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.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Child Development, Disorders of Childhood, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Human Development, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prevention, Social Influence, Stress Coping - Health, Uncategorized.

Description: Does growing up in poverty have implications for developmental outcomes, yes it does. Why might that be? Well one possibility is that growing up in poverty has a negative impact upon the developmental growth of children’s brains.

Sources: Huffington Post: Study Reveals Sad Link Between Poverty And Children’s Brain Development

Date: March 30, 2015

Brain growth

Photo Source: Orhanam via Getty Images:

Links:    Huffington Post Study Reveals Sad Link Between Poverty And Children’s Brain Development –

Early research (Diamond, Krech and Rosenzweig, 1964) showed that rats raised in enriched (stimulating) environments had denser brains (in terms of number of neural interconnections) than rats reared in impoverished environments. Recent research has confirmed what we suspected was likely true, that impoverished human developmental environments have similar effects of the brains of developing children and adolescents. Key questions concern how family income and parental education are related in terms of their impact on child development and brain growth. We cannot assume that the resources available when income is high impact child development independently of the quality of interaction that better educated parents might provide. Sorting them out is important because it will have implications for the cost and design of possible intervention efforts. Intervention planning is important as programs aimed at children and adolescents have been shown to have positive impacts upon both brain development and general developmental outcomes for children.

So does finding a relationship between brain developmental and socioeconomic family status tell us anything we did not already know? Well maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t but if being able to point to measurable differences in brain growth and development linked to SES leads to more focused intervention strategies to deal with them (such as parental training, early intervention, home visitation, and poverty mitigation efforts) then it’s usefulness is supported by better outcomes.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might family SES effect children’s’ brain growth?
  2. What sorts of intervention strategies should we consider utilizing with impoverished families and children in light of this research?
  3. How are epigenetic arguments about the nature of brain growth (such as those supported by this research) different than simpler arguments about a genetic basis for differences in developmental outcomes for children raised in low versus high SES family environments?

References (Read Further):

Diamond MC, Krech D, Rosenzweig MR (August 1964). “The Effects of an Enriched Environment on the Histology of the Rat Cerebral Cortex”. J. Comp. Neurol. 123: 111–20.

Noble, Kimberly G. et al, (2015) Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents published online March 2015,

Neville, Helen J., et al, (2013) Family-based training program improves brain function, cognition, and behavior in lower socioeconomic status preschoolers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 110(29), 12138-12143.

McLoyd, Vonnie C. (1998) Socioeconomic disadvantage and child development. American Psychologist, Vol 53(2), 185-204.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Adult Development and Aging, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, Assessment: Interviewing Observation, Assessment: Self-report Projective Measures, Clinical Health Psychology, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Psychological Health, Psychological Intervention, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Social Perception, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: It appears that the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane (on March 24, 2015) locked the pilot and remaining crew out of the cockpit and deliberately flew the plane into a mountainside killing everyone on board. Discussion and speculation about his mental health status and his previous struggles with depression raise a number of ethical debates and stigma related challenges and issues for physicians and for clinical psychologists in treating people in positions of responsibility and safety with regards to the public such as pilots.

Sources: CNN Opinion: What if my patient is a pilot?

Date: March 31, 2015


Photo Source:

Links:    CNN Editorial: What if my patient is a pilot?

The apparent circumstances surrounding the crash of the Germanwings plane raise a number of ethical issues for physicians and psychologists who are treating clients struggling with mental issues who may also be pilots or others in sensitive positions in terms of public safety. The Canadian Psychological Association ethical standards indicate that a clinical psychologist has a duty to act/report if they believe their client is a danger to themselves or others. However, a client who is struggling with depression is not on that fact alone, considered a danger to themselves or others. Psychologists and physicians are not required by law or ethical guidelines to report symptoms or diagnoses to employers. Pilots have a duty to report issues which may affect their flight readiness to their employers. Expanding duty to report requirements could expand stigmatization of mental issues and lead to pilots or other persons in positions of public trust and safety under-reporting their situations. Think about it. Even though depression increases the general risk for suicide the number of people that attempt suicide in ways that endanger others is VERY low. On the other hand cognitive factors such as the availability heuristic would perhaps, in light of news of the Germanwings crash give you pause if you became aware that the pilot of the plane you were about to take off in had been treated (successfully) in the past for symptoms of depression. Those feelings are part of what drive stigma. So, while we may not be prepared to dismiss the Germanwings crash as an anomaly due to the infinitesimally small odds of it occurring once let alone again our deliberations about what we can or should do involve serious ethical issues and concerns.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship between depression and suicide?
  2. What ethical requirements are clinical psychologists and physicians held to with regards to potential harms caused by their patients?
  3. What, if any, ethical standards or requirements should be changed or created in light of the Germanwing plane crash and the pilot circumstances that seem to be involved?

References (Read Further):

Canadian Psychological Association (2009) Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, Canadian Psychological Association, Ottawa,

Kahneman, Daniel; Klein, Gary (2009). “Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree”. American Psychologist 64 (6): 515–526.

Kahneman, Daniel (2011). “Introduction”. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Tversky, Amos; Kahneman, Daniel (1973), “Availability: A Heuristic for Judging Frequency and Probability”, Cognitive Psychology 5: 207–232.

Miret, Marta, Ayuso-Mateos, Jose luis, Sanchez-Moreno, Jose, Vieta, Eduard (2013) Depressive disorders and suicide: Epidemiology, risk factors, and burden, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37 (10-1), 2372-2374.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Research Methods, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in CP, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: We generally assume that all new treatments for medical and psychiatric conditions come from western scientific labs or University based researchers, but is this actually the case? … not entirely.

Sources: Ozy Daily Brief: Dr Prozac meet Dr Vodou

Date: April 5, 2015

Traditional Medicines

Photo Source: Carlos Cazalis/Corbis

Links:    Dr Prozac meet Dr Vodou:

Nature of Things: Jungle Prescription

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: Paying royalties to Indigenous Knowledge Holders

All treatment breakthroughs come from scientific laboratories of work conducted by University or industry researchers working in Western research setting, right? Well not entirely. In the video and articles link above you will see that indigenous knowledge or what people living closer to nature know about the medicinal qualities of items and substances found in their natural environments can, in fact, be shown to be very effective treatment of medical and psychiatric conditions. The Dr. Prozac meet Dr. Vodou article talks about this and about how collaboration between western physicians and traditional healers not only produces new treatments but also builds on such things as the greater likelihood that patients will adhere to treatment plans when they involve input from a familiar traditional healer.

Ayahuasca is a substance found in an indigenous leaf tea that appears to stimulate the human executive system (frontal lobes and emotion control, centers) and has been suggestively useful in treating addicts. The Nature of Things video clip describes both the traditional drug and the science and treatments which it has engendered. Related to both of these stories is the ethical issue of who should benefit when such treatments are “discovered” by Western science. The third article talks about the provision of royalties to indigenous knowledge holders whose expertise provide the foundation knowledge for new treatments and drugs.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What roles might “traditional” treatments and medication play in our (western) treatment development and application plans?
  2. What steps should be followed with indigenous knowledge based treatments and drugs?
  3. What ethical issues arise if or when we consider trying medical or psychiatric treatments based in indigenous knowledge?

References (Read Further):
Incayyawar, Mario, Wintrob, Ronald, Bouchard, Lise and Bartocci, Goffredo (2009) Psychiatrists and Traditional Healers: Unwitting partners in global mental health, Wiley, Toronto.

McKenna, Dennis J. (2004) Clinical investigations of the therapeutic potential of Ayahuasca: Rationale and regulatory challenges, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 102, 111-129.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Classification Diagnosis, General Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Schizophrenia, Uncategorized.

Description: Are there forms of psychopathology among non-human animals (perhaps)? What about schizophrenia (perhaps not)? What is it about schizophrenia that may make it a uniquely human disorder?

Sources: Scientific American: Why Don’t Animals Get Schizophrenia (and How Come We Do)?

Date: March 25, 2015


Photo Credit: Jessie Wilcox Smith (


Laurel Braitman writes in her book Animal Madness (2014) that “…every animal with a mind has the capacity to lose hold of it from time to time.” Some dogs and zoo polar bears have been put on Prozac, birds obsess, horses can become seriously compulsive and dolphins and whales in captivity can self-mutilate. However, it seems that only humans show symptoms of schizophrenia. A question to ponder is why is it that a genetically linked disorder that can be so devastating be so prevalent (1% of the population) while being so counter adaptive?

One suggestion might be that the incidence of schizophrenia is a cost or consequence of our big brain and of the higher, complex cognition it affords us. Joel Dudley and his colleagues suggest that there are a number of “human accelerated regions” (HARS) in the brain – areas that have developed rapidly, evolutionarily speaking, and which distance us from other primates like chimpanzees with whom we otherwise share a lot of genetic material. Dudley’s research looks at whether schizophrenia related genes sit near HARS genes along the human genome and it turns out that they do just that. This suggests that those genes may provide some specific adaptive advantages despite the downside of their link to schizophrenia. Specifically it seems that genes related to restraint and related frontal lobe functions, when they malfunction may also be tied to schizophrenia symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. Likewise with complex social thought, when functions associated with complex thought go awry complex malfunctions result. Genes associated with aspects of extraordinary cognitive skills are also associated with autism.

So perhaps the higher or more complex forms of thinking that may be unique to humans also come with a unique price.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Explain how human accelerated brain regions may be related to human-unique disorder patters such as schizophrenia and autism.
  2. What might some implications of this suggestion be for treatment research and planning?
  3. How might the onset of hallucinations be related to the restraint function of the frontal lobes of the human brain?

References (Read Further):

Braitman, Laurel (2014) Animal Madness, Simon and Schuster, New York.

Joel Dudley’s Lab webpage (with references)

Clark, T.K, et al (2015) Common polygenic risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with cognitive ability in the general population, Molecular Psychiatry, (10 March, 2015), 1-7.