Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Perhaps you have heard about the use of ECT (electroconvulsive shock therapy) to treat “treatment resistant depression. It involved(s) the induction of a grand mal seizure (random firing of all neurons in the brain) through the application of electrical stimulation of the brain. Why does it work (when it does)? It seems to “rest” the neural systems in the brain. Taking the notion of a neural reset further is the experimental treatment for anxiety and depression described by Heather Armstrong, a woman who went through the treatment, in the excerpt from a radio interview linked below. A few details of the treatment are covered in the interview (more in the references section below) but most striking is Heather’s vivid description of what it was like to awaken from the treatment and in particular after her fifth treatment. One of the huge benefits of case studies (despite the limits to their generalizability) are the rich insights they can provide into the subjective experience of disorders such as depression and of the subjective impact of treatments that seem to work.

Source: This woman went to the brink of death – and back – to treat her depression, The Current, CBC Radio.

Date: May 7, 2019

Photo Credit: Angela Monson; Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.

Article Link:

The induction of a comatose state using an anesthetic called propofol is thought to act on symptoms of anxiety and depression by resetting or reawakening the brain’s inhibitory systems. Heather’s description of it as “something marvelous” is quite striking. Of course more research is needed but the early returns on this experimental treatment seem quite promising.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do ECT and propofol do when used as a treatment for “drug treatment resistant” depression?
  2. Is the phrase “neural reset” simply a literary shorthand or is it a useful description for the treatment described in the interview/story linked above?
  3. What sorts of research are needed going forward if we are to both understand and properly regulate this form of treatment for anxiety and depression?

References (Read Further):

Eranti, S. V., Mogg, A. J., Pluck, G. C., Landau, S., & McLoughlin, D. M. (2009). Methohexitone, propofol and etomidate in electroconvulsive therapy for depression: a naturalistic comparison study. Journal of affective disorders, 113(1-2), 165-171.

Mickey, B. J., White, A. T., Arp, A. M., Leonardi, K., Torres, M. M., Larson, A. L., … & Sakata, D. J. (2018). Propofol for treatment-resistant depression: a pilot study. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 21(12), 1079-1089.

Tadler, S. C., & Mickey, B. J. (2018). Emerging evidence for antidepressant actions of anesthetic agents. Current Opinion in Anesthesiology, 31(4), 439-445.

Ogawa, K., Uema, T., Motohashi, N., Nishikawa, M., Takano, H., Hiroki, M., … & Takeda, M. (2003). Neural Mechanism of Propofol Anesthesia in Severe DepressionA Positron Emission Tomographic Study. Anesthesiology: The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, 98(5), 1101-1111.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Depression, mental illness, Neuroscience, Research Methods, Schizophrenia.

Description: What causes schizophrenia? If you said something like “a chemical imbalance in the brain” you are not alone and that fits with what else you likely know which is that there are a wide array of drugs available that are used as parts of efforts to address that “imbalance.” However, you know those drugs are NOT a cure, don’t you? SO back to the original question: What causes schizophrenia? Is there a genetic basis for the disorder and what would that mean as genes are fixed but schizophrenia emerges in adolescence or later? So, what do we need in order to answer the question? Well maybe, epigenetics, which is the study of the changes in brains and elsewhere that are caused by modifications of gene expression as opposed to the structure of the basic genetic code. How does that work and how might it help us to begin to understand the causes of schizophrenia (and/or bipolar disorder)? Well have a read through the article link below to get at least a glimpse of the possibilities.

Source: Hotspot in the genome may drive psychosis in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: May 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Maksim Koval/iStock

Article Link:

So, most of the antipsychotic drugs in use today work in one way or another by reducing the storm of dopamine that is related to the symptoms of schizophrenia. But that is only half of the story. The other part involves a scrambling of the neural synapses responsible for the “rapid-fire neural impulses responsible for healthy function.” This second process may emerge epigenetically earlier (that the dopamine flood). If so, then if it become possible to find markers of these shifts then earlier identification of the epigenetic pathways that may be heading towards schizophrenia and THAT may lead to earlier, more effective interventions on our way to actually figuring out the causes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Exciting stuff!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do we mean when we say that schizophrenia and bipolar disorders are the results of chemical imbalances in the brain?
  2. What does the epigenetic study and analysis discussed in the linked article suggest about the possible causes of schizophrenia?
  3. Where does this line of research take us in relation to causes and/or cures for schizophrenia?

References (Read Further):

Pai, S., Li, P., Killinger, B., Marshall, L., Jia, P., Liao, J., … & Labrie, V. (2018). Differential DNA modification of an enhancer at the IGF2 locus affects dopamine synthesis in patients with major psychosis. bioRxiv, 296756.

Roth, T. L., Lubin, F. D., Sodhi, M., & Kleinman, J. E. (2009). Epigenetic mechanisms in schizophrenia. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1790(9), 869-877.

Shorter, K. R., & Miller, B. H. (2015). Epigenetic mechanisms in schizophrenia. Progress in biophysics and molecular biology, 118(1-2), 1-7. Shorter, K. R., & Miller, B. H. (2015). Epigenetic mechanisms in schizophrenia. Progress in biophysics and molecular biology, 118(1-2), 1-7.

Akbarian, S. (2014). Epigenetic mechanisms in schizophrenia. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 16(3), 405.

Connor, C. M., & Akbarian, S. (2008). DNA methylation changes in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Epigenetics, 3(2), 55-58.

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence, Legal Ethical Issues, Personality.

Description: How do you feel about personality tests? If your response to this question is some version of “meh” you might want to reconsider. Aside from being a part of all introductory psychology course curricula many people view personality tests as those diversions they encounter in magazines (well, on line these days). However, it is worth considering the full extent of the industry of personality testing. Outside of the frivolous use noted above think about where and how personality tests are used. Think hard because I guarantee you that you have not thought of the full extent of their use and of the potential impacts their use have upon us. Ready for a deeper look? Ok, have a read through the article liked below that provides a brief historical overview of the uses of personality tests and provides a broader context for understanding their current (and increasing) use.

Source: Our ongoing love-hate relationship with personality tests, Kira Lussier, The Conversation.

Date: April 5, 2019

Photo Credit: Shutterstock, The Conversation

Article Link:

So how does the historical perspective, provided in the linked article and its linking personality testing to recent heavy concerns about the privacy of our personal data, affect your thoughts and feelings about personality tests? While individual difference psychology, where personality tests (and many other tests) come from, is typically depicted as a pragmatic sub-discipline focused upon the nuts, bolts, and minutia of measuring human characteristics, attitudes, values etc. the linked article points to a  number are areas which may suggest to you a need to open a lie of ethical consideration of personality testing. Such possible questions will be of increasing importance as we move forward into a worlds (lives) of bigger and bigger data.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are personality tests supposed to do (to measure)?
  2. How are personality tests used by organizations and by marketers?
  3. What questions do you NOW feel like we should be starting to ask about personality tests?

References (Read Further):

How to cheat on personality tests and other pseudosciences,

Young, J. L. (2017). Numbering the mind: Questionnaires and the attitudinal public. History of the Human Sciences, 30(4), 32-53.

O’Doherty, K. C. (2017). Deliberative public opinion: Development of a social construct. History of the Human Sciences, 30(4), 124-145.

Gould, S. J. (1996). The mismeasure of man. WW Norton & Company.

Hogan, J., Barrett, P., & Hogan, R. (2007). Personality measurement, faking, and employment selection. Journal of applied psychology, 92(5), 1270.

Gibby, R. E., & Zickar, M. J. (2008). A history of the early days of personality testing in American industry: An obsession with adjustment. History of psychology, 11(3), 164.


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Sensation-Perception, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: There has been a lot of research and debate lately about the developmental impact of social media and smartphones. That debate IS important, but it is worth revisiting an issue that, while not that old, is not a particularly salient part of our conversations about development and particularly about risk management. Most jurisdictions have enacted some form of distracted driving legislation intended to limit a range of driver distractions including cell phone use, while driving. If you are a driver, even a newly licensed driver, I am sure you know you need to be careful about how you use your cellphone while driving (handsfree is permissible in many jurisdictions) and you also know that you should not text while driving. So, no problem, right? Well how about this finding? In 2015 27% of teenaged Ontario (Canada) drivers admitted to texting while driving and 3 years later the percentage had dropped to 6%. Fantastic, this reflects a huge positive change in risk related behavior, right? Well, what if the young drivers in question have NOT reduced their frequency of texting while driving but have, rather, realized that had better not admit that they are doing so? Everyone could use a research-based reality check regarding driving and distraction (and not just involving cell phones). So, think for a minute about how well you manage your limited attentional resources while driving and think about what a list of possible distractors while driving might include and then read the article linked below for your own driving reality audit.

Source: Distracted Driving and Cellphones: What Are the Risks? Romeo Vitelli, Media Spotlight, Psychology Today.

Date: May 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Dan Toulgoet, The Vancouver Courier

Article Link:

So how did your driving distraction audit go? One of the largest challenges to effectively managing distraction risk while driving is the distance (or time) one typically drives between driving events that are seriously hazardous. This is a perfect circumstance for growing an illusion of control and for lowering one’s concern about distracting actions, thoughts and strategies. It is a VERY good idea to take stock from time to time of how well you are actually managing your precious limited attentional resources while driving! It is also worth noting that we cannot always trust that our research participants are fully disclosing the behaviors we are asking them about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of (categories of) things contribute to driver distraction?
  2. What research methodologies are needed if we want to get a clear picture of what drivers are really doing behind the wheel?
  3. What are some things we could do to better prepare new drivers to properly and reflectively manage their attentional risks and hazard exposures while driving?

References (Read Further):

Dénommée, J. A., Foglia, V., Roy-Charland, A., Turcotte, K., Lemieux, S., & Yantzi, N. (2019). Cellphone use and young drivers. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne. Advance online publication.

Adeola, R., & Gibbons, M. (2013). Get the message: Distracted driving and teens. Journal of trauma nursing, 20(3), 146-149.

Wilson, F. A., & Stimpson, J. P. (2010). Trends in fatalities from distracted driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008. American journal of public health, 100(11), 2213-2219.

Tucker, S., Pek, S., Morrish, J., & Ruf, M. (2015). Prevalence of texting while driving and other risky driving behaviors among young people in Ontario, Canada: Evidence from 2012 and 2014. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 84, 144-152.

Lesch, M. F., & Hancock, P. A. (2004). Driving performance during concurrent cell-phone use: are drivers aware of their performance decrements?. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 36(3), 471-480.

Delgado, M. K., Wanner, K. J., & McDonald, C. (2016). Adolescent cellphone use while driving: An overview of the literature and promising future directions for prevention. Media and communication, 4(3), 79.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Physiology, Psychological Health, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: You have no doubt heard a story or two about an elderly couple where, when one of them dies, the surviving partner also passes away fairly soon after. Can you recall if an explanation as to why this occurred was offered? Some version of a broken heart perhaps? Or maybe that the surviving partner did not want to go on without their life-companion and so gave up? Well, maybe think about this for a minute and hypothesize about why it might actually be the case that the death of a close loved one predicts increased mortality in the surviving member of the couple? Assuming that broken hearts, as poetic as that might be, are not mortality causal factors unless they are actually physically broken, which is not likely how a bereavement effect would work. Oh, and we should probably check to see if there actually IS a bereavement mortality effect as well. Once you have your hypotheses worked out have a read thought eh article lined below to see what research has had to say about this question.

Source: How Does Bereavement Impact the Immune System? Tim Newman, Medical News Today.

Date: April 15, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

Indeed, bereavement seems to increase mortality (peaking 9 to 12 months after loss). More importantly, recent meta-analytic studies (that gather together available studies to provide a bigger picture view of what is going on) are beginning to show more clearly how this works – by driving inflammation which dampens the activity and effectiveness of the immune system. As well, some research is suggesting that depression is a mediating factor in this re4lationship and that could serve as a clinical marker of who should be provided treatment in addition to bereavement support. The results suggest  number of ways in which the story of the elderly couple who die within weeks or months of one another might be re-written more positively (if less romantically.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does bereavement impact mortality?
  2. How does bereavement impact mortality? What other factors mark or moderate between bereavement and mortality?
  3. What medical/psychological practice guidelines might we suggest for GP’s and Psychologists working with bereaved clients?

References (Read Further):

Bartrop, R. W., Lazarus, L., Luckhurst, E., Kiloh, L. G., & Penny, R. (1977). Depressed lymphocyte function after bereavement. The Lancet, 309(8016), 834-836.

Knowles, L. M., Ruiz, J. M., & O’Connor, M. F. (2019). A Systematic Review of the Association Between Bereavement and Biomarkers of Immune Function. Psychosomatic Medicine.

Kaprio, J., Koskenvuo, M., & Rita, H. (1987). Mortality after bereavement: a prospective study of 95,647 widowed persons. American Journal of Public Health, 77(3), 283-287.

Schaefer, C., Quesenberry Jr, C. P., & Wi, S. (1995). Mortality following conjugal bereavement and the effects of a shared environment. American Journal of Epidemiology, 141(12), 1142-1152.

Stroebe, M. S. (1994). The broken heart phenomenon: An examination of the mortality of bereavement. Journal of community & applied social psychology, 4(1), 47-61.

Moon, J. R., Kondo, N., Glymour, M. M., & Subramanian, S. V. (2011). Widowhood and mortality: a meta-analysis. PloS one, 6(8), e23465.

Elwert, F., & Christakis, N. A. (2008). The effect of widowhood on mortality by the causes of death of both spouses. American journal of public health, 98(11), 2092-2098.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As the article linked below states at its outset, today (April 28) is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. It is certainly the case that we have seen a general push to de-stigmatize issues of mental health so that it can and will be talked about and addressed in all settings (family, work and community) and that is all good and important. However, another important emerging reality is that workplaces and the nature of work in general is becoming more stressful. As well, the changing nature of work, relying increasingly on knowledge and creativity, means we are more profoundly impacted by mental health challenges when they arise. Think about what you know and about what you feel you need to find out about mental health in your workplace and in workplaces in general in honor of World Day for Safety and Health at Work and then read the article linked below to see what else might be involved in these critical questions.

Source: Putting Mental Health on the Workplace Health Agenda, Camille Preston, Mental Health in the Workplace, Psychology Today.

Date: April 26, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

So it is not just that we need to spend some time thinking about the work side of the work/life balance question. Rather, the very nature of work is changing is ways that both add to general stress levels and which are, by works new nature, MORE susceptible to negative impacts when mental health issues arise. What to do? Well the fact that all not only comes with individual cost but it also comes with a significant impact on organizational bottom lines. That being the case there is both need and motivation for corporate leaders to invest in changes to their organizational cultures that will destigmatize mental health issues and challenges and which will positively predispose (incentivize) members of organizational communities to advantage themselves and their workplaces in relation to mental health. Something important to contemplate on World Day for Safety and Health at Work, most certainly.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What would be involved in destigmatizing mental health issues in workplace settings?
  2. How has the nature of work changed in recent years and how do those changes increase the costs associated with unaddressed mental health issues in the workplace?
  3. What sorts of individuals, organization officers, agencies, and/or regulatory or legislative groups should be involved in these matters and what sorts of things should they be doing?

References (Read Further):

Goetzel, R. Z., Roemer, E. C., Holingue, C., Fallin, M. D., McCleary, K., Eaton, W., … Mattingly, C. R. (2018). Mental Health in the Workplace: A Call to Action Proceedings From the Mental Health in the Workplace-Public Health Summit. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 60(4), 322–330.

Morra Aarons-Mele (November 1, 2018), We Need to Talk More About Mental Health At Work, Harvard Business Review,

World Health Organization (September 2017), Mental Health in the Workplace,

Aarons-Mele, Morra (2018) We Need to Talk More About Mental Health at Work, Harvard Business review, November 1, 2018

Preston, Camille (2011) Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World, Aim Leadership, Cambridge, MA.


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Depression, Health Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: Do you think you would be able to tell if someone close to you was contemplating suicide? There ARE things you could/should look for (more on those below). However, how do you think a mental health professional (Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, Psychiatric Nurse, or Social Worker) would respond to this question? Does the typical “what to look for …what to do” advice apply to some or to most suicidal cases? Do the drugs that psychiatrists have access to help? Do the therapy techniques that are available make a difference? Think about what you hope the answers to those questions might be (and perhaps a bit about what they might actually be) and then read the article linked below to see what a practicing Psychiatrist has to say on the matter.

Source: The Empty Promise of Suicide Prevention, Amy Barnhorst, The New York Times.

Date: April 26, 2019

Photo Credit: Rachel Levit, The New York Times

Article Link:

The first case talked about in the article describes a build up towards suicide that was noticed by members of the individual’s family, got the person referred to a psychiatrist who suggested a course of drug treatment that successfully curtailed the individuals suicidal thoughts and lead to them moving back towards a positive life view. The author then goes on to point out that such cases are rare and that, while there are drugs that can be of assistance in treating suicidal ideation (thinking about killing one’s self), there are impulsive acts that arise with little or no warning signs and there are life circumstances that do not improve when the person living those circumstances starts taking lithium or clozapine. What to do? Well we should all be familiar with signs of suicidal ideation (see further reading section below), we should not shy away from asking people we know how they are doing and if they are thinking about suicide, and we should be thinking hard about ways that we (at community and legislative levels) can reduce access to lethal means of attempting suicide and address the social circumstances that give rise to despair. It is not even close to being all about psychiatric drugs.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the indicators that someone may be contemplating suicide?
  2. What are some of the non-psychological factors that can increase the possibility of suicidal actions?
  3. What sorts of things need to be considered when we are trying to think of ways to address suicide rates?

References (Read Further):

Suicide Prevention and Support,


Rudd, M. D., Berman, A. L., Joiner Jr, T. E., Nock, M. K., Silverman, M. M., Mandrusiak, M., … & Witte, T. (2006). Warning signs for suicide: Theory, research, and clinical applications. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 36(3), 255-262.

Van Orden, K. A., Lynam, M. E., Hollar, D., & Joiner, T. E. (2006). Perceived burdensomeness as an indicator of suicidal symptoms. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 30(4), 457-467.

Smith, J. M., Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (2006). Cognitive vulnerability to depression, rumination, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation: Multiple pathways to self-injurious thinking. Suicide and Life-threatening behavior, 36(4), 443-454.

Thompson, R., Proctor, L. J., English, D. J., Dubowitz, H., Narasimhan, S., & Everson, M. D. (2012). Suicidal ideation in adolescence: Examining the role of recent adverse experiences. Journal of adolescence, 35(1), 175-186.

Madjar, N., Walsh, S. D., & Harel-Fisch, Y. (2018). Suicidal ideation and behaviors within the school context: Perceived teacher, peer and parental support. Psychiatry research, 269, 185-190.

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Personality, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: At least intellectually, we tend to be drawn towards the dark side. Why this may be is perhaps due to a belief that understanding the darker personality profiles that people around us may be operating under better equips us to notice and to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of. Within personality theory and research there has been much consideration of the so called dark triad of personality types including Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. As fascinating and as potentially useful as an understanding of the dark triad may be, think for a minute about what the opposite of the dark triad might involve? Of course, we could simply define the opposite of the dark triad as scoring low on the scales that assess tendencies towards Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism but are you satisfied by a definition of good as simply “not dark?” What might a Light Triad look like or involve? Think about that and then read the article linked below that describes an effort of several psychologists define a Light Triad.

Source: The Light Triad: Psychologists Outline the Personality Traits of Everyday Saints, Lacy Schley, The Crux, Discover Magazine.

Date: April 5, 2019

Photo Credit: Melitas/Shutterstock

 Article Link:

Do you like the Light Triad which includes Kantianism (treating people and people rather than instrumental opportunities for self-gain), Humanism (valuing others’ dignity and worth) and Faith in Humanity (viewing humans as basically good)? Do you have a sense of where you might fall on BOTH the dark AND light triads? If not, go to the link the article author’s provide to take a test and find out. So, while it may not be quite as fascinating, we now have a “light side” we can lean towards as a proper balance against the dark side.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the Dark Triad and why are we so fascinated with it?
  2. Is the light triad the opposite of the dark triad and if not, how is it located?
  3. There has already been a LOT of use of the dimensions of the dark triad to discuss things like presidents and other people. How might we make use of the light triad?

References (Read Further):

Kaufman, S. B., Yaden, D. B., Hyde, E., & Tsukayama, E. (2019). The Light vs. Dark Triad of Personality: Contrasting Two Very Different Profiles of Human Nature. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 467.

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.

Furnham, A., Richards, S. C., & Paulhus, D. L. (2013). The Dark Triad of personality: A 10 year review. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7(3), 199-216.

Garcia, D., & Sikström, S. (2014). The dark side of Facebook: Semantic representations of status updates predict the Dark Triad of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 92-96.

Laborde, S., Guillén, F., Watson, M., & Allen, M. S. (2017). The light quartet: Positive personality traits and approaches to coping in sport coaches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 32, 67-73.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, Early Social and Emotional development, Health Psychology, Human Development, Physiology, Research Methods, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: We are seeing more and more research in recent years examining the physiological and developmental consequences of stress. For example, we now better understand the ongoing impact of developmentally early traumatic experiences on subsequent development and psychological functioning and well being at both an observational level and increasingly at a physiological causal level. We know that a better understanding of the roles and impacts of stress related hormones like cortisol will help us to better understand, and potentially cope more effectively, with the physiological impact of both childhood and adult stress experiences. It would also be valuable to better understand how childhood and adult stress experiences are related not just at the historical or social level but also at the physiological level. Think a moment about how childhood experiences with stress, at the physiological level, might be related to adult experiences with stress, also at the physiological level and then have a read through the article linked below to see what a study looking exactly at that question had to say.

Source: Stress in Childhood and Adulthood Have Combined Impact on Hormones and Health. Ethan S. Young, APS.

Date: April 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Association for Psychological Science

Article Link:

So, adult cortisol level patterns were NOT predicted by total life stress OR by childhood stress (or by stress at other points in development) but rather by the combination of both child and adult stress levels and experiences. The researchers suggest that points to the possible importance of early life experience in calibrating the stress response system in ways that could have life-long consequences for physical health. These findings fit very well with increasingly well-articulated concerns about self-regulation in infancy and childhood and its later developmental impact on a wide array of developmental outcomes. It is important to do more than just notice what early life events seem to be related to which later life events. A more useful (actionable) understanding includes knowing something about what carries the early events forward and cortisol pattern levels are one possible location for the developmental ‘‘baggage” of life stress. Understanding this better will indicate possible avenues for intervention.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you see early (childhood) stress being related to stress and coping (or the lack thereof) in adulthood?
  2. What does an understanding of the role of cortisol in stress reactions and in developmentally later physical wellbeing help us with?
  3. What might we want to consider in the way of social interventions to mitigate the impact of childhood stress on adult stress?

References (Read Further):

Young, E. S., Farrell, A. K., Carlson, E. A., Englund, M. M., Miller, G. E., Gunnar, M. R., … & Simpson, J. A. (2019). The Dual Impact of Early and Concurrent Life Stress on Adults’ Diurnal Cortisol Patterns: A Prospective Study. Psychological science, 0956797619833664.

Dube, S. R., Fairweather, D., Pearson, W. S., Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., & Croft, J. B. (2009). Cumulative childhood stress and autoimmune diseases in adults. Psychosomatic medicine, 71(2), 243.

Ortiz, R., & Sibinga, E. (2017). The role of mindfulness in reducing the adverse effects of childhood stress and trauma. Children, 4(3), 16.

Nurius, P. S., Green, S., Logan-Greene, P., & Borja, S. (2015). Life course pathways of adverse childhood experiences toward adult psychological well-being: A stress process analysis. Child abuse & neglect, 45, 143-153.


Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Depression, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Human Development, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP.

Description: Even if you are barely paying attention you cannot have missed media accounts and speculations regarding the impacts of screen time on development in childhood and on wellbeing among adolescents. Before we push panic buttons and start to crusade against another new technology (like we did about television a few decades ago) we should consider how recent research might inform us about screen time AND what such research may NOT tell us or, more specifically, are we asking the right research questions in the right way to build a valid and useful understanding of screen time and its potential effects (and its potential benefits). Two vital questions we should be considering in relation to screen time include first: What do we mean by “screen time” and what negative effects are we concerned about? This question requires that we be more specific about our interests and concerns. So rather than just is screen time good or bad we might ask something more specific like; Does social media use predict the subsequent emergence of depressive symptoms? A well designed study looking at this question (here is one) would clearly define and measure social media use and would assess depressive symptomology after, or developmentally downstream from) social media use. A second, and perhaps more important question, at least as we start to fire up debate on screen time, is to ask whether the studies looking generally at screen time and wellbeing have been properly designed and executed AND whether they make it clear exactly what they mean by “screen time.” Think for a moment about what a good (well designed) study on screen time and wellbeing among adolescents should look like and then read through the article inked below that describes a concerted effort to get it right (are at least to take a step in that direction.

Source: Screen Time – Even Before Bed A – Has Little Impact on Teen Well-Being. Anna Mikulak, APS.

Date: April 5, 2019

Photo Credit: Association for Psychological Science

Article Link:

So, what did you take away from your read of the linked article? The big finding was that screen time, simply defined, does not seem to predict much of anything in the way of negative developments or outcomes. Less flashy but perhaps even more important are the methodological statements addressed by the article about sample sizes and about the importance of a priori (up front before you gather and examine the data) statement of hypotheses so that you do not engage in a fishing expedition (casting around in a large dataset until you find one or two things that are statistically significant and potentially interesting against the backdrop of a lot of stuff that did not turn out the way you might have hoped). So, again, what did you take away from the account of the study included in the article linked above? Do you have a clear understanding of what “digital engagement” is or means as a working definition of screen time? Which of your own questions regarding screen time does this study settle for you, which are still open, and did any new questions arise for you during your reading? What next research steps would you like to see?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is screen time and how much of your definition of that term is captured by the term “digital engagement?”
  2. Beyond the impact of big numbers on a study’s statistical power what other factors are potentially better addressed by have a LOT of people in your study?
  3. After reading the article linked above and, perhaps, having had a look at the actual research article itself, what sorts of studies do you think we need to consider undertaking now in relation to screen time and wellbeing?

References (Read Further):

Orben, A., & Baukney-Przybylski, A. K. (2018). Screens, Teens and Psychological Well-Being: Evidence from three time-use diary studies. Psychological Science.

Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2019). Digital Screen Time Limits and Young Children’s Psychological Well‐Being: Evidence From a Population‐Based Study. Child development, 90(1), e56-e65.

Okely, A. D., Tremblay, M. S., Reilly, J. J., Draper, C., & Robinson, T. N. (2019). Advocating for a cautious, conservative approach to screen time guidelines in young children. The Journal of pediatrics.

Lissak, G. (2018). Adverse physiological and psychological effects of screen time on children and adolescents: Literature review and case study. Environmental research, 164, 149-157.

Knell, G., Durand, C. P., Kohl, H. W., Wu, I. H., & Gabriel, K. P. (2019). Prevalence and Likelihood of Meeting Sleep, Physical Activity, and Screen-Time Guidelines Among US Youth. JAMA pediatrics, 173(4), 387-389.