Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, General Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Personality, Personality Disorders, Personality Disorders, Psychological Disorders.

Description: What do you think about people to post a lot of Selfies on social media sites? The title of the article linked below hints at a causal relationship between the taking of Selfies and problems in one’s relationships. Read the article and maybe have a look at the research article it refers to and then think about whether it did makes sense to hypothesize a causal relationship between the taking of Selfies and relationship stability.

Source: Do More “Selfies” Mean More Relationship Woes? Robert Preidt, HealthDay, US News and World Report.

Date: February 5, 2016

selfie

Photo Credit: blog.hlephub.com

Links: Article Link — http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2016-02-05/do-more-selfies-mean-more-relationship-woes

I posted an article referring to research related to aspects of social media use such as the posting of Selfies a while back. In that article the focus was on what various types of social media use might suggest about people’s personalities. This article takes a slightly different perspective and looks at the relationship between the taking of Selfies and the stability of the close relationships which people are involved. Particularly when picked up by the media the tendency is to view new behaviour such as the taking of Selfies as the focal point of the research and assume that any mention of things like the taking of Selfies is being made as a way of focusing on the causal force associated with that behaviour. As you read the article and if you decide to do so as you have a look at the research article upon which it is based it’s worth considering that what might actually be going on here is research into the symptomatic value of new behaviours like the taking of Selfies. In other words, what sorts of people, with what sorts of psychological issues, personalities, disorders, or behavioural tendencies are more likely to take Selfies. Viewed this way the taking of Selfies becomes a symptom of a potentially sizable range of underlying personality traits, behavioural tendencies, or even of disorders.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the authors of the research in question within this article saying about the taking of Selfies and its role in relationship quality and stability?
  2. What sorts of relationships might exist between the taking of Selfies and one’s body image?
  3. What other sorts of “new” social behaviours might like the taking of Selfies be seen as do symptomatic markers of underlying psychological issues or characteristics?

References (Read Further):

Ridgway, J. L., & Clayton, R. B. (2016). Instagram Unfiltered: Exploring Associations of Body Image Satisfaction, Instagram# Selfie Posting, and Negative Romantic Relationship Outcomes. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(1), 2-7. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Russell_Clayton/publication/283730300_Instagram_Unfiltered_Exploring_Associations_of_Body_Image_Satisfaction_Instagram_Selfie_Posting_and_Negative_Romantic_Relationship_Outcomes/links/5654eb6c08aeafc2aabc1e00.pdf

http://blog.helphub.com/so-you-want-a-job-after-college-stop-taking-selfies/

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: So as we just completed another heavily promoted media rich weekend sports event the form of the American Super Bowl maybe pause and reflect for a moment on the psychology of teams and sports. Think about big professional sports like football or hockey and think about what you’ve been learning about within your psychology courses. Think about where the points of contact might be between psychology and professional sporting events.

Source: The Hidden Psychology Behind Sports Teams, Coaches, and their Fans, Video interview with Jon Werthein on PBS News

Date: February 5, 2016

Sports Brain

Photo Credit: Jon Wertheim

Links: Video Link http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/the-hidden-psychology-behind-sports-teams-coaches-and-their-fans/

Professional sports and especially the media coverage of professional sports is full of terms that seem to reflect a rich psychology. Phrases like get your head in the game, get psyched up, psych out your opponents, motivate your players, are just a few of the many references to psychologically sounding concepts and ideas. There’s no doubt that there is a lot of psychology and sports certainly over the last several decades has been a huge increase in the roles played by psychologists or by psychological training for coaches in the development of athletes at every level of performance from the Junior levels right up to Olympic levels of performance. It can be an interesting exercise to pause and think the next time you hear a “psychology” comment statement or theory raised by a sports commentator to see if you can identify the areas or theories within psychology that are either being drawn upon or simply naively referred to by the commentator. Of course is also a lot of psychology within the breathlessly anticipated array of ads produce specifically for showing during the Super Bowl, but that’s a whole other matter.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the areas that Jon Wertheim indicated reflect what he refers to as an “hidden” psychology within professional sports?
  2. What areas or theories within psychology might actually match some of the areas that Jon Wertheim mentioned in his references to “hidden” psychology within sports?
  3. See if you can identify, either through web search or psychology database search one or two areas where psychology does speak directly to some aspect of professional sports, weather be related to athlete performance, fan behaviour, or other aspects of the game?

References (Read Further):

Jon Wertheim’s Sports Illustrated Brain of Sports Podcast Archives http://www.si.com/si-this-is-your-brain-on-sports-podcast

Dosseville, F., Edoh, K. P., & Molinaro, C. (2015). Sports officials in home advantage phenomenon: A new framework. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1-5.

 

Rees, T., Haslam, S. A., Coffee, P., & Lavallee, D. (2015). A social identity approach to sport psychology: Principles, practice, and prospects. Sports Medicine, 45(8), 1083-1096. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/S_Haslam/publication/278787561_A_Social_Identity_Approach_to_Sport_Psychology_Principles_Practice_and_Prospects/links/558e569608ae47a3490be62b.pdf

 

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Depression, Families and Peers, Human Development, Intelligence.

Description: It is fairly well documented that students struggling with depression do not do as well in school when compared to the nondepressed peers. However, consider this question, how well will children do if one of their parents is depressed rather than the child themselves being depressed? Consider the question and then read the article cited below.

Source: Parents Depression May Harm Child’s Grades Study Finds, Dennis Thompson, HealthDay, US New and World Report

Date: February 3, 2016

Depressed parent

Photo Credit: ShutterStock

Links: Article Link — http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2016-02-03/parents-depression-may-harm-childs-grades-study-finds

The research article discussed in the linked article above indicated that children who had a parent was or had been depressed scored significantly lower in their academic studies and the children did not have a depressed parent. All the results were not large they were significant. All the authors do not going to a lot of detail by way of speculation about why this might be it is worth considering the possibilities. Certainly one of things that we do know is that it is more difficult to maintain a positive enriching social relationship when one member of that relationship is struggling with depression. That being the case if the individual struck with depression is the parent in a parent-child relationship you can begin to see some of the ways in which this might affect their child’s development and their child’s performance academically. Certainly the kind of diligence that is now exercised in trying to identify women struggling with postpartum depression so that that does not interfere with the early attachment to their newborn child could potentially be expanded to cover parents of older children as well.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What relationships did the researchers note between parental depression and child academic performance?
  2. What are some of the ways in which parental depression might influence children’s academic performance?
  3. What might some of the implications be for school settings and public goals and guidelines for support and intervention should these results prove to be solid?

References (Read Further):

Shen H, Magnusson C, Rai D, et al. (2016) Associations of Parental Depression With Child School Performance at Age 16 Years in Sweden. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online February 03, 2016. http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2488039

Rai D, Lee BK, Dalman C, Golding J, Lewis G, Magnusson C. Parental depression, maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy, and risk of autism spectrum disorders: population based case-control study. BMJ 2013;346:f2059.

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Consider this question. Who is more likely to cheat, someone who just won the competition for someone who just lost? From a social psychological perspective why do you think things will work out this way? After you’ve answered these questions read the article linked below and then think some more about this question.

Source: Does Winning Lend Itself to Cheating? Rick Nauert, Psych Central

Date: February 3, 2016

Winning and Cheating

Photo Credit: ShutterStock

Links: Article Link: http://psychcentral.com/news/2016/02/04/does-winning-lend-itself-to-cheating/98651.html

So how did you do? The study in which this article is based suggested that individuals who one a competition were more likely to cheat and subsequent situations than were those lost in the competition. The researchers were also able to show that the subsequent cheating was directed not so much a personal advantage as it was at winning again (or beating others again). The researchers speculate that this effect may have something to do with a sense of entitlement that can occur amongst winners of competitive events seem at least temporarily perhaps to perceive themselves as being better than and therefore more entitled to winnings than their competitors.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe the possible reasons offered by the authors of the research article being discussed for why winners might be more likely to cheat the losers on subsequent tasks?
  2. Can you think of situations in the real world perhaps in relation to sporting events or other competitions with the sorts of effects can or might be observed?
  3. What sorts of implications might this research have for how parents, teachers, and coaches ought to think about how they talk about winning and losing to their children, students, players?

References (Read Further):

Schurr, A., & Ritov, I. (2016). Winning a competition predicts dishonest behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201515102. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/01/25/1515102113.abstract

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Consciousness, Human Development, Learning.

Description: Do you know what executive function is? Perhaps more importantly inlooking at your own academic performance or perhaps a child’s school performance with there be some value in hiring an executive function coach above and beyond finding a tutor in subjects where you were the child is struggling? This podcast from NPR looks at this question.

Source: The Science of Getting Kids Organized, Audio Story, All Things Considered, National Public Radio (NPR)

Date: February 3, 2016

Executive Function

Photo Credit: Richie Pope

Links: Video Link http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/the-hidden-psychology-behind-sports-teams-coaches-and-their-fans/

There is a lot of research and, it sometimes seems, even more media discussion about the concept of executive function particularly in relation to children’s academic performances. Executive function is a general meta-cognitive function that essentially involves the exercise of control over one’s thought processes as well as over one’s attention and related cognitive resources. While we are aware that many children who are struggling in school (as well as many youth struggling in University settings) may demonstrate levels of executive function below those of their more successful peers is not entirely clear whether it might be possible through some form of coaching or intervention to close this gap or whether doing so would actually positively impact the participants academic functioning. This is an example of a situation where you would be well advised to take the kinds of claims made by individuals and firms trying to sell you coaching or tutoring in relation to things like executive function with caution. For laying out money is very are asking for be worth doing a little bit of research into whether or not systematic research supports the claims that they’re making.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of claims are being made by academic coaches and tutors and in relation to executive function?
  2. In what areas of psychology or within what theories of psychology do you think it would be good to investigate the claims made by academic coaches and tutors in relation to executive function?
  3. Take one or two of the claims made in the audio story about things that could be done to positively impact executive function and see what you can find either online or through your library that speaks directly about psychological research for or against the claims being made.

References (Read Further):

Volckaert, A. M. S., & Noël, M. P. (2015). Training executive function in preschoolers reduce externalizing behaviors. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 4(1), 37-47.

Kirk, H. E., Gray, K., Riby, D. M., & Cornish, K. M. (2015). Cognitive training as a resolution for early executive function difficulties in children with intellectual disabilities. Research in developmental disabilities, 38, 145-160.

Black, N., & Mullan, B. (2015). An intervention to decrease heavy episodic drinking in college students: The effect of executive function training. Journal of American College Health, 63(4), 280-284.

Jacob, R., & Parkinson, J. (2015). The Potential for School-Based Interventions That Target Executive Function to Improve Academic Achievement A Review. Review of Educational Research, 85(4), 512-552.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought.

Description: I blogged about the movie Ex Machina just under a year ago in the context of talking about the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity typically portrayed in science fiction films. I ran across the blog post linked below this past weekend and found it to be quite interesting. The question to consider as you look at the article is what do our depictions of artificial intelligence in the work in developing artificial intelligence as presented in science fiction films like Ex Machina tell us about the nature of work being done or the nature of the factors and thoughts being considered. Maybe best to watch the movie at least once before considering what is basically the “psycho-philosophy” of this article.

Source: Artificial Intelligence: Gods, egos and Ex Machina, Martin Robbins, Science, The Lay Scientist.

Date: January 26, 2016

ExMachina

Photo Credit: Allstar/FILM4/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

Links: Article Link — https://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2016/jan/26/artificial-intelligence-gods-egos-and-ex-machina

So what does a story about an individual who artificially creates a “human” tell us about human cognition, human nature, views of self, views of creation or origin, basically about the question of why one might want to consider making an artificial the version of a human being on there so many other things one could be working on. In his blog on this topic Martin Robbins, considers these questions and more. While it is true that the general information processing theoretic approach to human cognition has its roots in the early versions of artificial intelligence within computer science there are bigger questions here. So open your mind read the article as you you think.

 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do films like ex machine and tell us, or rather suggested to us, about the nature of human nature and cognition? Is there anything in this sort of reflection that is useful to psychology and if so to what part of psychology?
  2. What other angles of analysis is Robbins suggest we take up in considering this film?
  3. In the end, you see Ex Machina as a film playing industry with scientific cutting edge or as a cautionary tale about this area of investigation and about the people who go into it?

References (Read Further):

Copeland, J. (2015). Artificial intelligence: A philosophical introduction. John Wiley & Sons.

Jones, M. T. (2015). Artificial Intelligence: A Systems Approach: A Systems Approach. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Ghahramani, Z. (2015). Probabilistic machine learning and artificial intelligence. Nature, 521(7553), 452-459. https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/248538/Ghahramani%202015%20Nature.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

 

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Neuroscience, Prevention, Schizophrenia.

Description: One of the keys to understanding the emergence of schizophrenia might be developmental and genetic. This article explores a recent finding looking at the way our system regulates the pruning of neurons in neural networks within adolescents in the role that malfunctioning of this planning process might play in the development of a disorder like schizophrenia.

Source: Here is Why People Get Schizophrenia, Scientists Say, Dennis Thompson, Health Day,

Date: January 27, 2016

Schizophrenia

Photo Credit: US News and World Report

Links: Article Link — http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2016-01-27/scientists-uncover-clues-to-origins-of-schizophrenia

The factors that contribute to the emergence of the disorder like schizophrenia and gathered a great deal of research attention . The more we understand about the underlying causes of major disorders like schizophrenia the better able we are to focus treatments and interventions. The research described in this media post focuses on the role of a particular gene that plays a role in, among other things, synaptic pruning. Synaptic pruning is the process by which the brain sorts out which neural connections to keep and which ones to prune out throughout development and into the latter stages of adolescent brain growth and development when brain changes are being formally consolidated from a development perspective. To the extent that this finding is supported in subsequent research it may suggest a number of new, developmentally targeted, intervention opportunities for addressing and dealing with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia has typically been noted to arise first in late adolescence and young adulthood. As such, being able to point to some things that may be linked to this particular development are important for steps in developing a better understanding of the nature and genetic or neuro – biological course of this major disorder category.

 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What role do the researchers the study was described in this article believe that the particular gene they are studying plays in the emergence of the symptoms of schizophrenia?
  2. What potential issues arise when we consider the role that genetic factors might have to play not just in group variation in the rates of schizophrenia but in the actual emergence of the symptoms of the disorder itself?
  3. Assuming that these results stand up, what might be some of the treatment implications of this finding for current and future individuals struggling with the symptoms of schizophrenia?

References (Read Further):

Sekar, A., Bialas, A. R., de Rivera, H., Davis, A., Hammond, T. R., Kamitaki, N., … & Genovese, G. (2016). Schizophrenia risk from complex variation of complement component 4. Nature.

 

Dhindsa, R. S., & Goldstein, D. B. (2016). Schizophrenia: From genetics to physiology at last. Nature.

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: So now, based on the previous post, you have heard of the Zika virus. While we are safe from this virus in Canada as the mosquitoes which bear it cannot survive here seems to be creeping into the United States where the climate is warmer. From a social psychological, rather than a developmental, perspective it is interesting to reflect upon the impact of a creeping threat on people’s reactions and psychological well-being.

Source: The Great Zika Freakout: A Teaching Moment in the Psychology of Fear, Davind Ropeik, Huffington Science

Date: January 29, 2016

Zika Fear

Photo Credit: Christophe Simon Via Getty Images

Links: Article Link — http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-ropeik/the-great-zika-freak-out_b_9112978.html?utm_hp_ref=science&ir=Science

So imagine that you live in the United States in an area where mosquitoes bearing the Zika virus are encroaching. Think about how you might react to this news. What information would you like to have access to? Where would you look for this information? How calmly and rationally do you think you would be able to evaluate this information? What sort of authorities or sources would you trust to provide you with appropriate information for making up your mind about how to think, feel, and act, in relation to this threat? Finally, are you aware of how you, either like or in contrast to other people, react to the sorts of threats? There is a lot to think about here.

 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How big a risk does the Zika virus represent to those living in areas where mosquitoes bearing the virus live and survive?
  2. Thinking about the World Health Organization’s reaction to this issue in the way it’s been handled by the director of that organization you think it’s being managed well?
  3. Should we have specific guidelines readily prepared for how potential threats like this one are approached, and more importantly, about how information related to these threats is compiled and disseminated? What might psychology have to offer this regard?

References (Read Further):

Ropeik, D. (2010). How risky is it, really. Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts. McGraw-Hill Education, New York.

Posted by & filed under Child Development.

Description: Have you heard about the Zika virus? You may have run across a reference to it as a new concern for travelers and aid to countries like Brazil. However, have you heard about the possibility that exposure to this virus might be linked to increased rates of microcephaly in babies born in these regions? With the articles linked below and think about the implications of these possible connections for understanding of the potential teratogenic effects and issues.

Source: Possible association between music virus infection and microcephaly.

Date: January 29, 2016

Zika

Photo Credit: National Post

Links: Article/Video Link — http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/three-cases-of-zika-virus-thought-to-cause-smaller-head-in-newborns-confirmed-in-canada

Center for Disease Control Update: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6503e2.htm

Any discussion of the prenatal effects on fetal development will at some point focus upon the potential impacts of the astonishingly large array of teratogens. The list of potential teratogens continues to increase partly as we discover new influences and, unfortunately, as new teratogens emerge. The zika virus, which is passed from human to human through mosquito intermediaries is one of these newer influences. While the World Health Organization is currently convening an investigation into the relationship between this virus and the rates of microcephaly (infants born with abnormally small heads and the potential for neurologic abnormalities) in countries such as Brazil and in areas that are already affected by another mosquito borne pathogen called dengue fever. Currently there is no known treatment or immunization available against the sink a virus consequently government actions have focused upon finding ways to limit exposure to mosquitoes and to reduce mosquito population.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do these articles suggest might be the role played by physical virus in the rates of microcephaly amongst infants born within Brazil recently?
  2. What factors might we need to consider in trying to understand the specific ways in which physical virus produces its possible teratogenic effects?
  3. What policies and practices and interventions might be considered in trying to deal with the impact of this possible connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly?

References (Read Further):

Schuler-Faccini, L. (2016). Possible Association Between Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly—Brazil, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6503e2.htm

 

Tetro, J. A. (2016). Zika and microcephaly: causation, correlation, or coincidence?. Microbes and Infection.

 

Schuler-Faccini, L. (2016). Possible Association Between Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly—Brazil, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6503e2er.htm

 

Petersen, E. E. (2016). Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak—United States, 2016. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6502e1.htm

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Health Psychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Psychological Health, Research Methods, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: What sort of activities make for healthier mental aging? Read this article and find out about some possibilities.

Source: Mentally Challenging Activities Key to a Healthy Aging Mind

Date: January 15, 2016

Quilting

Photo Credit: americanbedu.com

Links: Article Link — http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160115100906.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain%2Fpsychology+%28Psychology+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

So here is a research question. Are older people who engage in mentally challenging hobbies or activities able to do so because they are mentally adept or does engagement in those activities make or keep them mentally adept? What sort of study design would be required to test this question and what would the result be? Read the article linked above and find out.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sort of study design is needed to address the question raised above?
  2. Are there limitations to the interpretability and applicability of the research study discussed in the article?
  3. What implications would this line of research (assuming it turns out to be replicable) have for advice on cognitive aging?

References (Read Further):

Ian M. McDonough, Sara Haber, Gérard N. Bischof, Denise C. Park. The Synapse Project: Engagement in mentally challenging activities enhances neural efficiency. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2015; 33 (6): 865 http://content.iospress.com/articles/restorative-neurology-and-neuroscience/rnn150533