Posted by & filed under Clinical Psychology, Cultural Variation, Emerging Adulthood, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As noted in another recent post, and as you have no doubt noticed, there is a LOT is life change (and related stress) associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is worth reflecting for a bit on the changes we are experiencing that are not as objectively defined as a lack of income, a lack of entertainment options or a lack of toilet paper. Specifically, our social contacts have shifted so we are spending more time alone than usual or we are spending far more time with immediate family members that we usually do and consequently we missing or perhaps locally over-loading the consistency or continuity we typically rely on in the form of our unreflected social norms or social meanings. Think about what it typically means to a teenager when one or both of their parents tell them they want to “talk with them.” Think about what adults might be feeling as they speak with good neighborhood friends from opposite sides of the street or from their respective front or back porches. Social norms about social distance about the frequency and anticipated intensity of social interactions are all messed up by or current circumstances and we may not have really been consciously aware of them in the first place. When people describe their current living situations as chaotic, they are likely only able to point to or articulate a portion of what makes up that chaos. Think about it. You may feel that handshaking was just a stupid, useless social habit but for many people it had significant social meaning. It reflected trust, openness, and established a social distance that was thought to be comfortable for a friendly social engagement. Now we have to maintain a safe physical distance of about 2 arm lengths and while we know why that is (to make viral transmission less likely) we may not be automatically or effectively adjusting for the impact of these new requirements on the violations some of our social norms. Think about how many social norms, that you adhere to, are now regularly violated due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Not sure? Well, over 80 years ago Social Psychologist Muzafer Sherif used the Autokinetic Effect to demonstrate the formation of Social Norms. Individuals in a dark (light sealed) room were shown a tiny (point source) light several arms lengths away from them and were asked what they saw. All said the light was moving except that it was not moving at all, what was moving were their heads and eyes but, in the dark with no external reference points participants could not factor out their eye and body movements and so attributed them to the light. The amount of (illusory) movement they reported varied from a few centimeters to a couple of feet. Sherif then put different people into the dark room in groups and asked them to share their perceptions of movement and come up with a group consensus as to how much the light was moving and the results? Well, the groups tended to fairly quickly come up with am movement estimate that they all agreed with AND those estimated varied about as much as had those of individuals ranging from a few centimeters to a couple of feet. When Sherif brought group member back weeks later and tested them again individually rather than in groups they tended to continue to report that they were seeing the amount of movement their group had decided was happening. In the groups, not certain as to what they were seeing, they formed a social norm which then informed their individual perceptions month later even when they were alone in the room and they did not tend to say anything like “we voted on it and decided on this number so I am sticking with that” instead they simply reported what they were “seeing” even though it was a social (rather than an objective) norm. Social norms are not stupid habits, they provide meaning that we can assume or rely on in situations that do not have objective meaning on their own. Like handshaking, like many other cultural practices, they just are what they are. Over the past few days and weeks, a great many social conventions have been challenged or deemed dangerous. If Life Change = Stress then it would be a good idea to work at bringing some of these social norms and conventions that we are no longer engaging in to mind and at least acknowledging the costs, in terms of chaos, uncertainty, anxiety and stress associated with no longer being able to just do them. Just as important is to think about what we are going to replace them with. I mean, how do you modulate an elbow bump, wave, or bow in order to communicate the same social nuances that could be included in a handshake? In light of this, dismissing the lost opportunities for handshaking as just a stupid ritual anyway is a little bit like for preschool and early grade school children dismiss things they do not understand, like manners or thank-you notes, as “stoopid.”

Source: Is Obsessing Over Daily Coronavirus Statistics Counterproductive?, Ellen Peters, Opinion, The New York Times

Date: March 12, 2020

Photo Credit:  Gerd Altmann from Pixabay and kiquebg from Pixabay

Article Link:

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some examples of social norms that we use in some or many of our social interactions?
  2. What roles or purposes do the social norms you listed above play in our social interactions?
  3. Can you think of some ways in which we could or are replacing lost social behaviors such as handshakes in our social interactions going forward?

References (Read Further):

Sherif, M. (1937). An experimental approach to the study of attitudes. Sociometry, 1(1/2), 90-98.

Abrams, D., & Levine, J. M. (2012). The formation of social norms: Revisiting Sherif’s autokinetic illusion study. Social psychology: Revisiting the classic studies, 57-75. Link

Moscovici, S., & Moscovici, S. (1991). Experiment and experience: An intermediate step from Sherif to Asch. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 21(3), 253-268. Link

Walter, N. (1955). A study of the effects of conflicting suggestions upon judgments in the autokinetic situation. Sociometry, 18(2), 138-146.


Goldstein, N. J., Griskevicius, V., & Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Invoking social norms: A social psychology perspective on improving hotels’ linen-reuse programs. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 48(2), 145-150. Link

Lewis, M. A., & Neighbors, C. (2006). Social norms approaches using descriptive drinking norms education: A review of the research on personalized normative feedback. Journal of American College Health, 54(4), 213-218.

Rakoczy, H., & Schmidt, M. F. (2013). The early ontogeny of social norms. Child Development Perspectives, 7(1), 17-21.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Psychological Health, Research Methods, Social Psychology, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: This is another installment in my efforts to talk about, and to get you to THINK about what the Covid-19 pandemic and our experiences of it can show us about the nature of human Psychology. What I am suggesting is that we can learn more about ourselves and our communities and about how we might be able to move forward more positively (or at least less negatively) into our complex and uncertain futures if we use Psychology to help us reflect on ourselves and our social connections and social meanings rather than wasting time focusing on the Psychology or toilet paper panic buying and hand sanitizer hoarding. So, here is a bit of Psychology history. Back in the 1960’s two Psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe wanted to study how stress effects susceptibility to physical illness (somewhat currently relevant, right?). They wanted to operationalize stress in a way they could assess using a survey or inventory as opposed to biological measures. They came up with the idea/theory that stress was equal to or the result of life change. The more that things change in your lifer over, perhaps a year or two the more stress you will have experienced. Using general surveys and by asking experts (Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists – or stress experts) ratings they arrived at a long list of life change events and tagged each of them with a number for 0 to 100 indicating how much life change they involved. One insight they provided was that BOTH negative AND positive life events involve life change. So, while separation and divorce are fairly high in their assigned life change points getting married or reconciling are not that much lower down the list. Change is stress. Their biggest finding was of a strong correlation between life change (stress) and physical illness – more life change = greater likelihood of illness. Now, in the years since their initial work many caveats have been pointed out: E.g., their scale included illness items (which contributed to their correlational results) and their scale did not take individual interpretation into account (for some people separation or divorce are huge stress reducers). Nevertheless, as any of the articles listed below suggest, thinking about stress and life change can help us to see more clearly just how MUCH stress we are currently coping (not coping so well) with in recent days and weeks.

Source: Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of psychosomatic research.

Date: March 22, 2020

Photo Credit:  Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay

Article Link:  Life Change Index Scale

There are a multitude of How to Cope with isolation due to Covid-19 sites out there (many quite well done) but if you think just a little bit about the conceptual work behind Holes and Rahe’s Social Readjustment Rating Scale (Life Change = Stress) you can better understand why you likely are feeling so disoriented and perhaps anxious. As well, this conceptualization also suggests tings you can do to address your current Psychological situation.  Parents are being told to create and stick to schedules for your children (and for yourself as well). We have lost SO much social structure through imposed social isolation requirements and a lot of it we are not even aware of – think of all the little things that provided order to our days before like the ebb and flow of rush hour or of neighbourhood foot traffic. Setting a few new routines in place can relieve a LOT of stress and can help us to see that a lot of how we are feeling has to do with social norms and social conventions that we may not have noticed before. We are all now part of the Zoom generation (look it up!) looking for new ways to maintain old but essential social connections despite demands for social distancing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did Holmes and Rahe suggest that stress and social change might be related
  2. Sit down and write up a list of all the things in your life that have changed in just the past 2 weeks and pay particular attention (mark with a star) the things you added to your list that surprised you (that you were not thinking about until after reading this post and the linked articles?
  3. In light of this reflection what are a few things you can start doping right away that could mitigate the impacts (stress) some of the changes you put into your previous list?

References (Read Further):

Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of psychosomatic research.

Noone, P. A. (2017). The Holmes–Rahe Stress Inventory. Occupational Medicine, 67(7), 581-582.

Linden, W. (1984). Development and initial validation of a life event scale for students. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 18(3).

Grant, I., Gerst, M., & Yager, J. (1976). Scaling of life events by psychiatric patients and normals. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 20(2), 141-149.

Linn, M. W. (1986). Modifiers and Perceived Stress Scale. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 54(4), 507.









Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Consciousness, General Psychology, Group Processes, Health and Prevention In Aging, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As of today (March 15, 2020) the COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and there is a LOT going on at the international, national, community and individual level. The university where I am currently teaching a couple of courses has decided to finish this term with all our courses converted from face-to-face to online delivery models. We are all trying to figure out what this all means. Psychology can help us to do that in a calm, rational, and effective manner. As such my posts this week will all focus in one way or another on our current global (and individual) situation(s).  The Fact Sheet, linked below, provides basic information and links for additional information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic but it also provides something of a Psychological context for that information. While we are being inundated with information about our current situations the novelty of the situation and its potentially broad-reaching implications can leave us wondering what sense to make of it all, and uncertain as to how we should think, feel and act. Psychology can help with questions like “do I really touch my face that much?” to, “am I under or over responding to the COVID-19 Threat and how can I tell the difference?” Read through the article linked below and perhaps one or two of the articles in the further reading section below and perhaps at parts 2 and 3 of this week’s posts on this site for a bit of Psychological perspective.

Source: “Psychology Works” Fact Sheet: Coping with and Preventing Covid-19, Canadian Psychological Association.

Date: March 13, 2020

Photo Credit:  CDC, Canadian Press

Article Link:

While a lot of the information in the fact sheet linked above could have been found elsewhere there are parts of the sheet, the Psychological parts, that could be quite helpful. In particular, the section on how to tell if you should seek professional help for COVID-19 related stress or anxiety could be very useful. One last Psychological word, from my perspective, experience as a Developmental Psychologist and from research in Developmental Psychology regarding talking with children about COVID-19. It is important for parents to listen very carefully to the questions that their children are asking so that they can answer those questions directly and specifically. Young children may be worried about getting sick (less likely than adults), seeing friends (restrictions on social contact keep everyone safer and will be temporary), or about their grandparents given what is being said about vulnerable populations (perhaps have children talk to grandparents on the phone to be reassured that they are well and safe). We adults need to remember that the broader impacts of COVID-19 on things like the stock market, the economy, work life and the health care system are likely not things children are worried about but they can and will notice our anxiety about such things and we can help them with that by helping ourselves. Psychology and science can help.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are you thinking about the current situation involving the COVID-19 virus?
  2. Are you strategically adjusting your search or and reflections upon information related to the virus in way that help you clarify your feelings and plan your actions?
  3. In what ways can Psychology help people understand and cope as effectively as possible with their current situations in relation to COVID-19?

References (Read Further):

Lopez-Goni, Ignacio (March 6, 2020) Coronavirus: Ten reasons why you ought not to panic, The Conversation.

Racine, Nicole and Madigan, Sheri (March 14, 2020) How to talk to your kids about COVID-19, The Conversation,

Mohammed, Manal (March 13, 2020) Coronavirus: not all hand sanitizers work against it – here’s what you should use, The Conversation,

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

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

Psychology of COVID 19 Part 3: Statistical Overfocus

The Psychology of Risk Assessment: The Case of the Coronavirus

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Health Psychology, Language-Thought, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: I have been thinking a lot about and posting a lot about anxiety recently — it is a central part of the current times what with COVID-19 and all. I recently finished teaching the section on one of my introductory Psychology courses having to do with Psychological Disorders and Treatment. Our class discussions about cognitive behavior therapy began by considering the three general over-generalizations that make up Becks cognitive triad of negative automatic thinking associated with depression (self as worthless, current world of noxious and the future as bleak) and then turned to the catastrophizing and over focus of negative possibilities associated with anxiety disorders. One question/comment that came up was a version of, “So, clinical psychologists point out people’s biased assumptions and tell them top stop using them?” A simple answer to that question could be “Well yes but how they help people do it for themselves is the cognitive behavioral key to effective treatment.”  But the problem with that is that it tends to treat the who business, the client, their anxiety issues, and therapy as an exclusively cognitive exercise. People who have tried to stop bad habits will tell you that it is not all cognitive and that simply deciding to stop does not tend to lead to much in the way of success. To understand why not it is helpful to consider the subjective experience of anxiety at the individual level of someone who is experiencing and trying to come to terms with it. For one such account of anxiety issues read the article linked below and, while doing so, think about what it may be suggesting about cognitive behavioral therapeutic approaches to anxiety.

Source: This Is a Good Time to Stop Fighting Anxiety, Laura Turner, Opinion, The New York Times.

Date: March 12, 2020

Photo Credit:  Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Article Link:

I think the most useful line in the article is this one: “Anxiety in inherently irrational – it deals in what-ifs and worst-case scenarios – and so, for me, it did not respond to training my mind”. The anxiety driving systems of our brains are evolutionary much older than the cognitive/rational part of our brains and as such we likely should be open to the possibility that they might, sometimes, hijack our thought processes. Put another way, feeling can be thought about and talked about, but they are not rational, they are feelings and they may not (definitely are NOT) consistently linked to objective reality. So, maybe the assumptions of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), while a part of cognitive behavior therapy, provide a usefully broader foundation for helping people with anxiety issues. Worth thinking about, especially these days.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the central assumptions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
  2. What is it about recurrent ruminative anxiety that might make it difficult to treat from a standard cognitive behavioral perspective?
  3. Who might benefit from ACT and why?

References (Read Further):

Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour research and therapy, 44(1), 1-25.

Powers, M. B., Vörding, M. B. Z. V. S., & Emmelkamp, P. M. (2009). Acceptance and commitment therapy: A meta-analytic review. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 78(2), 73-80.

Arch, J. J., Eifert, G. H., Davies, C., Vilardaga, J. C. P., Rose, R. D., & Craske, M. G. (2012). Randomized clinical trial of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for mixed anxiety disorders. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 80(5), 750.

Zettle, R. D. (2003). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) vs. systematic desensitization in treatment of mathematics anxiety. The psychological record, 53(2), 197-215.

Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2008). Acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: Different treatments, similar mechanisms?. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 15(4), 263-279.

Arch, J. J., Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., Eifert, G. H., & Craske, M. G. (2012). Longitudinal treatment mediation of traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy for anxiety disorders. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50(7-8), 469-478.

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

Psychology of COVID 19 Part 3: Statistical Overfocus

The Psychology of Risk Assessment: The Case of the Coronavirus

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Research Methods, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Here is a simple question. How many times each day these days do you seek out and look at the latest COVID-19 statistics (locally, nationally or internationally)? OK, that is what you say but is that really true (be honest with yourself, you do not have to share that with anyone else)? What might regularly checking or not checking the COVID-19 numbers relate to (correlate with) in terms of how people are coming to terms with, understanding, and coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic? Thank about that for a moment and then read the article linked below for one researcher’s recent efforts to address at least a corner of this question.

Source: Is Obsessing Over Daily Coronavirus Statistics Counterproductive?, Ellen Peters, Opinion, The New York Times

Date: March 12, 2020

Photo Credit:  Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

Now before you dismissively wave your hand at the article linked above and derisively declare it “correlational” maybe place it in a slightly broader context. COVID-19 aside, there has been growing evidence of an anxiety epidemic arising, particularly among emerging adults. A big part of anxiety involves rumination or mentally going around and around with what-ifs and could be and inflationary perspectives on the bleakness of future possibilities. In light of that COVID-19 is a an ideal “worry -toy” for anxiety prone people. Such anxiety fueled rumination over COVID-19 drives our inherent cognitive information processing biases. For example, looking and relooking at the current numbers of those infected and those who have died as a result of COVID-19 tends to have those who do so focused upon the increasing large numbers without proportionally contextualizing them and noting that many, many more people are not and will not become infected and a very large proportion of those that do become effected with survive with little or no discomfort. The researcher who wrote the article acknowledges the correlational nature of her research but indicates that she is following many of her participants longitudinally with is one of beginning to address the causal attribution question. Looking at the COVID-19 statistics CAN motivate us to take requests for self-imposed social distancing and handwashing more seriously but, it can also fuel a catastrophizing bias that, in tern ramps up anxiety. So, check your motives, check base-rates, and review your behavior and perhaps you will reduce your anxiety AND behave in more positive ways.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship between COVID-19 statistics checking and anxiety?
  2. How does this relationship relate to general issues of anxiety at the individual and at the socio-historical levels?
  3. What are several thigs people can do in order to reduce their COVID-19 related anxieties?

References (Read Further):

Christie, Tim (March 14, 2020) Study will look at perceived risk of new coronavirus in real time.

Mitchell, Cory (June 25, 2019) Randon Reinforcement: Why Most Traders Fail. Investopedia,

Obrecht, N. A., & Chesney, D. L. (2016). Prompting deliberation increases base-rate use. Judgment and Decision making, 11(1), 1.

Turpin, M. H., Meyers, E. A., Walker, A. C., Białek, M., Stolz, J. A., & Fugelsang, J. A. (2020). The environmental malleability of base-rate neglect. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 1-7. Link

Holzworth, R. J., Stewart, T. R., & Mumpower, J. L. (2018). Detection and selection decisions with conditional feedback: Interaction of task uncertainty and base rate. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 31(4), 508-521. Link

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

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

The Psychology of Risk Assessment: The Case of the Coronavirus

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

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

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

Date: February 28, 2020

Photo Credit:  Alex Yomare from Pixabay

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: March 7, 2020

Photo Credit:  Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: February 4, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay

Article Link:  

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: February 29, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Adrian Balea from Pixabay

Article Link:

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

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

Counselor: Well, what are you passionate about?

Student: I don’t know.

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

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: February 4, 2020

Photo Credit:  Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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