many people know about (thanks to the media, writers of trade publications and self-help books and Introductory Psychology instructors). But there is also even more Psychology that is not out there or that people may not know that they know. Read the article linked below (and/or watch the Ted talk also linked below) by British psychologist Ben Ambridge to see a bit about people’s Psyc-Q.

Source: Psyc-Q: You may know your IQ but what do you know about Psychology, your Psy-Q?

Date: Fall, 2014

Ben Ambridge

Photo Credit: Filmed November 2014 at TEDxYouth@Manchester


You have likely heard a number of myths or beliefs about things psychological held by the general public from you Psychology instructor. Ben Ambridge, a British psychologist has started to collect these myths, kernels of truth and realities together and, in a form of knowledge transfer from Psychology to the general public, he tells people (or writes in his books about) the myths and realities of human Psychological functioning. I do this when I teach as well. The gaps between Psychological knowledge (based on solid research) and common sense can be narrow in some areas and huge in others. Read through Ben’s psyc-quizzes (link 1) , watch his Ted talk (link 2) or read through his points on “Bad Psychological” science (link 3). And then see if you can think about some other myths from your own experience or course materials.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the generally held myths about human psychological functioning that Ben Ambridge writes or talks about?
  2. Pick a “myths” and a reality and explain what is underneath (driving) each of them.
  3. How should Psychologists present themselves in lectures and in the media in relation to these issues?

References (Read Further):

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.