Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Eating Disorders, mental illness, Personality, Social Influence, The Self.

Description: While you may have an opinion about possible differences between people who do and people who do not regularly take and post “selfies” online what do you think about the possibility that self these can be used as data to tell us about the people who take them?

Source: Lecia Bushak, Selfies can reveal personality traits: What your duckface says about you. Medical Daily.

Date: August 18, 2015

Duckface selfie

Photo Credit: Gerry Stergiopoulos

Links: Article Link

So what do you think? Is there a relationship between the nature of people’s selfies and their personality or their general mental health? The study discussed in this article (and cited below) suggests a number of different possible connections. They found for example that “people who scored higher levels agreeableness were likely to emit a positive vibe from their selfies, as well as hold the camera lower.” Further they found the people who scored high on conscientiousness are more likely to be secretive about the location of their selfie, suggesting privacy concerns. Finally, though perhaps not surprisingly, “people pulled duck faces [that exaggerated pouty lips look] are more likely to score higher on skills of neuroticism or emotional instability. They also found that people were able to fairly accurately predict other people’s scores on openness and extroversion by simply viewing their selfies, again no real surprise. So now you have to decide whether to stop taking selfies entirely or to simply give more thought to the posing and production values of the ones that you do take and post online.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the relationships between aspects of selfies and personality found in the in the research discussed within the article linked above?
  2. What sort of hypotheses might you generate in relation to both the act of taking selfies in the construction of the selfies themselves and people’s personality if you were designing future research studies in this area?
  3. What other social media components and items might we examine in the same way as a follow-up to this research project?

References (Read Further):

Qiu L, Lu J, Yang S, Qu W, Zhu T. What does your selfie say about you? Computers in Human Behavior. 2015.

Poe, J. (2015). The Link Between “Likes” and Self-Worth: How Women Use Selfies on Instagram for Self-Presentation and the Effects of Social Comparison.

Mascheroni, G., Vincent, J., & Jimenez, E. (2015). “Girls are addicted to likes so they post semi-naked selfies”: Peer mediation, normativity and the construction of identity online. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 9(1), 5.,%20J_Girls%20addicted_Vincent_2015_Girls%20addicted_2015.pdf

Sample Selfies:

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Human Development, Neuroscience.

Description: Who do you think would be most likely to benefit from feedback about which answers on a test they had gotten wrong (and what the correct answers were) and make the appropriate changes in their knowledge so as not to recommit those errors in future? Do you think this would be more true of young adults in their mid-20s or older adults in their mid-70s? What you answered this question to yourself and read the article linked below.

Source: Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Elders May Beat Young Adults at Correcting Mistakes. Psych Central

Date: November 1, 2015

Older Correcting

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Links: Article Link

It’s quite a common assumption that young adults are mentally quicker and systematically better at processing information and building on or correcting their knowledge as result of that information. This study examined that assumption directly by comparing the performance of a group of mid-20-year-old young adults with that of a group of mid-70-year-old Elder adults. All participants were asked a series of general knowledge questions (such as which ancient city was famous for its hanging gardens?). In addition to providing answers to each question participants were asked to rate their level of certainty that their answers were correct (i.e., were they confident or uncertain that their answers were correct). All participants were then provided with feedback in which they were told which questions they got wrong and were provided with the correct answers. At the end of the study they were given a pop quiz in which they were asked a number of questions again. They were asked to re-answer some questions they were originally confident in but wrong, some questions they were uncertain about and wrong, and some questions where they indicated that they did not know the answer. What the researchers found was that while both groups were more likely to have reorganized their knowledge and corrected their answers to questions originally confident about but got wrong, it was only the elder group that showed a significant improvement in their knowledge for questions that there were originally not sure about and got wrong. Using EEG data the researchers were also able to show direct evidence of the increased activation of attention centres of the brain only among the older group in this latter condition. The researchers suggested that their results tell us something about the older adults’ priorities and specifically suggested that “they care more very much about the truth, they don’t want to make mistakes, and they recruit their attention to get it right”.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What differences in attention and information processing to the results of this study suggest might exist between younger and elder adults?
  2. Do these results suggest anything about how you might approach practice study questions prior to writing exams?
  3. How might we need to adjust our assumptions about information processing in elderly populations as a result of study such as this?

References (Read Further):

Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Elders May Beat Young Adults at Correcting Mistakes. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2015, from

Metcalfe, J., Casal-Roscum, L., Radin, A., & Friedman, D. (2015). On Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks. Psychological science.


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Research has consistently shown positive effects of skin to skin contact between parents and premature infants while the infants are being cared for in neonatal intensive care units or NICU’s. The study discussed in this article looked at the possible effects of this practice on mothers rather than infants. What do you think they found?

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics – Press Release – Skin-to-Skin Contact with Baby in Neonatal Unit Decreases Maternal Stress Levels

Date: October 26, 2015

Kangaroos Style

Photo Credit:

Links: Article Link

Research (samples cited below) has consistently shown that her parents are allowed into neonatal intensive care nurseries and involved in the day-to-day care of their premature infants that infant development up to their appropriate gestational age proceeds in more positive ways. One of the key features of the sort of parental involvement is something called kangaroo style contact which essentially involves is the picture show direct skin to skin contact between either parent and the premature infant. Observed benefits include stabilization of heart rate and breathing patterns, increase in blood oxygen levels, gains in both sleep time and wait, less crying, more effective breast-feeding, and earlier hospital discharge. The study, rather than examining the effects of this kind of care on the premature developing infant, looked at its effects on the infant’s mother. What they found was a significant reduction in the mother’s reports of their stress levels especially as these related to the parents general feelings of helplessness and inability to protect their infants from pain and their overall general experience in the NICU.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the reasons you might suggest for the observed effect of kangaroo style contact a maternal stress levels?
  2. What are some of the ways in which positive changes in maternal stress levels might affect both short and long-term (after hospital discharge) development for premature infants?
  3. What are some of the policy implications for how hospitals manage their neonatal intensive care units and their birthing units in general of the results of this particular study?

References (Read Further):

Neu, M. (2004). Kangaroo care: Is it for everyone?. Neonatal Network, 23(5), 47-54.

Feldman, R., Weller, A., Sirota, L., & Eidelman, A. I. (2003). Testing a family intervention hypothesis: the contribution of mother-infant skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) to family interaction, proximity, and touch. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(1), 94.

Feldman, R., Eidelman, A. I., Sirota, L., & Weller, A. (2002). Comparison of skin-to-skin (kangaroo) and traditional care: parenting outcomes and preterm infant development. Pediatrics, 110(1), 16-26.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Psychological Disorders.

Description: When clinical psychologists and psychiatrists diagnose depression they do so with reference to a list of diagnostic criteria (essentially a list of symptoms) contained within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition. This article describes a research study that examined the pattern of symptoms presented by nearly 3500 depressed patients to see if in fact it makes sense to treat all depressive symptoms more or less equally. Based on what you know about depression what do you think they concluded?

Source: Depression too often reduced to a checklist of symptoms, Ku Leuven News.

Date: October 23, 2015

Depression Symptoms

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Links: Article Link —

This article discusses a research paper in which the authors raise the question of whether or not the DSM-V list of symptoms of depression typically consulted by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists when diagnosing depression can or should be treated in a checklist fashion. This approach would involve perhaps suggesting that if a certain minimum number of symptoms are present regardless of which symptoms comprise that list then a diagnosis of depression is made. The authors of this research paper take issue with such a checklist approach and argue instead that all symptoms of depression are not equal. They point out for example that insomnia, a very common symptom of depression, may lead to fatigue which over time may also lead to problems with concentration and general cognitive functioning. In such a case insomnia is the primary symptom of the others are consequences of that symptom. They conclude that while the use of a checklist of some sort is helpful in diagnosis it may be time to come up with the more comprehensive list, that more accurately reflects the diversity of symptom patterns presented by individuals struggling with depression.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have a look at the link below to the list of depression symptoms currently contained within the DSM – V. How would you suggest clinicians ought to use that list in considering a diagnosis of depression?
  2. Why might it be important to consider the interaction amongst specific symptoms on a patient by patient basis when diagnosing depression?
  3. What are some of the risks of providing a specific list of symptoms for depression or for any mental disorder?

References (Read Further):

Fried, E. I., Epskamp, S., Nesse, R. M., Tuerlinckx, F., & Borsboom, D. (2015). What are’good’depression symptoms? Comparing the centrality of DSM and non-DSM symptoms of depression in a network analysis. Journal of affective disorders.

DSM-V Depression – Diagnostic Criteria

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Clinical Neuropsychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physiology.

Description: We’ve known for a while about the positive effects of aerobic activity on slowing the aging process. The question hasn’t been addressed is the effect of light weight training not just on muscle mass but on brain health. This article describes a study by researchers at the University bridge calm your that examined this question directly.

Source: Lifting Weights, Twice a Week, May Aid the Brain. The New York Times Well Blog, Gretchen Reynolds

Date: October 21, 2015

Weight work and Brain

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Links: Article Link —

We know that exercise is good for the brain. But most of the research in this area is focused on aerobic activity such as running or walking. The brain like other matter in our body is negatively affected by time. Brain scan studies have consistently shown that by late middle age many of us begin to develop age-related holes or lesions in the white matter of our brain. While these changes appear to have little effect initially they eventually may start to affect our cognitive functioning. This particular study made use of a large sample of healthy women between the ages of 65 and 75 were enrolled in a large scale brain health study. In this study the researchers focused on 54 of these women whose brain scans showed existing white matter lesions. They studied these women’s gate, speed, and stability and then created three different groups using random assignment. One group engaged in late upper and lower body weight training once a week while a second group did the same thing twice a week. The third group was a control group and were provided a twice-weekly program of stretching and balance training. Each group continued their regime for a year and at the end of that year had their brains scanned again in their white matter lesions examined. The findings were clear, with women in the control group and those in the once a week weight training group showing increases in the size and number of white matter lesions as well as a significant slowing in their walking gates. Those would lift weights twice a week showed less shrinkage or chattering of their white matter and while there lesions had grown and multiplied somewhat this is not occurred nearly to the same extent as those in the other groups. While it is not clear what these differences translate into noticeable changes in cognitive functioning it is worth considering insuring that a light weight training component exists in the exercise regimes of aging individuals.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did the researchers investigate the question of whether weight training makes a difference in the brains of aging individuals?
  2. Why might it be important, and studies such as these, to investigate the question of dosage (that is, how much of a treatment is needed for effective be observed)?
  3. Why do you think the effects reported in this study occurred?

References (Read Further):

Bolandzadeh, N., Tam, R., Handy, T. C., Nagamatsu, L. S., Hsu, C. L., Davis, J. C., … & Liu‐Ambrose, T. (2015). Resistance Training and White Matter Lesion Progression in Older Women: Exploratory Analysis of a 12‐Month Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


Cotman, C. W., Berchtold, N. C., & Christie, L. A. (2007). Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. Trends in neurosciences, 30(9), 464-472.


Erickson, K. (2015). Effects of exercise on the hippocampus and memory in older adults. In Proceedings of The Physiological Society. The Physiological Society.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development.

Description: We know that stimulation provided by postnatal experience and perhaps also through dream state sleep plays an important role in the development of neural connections in the newborn brain. With this in mind what would you predict about the complexity of neural connections in the brains of infants born 10 weeks early and who consequently had a higher degree of stimulation, at least prior to their originally projected birthdate?

Source: Premature Birth May Weaken Brain Connections, Study Reveals. Times Gazette, Ben Kochman

Date: October 20, 2015

Prematuruity and Brain connections

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Links: Article Link —

Research has shown that infants born prematurely at a higher risk for motor problems cognitive difficulties in ADHD as well as anxiety and autism spectrum disorders. In an effort to investigate why this might be the case researchers in a paper presented at the neuroscience 2015 annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 76 infants born 10 or more weeks early to the brains of 58 full-term infants. Each infant was scanned in the first few days after their birth and the premature infants were also scanned within a couple of days of their originally projected due date. The largest finding was that the brain networks involved in indication, attention and emotion are less complex in the brains of the infant’s been born premature even at their projected due dates. Interesting to speculate as to why this might be and to think about what sorts of studies one might design to look into this question a little more deeply.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe the differences noted in the brains of infants born 10 or more weeks prematurely when compared with the brains of infants born close to their projected birthdates.
  2. What sorts of factors might contribute to these differences?
  3. What sorts of interventions might we suggest you would like to reduce or eliminate these differences?

References (Read Further):

Chen, L., Huang, X., He, N., Hu, X., Chen, Y., Li, Y., … & Gong, Q. (2015). Microstructural abnormalities of the brain white matter in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Psychiatry Neurosci, 1, 8872147.


Qiu, A., Mori, S., & Miller, M. I. (2015). Diffusion Tensor Imaging for Understanding Brain Development in Early Life. Annual review of psychology, 66, 853-876.


Travis, K. E., Leitner, Y., Feldman, H. M., & Ben‐Shachar, M. (2015). Cerebellar white matter pathways are associated with reading skills in children and adolescents. Human brain mapping, 36(4), 1536-1553.


Posted by & filed under Moral Development, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: By the time you read this the 2015 Canadian federal election will all be over but the balloting will already be a thing of the past. Perhaps you don’t want to think anymore about getting into political arguments with friends. However, if you’d wish to had any point during the recent protracted campaign that you just had a little more skill and political argumentation in this article is for you.

Source: How to Win Your Political Argument, Science Of Us, Jesse Singal

Date: October 18, 2015

Political Arguments

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Links: Article Link —

Based on a number of psychological research studies by several psychological researchers this article provides a number of helpful tips for winning political arguments with friends and relatives and other adversaries. It includes helpful suggestions such as starting by forgetting facts as being in a way useful, looking for ways to have your opponent hang themselves, behaving in a nice rather than a not nice manner, finding ways to defuse the disgust that may underlie one or another of the positions for which you are arguing, and finally to change the frame of your argument so that it fits in a broader array of what are called all foundations of the basis on which people make emotional decisions. Understanding whether people are coming from can be very useful in seeking ways to move them toward your way of thinking particularly in political matters.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways suggested in the article to make your political arguments more effective?
  2. What is the relationship between rationality, emotionality and other factors when one is arguing in the political domain?
  3. What is Moral Foundations Theory and how might it help you make more persuasive political arguments? How might it help political speechwriters?

References (Read Further):

Feinberg, M., & Willer, R. (2013). The moral roots of environmental attitudes. Psychological Science, 24(1), 56-62.

Feinberg, M., Antonenko, O., Willer, R., Horberg, E. J., & John, O. P. (2013, October 7). Gut Check: Reappraisal of Disgust Helps Explain Liberal–Conservative Differences on Issues of Purity, Emotion. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0033727

Rozenblit, L., & Keil, F. (2002). The misunderstood limits of folk science: An illusion of explanatory depth. Cognitive Science, 26(5), 521-562.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development.

Description: While it might not surprise you to hear that research has consistently demonstrated a relationship between the maternal stress during pregnancy and later cognitive and emotional difficulties among the children born of those pregnancies what might you expect in the way of a possible relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and the level of motor development and motor skill amongst children of those pregnancies up to 17 years after birth?

Source: Pregnancy Stress Affects Development Of Child’s Motor Skills: Study, Tech Times Ted Ranosa

Date: October 15, 2015


Maternal Stress

Photo Credit: Raul Hernandez Gonzalez | Flickr

Links: Article Link —

Research has consistently shown a relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and sub- optimal development in the areas of mental cognitive and behavioural growth on the part of their children. The research paper described in this media article indicates that there also may be a relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and later child motor development. In this large-scale Australian study, nearly 3000 mothers were asked questions early and late in their pregnancies regarding their level of stress and their experience of potentially stressful life events. After they gave birth their children’s motor skills and coordination development were assessed at 10, 14 and 17 years of age. The researchers found a significant negative relationship between level of maternal stress during pregnancy and their child’s subsequent motor and coordination development. This means that mothers experience higher levels of stress have children with comparatively lower levels of motor coordination at each of the three ages at which they were assessed. The researchers suggested that these findings could be related to the negative effects of maternal stress on the development of children’s cerebral cortex during the prenatal developmental period. They also indicate, however, that the source of deficits can be addressed through intervention and support provided the identified early.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and subsequent child development? What developmental areas are affected?
  2. What sorts of things should we be thinking about providing in the way of advice, support, and services for pregnant women in light of findings such as those reported in this article?
  3. How much control do parents typically have in relation to their levels of stress, and what sorts of supports might be of assistance (and who should provide those supports)?

References (Read Further):

Beth Hands et al. (2015) The Impact of Maternal Gestational Stress on Motor Development in Late Childhood and Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study. Child Development, DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12449

Mulder, E. J. H., De Medina, P. R., Huizink, A. C., Van den Bergh, B. R. H., Buitelaar, J. K., & Visser, G. H. A. (2002). Prenatal maternal stress: effects on pregnancy and the (unborn) child. Early human development, 70(1), 3-14.

Feinberg, M. E., Roettger, M. E., Jones, D. E., Paul, I. M., & Kan, M. L. (2015). Effects of a psychosocial couple-based prevention program on adverse birth outcomes. Maternal and child health journal, 19(1), 102-111.

Bussières, E. L., Tarabulsy, G. M., Pearson, J., Tessier, R., Forest, J. C., & Giguère, Y. (2015). Maternal prenatal stress and infant birth weight and gestational age: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Developmental Review, 36, 179-199.

Posted by & filed under Intelligence, Neuroscience.

Description: Very intelligent people are sometimes referred to as “eggheads” which entails a general suggestion that if they’re smart than they must have big brains which by extension would also require big heads making them look like eggheads. The research discussed in this article looks directly at this claim and suggests there is not a lot to it.

Source: University of Vienna. “Larger brains do not lead to high IQs, new meta-analysis finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 October 2015. < >.

Date: October 15, 2015

Brain size

Links: Article Link —

So are big headed people smarter than small headed people? Well if it is the size of one’s brain that makes one intelligent then there are species on the planet other than human beings such as whales and elephants that should be very much smarter than us given the size of their brains relative to the size of ours. The fact that this doesn’t seem to be true is also reflected in a large meta-analytic study described in this research article which drew together data from a large number of studies resulting in a pooled sample of 8000 individuals for whom IQ scores were available as well as detailed brain size information. The research report’s authors indicate having found a weak relationship between brain size, referred to as brain volume, and intelligence and indicate that the weakness of this relationship suggests that brain size alone is an insufficient predictor of intelligence. They also point out that while male brains on average a larger than female brains, there’s no systematic indication that male IQs are higher than female IQs. They go on to suggest that it is the structure found within the brain that it is much more significantly related to intelligence and to adaptation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is there a relationship between brain size and intelligence and if so how strong is this relationship and doesn’t have any real world applicability?
  2. Why might it be that some species such as whales and elephants have larger brains than we do yet we can fairly confidently suggest that they are less intelligent than we are?
  3. What are some of the assumptions that might lead people, theorists, and even researchers, to think that there might be a relationship between brain size and intelligence?

References (Read Further):

Jakob Pietschnig, Lars Penke, Jelte M. Wicherts, Michael Zeiler, Martin Voracek. Meta-analysis of associations between human brain volume and intelligence differences: How strong are they and what do they mean? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.09.017


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Legal Ethical Issues, Psychological Disorders, Sexual Disorders Gender Dysphoria, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: What was considered a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association until 1973? Would you be surprised to hear that it was homosexuality? Despite this, there is still some strong sentiment out there that what LGBTQ youth require is not understanding support or affirmation but therapy to convert them “back” to heterosexuality. This article describes a recently released report that talks about this important issue and offers advice to parents youth and professionals against the use of conversion therapy with LGBTQ youth.

Source: Reuters RPT-U.S. report calls for end to ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ youth, Andrew M. Seaman

Date: October 15, 2015

LGBT Conversion

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Links: Article Link —

The idea that a non-heterosexual sexual identity is a typical and in need of therapeutic intervention and change is been around for a long time. The report discussed in this article focuses specifically on conversion therapies which are “therapies” or other actions aimed at changing individual’s sexual orientation and shifting their gender identity in the direction of heterosexuality. The report draws on substantial amounts of research in pointing out that conversion therapies are “not effective, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and are not appropriate mental health treatments…. And furthermore, the practice is potentially harmful… [having been linked to] increases in depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and poor self-esteem”. The report suggests that bands need to be put in place against conversion therapy as is currently the case in four United States states.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is conversion therapy and who practices it?
  2. What sorts of ethical considerations arise in relation to the use of conversion therapy with LG BTQ youth especially in relation to help research evidence on this practice?
  3. What are some of the implications of this article and the report to which it refers for our parents, schools, communities, and peers want to be thinking about and responding to their LGBTQ children, students, citizens and friends?

References (Read Further):

SAMHSA (2015) Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Washington, DC.

Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (2012) The history of psychiatry and homosexuality. Accessed October 18, 2015,