Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Empathy is a very challenging concept for Psychology and being empathic is a very challenging thing for many people to figure out how to do. Empathy is challenging Western Psychology because Western Psychology focusses best and most intently on individuals and on their self-understandings and self-management practices. This means that when Psychology trys to understand how people feel with or clearly see exactly how another person is thinking and/or feeling the selfhood and the individuality of the person trying to BE empathic can get in the way of a true or authentic understanding of how the other is thinking or feeling. In other words the individually focused theories that make up much of Western Psychology have trouble getting out of their own ways when they try to account for how we listen to others. A challenge for counsellors and therapists is to mindfully avoid counter transference. If, for example, a therapist has had a lifetime of challenges getting along with their combative brother they have to be cautious about how they listen if a client brings up that they are currently struggling with a disagreement with their own brother in order to ensure that the therapist’s own brother-relationship does not color what they “hear” from the their client. Now, if this sounds more like a problem of philosophy than of psychology you are, I think, looking at the issue properly. Sometimes Psychology needs to go and have a chat with its Philosopher friends about concepts and issues that we find challenging and when we do so we need to really listen to what our Philosophy friends suggest as sometimes they will suggest some conceptual or even theoretic renovations that are needed if Psychology is to stay properly focused on human subjective and relational realities. So, do YOU listen when a friend is talking to you about their current personal experiences or do you, even partially, reflect your own realty onto their account? Think about THAT for a minute and then have a read through the article linked below to see what a Philosophical potential friend has to say on the matter.

Source: Are You Listening? Gordon Marino, Opinion, The Stone, The New York Times.

Date: December 17, 2019

Photo Credit: ZenShui/Eric Audras, via Getty Images

Article Link:

So, do you feel conceptually broadened for having listened carefully to what a Philosopher had to say about listening? It is useful to see how concepts like projection can help to explain the difficulties some people have in truly listening to what others are telling them. It can also help us to see how empathy could be the sort of challenging concept it seems to be when worked with through a Western Psychology focused on individuals and individuality. Philosophy can hp us broaden our thoughts, our theories, or concepts and our Psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might it be difficult to properly conceptualize empathy within Western Psychology?
  2. What is countertransference and why might it be a challenge or issue for therapists?
  3. How might we define, think about, and/or work with empathy in ways that do not do damage to what the concept could or should do for us both within Psychology, in therapy and in our day to day lives?

References (Read Further):

Smajdor, A., Stöckl, A., & Salter, C. (2011). The limits of empathy: problems in medical education and practice. Journal of medical ethics, 37(6), 380-383.

Walter, H. (2012). Social cognitive neuroscience of empathy: concepts, circuits, and genes. Emotion Review, 4(1), 9-17.

Lather, P. (2008). Against empathy, voice and authenticity. In Voice in qualitative inquiry (pp. 29-38). Routledge.

Cuff, B. M., Brown, S. J., Taylor, L., & Howat, D. J. (2016). Empathy: a review of the concept. Emotion Review, 8(2), 144-153.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Human Development, Language Development.

Description: It is old news now, but do you recall any of the fuss about the Teletubbies TV show? When it first arrive to North American TV screens in 1997 there was an intense storm of media discussion about how very young children (2 and even younger) loved it and parents were perplexed as they found it difficult to watch (and stay awake in front of). There were concerns about the appropriateness of a show aimed at such a young audience. It was basically the first to do so. I was asked to do a number of media interviews (me being a developmental Psychologist and all) about the show and about its huge success in the UK prior to its North American release. The key to understanding what was going on with Teletubbies and with the shows that have follow it is that is was designed based on understandings of how young children see the world and the reason parents have trouble watching the show or seeing it as entertaining at all is that they do not see the world in the same ways that their young children see the world. Think about what those differences might involve and then read the article linked below to see what has gone in to developing and understanding of how early preschoolers see the world and, based on that, what sorts of television experiences best engage them.

Source: This is why children’s TV is so weird – and so mesmerizing, Linda Geddes, Mosaic.

Date: Dec 3, 2019.

Photo Credit: Andrea D’Aqjuino / Mosaic

Article Link:

SO, did it surprise you to learn that SpongeBob Square Pants temporarily messes with executive function?  Quite apart from questions of whether programs aimed at 1 to 2-year-olds are good or bad for them (through they seem developmentally good in small amounts) shows aimed at your children provide opportunities for adults, and for parents in particular, to see and understand how differently their young children see the world – to see precisely where they are at developmentally. So, if you want to see how young children see the world, have a coffee and then watch an episode of Moon and Me or In the Night Garden or even Teletubbies. Better yet, watch a 1 to 2-year-old watch one of those shows (watch their eye movements and fixation points) to really see what engages them and through that what they are working in in the way of their developing understanding of the world.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the features of television shows that seem to engage 1 to 2-year-olds?
  2. Should television shows be developed or tailored to the ways in which 1 to 2-year-olds see the world?
  3. How should parents of 1 to 2-year-olds manage or regulate the television viewing of their young children?

References (Read Further):

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada-Rice, D., Bishop, J. C., Lahmar, J., Scott, F., … & Thornhill, S. (2015). Exploring play and creativity in pre-schoolers’ use of apps: Final project report. Technology and Play. Retrieved from http://www. techandplay. org/reports/TAP_Final_Report. pdf.

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada-Rice, D., Bishop, J., & Scott, F. (2016). Digital play: A new classification. Early Years, 36(3), 242-253.

Yamada-Rice, D., Mushtaq, F., Woodgate, A., Bosmans, D., Douthwaite, A., Douthwaite, I., … & Milovidov, E. (2017). Children and virtual reality: Emerging possibilities and challenges.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2018). Licking planets and stomping on buildings: children’s interactions with curated spaces in virtual reality. Children’s Geographies, 16(5), 529-538.

Marsh, J. (2000). Teletubby tales: Popular culture in the early years language and literacy curriculum. Contemporary issues in early childhood, 1(2), 119-133.

Wass, S. V., & Smith, T. J. (2015). Visual motherese? Signal‐to‐noise ratios in toddler‐directed television. Developmental science, 18(1), 24-37.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, mental illness, Stress, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Someone you know become quite angry rather unexpectedly (in an out of character manner). What is are the first and second thoughts that come to mind for you? The first thought would likely be that you are missing some piece of situational data that would help you to see why they are so angry but what would your second thought be? I would bet that it would NOT be that your friend is likely clinically anxious or depressed. To find out more about that possibility have a look through the article linked below, but before you do think and make a prediction as to what the percentage odds are that your friend might BE depressed. Once you have a number in mind read the article and see what the research data it discusses suggests about the percentage odds.

Source: The Newest Way to Understand the Angry People in Your Life, Susan Krause Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today.

Date: December 3, 2019.

Photo Credit: Pixabay/Psychology Today

 Article Link:

So, did you predict at least 50/50? I suspect not as anger is not typically through of as being a part of or symptomatic of clinical depression. The key to understanding why anger or angry outbursts might be related to clinical issues with anxiety or depression could relate to the importance of emotional regulation in managing anger. Anxiety or depression may make that regulation mor challenging. This suggests that we might find it useful if we remain open to the possibility that an increase in anger or angry outbursts in those around us could reflect clinical issues with anxiety or depression. As friends we may be able to provide broader, more appreciate supports to those who might need them.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might anger or angry outbursts be related to anxiety or depression?
  2. Why might it be difficult for us to see a connection between anger and anxiety or depression in those close to us?
  3. What role might the findings of this lone of research play in the diagnosis and/or treatment of anxiety of depression?

References (Read Further):

de Bles, N. J., Rius Ottenheim, N., van Hemert, A. M., Pütz, L. E. H., van der Does, A. J. W., Penninx, B. W. J. H., & Giltay, E. J. (2019). Trait anger and anger attacks in relation to depressive and anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 259, 259–265. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.023.

Moscovitch, D. A., McCabe, R. E., Antony, M. M., Rocca, L., & Swinson, R. P. (2008). Anger experience and expression across the anxiety disorders. Depression and anxiety, 25(2), 107-113.

Koh, K. B., Kim, D. K., Kim, S. Y., Park, J. K., & Han, M. (2008). The relation between anger management style, mood and somatic symptoms in anxiety disorders and somatoform disorders. Psychiatry Research, 160(3), 372-379.

Deschênes, S. S., Dugas, M. J., Fracalanza, K., & Koerner, N. (2012). The role of anger in generalized anxiety disorder. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 41(3), 261-271.

Painuly, N. P., Grover, S., Gupta, N., & Mattoo, S. K. (2011). Prevalence of anger attacks in depressive and anxiety disorders: implications for their construct?. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 65(2), 165-174.,5&scillfp=4935013294680563850&oi=lle


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Learning, Nutrition Weight Management, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: OK so, I hate to be the one to bring it up but hiding just on the other side of exams and the holiday break is a new year, yes a new year, complete with the opportunity to yet again make a few New Year’s resolutions. Ah New Year’s resolutions! How do they work out for you? They don’t work so well for me and, it turns out, science shows that I am not alone (and in fact that I am simply a part of a huge majority. So, what to do? Well, have a read through the article linked below for some more data on this question and some suggestions about how to increase your odds of making AND holding to a resolution or two this year.

Source: You Should Start Practicing New Year’s Resolutions Now, Harry Guinness, The New York Times

Date: December 9, 2019.

Photo Credit: Paola Saliby/The New York Times

Article Link:

The article provides some informative data about resolutions and about why we seem to not stick to them far far more often than we stick with them.  The article also provides so research-based tips to increase our odds of success with resolutions. Do not make too many, build in early rewards, start early (like NOW) so you can fail a bit and keep trying. Avoid hard start dates like, gee, January first, and give yourself time to figure out what you are getting yourself into and what you need to do to stick with it and succeed. So, why wait? Get started right now!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why do people make New Years Resolutions?
  2. Why do people fail to keep their resolutions?
  3. What sorts of things does research suggest can be helpful in increasing your odds of resolution success?

References (Read Further):

Woolley, K., & Fishbach, A. (2017). Immediate rewards predict adherence to long-term goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43(2), 151-162.

Van Cappellen, P., Rice, E. L., Catalino, L. I., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2018). Positive affective processes underlie positive health behaviour change.

Fishbach, A., & Touré-Tillery, M. (2018). Motives and goals. Noba Textbook Series: Psychology. Motiv Goals Internet Champaign, IL: DEF publishers.

Carden, L., & Wood, W. (2018). Habit formation and change. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 20, 117-122.

Jager, W. (2003). Breaking bad habits: a dynamical perspective on habit formation and change. Human Decision-Making and Environmental Perception–Understanding and Assisting Human Decision-Making in Real Life Settings. Libor Amicorum for Charles Vlek, Groningen: University of Groningen.’bad_habits’_a_dynamical_perspective_on_habit_formation_and_change/links/0deec53b4f882d03b0000000/Breaking-bad-habits-a-dynamical-perspective-on-habit-formation-and-change.pdf

Wood, W., & Neal, D. T. (2016). Healthy through habit: Interventions for initiating & maintaining health behavior change. Behavioral Science & Policy, 2(1), 71-83.


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Mr. Rogers spoke to children from “his neighborhood” on television from 1968 through to 2001 (with a 2.5 hiatus in the later 70’s) and if you missed seeing him you can get the experience through a documentary (Won’t You Be my Neighbor) and through the recently released film with Tom Hanks as the man in the red cardigan (It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). One thing he did a LOT of on his show is talk with his viewers about emotions, about their emotions, and not just about happy emotions but all of them, the sad ones the dark ones, all of them. Think about whether you think this was a good thing and if so why and then read through the article linked below to see one thoughtful inquiry into this question (I have one to offer as well but that is below and for AFTER you have read the article linked below).

Source: It’s a Terrible Day in the Neighborhood, and That’s OK Mariana Alessandri, The New York Times.

Date: November 28, 2019

Photo Credit: Eleanor Davis

Article Link:

I think it is fascinating that there seems to be a huge recent bump in interest in Fred Rogers and in how he talked with and presented aspects of the world and local neighbourhoods of ours to his young viewers but especially how he talked about emotions. The author of the article linked above indicated that Fred’s approach was at odds with the common strong sentiment that children should ignore their strong emotions and especially their dark emotions. Consider the juxtaposition of these two broad and recent social trends. On the one hand we have the rise in very recent years of an apparent epidemic of anxiety among high school and university students and on the other hand we have seen a recent, steady and consistent jump in in calls for higher levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) for everyone but especially for new hires, potential and current leaders and high school and post-secondary students. Now, consider that along with this but perhaps not as well seen outside of developmental and early childhood education domains there has been a jump in interest in (not just research in) the area of emotional regulation and in how infants, preschoolers, school aged children adolescents and emerging adults figure out how to regulate and then understand and manage their emotions (and those of others around them). Hmmm, in these days of superhero-rich entertainment domains perhaps the one superhero we need most of all is a soft-spoken, cardigan wearing, Kingdom of Make Believe managing man named Fred. Think about it, perhaps the road to emotional intelligence, anxiety management, positive social engagement and general wellbeing needs to be detoured through Mr. Rogers Neighborhood!? It could be a beautiful day!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do you recall, or have you gleaned from media about what Fred Rogers did on his show for young children?
  2. How might the difference in pace of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood compared to shows like Sesame Street influence what children take away from their time with those shows?
  3. How might emotional regulation and Emotional Intelligence be related and why might acknowledging such a connection matter?

References (Read Further):

What is “Freddish”?

Lopes, P. N., Salovey, P., Côté, S., Beers, M., & Petty, R. E. (2005). Emotion regulation abilities and the quality of social interaction. Emotion, 5(1), 113.

Peter, P. C. (2010). Emotional intelligence. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing.

Kerr, R., Garvin, J., Heaton, N., & Boyle, E. (2006). Emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(4), 265-279.

Shanker, S. (2015). Self-regulation.

Shanker, S., Director, M., & Harris, E. (2011). The development of self-regulation. Presentation at Collaborative.


Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Social Influence, Social Perception, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: You have most certainly heard more than a few concerns offered or even alarms raised regarding the potentially negative effects arising from social media use particularly among teams. Many have arisen from population level observations of correlations between rates of social media use and anxiety or depression or other negative outcomes, but such studies typically do not directly assess social media use and outcome variables such as self-esteem at the individual level. What would be interesting would be if some researchers could gather together and pool the results of many studies that looked and social media use and self-esteem, that is, conduct a meta-analysis of such a pooled data set and tell us what the cumulative results suggest. Well, guess what, you can read the article linked below and find out about what just such a meta-analytic study has to say about this question.

Source: New Analysis: Social Media Use Is Harmful to Self-Esteem, Mark Travers, Social Instincts, Psychology Today.

Date: November 30, 2019

Photo Credit: Pixnio

Article Link:

So, the main finding of the meta-analytic study that social media use has a slight negative effect on self-esteem overall IS interesting.  It is also important to pay close attention to the other things the researchers say in their article. These include that effect was small, that only lower self-esteem but not higher self esteem and social media use was examined, and that while the observed effect could be due to social media use interfering with face-to-fact interaction, though levels or rates of face-to-fact interaction were not assessed and finally there is the question of whether social media use lowers self-esteem or that low self esteem leads to more social media use. Oh, and did all the studies examined measure self-esteem the same way? Yup, more research is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are social media use and self-esteem related?
  2. Does it make sense to assume that the relationship between social media use and self-esteem is unidirectional, (only makes for lower self-esteem)?
  3. What other things, beside self-esteem, would be good to look at in relation to social media use?

References (Read Further):

Saiphoo, A. N., Halevi, L. D., & Vahedi, Z. (2020). Social networking site use and self-esteem: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Individual Differences, 153, 109639.

Blomfield Neira, C. J., & Barber, B. L. (2014). Social networking site use: Linked to adolescents’ social self‐concept, self‐esteem, and depressed mood. Australian Journal of Psychology, 66(1), 56-64.

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B., & Lampe, C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 434-445.

Andreassen, C. S., Pallesen, S., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). The relationship between addictive use of social media, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. Addictive behaviors, 64, 287-293.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Aging-Psychological Disorders, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Language-Thought, Neuroscience.

Description: Here is a somewhat backhanded test of your current understanding of factors relating to rates of dementia in elder individuals. What would you predict about the comparable rates of depression among otherwise similar groups of literate and illiterate elderly individuals? If you think there will be a rate difference between these two groups what would you hypothesize as a reason for that difference and what other aspects of the experiences or abilities of individuals in those two groups would you predict would also differ. Once you have your thoughts in order read the article linked below to see, among other things, why you should be very please that you CAN read the article linked below.

Source: People who cannot read may be three times as likely to develop dementia, Science News, ScienceDaily,

Date: November 14, 2019

Photo Credit:  PIC MODELLED and

Article Link:

As the article suggests it is most likely (it makes sense) that it is the broad array of brain stimulating things that being literate makes possible that could be linked to lower rates (3 times lower) of dementia among elderly people. If this finding bears up with replication it certainly highlights another of the significant social benefits of all efforts directed towards decreasing rates of illiteracy. Think of the broad array of social costs that are likely linked to rates of illiteracy. Literacy rates in Canada and the United States are 99% and while that look virtually absolute it means that 3.2 million Americans and 376,000 Canadians are illiterate and as such at risk for the 3 times higher rate of dementia noted in the linked article. Clearly life-long benefits of any costs associated with reducing rates of illiteracy further (not to mention the fact that the global literacy rate is much lower at 86%).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are rates of dementia related to levels of literacy and if so how?
  2. Why might literacy lead to a significantly reduce risk of dementia?
  3. How might the findings of the research discussed in the linked article be useful in efforts to reduce the impact of dementia in our aging population?

References (Read Further):

Rentería, M. A., Vonk, J. M., Felix, G., Avila, J. F., Zahodne, L. B., Dalchand, E., … & Manly, J. J. (2019). Illiteracy, dementia risk, and cognitive trajectories among older adults with low education. Neurology.,.4.aspx

Kaup, A. R., Simonsick, E. M., Harris, T. B., Satterfield, S., Metti, A. L., Ayonayon, H. N., … & Yaffe, K. (2013). Older adults with limited literacy are at increased risk for likely dementia. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 69(7), 900-906.

Scazufca, M., Almeida, O. P., & Menezes, P. R. (2010). The role of literacy, occupation and income in dementia prevention: the São Paulo Ageing & Health Study (SPAH). International psychogeriatrics, 22(8), 1209-1215.

Millard, F. B., Kennedy, R. L., & Baune, B. T. (2011). Dementia: opportunities for risk reduction and early detection in general practice. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 17(1), 89-94.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Child Development, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships.

Description: Do you know a bit about attachment? The important work of Bowlby and Ainsworth suggests that, a consequence of the nature of their relationship with their primary caregiver(s) over the first two years of their lives, human infants develop a model of their attachment relationship that includes basic assumptions/beliefs about their care-worthiness, about the social usefulness (or lack thereof) of the people around them and about the value (or the lack thereof) of relationships in general. As a result, their attachment can be described as secure, avoidant, or anxious. The question of how those assumptions and style outcomes play out in future relationships and throughout life going forward from toddlerhood have been the focus of quite a bit of research but little work has been done looking at the large question of how stable these attachment patterns are throughout life (unlike questions of the stability of personality which have been the focus of quite a lot of research – see my recent post on that topic). So, what do you think? Will or how might experience in relationships through adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood and later life impact our attachment assumptions and styles? When you have your hypotheses sorted out have a read though the article linked below (or the research article it discusses which is noted and linked in the Reference section below).

Source: First Study To Investigate How Attachment Style Changes Through Multiple Decades of Life, Christian Jarrett, The British Psychological Society.

Date: November 20, 2019

Photo Credit: The British Psychological Society

Article Link:

So, did you notice the thoughtful steps taken by the researchers to find a way to look at their questions longitudinally rather than cross-sectionally? Cohort or socio-historical effects are important and often not front of mind when we are focused on matters of individual development. The possible relationships between relationship experiences and attachment issues are well discussed and this posting does a VERY good job of indicating and discussing a number of limitations (interpretive cautions) of the study  and that makes it easier to see what sorts of studies need to be done to further clarify the question of how attachment unfolds over the entire life-course.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What way might someone’s early attachment experiences (before 2 years of age) influence their later relationships (with friends in school, close relationships in adulthood and parenthood)?
  2. What are some ways in which accounts and theories of child development differ from accounts and theories of adult development?
  3. What sort of research needs to be done to verify and extend the findings of the study discussed in the article liked above?

References (Read Further):

Chopik, W. J., Edelstein, R. S., & Grimm, K. J. (2019). Longitudinal changes in attachment orientation over a 59-year period. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116(4), 598.

Girme, Y. U., Agnew, C. R., VanderDrift, L. E., Harvey, S. M., Rholes, W. S., & Simpson, J. A. (2018). The ebbs and flows of attachment: Within-person variation in attachment undermine secure individuals’ relationship wellbeing across time. Journal of personality and social psychology, 114(3), 397.

Bachem, R., Levin, Y., & Solomon, Z. (2019). Trajectories of attachment in older age: interpersonal trauma and its consequences. Attachment & human development, 21(4), 352-371.

Van IJzendoorn, M. H. (1995). Adult attachment representations, parental responsiveness, and infant attachment: a meta-analysis on the predictive validity of the Adult Attachment Interview. Psychological bulletin, 117(3), 387.

Allen, J. P., & Miga, E. M. (2010). Attachment in adolescence: A move to the level of emotion regulation. Journal of social and personal relationships, 27(2), 181-190.

Scharf, M., & Mayseless, O. (2007). Putting eggs in more than one basket: A new look at developmental processes of attachment in adolescence. New directions for child and adolescent development, 2007(117), 1-22.


Posted by & filed under Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Personality, Personality in Aging, Social Cognition, The Self.

Description: Are you the same person today as you were yesterday? Lest week? Last year? 10 years ago? What do you think you will be like in 20 years? 40 years? In a less subjective framing, how stable do you think personality is over time and over life? Do some people change while other do not? If there IS change what causes it? Personal reflection? Social change? And how might we address these questions, particularly if we are interested in genuinely life-span answers to these questions? How should personality be measured, for example?  The title of the article link below gives away what it sees as the most dramatic finding of the research study it references but, think about the questions noted above and then give it a read and, as you do, keep track of any additional questions that occur to you.

Source: You’re a completely different person at 14 and at 77, the longest running personality study ever has found. Olivia Goldhill, Quartz.

Date: retrieved November 19, 2019

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

Ok, what other questions occurred to you? Were you comfortable with how personality was assessed in the described study? Did you wish you could see the original article to see how the researchers characterized their data and their process? (if so, the link is in the Reference section below). In anything to do with personality, it is important to keep in mind that, at best, personality scale scores correlate with actual behaviors at around the .5 to .6 level (i.e., 25 to 36% accuracy) so perhaps we need to carefully calibrate what we might expect to find in the way of stabilities. And what about cohort (socio-historical) variation? The contexts through which individuals do their lifespan developing vary from generation to generation. All are important things to consider before we decide if it is an interesting or important thing to notice that personality may NOT be stable over one’s entire life.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might we expect personality to be stable over time?
  2. Why might personality NOT be very stable over time?
  3. What are some of our assumptions about the nature of personality that might draw us more toward question1 or question 2 and should we change, challenge or abandon those assumptions?

References (Read Further):

Harris, M. A., Brett, C. E., Johnson, W., & Deary, I. J. (2016). Personality stability from age 14 to age 77 years. Psychology and aging, 31(8), 862.

Hampson, S. E., & Goldberg, L. R. (2006). A first large cohort study of personality trait stability over the 40 years between elementary school and midlife. Journal of personality and social psychology, 91(4), 763.

Terracciano, A., McCrae, R. R., & Costa Jr, P. T. (2010). Intra-individual change in personality stability and age. Journal of research in personality, 44(1), 31-37.

Ardelt, M. (2000). Still stable after all these years? Personality stability theory revisited. Social Psychology Quarterly, 392-405.

Terracciano, A., Costa Jr, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (2006). Personality plasticity after age 30. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(8), 999-1009.

Finn, S. E. (1986). Stability of personality self-ratings over 30 years: Evidence for an age/cohort interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(4), 813.


Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Health Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Health, Social Psychology, Successful Aging, The Self.

Description: There are thousands and thousands of little postings out there on online that offer you small tidbits of information and that claim that those tidbits of information are potentially life altering. I am sure you realize that the main purpose of those tidbit postings is to capture and hold your attention just long enough to be able to run a few adds past your eyeballs. However, those tidbits of information can be quite tantalizing. Like this one: If you smile more you will live longer. Reading that could cause you to simply dismiss the information and get on with whatever it was you were supposed to be doing online or offline or it could cause you to resolve to try and smile more because who doesn’t want to live linger OR, especially given that the posting might suggest that there is research proving that the tidbit is true, perhaps the post tweaks your Psychological research process and standard radar and causes you to ask “What does their research design and their data look like and how did it lead them to that conclusion?” If the third option is the one that grabs you it will frustrate you to note that the while the author of the posted tidbit below about smiling and longevity indicates that there is research on the question of smiling and longevity they do not include references to the research articles themselves. As well they do not indicate whether the researchers considered that successful, well-off, healthy people might smile more than people who are none of those things and thus that smiling is an outcome or a corollary rather than a cause of longevity. No worries, if you extract some of the keywords used in the post to describe the research and search them on Google Scholar you can find the actual research articles and, luckily, both come with pdf links to full text. I have included the links below in the references section to both articles that looked at smiling and long-term wellbeing and longevity. So, give the tidbit post a quick read (it is brief) and then pick one of the research articles and go and read it and look into how the researchers designed their studies and see if their design work and statistical analyses convince you that there may be a causal relationship between smiling  and long-term wellbeing and longevity.

Source: Neuroscience Says Doing This 1 Thing Makes You Just as Happy as Eating 2,000 Chocolate Bars. Melanie Curtin, Pocket Worthy.

Date: November 18, 2019

Photo Credit: Pocket Worthy / Getty Images

Article Link:

So, what did you make of the article you chose to look at? Are you going to try and smile more or are there other things you are going to do or believe need to be done (like more research)? It is also interesting to think about the sorts of research questions than can be addressed with the sorts of datasets that are maintained by organizations like professional baseball. How about this: do right-handed people live longer than left-handed people? To see some of the research debate on this topic search Do right-handers live longer in Google Scholar and look first at an article by Halpern and Coren (1993) and then at some of the research reaction articles that followed. Interesting stuff (and you cannot turn into a right hander the same way you could just smile more).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might smiling be related to longevity?
  2. If smiling is only correlated with longevity rather than being causally related what might be actually acting causally around that question?
  3. Are there some things that you think might be good for tidbit posters to be strongly urged to include in their posts about things like smiling and living longer that would be a good idea?

References (Read Further):

Abel, E. L., & Kruger, M. L. (2010). Smile intensity in photographs predicts longevity. Psychological Science, 21(4), 542-544.

Harker, L., & Keltner, D. (2001). Expressions of positive emotion in women’s college yearbook pictures and their relationship to personality and life outcomes across adulthood. Journal of personality and social psychology, 80(1), 112.

Deeg, D. J., & van Zonneveld, R. J. (1989). Does happiness lengthen life? The prediction of longevity in the elderly. How harmful is happiness, 29-43.

Lawrence, E. M., Rogers, R. G., & Wadsworth, T. (2015). Happiness and longevity in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 145, 115-119.

Koopmans, T. A., Geleijnse, J. M., Zitman, F. G., & Giltay, E. J. (2010). Effects of happiness on all-cause mortality during 15 years of follow-up: The Arnhem Elderly Study. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(1), 113-124.

Diener, E., & Chan, M. Y. (2011). Happy people live longer: Subjective well‐being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being, 3(1), 1-43.