Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Somatic Symptoms Dissociative Disorders.

Description: If you watched Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker in The Dark Knight (Batman) film you saw an amazing piece of acting – of method acting. Ledger was a method actor meaning that he got into his character by essentially becoming the Joker and, it is said, stayed there on and off set throughout the entire time that filming was going on. For all intents and purposes, he was the Joker. Now it is one thing to say that, based on what it looks like to see Ledger as the Joker or other actors as other characters from the outside as observers but what actually goes on within the brains of method actors when they take on a character? Sort your own hypotheses out and then listen to the radio story in which a researcher who has utilized MRI scans to look into the brains of actors in character and as themselves.

Source: Actors’ brains have different activity patterns when they’re in character, Quirks and Quarks, CBC Radio.

Date: March 16, 2019

Photo Credit: Reuters

Article Link:

So, when they are in character, the parts of the brain that actors use when asked questions about their “real” selves when out of character were less active. The researcher suggests that acting may involve a loss of self. In addition, a brain area called the precuneus is activated when the actors are in character. This area of the brain seems to be involved in the division of attention between two things, in this case between the “real” self and the character the actor is portraying, essentially splitting consciousness in order to play the role but also to continue to keep track of one’s other local professional responsibilities (like where the camera is etc.).  While this is interesting in an of itself, for me at least, it peaks curiosity about what this line of research might suggests about how conditions like multiple personality or dissociative disorder and fugue state amnesia might be found to be mapped within the brain. Now there are some interesting research “next steps”!!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is method acting?
  2. What is involved in an actor playing another character, in terms of how that task might be mapped onto (function within) the brain?
  3. What are some areas of human self-functioning (or forms of mal-functioning associated with mental disorders or conditions) that might be linked with this research on actors’ brains while they are in character?

References (Read Further):

Brown, S., Cockett, P., and Yuan, Y. (2019). The neuroscience of Romeo and Juliet: An fMRI study of acting. Royal Society Open Science 6: 181908.

Yuan, Y., Major-Giradin, J., and Brown, S. (2018). Storytelling is intrinsically mentalistic: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of narrative production across modalities. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 30: 1298-1314.

Brown, S. (2017). Proto-acting as a new concept: Personal mimicry and the origins of role playing. Humanities 6:43.

Cavanna, A. E., & Trimble, M. R. (2006). The precuneus: a review of its functional anatomy and behavioural correlates. Brain, 129(3), 564-583.

Margulies, D. S., Vincent, J. L., Kelly, C., Lohmann, G., Uddin, L. Q., Biswal, B. B., … & Petrides, M. (2009). Precuneus shares intrinsic functional architecture in humans and monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(47), 20069-20074.

Markowitsch, H. J. (2003). Psychogenic amnesia. Neuroimage, 20, S132-S138.

Irle, E., Lange, C., Weniger, G., & Sachsse, U. (2007). Size abnormalities of the superior parietal cortices are related to dissociation in borderline personality disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 156(2), 139-149.

Geuze, E., Vermetten, E., de Kloet, C. S., & Westenberg, H. G. (2007). Precuneal activity during encoding in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Progress in brain research, 167, 293-297.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Social Psychology.

Description: OK, quick, without any reflection, answer these questions: Do animals have emotions? Or do they have the same emotional range and depth that we do? If you are like most people you probably hesitated a bit even if you decided to answer yes to either of those questions. Why hesitate? Well, maybe your feelings about the questions go back to the general notion that we humans like to think of ourselves as special and different and most certainly not just another one of the animals on our planet. A number of years ago my Labrador Retriever took advantage of an open gate and wandered off to explore the neighbourhood. She was apprehended by the city animal control people (the dog-catcher) and I was contacted to come down to the pound and bail her out. When you arrive there (in my fairly large city) you are directed to look at a bulletin board covered with dog “mug shots” to see if you see your dog. I was struck at the time that my dog, who was definitely there on the wall of shame, seemed to me to have a look on her face reflecting an array of emotions that boiled down to “I’m in big trouble”. When I paid the fine and “sprang” her we were both quite happy to be re-united. Anyway, the article linked below asks us to challenge the assumption that some or any emotions are the sole preview of human beings and consider how we might investigate whether animals experience emotions and if so which ones, to what degree, and under what circumstances? Give it a read and see if it shifts any of your assumptions about animals and emotion.

Source: Your Dog Feels as Guilty as She Looks, Frans de Waal, The New York Times.

Date: March 8, 2019

Photo Credit: JooHee Yoon, The New York Times.

Article Link:

So, what do you think now? There are a number of methodological issues to looking at animal emotions beyond examining our own assumption. Certainly our dogs may look ashamed when we speak sternly to them and happily ignore their transgressions when we do but the case of Lorenz’s dog that bit him in the frenzy of a dog fight Lorenz was trying to break up cannot seem to reflect anything else than deep guilt and shame. A quite touching emotional display can be seen in this video of a 60 year old chimpanzee who is old and dying in a zoo and is visited by one of her favourite, retired, caregivers ( ). See that and then tell me you want to withhold emotions from animals. So, perhaps, it is well past time that we all put on our rain faces and get on with an look at emotions that is not humancentric.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do animals experience emotions?
  2. What are some of the ways in which studies or situations have been designed to look at emotions in animals?
  3. Why is it that we (humans) seem hesitant to attribute to or see emotions in animals??

References (Read Further):

De Waal, Frans, (2019) Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves, Norton.

Boissy, A., Manteuffel, G., Jensen, M. B., Moe, R. O., Spruijt, B., Keeling, L. J., … & Bakken, M. (2007). Assessment of positive emotions in animals to improve their welfare. Physiology & behavior, 92(3), 375-397.

Preston, S. D., & De Waal, F. B. (2002). The communication of emotions and the possibility of empathy in animals. Altruistic love: Science, philosophy, and religion in dialogue, 284-308.

Morris, P., Knight, S., & Lesley, S. (2012). Belief in animal mind: does familiarity with animals influence beliefs about animal emotions?. Society & Animals, 20(3), 211-224.

Dawkins, M. S. (2000). Animal minds and animal emotions. American Zoologist, 40(6), 883-888.

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Child Development, Neuroscience, Personality, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: I have posted about the Dark Triad (Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy) before which suggests how some poor or bad behavior in others might be accounted for, but what about large-scale evil? An ongoing question has been to wonder what array of circumstances, conditions, and characteristics come together to produce truly evil people such a Hitler. If you have wondered about such things then have a read through the article linked below which discusses a recently released book that looks closely at what the available and recent research in Neuroscience, Psychology and other disciplines suggest as possible contributors to the production of evil or evil acting people.

Source: The Science of Evil, Katherine Ramsland, Shadow Boxing, Psychology Today.

Date: March 10, 2019

Photo Credit: Abrams Press.

Article Link:

The main message from the book reviewed in the article linked above seems to be that evil or rather people who act in evil ways, are born AND made, shaped by the contexts in which they grow and develop and in the social and historical contexts in which they find themselves. Social situations CAN be very powerful but then so can the drive within some people to take advantage of the situations they find and those which they nudge or outright create.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might we define “evil” using Psychological theories and research?
  2. Does it make sense to say that some individuals are evil?
  3. Was there anything in the article that surprised you or drew you to reconsider something you used to simply hold to be true?

References (Read Further):

Shaw, J. (2019). Evil: The science behind humanity’s dark side. New York, NY: Abrams Press.

Zimbardo, P. G. (2011). Lucifer effect. The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology.

Waller, J. E. (2007). Becoming evil: How ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing. Oxford University Press.

Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. M. (2002). The dark triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of research in personality, 36(6), 556-563.




Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Have you ever heard that writing might be good for you? I do not mean that taking English classes is good for you (though it might be) but rather that writing about anything from past traumatic life events to future hopes and aspirations might actually not only help you cope with past trauma or plan a better future, but it may also improve your psychical and psychological health and wellbeing.  The work of James Pennebaker looked at using expressive writing as a means of helping individual struggling with symptoms of PTSD to deal with the traumatic events in their past and to hep them move into a better place of wellness and wellbeing. Since it early days the technique of expressive writing has been expanded to include other writing topics such as future life planning with results typically being reported to be positive and wide ranging, including positive changes in mental and physical heath and welling.  What are we to make of the breadth and depth of the findings reported relating to the positive effects of expressive writing? Well perhaps what we need is a systematic meta-analysis that gathers together the research data from a broad range of studies on expressive writing, focused on dealing with symptoms of PTSD, and tries to pol the results and closely examine not just the results of a number of studies on expressive writing by also the rigor , or lack thereof, with which the studies were designed and whether they were focused upon similar or diverse psychological conditions or situations. That is what a good metanalysis can do and as well it can potentially speak to the actual size of the effects of, in this case, expressive writing on the symptoms associated with PTSD. As you look through the original metanalysis research article linked below pay close attention to the questions it asks, the methodological issues it examines and at what it offers in the way of general findings regarding expressive writing. Oh and do not be daunted by the effect size math in the paper, just skip over that and read the written parts (unless you find it intriguing!).

Source: A Meta-Analysis of Expressive Writing on Posttraumatic Stress, Posttraumatic Growth, and Quality of Life, Jeffery Pavacic et al. Review of General Psychology (see full reference below)

Date: March 1, 2019

Photo Credit: University of New Hampshire, Wildcat Wellness.

Article Link:

Meta-analytic studies can get a bit thick at times given that they are trying to pool the data from a, sometimes large, number of studies in ways that ensure that the right things are being pooled and that distinct things are looked at separately. One of the most interesting findings in this particularly meta-analytic study is that the effects for expressive writing were significantly stronger when the people in the studies were more rigorously screened for a PTSD diagnostic profile suggesting that the technique works better when it is more appropriately applied. Meta-analytic studies can help us get important things like the effectiveness and targeting of treatment programs right and ensure that what IS being done IS working for those that need assistance.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Expressive Writing and what can/should it be used for?
  2. What is a meta-analytic study and why might it be important to do one (or many)?
  3. What is the relationship between meta-analytic studies and practice policies and ethical guidelines relating to therapy and treatment?

References (Read Further):

Pavlacic, J. M., Buchanan, E. M., Maxwell, N. P., Hopke, T. G., & Schulenberg, S. E. (2019). A Meta-Analysis of Expressive Writing on Posttraumatic Stress, Posttraumatic Growth, and Quality of Life. Review of General Psychology, 1089268019831645.

Kelson, J., Rollin, A., Ridout, B., & Campbell, A. (2019). Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Treatment: Systematic Review. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(1), e12530.

Clinton, V., & Meester, S. (2019). A Comparison of Two In-Class Anxiety Reduction Exercises Before a Final Exam. Teaching of Psychology, 46(1), 92-95.

Pennebaker, J. W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological science, 8(3), 162-166.

Posted by & filed under Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Intelligence, Language-Thought, Memory, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: We would all like to think that we are well aware that politicians sometimes play fast and loose with the numbers related to issues and that we are not likely to be fooled by them when they do. The reality, however, is that we buy more of what we hear politicians say about the numbers or statistics behind issues both than we should AND than we think we do. Why might that be? Once you have your hypotheses in order, read through the article linked below for a concise overview of a number of lines of research that addresses these questions.

Source: 3 reasons people fall for politicians lies about statistics, Mack Clayton Shelly, II, The Conversation.

Date: February 28, 2019

Photo Credit: EQRoy/

Article Link:

There are lies, damned lies and statistics and a huge debate about just where THAT quote was first offered ( Being able to think critically about statistics is as important as being able to think critically about research findings that are reported or sometimes just tossed around by people trying to convince us of something.  We do not generally do very well with numbers and particularly with probabilities which are at the heart of statistics. In addition, we do not think logically about the information we review when we try and inform ourselves about an issue. Instead, we are likely to suffer from confirmation bias where we are more likely to note and remember information that supports rather than challenges our previous beliefs (even or especially when they were already less than fully informed). And lastly, the less we know about something the more we are likely to overestimate what we know about that subject. The Dinning-Kruger effect can get us into all sorts of trouble (for more about that listen to the podcast linked in the Further Reading Section below). What should we do about this? Well, spend some time reflecting on what it means to think critically would be a good start!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things get in the way of our avoiding being led around by politicians’ playing fast and loose with numbers (statistics)?
  2. Thinking about each of the reasons suggested for why we are led along by politicians mis-use of numbers and come up with one or two things we could do or try and do to avoid or reduce being misled.
  3. Are there any good (adaptive) reasons for why we do the sorts of things outlined in the article?

References (Read Further):

David Dunning on the Dunning-Kruger Effect, The Current Podcast, CBC radio (at time stamp 1:51:51)

Anderson, Jenny (2016) Americans are spectacularly bad at answering even the most basic math questions,

Peters, E., Västfjäll, D., Slovic, P., Mertz, C. K., Mazzocco, K., & Dickert, S. (2006). Numeracy and decision making. Psychological science, 17(5), 407-413.

Peters, E. (2012). Beyond comprehension: The role of numeracy in judgments and decisions. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(1), 31-35.

Wheeler, Gregory, “Bounded Rationality”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

Heshmat, Shahram (2015) What is Confirmation Bias?

Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of personality and social psychology, 77(6), 1121.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Life is not a walk in the park. Have you heard that saying? It is usually taken to suggest that life, at times at least, is not easy, but what if we put it slightly differently by saying that life should include regular walks in the park. What about THAT might be good for you and why? Sure, the exercise would be a good thing. Sure, taking time out of your day to have some down time by walking through a park could also be a healthy way of dealing with stress. But what if, beyond those sorts of things, simply being in nature (in a park) was psychologically good for us? How would we look into THAT question? Well think about it for a moment and then read the article linked below to see how some recent research looked into that question.

Source: Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here’s What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health, Jamie Ducharme,

Date: February 28, 2019

Photo Credit: Images

Article Link:

So, being in nature is good for you even if you do not go into nature to exercise (though the two things together are REALLY good for you). In designing their study, the researchers’ whose work was discussed in the linked article, were careful not tell their participants what their study was about. That is important because demand characteristics do not have to consist only of researchers hints and pressure for certain types of responses but sometimes it is simply enough for participants to have a sense of what you are hoping to see in order for them to try and provide you with it. Participants were just asked to spend time in a park and were not even told how much time to spend in the park. The result that ratings of subjective wellbeing increased significantly in 60% of partivpants even if they did not exercise while in the park suggest that simply being in a greenspace is enough to provide a bump in wellbeing. The data supporting this sort of finding is strong enough now that physicians in some jurisdictions are prescribing parks to quite a few of their patients with a variety of conditions. So, self-prescribe some park the next time you are feeling a bit stressed (or find an indoor green opportunity for cold winter high stress days).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why did the researchers NOT tell their research participants exactly what their study was looking at?
  2. Why did the researchers NOT tell their participants what to do in the park?
  3. Why might it be that simply being in nature is good for us?

References (Read Further):

Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 18.

Li, Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 9.

Houlden, V., Weich, S., & Jarvis, S. (2017). A cross-sectional analysis of green space prevalence and mental wellbeing in England. BMC public health, 17(1), 460.

Yuen, H. K., & Jenkins, G. R. (2019). Factors associated with changes in subjective well-being immediately after urban park visit. International journal of environmental health research, 1-12.

South, E. C., Hohl, B. C., Kondo, M. C., MacDonald, J. M., & Branas, C. C. (2018). Effect of greening vacant land on mental health of community-dwelling adults: a cluster randomized trial. JAMA network open, 1(3), e180298-e180298.

Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., & Depledge, M. H. (2011). Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environmental science & technology, 45(5), 1761-1772.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: Think back to when you were in elementary school. What did you do during recess? Did you ever think of recess as an important component of your educational day or just as a cherished break away from the demands of the classroom? From a developmental psychological perspective how should we look at, think about and design elementary school recesses? How many should there be in a day? How long should they be? What should the playground look like? Collect you own thoughts on these questions and then listen to the radio story about recess linked below to see what school children, educators and developmental psychologists have to say about these questions.

Source: Why experts say school shouldn’t shy away from a little physicality during recess, The Current, CBC Radio.

Date: February 27, 2019

Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinal

Article Link:

For all children and especially for young children play is their work. By that developmental psychologists mean that play (especially creative free-play) is what children should be doing as it helps them develop cognitively, physically, emotionally, and socially. So, recess is not just a break from the important educational experiences of a school day, it is a developmentally important part of each child’s daily experience and should be supported and considered a part of a school educational/developmental responsibilities to its attending students.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How should we define “recess” as part of an elementary school schedule?
  2. What are some of the links between what goes on outside of school at recess and what goes on inside of school the rest of each day?
  3. How should schools (and parents) approach and think about the issues of school yard (recess) safety and risk?

References (Read Further):

Barros, R. M., Silver, E. J., & Stein, R. E. (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics, 123(2), 431-436.

Ridgers, N. D., Salmon, J., Parrish, A. M., Stanley, R. M., & Okely, A. D. (2012). Physical activity during school recess: a systematic review. American journal of preventive medicine, 43(3), 320-328.

Ramstetter, C. L., Murray, R., & Garner, A. S. (2010). The crucial role of recess in schools. Journal of School Health, 80(11), 517-526.

Cardon, G., Van Cauwenberghe, E., Labarque, V., Haerens, L., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2008). The contribution of preschool playground factors in explaining children’s physical activity during recess. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5(1), 11.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Try and design a study that would not just look at but actually make a difference in people’s lives using the following finding from other research studies: Social isolation and loneliness is harmful to you not just in terms of your social wellbeing but also in terms of your physical health AND your longevity. Your intervention cannot involve therapy (helpful but time consuming and expensive) nor can it involve even telling people that you are trying to help them become more socially engaged and less lonely (lonely people do not react well to “get more social” intervention attempts). Once you have your thoughts in order on this question read the article linked below to see how some researchers developed an app to address just this question.

Source: Loneliness Is Bad for Your Health. An App May Help Gretchen Reynolds, Well, The New York Times.

Date: February 22, 2019

Photo Credit: Celia Jacobs, The New York Times.

Article Link:

So, receiving stress reduction and coping suggestions does not help and neither does mindfulness meditation BUT mindfulness meditation and “equanimity” or being consciously and verbally attentive to one’s sensations increased sociability AND decreased feeling of loneliness. What is equanimity? It is defined as mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper and like mindfulness it can be linked to Buddhist thinking and practices. In essence, being at peace with yourself, it is argued, makes you less self-critical and, as a result, more open to social connection. Consciously acknowledging your perceptions and feelings out loud was used as the operationalization of equanimity in the study discussed in the article linked above and it seemed to make a difference to those who practiced it compared to the simple stress advice and just mindfulness medication group. This sort of “search for the active ingredient(s)” approach to research can be quite illuminating especially when it suggests things we might not have come up with based on our current views of or assumptions about the world and how it works. Want more “how to” information about equanimity? Try the two links down at the bottom of the References list below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might loneliness and stress be related?
  2. What is equanimity and how might it be related to loneliness and stress?
  3. What might we do to expand on our “search for active ingredients” in relation to loneliness and stress ?

References (Read Further):

Lindsay, E. K., Young, S., Brown, K. W., Smyth, J. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Mindfulness training reduces loneliness and increases social contact in a randomized controlled trial. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201813588.

Cacioppo, S., Grippo, A. J., London, S., Goossens, L., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2015). Loneliness: Clinical import and interventions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 238-249.

Rosenstreich, E., & Margalit, M. (2015). Loneliness, mindfulness, and academic achievements: A moderation effect among first-year college students. The Open Psychology Journal, 8(1).

Cacioppo, J. T., & Cacioppo, S. (2018). The growing problem of loneliness. The Lancet, 391(10119), 426.

Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E. A., Hölzel, B. K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S. W., … & Vago, D. R. (2015). Moving beyond mindfulness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness, 6(2), 356-372.

Kraus, S., & Sears, S. (2009). Measuring the immeasurables: Development and initial validation of the Self-Other Four Immeasurables (SOFI) scale based on Buddhist teachings on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Social Indicators Research, 92(1), 169.

Equanimity Links:

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Adult Development and Aging, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Depression, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, General Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: Here is a research-based claim you may have heard about recently. Jean Twenge, based on data she drew from several huge population (big sample) surveys, suggests that 5 or more hours of daily involvement with social media is having negative impacts on teenagers these days. Now, rather than thinking about whether you agree or disagree with this statement (you know the sorts of statement I mean here, “Kids these days……”) think about it as if you were a psychology researcher. What methodological and interpretive questions might you raise about the research itself in this area? Give that some thought and then read the article linked below to see some reflection and research focused on this question.

Source: Is Tech Really Hurting Teens? Devon Frye, Brainstorm, Psychology Today.

Date: February 22, 2019

Photo Credit: Darren Baker/Shutterstock.

 Article Link:

There is a concept that is typically presented early on in most basic courses on psychological research methods and statistics that basically cautions against data fishing. Data fishing involves asking research participants many, many questions and then pulling out and reporting upon only those answers or results that please you. The problem is that if you ask a lot of questions odds are that some will produce significant results by chance. The article linked above talks about a research paper that looked at the Twenge research from this perspective. Essentially, the population survey data sources Twenge drew here data from  asked many, many questions and so one could argue that she “fished” or “cherry picked” the data that suited her hypotheses. The researchers involved took a look at all of the possible comparisons that could have been made with the data gathered in the large surveys so they could properly characterize the magnitude and direction of the possible effects of social media use on anxiety among adolescents. They suggest that while there IS a negative impact of social media use on wellbeing it is not very strong and, in fact, comparable to the impact of eating potatoes on wellbeing. We can add to this the other observation that the data Twenge refers to is correlational and thus make it hard if not impossible to say whether social media use causes depression or that depression causes social media use. So, what do we do now? Well we do not simply conclude that social media use is either innocuous or peachy. Rather, we realize things are rarely simple and we dig in and think about and design more research into this important question. The rates of anxiety and depression and suicide ARE higher among teens and emerging adults born since 1994 and while social media IS a more ubiquitous part of their lives than of previous generations, we need to look both more closely psychologically and developmentally and more broadly socially and historically if we hope to begin to understand what is going on. So, yes, big surprise, more research is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might be problematic about the findings that high levels of social media use may be associated with higher rates of teen anxiety and depression?
  2. What should be done to sort out the concerns noted in possible responses to the first question?
  3. Are debates like this one more of a challenge to how research findings are reported or to how we think about them when they are reported upon, sometimes in rather sensationalistic manners, in the media?

References (Read Further):

Twenge, J. M. (2017). Have smartphones destroyed a generation. The Atlantic, 3.

Orben, A., & Przybylski, A. K. (2019). The association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use. Nature Human Behaviour, 1.

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.

Heffer, T., Good, M., Daly, O., MacDonell, E., & Willoughby, T. (2019). The Longitudinal Association Between Social-Media Use and Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents and Young Adults: An Empirical Reply to Twenge et al. (2018). Clinical Psychological Science.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: You have probably heard about FOMO or the fear of missing out which is often discussed as a serious hazard of involvement in social media. The idea is that postings on social media sites (like Instagram) are typically created and posted with the purpose of showing that the poster is having a great time, is living the good life, is hanging out with better people, and is generally having a better time than you are and as a result you may fear you are missing out on the better times and lives you could be living. FOMO is the sort of thing that researchers have in mind when they are talking about the possible negative effects of significant engagement (5 hours a day) with social media (see Jean Twenge reference below). One type of challenge to research claims regarding the possible evils of social media use has been methodological (see my related post — ) and such challenges are important. Another type of challenge, however, is also important as it involves examining different ways of thinking about the issues of FOMO. If FOMO is bad for us then what is better for us or even, ore simple, what is good for us? How about turning FOMO on its head theoretically and considering JOMO? What is JOMO, well it is the joy of missing out. Think about what that might mean, what it might involve and how it might help us. Oh, and while you are at it, think about how we might research JOMO and then read the article linked below to see how it fits with your own thoughts, speculations, and hypothesizing.

Source: JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out, Kristen Fuller, Happiness is a State of Mind, Psychology Today.

Date: February 22, 2019

Photo Credit: Book Cover, The Joy of Missing Out by Christina Crook.

Article Link:

There are many versions of the suggestion that you should put your technology down from time to time if only to give yourself a rest from its many, constant cognitive demands and stressors. The article linked above more explicitly suggests we consider tying such techno-breaks to the increasing researcher supported notion that practicing mindfulness, being in the moment, and doing things purposefully and deliberately is generally good for us and our overall sense of wellbeing. Finding things that do that for us seem to be increasingly important for us these days and research that explains why AND shows us how is important and needed. More research is definitely needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are FOMO and JOMO and how are they related?
  2. What psychological concepts and theories does JOMO possibly relate to?
  3. What should some of the central components be of a systematic research agenda aimed at helping us to properly understand and manage the effects of technology and social media on our lives and our wellbeing?

References (Read Further):

Crook, C. (2015). The joy of missing out: Finding balance in a wired world. New Society Publishers.

Suler, J. R. (2016). Psychology of the digital age: Humans become electric. Cambridge University Press.

Twenge, J. M. (2017). Have smartphones destroyed a generation. The Atlantic, 3.

Baer, R., Crane, C., Miller, E., & Kuyken, W. (2019). Doing no harm in mindfulness-based programs: Conceptual issues and empirical findings. Clinical psychology review.