Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Student Success.

Description: Ok quick, don’t think just answer this question: What is the relationship between reason and emotion? Typically, our first reaction is to say that reason and emotion are in a bit of a tug of war. If you are thinking reasonably you are not being emotional and if you are being emotional you are not being reasonable – you are not thinking clearly. While it IS true that extreme emotions can limit our ability to think clearly but reason and emotion are not really black and white opposites. Think about it. What goes along with intellectual interest or intellectual insight? Good feelings, right? Emotions are how we assign value to things and so emotions may actually be essential to reason and to learning. Think a bit about how this relationship might work (and relationship IS a potentially useful active ingredient in understanding the relationship between thinking and emotion) and then read the article linked below that addresses this question as well.

Source: Students Learn from People They Love, David Brooks, The New York Times.

Date: January 17, 2019

Photo Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times

 Article Link:

Perhaps you had not thought of colleges and universities as places where you might go to experience emotions but emotions in the context of relationships (social interactions) drive knowledge acquisition. The example of children learning Mandarin phrases much better and faster in face-to-face lessons as opposed to video lessons is compelling. Can you think of a class you had, or have, where the professor was/is passionate about their subject and it felt like they were sharing that with you in their lectures? Learning is easier and better in those sorts of classes. We often ask if the instructor was enthusiastic on course evaluations, but we do not, typically, evaluate the nature and quality of the learning relationships that could (should) be built through our classes. Emotions generated while learning are something to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are thinking and emotions related?
  2. How are thinking and emotions related in a class you recall as being very engaging and enjoyable?
  3. What do you make of the differences discussed in the article between learning in face-to-face settings and via video recordings?

References (Read Further):


Kuhl, P. K., Tsao, F. M., & Liu, H. M. (2003). Foreign-language experience in infancy: Effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 9096-9101.

Dikker, S., Wan, L., Davidesco, I., Kaggen, L., Oostrik, M., McClintock, J., … & Poeppel, D. (2017). Brain-to-brain synchrony tracks real-world dynamic group interactions in the classroom. Current Biology, 27(9), 1375-1380.

Aspen Institute From a nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope: Recommendations from a National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Depression, Human Development, Personality in Aging, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Live a meaningful life and you will feel better and live longer. Sound good? Well, while you may have heard that somewhere do you know if it is true and if there is research supporting it? Think about how you would design a study to try and evaluate this statement. Who would you include in the study? What would the design look like (cross-sectional or longitudinal)? How would you assess meaningfulness and purpose? What else would you measure? After you have through those questions through (a bit) read the article linked below to see how researchers did so in a recently published study.

Source: The Power of Purpose and Meaning in Life, Lydia Denworth, Brain Waves, Psychology Today.

Date: January 12, 2019

Photo Credit: yacobchuck/iStock

Article Link:

So, the search suggests that the statute we started with above holds up. People who are socially engaged feel better about themselves and appear to also do better physically as they age. The question of whether the correlational nature of this sort of research is a problem (maybe being healthy and engaged socially makes you feel like your life has more purpose rather than the other way around). The longitudinal study discussed in the article suggests that the findings may not reflect an entirely correlational relationship. It may seem unrelated but as an example of the power of direct face-to-face social interaction consider this. Jean Twenge has done research with members of the population born since 1994 (called iGen). The oldest members of this generational cohort are now in or just graduating university and as a group their rates of anxiety and depression, self-harm and rates of suicide have jumped up rather alarmingly compared to previous generations at the same age. Why might that be? Well, this is the first generation ever to spend its entire teenaged years with smart-phones and on social media and, as a group, engaging in significantly lower rates of face-to-face social interaction with peers or anyone. Yes, of course, more research is needed but it IS something that should make you start to think a bit about how we are social (real social as in face-to-face social) beings and about what we are or should be doing to and for ourselves as we grow and age. Oh and by the way, there is a word for what older people should be working on, it is Ikigai (search it on this blog site and you will see a couple of posting about it).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are meaning and purpose related to wellness in aging populations?
  2. What does it mean to say that maybe the observed relationships are just correlational?
  3. What evidence is there that the reported associations between meaning, purpose and wellbeing are NOT correlational?

References (Read Further):

Steptoe, A., & Fancourt, D. (2019). Leading a meaningful life at older ages and its relationship with social engagement, prosperity, health, biology, and time use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201814723.

Carlson, M. C. (2011, May). Promoting healthy, meaningful aging through social involvement: building an experience corps. In Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science (Vol. 2011). Dana Foundation.

Power, M. B., Eheart, B. K., Racine, D., & Karnik, N. S. (2007). Aging well in an intentional intergenerational community: Meaningful relationships and purposeful engagement. Journal of Intergenerational relationships, 5(2), 7-25.

Brayne, C. (2002). Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives. David Snowdon. New York: Bantam Press, 2001, pp. 256, $24.95 (HB) ISBN: 0-553-80163-5.

Twenge, J. M. (2017). IGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Simon and Schuster.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Memory, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: You have most certainly heard, somewhere, that people who witness traumatic events do not make very good eye witnesses, but do you know why that is? Oh, and suggesting that it might be related to Freudian defensiveness is not allowed (it is uninvestigable). So why might it be that people do not simply NOT remember but often remember things wrong – such as the race of the gunman in the case discussed in the article linked below? Well, remember that memory is based on associations (it is NOT a PVR recording) so think about what else might be at play in the case of memory for traumatic events and then have a look at the article linked below which contains a number of research items on this topic.

Source: Jazmine Barnes Case Shows How Trauma Can Affect Memory, Sandra E. Garcia, Science, The New York Times.

Date: January 6, 2019

Photo Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Article Link:

So, our memories fit with our previous memories sometimes more than they fit with reality. Also, the tunnel vision associated with rapid activation of the H.P.A. axis (the stress response in the brain and nervous system) gets in the way of our being able to recall detailed memory for traumatic events and their contexts. Finally, when we add in the bottleneck that is working memory and you can see how messed up memory for traumatic events could be. An additional line of thinking and possible research would be to try and figure out what police officers and other who collect eye witness accounts of traumatic events ought to do about these factors.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How accurate are the accounts of eye witnesses to traumatic events?
  2. If their accounts are not so good, why might that be?
  3. What sorts of things would you suggest to police officer investigating traumatic events with the assistance of eye witness accounts in order to make their jobs easier or at least more effective in such cases?

References (Read Further):

McNally, R. J. (2005). Remembering trauma. Harvard University Press.

Southwick, S. M., Morgan, C. A., Nicolaou, A. L., & Charney, D. S. (1997). Consistency of memory for combat-related traumatic events in veterans of Operation Desert Storm. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(2), 173-177.

Byrne, C. A., Hyman Jr, I. E., & Scott, K. L. (2001). Comparisons of memories for traumatic events and other experiences. Applied Cognitive Psychology: The Official Journal of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 15(7), S119-S133.

Krinsley, K. E., Gallagher, J. G., Weathers, F. W., Kutter, C. J., & Kaloupek, D. G. (2003). Consistency of retrospective reporting about exposure to traumatic events. Journal of Traumatic Stress: Official Publication of The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, 16(4), 399-409.

Cordon, I. M., Pipe, M. E., Sayfan, L., Melinder, A., & Goodman, G. S. (2004). Memory for traumatic experiences in early childhood. Developmental Review, 24(1), 101-132.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Intelligence, Memory, Neuroscience, Physiology.

Description: Ok here is a neurological question. Creativity involves coming up with something new right? But not just new … something new that works or fits or otherwise impress, like a novel solution to an old problem or a new story or mystery plot line. So how does out brain come up with new things when a huge part of how our brain develops and works involves figuring out what is adaptive (like avoiding looking for food over where that bear was wandering around last week) and then sticking to what we have figure out is adaptive. In that light creativity can be downright dangerous. Perhaps that is why we are so comfortable with the idea that creativity and craziness (madness) go together. Think about what might have to happen in the brain for us to be creative and then read the article linked below which talks about a recent study that looked at precisely this question.

Source: Brainwaves suppress obvious ideas to help us think more creatively, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: December 10, 2018

Photo Credit: dragonstock / Fotolia

 Article Link:

I have often said in my classes that human memory is built on associations.  His means that we are built (or it is adaptive for us to) see the similarities between things or situations in front of us and things we have seen before. It is adaptive because we can recognize tasty food or spoiled or otherwise noxious foods and other such things, but it is NOT adaptive in the sense that it makes it less likely we will try anything new. That is the problem of creativity. Basically, the researchers in the article linked above demonstrated that right temporal lobe brainwaves called alpha oscillations assist us in ignoring the obvious associations and make creativity possible. While there ARE individual differences in creativity it is not clear if this relates to different levels of production of alpha oscillations, but it seems like a good hypothesis. As well, as the researchers indicate the other fascinating questions is how we all balance these two potential processing routes of creativity and relying on past associations and adaptations. But one take home message is reinforced by this research—if you want to be creative try and ignore the obvious!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are creativity and adaptation related?
  2. How are creativity and adaptation incorporated in the functioning of the brain?
  3. What might some of the implications of this research be (think science fiction rather than thinking ethically)?

References (Read Further):

Caroline Di Bernardi Luft, Ioanna Zioga, Nicholas M. Thompson, Michael J. Banissy, Joydeep Bhattacharya. Right temporal alpha oscillations as a neural mechanism for inhibiting obvious associations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201811465

Zeki, S. (2001). Artistic creativity and the brain. Science, 293(5527), 51-52.

DeFelipe, J. (2011). The evolution of the brain, the human nature of cortical circuits, and intellectual creativity. Frontiers in neuroanatomy, 5, 29.

Dietrich, A. (2004). The cognitive neuroscience of creativity. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 11(6), 1011-1026.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Depression, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, The Self.

Description: We have had personal electronics for like ever, right? Weeeellll, the answer is yes ONLY if you were born in 1995 or later and if you were you are probably in college or university now or just starting to figure out your career path in the work world. As members of iGen (i for internet) you exited your preteen years just as smartphones, and through them ongoing instant personal access to social media and other internet facets, became available to everyone with a smart phone, and quite quickly, most of you had such a device (uptake was exponential among all but children and the elderly). The difference was that you everyone else this was a new thing and they would have to figure out how to fir it into their lives whereas for you it was simply what everyone had. I have posted about the developmental and post-secondary life transition issues associated with your developmental immersion in technology and social media recently and will post again in the near future. For now, I would like you to think about the place, role and impacts of personal technologies, smartphones, and social media on your life now and on your development from childhood through to your current situation. But before you start, consider this: one of the most important developmental insights you can gain NOW, as you move into and through emerging adulthood, is that the was things were and are for you as you grew up and now are NOT the same as they were for people even just one generation (10 to 15 years) older than you OR for emerging adults living and growing in other cultural contexts. Thee is no shortlist of those differences mainly because they are woven quite deeply into who you are and into how to understand and view the world around you. So, how to start to gain some of this important developmental perspective? Well, read the article linked below. It will help you have a look back at the way things were for you throughout your later childhood and adolescent years. The article is intended as (research based) advice for parents on the developmental things they should consider doing in relation to the impacts of these relatively new personal technologies on their children’s growth and development. See what it gets you thinking about.

Source: Technoconference: A habit parents should ditch in 2019, Sheri Madigan, Dillon Thomas Browne, and Rachel Eirich, The Conversation.

Date: January 1, 2019

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Article Link:

So, what do you think? Can you see some of the developmental carry-forwards from the article in your own life? A long time again (when I was doing my own early development) there were similar concerns raised and advice offered about the potential developmental impacts of television watching. What the advice and strongly supporting research boiled down to was that time spent watching television was time spent NOT doing other things like reading or getting outdoor physical exercise and the drop in those activities had developmental impacts. As such it was recommended that parents limit the amount to time their children spent watching TV to an hour or so a day. We are not yet in a position with available research where we can boil down smartphone and social media use to such a simple statement BUT, there ARE strong indications that smartphone and social media use beyond 2 hours a day seems to be contributing to a significant drop in the amount of face-to-face social interaction people in general and teenagers in particular are engaging in these days. What might THAT mean? …. Well, now that IS something to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways in which parents’ and children’s electronic devices are impacting family life and child development these days?
  2. What are some of the developmental trajectories (future impacts) of some of the things you noted in responding to question 1 above?
  3. Are there some things you can take away from this article, and your thinking about it, that are suggesting some things you might want to think about regarding your current developmental point in life?

References (Read Further):

The Common Sense Consensus: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology: A National Survey, Center on Media and Human Development,

“Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world.” (2017): 461-468.

Eisenberg, M. E., Olson, R. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L. H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 158(8), 792-796.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Health, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: I have posted previously on the topic of smash rooms (places where, for a fee, you can go and smash things with hammers, bats or whatever you want). The video linked below shows a similar opportunity where groups of people can go to a junkyard and, while wearing appropriate protective gear, smash of car to pieces with hammers and pry bars. Why might people want to do this? To relieve stress? To get aggressive impulses out of their systems? To team build? As a pre-wedding (stag or stagette) party event? The owners of this smashing opportunity enterprise touts it as a stress and aggression relieving opportunity, suggesting it could reduce road rage and other forms of aggression. From a Psychological perspective what do you think? Maybe factor in the fact that many college or professional sports teams have provided their fans with an opportunity (for money for charity) to have a few hammer bashes at a junker painted with the logos and colors of the team their team is about to play. Does THAT sound like something intended to calm people down and reduce aggressive thoughts and tendencies? So, reflect for a minute on what you think such businesses or events might do for us and then have a look at the video which also contains some psychology commentary.

Source: The place where you can smash up cars for fun. Anna Holligan, BBC News

Date: January 3, 2019

Photo Credit: BBC News

Article Link:

The theory that taking advantage of these sorts of opportunities to safely behave aggressively might be good for use goes way back to Freudian theory. Freud believed that such safe opportunities for behaving aggressively (we might say to let off some steam) are good for us as they reduce our aggressive tendencies. The problem with this view is that it basically supports the notion that aggressiveness is an inevitable part of the human experience and that it is rather hard to control. As the Psychologist in the video posed, what if people smash a car and find that they REALLY like being aggressive? Perhaps some thinking about mindfulness and managing our frustrations, stresses and aggressiveness might be in order? You can look through some of the classic debates on this issue in the articles linked in the References section below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might smashing a car, safely and on purpose, do for you that could be positive?
  2. What might smashing a car, safely and on purpose, do for you that could be negative?
  3. How should we think about the place and role of aggression in human psychological functioning and adaptation?

References (Read Further):

Miller, N. E. (1941). I. The frustration-aggression hypothesis. Psychological review, 48(4), 337.

Sears, R. R. (1941). II. Non-aggressive reactions to frustration. Psychological Review, 48(4), 343.

Berkowitz, L. (1989). Frustration-aggression hypothesis: Examination and reformulation. Psychological bulletin, 106(1), 59.

Allen, J. J., Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2018). The general aggression model. Current opinion in psychology, 19, 75-80.



Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Psychological Disorders, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Are you in your room or in your home or apartment? If you are, look around and if you are not, close your eyes and call up an honest image of what it usually looks like. So? Is it tidy and neat or stacked and cluttered (or creatively flung about)? Also, is that state entirely your own doing (you live alone) or did you have help, or do you just have that sort of room mate and it has nothing to do with you at all? Well, regardless of how you answered those questions think, psychologically for a moment about what sorts of characteristics, personality factors or behavioral tendencies (of YOURS) the degree of clutter in your living spaces might be related to and then have a read through the article linked below to see what psychological researchers might have to tell you about yourself based the degree of clutter in your living spaces.

Source: The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter, Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Mind, The New York Times.

Date: January 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Getty Images

 Article Link: and

So, clutter correlates, in psychology research, with a tendency to procrastinate (no real surprise there) but also with stress and increasing life dissatisfaction with age. Cluttered living spaces add most stress to the person who feels responsible for it or who thinks they are viewed as responsible for dealing with it suggesting that there are some gender related stigma attached to clutter that should be addressed both personally and in relationships. The note about the possibility of over-attachment to some of our objects making it hard to declutter is interesting as well. That was certainly some thing that was often shown in that spate of television shows showing interventions with hoarders who seemed to do better with the exit of their hoard if they did not handle much of it throughout the process ( It is worth thinking a bit about how we relate to our things, especially when they start to pile up and threaten to overwhelm us.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does your level of living space clutter (from non-existent to high) relate top how you feel, especially when you are supposed to be relaxing and de- stressing in the evening?
  2. How might you figure out if the stated relationships between clutter, stress and wellbeing are causal or correlational?
  3. The television shows I mentioned from a few years ago showing interventions, by relatives and usually up against threatened evictions, of hoarders showed a clearly disordered pattern of behavior. Is there a relationship between clutter and hoarding and if so what sort of relationship is it (one of degree or is there a qualitative distinction)?

References (Read Further):

Ferrari, J. R., & Roster, C. A. (2018). Delaying disposing: examining the relationship between procrastination and clutter across generations. Current Psychology, 37(2), 426-431.

Ferrari, J. R. (2018). Introduction to “Procrastination, Clutter, & Hoarding”. Current Psychology, 37(2), 424-425.

Saxbe, D., & Repetti, R. L. (2010). For better or worse? Coregulation of couples’ cortisol levels and mood states. Journal of personality and social psychology, 98(1), 92.

Saxbe, D. E., & Repetti, R. (2010). No place like home: Home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(1), 71-81.

Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Tolin, D. F. (2011). Comorbidity in hoarding disorder. Depression and anxiety, 28(10), 876-884.

Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Grisham, J. (2004). Measurement of compulsive hoarding: saving inventory-revised. Behaviour research and therapy, 42(10), 1163-1182.

de la Cruz, L. F., Nordsletten, A. E., Billotti, D., & Mataix‐Cols, D. (2013). PHOTOGRAPH‐AIDED ASSESSMENT OF CLUTTER IN HOARDING DISORDER: IS A PICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS?. Depression and anxiety, 30(1), 61-66.

Frost, R. O., Hristova, V., Steketee, G., & Tolin, D. F. (2013). Activities of daily living scale in hoarding disorder. Journal of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, 2(2), 85-90.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Most of us know, at least on a good day, that people need to care more about climate change. What we tend to do with that, though, is to point to other people as being the ones to blame for this lack of caring and lack of significant action — like politicians who ask how there could be global warming when it is so cold outside? But, in fact, the “why don’t we care about climate change” question could be asked of most of us. But before you get defensive, consider this: maybe the problem is NOT that we do not care but that we cannot seem to hold the need for climate related behavior change high enough in our day-to-day list of action priorities to make consistent positive changes and maybe we cannot do that NOT because we are uncaring or stupid or generationally selfish but maybe it has something to do with how our brains work. Think about THAT for a minute and then go and read the article linked below that digs deeply into this possibility.

Source: Why Don’t We Care About Climate Change? Dan Gardner, Opinion, The Globe and Mail.

Date: December 21, 2018

Photo Credit: Bryan Gee (Getty Images)

Article Link:

I particularly like how Dan Gartner (the author of the linked article) uses climate change as a way to help us understand Daniel Kahneman’s theory of Fast (System 1) and Slow (System 2) thinking and then then shows us how we can, perhaps, get people moving on climate change by understanding why we are having trouble with the sort of sustained long-term thinking needed to grapple with climate change as opposed to simply thinking about the weather. It is not that we are all in denial about climate change but rather that we are all using brains evolved for living and adapting without the long-term perspective that made it possible for us to notice and then to care about climate change in the first place. Psychology can help us change or social and personal tactics to start to affect a difference in climate change, hopefully be fore it is too late!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the reasons (aside from those in the linked article) that you have heard for why we cannot seem to get people to care enough about climate change?
  2. What are some of the reasons provided in the linked article for why we cannot seem to get people to care enough about climate change?
  3. What are some ways in which we can put your answer to question 2 above into play to get people moving individually on positive climate change initiatives?

References (Read Further):

Brief overview of Daniel Kahneman’s Fast/Slow thinking:

Not so brief overview of Daniel Kahneman’s Fast/Slow thinking, by the man himself:

Moser, S. C., & Ekstrom, J. A. (2010). A framework to diagnose barriers to climate change adaptation. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 201007887.

Biesbroek, R., Lesnikowski, A., Ford, J. D., Berrang‐Ford, L., & Vink, M. (2018). Do Administrative Traditions Matter for Climate Change Adaptation Policy? A Comparative Analysis of 32 High‐Income Countries. Review of Policy Research, 35(6), 881-906.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I am writing this post on New Years Eve Eve (Dec 30) and thought it might be timely to link back to a series of posts I put up last year at this time. New Year’s often involves resolutions, stated intentions to do something differently and better than before. The previous posts linked in the Further Reading section below look at an area of particular interest to me which we could call developmental resolutions. Developmental resolutions are a way to talk about how emerging adults (18 to 25-9 year old’s) plan, commit to and engage in the steps they need to take to make the transition form childhood/adolescence to adulthood. Whether this process is examined from the perspective of Identity Development, Life Design, College/University preparedness or readiness (they are not the same), or whatever it is a process of, hopefully, thoughtfully examining your past accomplishments, your current interests and skills, the current world around you and where it seems to be headed in the future and making some developmental resolutions about your own career, relationship, and community/political future. This differs from earlier developmental moments (like starting to think symbolically at around 2 years of age or starting to think logically at around 5 or 6 years of age) that make it possible for you to see the world around you as it is more clearly. Rather, the developmental moment of emerging adulthood involves realizing that you can make you own clarity in the world. What does that mean? Well some data (an example) might help. Highschool guidance counsellors used to tell their students to pick a career and then go do it and that was good advice when the world was simpler and the pathways into career and adulthood more clearly marked and more stable than they are today. At least that is how it feels. You may have heard references to a 1999 study which stated that 65% of the jobs then grade school children would end up doing did not yet exist or reference to a more recent 2017 study which suggested that the percentage of yet to be invented jobs is now up to 85%. Now this may not actually be true (see Derek Newton’s article for a detailed analysis), but the general thought that it might be even a little bit true is making parents twitchy (to use a technical term) and high school and college/University students significantly more anxious than previous generations of students (see the Jean Twenge references below). What those who write about the jobs-no-invented-yet theme typically do not do is provide specific examples about what emerging adults can do about this developmental challenge, other than perhaps suggesting the development of a commitment to lifelong learning (which is not bad advice but a little vague). So, here is an example. The article linked below talks about how this precise problem is being addressed in the emerging photonic sector (using light, or photons, as an energy source rather than electricity resulting, potentially, in “light-based technologies [that] are energy-efficient, reliable and fast.” The article explains how industry and post-secondary institutions are partnering to provide training and development opportunities for current students and those already working to prepare them for coming-but-not-here-yet jobs of the near future. As you read through the article pay particular attention to what is suggests about what the developmental resolutions of today’s emerging adults might look like and how you can make some of your own developmental resolutions this year.

Source: Teaming Up on Technology, Ellen Rosen, Fast Forward, Learning, The New York Times.

Date: December 16, 2018

Photo Credit: SUNY (Cleanroom facility at SUNY)

Article Link:

Even if you are not inclined to aim to enter the emerging field of photonics there are a n umber of potentially useful take-aways for you in the article linked above. First, it can prime you to read look and listen for references to similar initiatives in other areas, that may be of more interest to you. While it IS true that emerging adulthood involves charting your way into a future that you will make happen you may not be as alone in that as it might feel or as the 65% or 85% of jobs-not-yet-invented themes suggests. Second, the article suggests that while it may seem somewhat daunting to be designing your life in an increasingly uncertain world at least, if you are currently a high school student or an emerging adult, you have the time and the opportunity to develop and work on some wayfinding skills, unlike those already working in the world who will likely have to re-tool on the fly. Finally, there is also more specific advice in the article regarding the importance of including some training in “softer skills like public speaking, teamwork, and collaboration” in your developmental resolution plans. Maybe in the future it will be New Year’s all year around?!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is being a high school student or an emerging adult different today that 20, 30, or 40 years ago?
  2. What are developmental resolutions and how do they fit it with one or another of the various theoretic accounts of factors within emerging adulthood noted above?
  3. What are some examples (you have heard about) of other areas of discussion and/or collaboration like those in the photonics domain discussed in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Blog Series on Developmental Life Design


Degree of Independence and Social Media: Socio-Historical Impacts on Development in Emerging Adulthood

Twenge, J. M. (2017). IGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Simon and Schuster.

Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among US adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17.

Twenge, J. M., Martin, G. N., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Decreases in psychological well-being among American adolescents after 2012 and links to screen time during the rise of smartphone technology.

Twenge, J. M. (2018). Amount of Time Online Is Problematic if It Displaces Face-to-Face Social Interaction and Sleep. Clinical Psychological Science, 2167702618778562.

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 12, 271-283.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Families and Peers, Group Processes, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Do you remember a time when you and your friends did something a bit ill-advised or a bit sketchy and when your parents asked why you went along you said, “because all my friends were doing it”? And, of course, one or the other or both of your parents said …. what? …. “if your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too?” The parental point was some version of the belief that sometimes going along with a group just because it is the group is not smart or responsible (or even legal). We are supposed to be individuals, to make our own decisions, and not get dragged along by the mob that our parents were worried our peers could become. Our parents thought they had reason for concern. Have you (you must have) heard about the Asche conformity experiments? Solomon Asch, a social psychologist after the second world war, was trying to figure out why people go along with a group even if the group seems to be making bad decisions. He had a group of university students come into his lab and do a simple line judgement task. They would be shown one line and asked to pick which of several other lines was the same length as the select line (one was, and one was longer, and another was shorter). Unbeknownst to the one naive participant in the study all of the other “participants” were confederates of the experimenter (working for him and told what to say). The one naïve participant was seated so they always answered last in the group. (Have a look: ). If you were in that group and everyone else in the group was making what seemed to you to be a wrong choice (picking a line that did NOT match the test line) what would you do when your turn came along? The classic finding in that study was that most people go along with the group some of the time, even when they believe the group is wrong (and even when they are led to believe they are all just a bunch of research volunteers and not otherwise a group. So, we go along with groups even when it is barely a group (see why our parents were worried?). Just how strong is this minimal group membership effect? What if you never actually met the other members of your “group”? What do you think would happen then? Once you have your answer in mind, read the article linked below that describes an recent experiment in minimal group formation and impact.

Source: People adopt made-up social rules to be part of a group, John Timmer, ARS Techinca.

Date: December 28, 2018

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 Article Link:

So, why is it that we seem to be “built” to notice the groups we are in and to go along with those groups in areas where we could just as easily have our own opinion (so not when the group is made up of friends whose positive regard we care about)? Well, as you think about that consider this…. Before Solomon Asch was doing his early research, another social psychologist named Muzafer Sherif was also conducting a study. He placed research volunteers into a dark (light sealed) room and after they had dark adapted he turned on a point light source (a light so small that while it was easy to see it did not light up anything else in the room, it was just there by itself, and asked individuals to tell him whether the light was moving and if so to judge how much it seemed to be moving. The light was perfectly still but everyone saw it as moving because their eyes and head were moving, and they had no external reference points to use to cancel those movements out of their perceptions. When asked how much the light was moving individual judgments varied from a few centimeters to many centimeters. If Sherif had people go into the room in groups (not friends just groups of random research volunteers) they all said the light seemed to be moving and when asked to take turns saying how much it was moving their judgements converged so that they eventually agreed on how much the light seemed to be moving. Across groups of volunteers the judgments varied about as much as they had varied across individuals, but all groups agreed on an amount of movement. Sherif also had the participants come back individually months later and when he placed them back in the room by themselves and turned on the small light, they all tended to stick with the amount of movement they had agreed to with their group in the dark months earlier. So, what is the difference between the Asch study and the Sherif study? Well think about this. When they believed (in the Asch study) the group was wrong, people went along with the group 37% of the time but when they were in the dark (in Sherif’s study) they went along 100% of the time. When there is no obvious meaning we (in our groups) make a social norm and then stand by it. Think about this from an evolutionary perspective. In the hunting and gathering tribes and communities we evolved into we were in the dark about a lot of things and forming social norms and group connections made the world manageable and, perhaps, kept us alive. So perhaps this group loyalty (sometimes called tribalism) is built into us and cone some time be a good thing. The trick, of course, is finding ways to make sure we are not being overly Paleolithic in our choices of belief and action.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the difference between Asch’s conformity and Sherif’s Social Norm formation?
  2. What sorts of things can and should we do to keep a check on how group versus individually focused we are in terms of our decision making (it’s not just about jumping off bridges)?
  3. Thinking about these different definitions of conformity and the different impacts they have on decision making can you see some ways they might be applied to the current (American or global) political climate?

References (Read Further):

Pryor, C., Perfors, A., & Howe, P. D. (2018). Even arbitrary norms influence moral decision-making. Nature Human Behaviour, 1.

Pryor, C., Perfors, A., & Howe, P. D. (2018). Reversing the endowment effect. Judgment and Decision Making, 13(3), 275.

Asch, S. E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: I. A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological monographs: General and applied, 70(9), 1.

Larsen, K. S., Triplett, J. S., Brant, W. D., & Langenberg, D. (1979). Collaborator status, subject characteristics, and conformity in the Asch paradigm. The Journal of Social Psychology, 108(2), 259-263.

Bond, R., & Smith, P. B. (1996). Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch’s (1952b, 1956) line judgment task. Psychological bulletin, 119(1), 111.

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

Gregory, R. L., & Zangwill, O. L. (1963). The origin of the autokinetic effect. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15(4), 252-261.

Bradley, A. B. (2012). Review of” The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt. Journal of Markets & Morality, 15(2).