Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual Cognitive Measures, Emerging Adulthood, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence-Schooling, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Do you get, or/and do you think that your life would be entirely on the right path if, you got straight A’s in college/university? Well on the one hand, of course it would, right? Grades are the markers of accomplishment and content mastery in post-secondary institutions and, it might be said, the only serious metric we should be using to determine outcome standing or how well graduating students compare to their fellow graduates as we look to hire them. But even from within Industrial Organization (IO) Psychology that studies issues in recruitment, section, performance and retention within after-graduation jobs/careers there is ambivalence about this. IO psychology (I am just finishing teaching a survey course in IO Psychology) tell us cognitive ability, as reflected in things like IQ test scores and college/university grades, is one of the best predictors of positive job performance after hiring when compared to other measurable things like personality (though conscientiousness is a close second) and harder to measure things like interview performance. Yet…. IO Psychological research also tells us that “the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years” (see linked article and see Further Reading for the reference to this research).

Where should we go with this? Well, one possibility is to dig in statistically and point out that academic grades do not differentiate performance among Google employees because everyone comes in the hiring door at Google with or nearly with a 4.0 GPA and thus the restricted range problem accounts for the apparent big drop in predictability. This leads to a second possible “where we should go from here” option, that is, when everyone’s grades are equal at the beginning of their employment then, obviously, other things will predict differences in their job performance, assuming we can figure out what those things might be and measure them validly. See what the author of the linked article says about what academic grades “rarely assess” for some examples. We can feel like we are advancing this option by pointing to individuals who we know to be VERY successful and yet, we may be surprised to hear, did not do so well in terms of post-secondary GPA. The article linked below tells us about Steve Jobs, J. K. Rowling, and Rev. Martin Luther King’s university lowish GPA’s. Now, before you read the article linked below think about this: Is telling straight A hyper-focused students to ease back and look to do things like smell roses, take academic risks and broaden their interests a good or safe or fair thing to do, especially when the majority of colleges and universities really only offer one clear metric by which students can track their “progress” through their post-secondary academic experiences – that being grades?

Source: What Straight-A Students Get Wrong, Grant Adam, The New York Times. See also the letter to the editor regarding this article.

Date: December 8, 2018 and December 22, 2018

Photo Credit: Linda Huang, The New York Times

 Article Link: and

So, what do you think? Is it fair or helpful to have researchers and commentators say the “wish I knew then what I know now” sorts of things we most often hear about the college/university experience when the only metric students can clearly see as being available to them to track their “progress” through their post-secondary studies are grades? The students, current and alumni, who sent letters to the editor regarding the linked article seem to largely argue in support of the “grades are important” view. The author of the linked article suggests a number of things that colleges and universities and employers might do to lessen the focus (obsession?) with grades but that strategy seems to be based on the hope that if the one line of clarity or future-enabling metric students can see is undercut a bit that they will find some of the other things that will turn out to be of value to them later by themselves in the fog uncertainty about just what those things will be that swirls around and through post-secondary academic institutions. What is harder to find and what, I think, we need more of, are efforts to shine some clarifying lights on other developmental opportunities and metrics available to students in college/university, in what has been referred to (see John Warner’s blog) as the broader current historical reality of scarcity and precarity (swirling fog) that surrounds not just our post-secondary academic institutions but the world at large these days. Maybe students are clinging to grades as the only lifeline we are currently offering them within colleges and univesities. We ought to be doing better than this.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How important are college/university grades?
  2. Are there other things that are important about college/university opportunity that are not captured by grades and if so, what are they?
  3. Rather than generating lists of things that colleges and universities should be doing differently (an important things to do) what sorts of things should/could students do to move towards defining a broader developmental post-secondary pathway for themselves as they move through college/university (and email your thoughts on this to me please!

References (Read Further):

Baird, L. L. (1985). Do grades and tests predict adult accomplishment?. Research in Higher Education, 23(1), 3-85.

Roth, P. L., BeVier, C. A., Switzer III, F. S., & Schippmann, J. S. (1996). Meta-analyzing the relationship between grades and job performance. Journal of applied psychology, 81(5), 548.

Bock, L. (2015). Work rules!: Insights from inside Google that will transform how you live and lead. Twelve.

MacKinnon, D. W. (1962). The nature and nurture of creative talent. American psychologist, 17(7), 484.

Arnold, K. D. (1995). Lives of promise: What becomes of high school valedictorians: A fourteen-year study of achievement and life choices. Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, A. P., Carlson, K. D., Mecham III, R. L., D’Angelo, N. C., & Connerley, M. L. (2003). Recruiters’ Use Of GPA In Initial Screening Decisions: Higher GPAs Don’t Always Make The Cut. Personnel Psychology, 56(4), 823-845.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Families and Peers, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: You have likely heard about research showing that the nature of our early attachment relationships with our primary caregivers have potential implications for our friendships go in grade school , our peer relations go in high school, our intimate relationships go in adulthood and what kind of parents we become if we take on the task of raising children of our own. Our early attachment relationships essentially provide us with a template for human relationships go and it is that template or internal working model of attachment and of relationships (see what Bowlby had to say about this). Securely attached individuals have more stability and success in their adult relationships while insecurely attached individuals have less relationship stability and success. Given this, what might you expect, if anything, in the way of a relationship between attachment style or type and sexual desire/interest among adults? Sex is a part of most healthy relationships and as such the question above is worth asking, though it largely has not been addressed until the research discussed in the article linked below. So, what how do you think these two things might be related? And, would you expect to find any variation in your hypothesized results when considering LGBTQ+ individuals? Once you have your hypotheses in order, read the article linked below to see what the researchers found (and how they went about looking for it).

Source: Does Attachment Style Impact Our Interest in Sex? Sarah Hunter Murray, Myths of Desire, Psychology Today.

Date: December 22, 2018

Photo Credit:

 Article Link:

The first thing to note about the account of the study in question is the important statement that studies of sex and of relationships typically do not include the experiences and perspectives of members of the LGBTQ+ communities. We tend to assume that the stereotypic heterosexual relationship is the one to study (even in the picture included above – do a Goggle image search on relationships and sex and see what is returned). The study discussed in the article linked above did not start with this sort of assumption but instead was able to ascertain that, at least in terms of how they chose to assess attachment and sexual desire there were no differences in terms of sexual preference/orientation. The results they go on to speak about are thus more likely to be generalizable to human relationships, an important point. Their results show a relationship between attachment style and sexual desire that makes sense. If sex is best understood (and works best) in the context of a close, intimate relationship then it makes sense that a secure attachment history is associated with sexual desire through relationship quality.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are patterns of attachment in infancy related to adult patterns of relationship?
  2. How important is it (or why is it important) to include consideration of sexual desire in our considerations of the variabilities in relationships?
  3. Why is it important to include consideration of LGBTQ+ choices in our considerations of human relationships and human development?

References (Read Further):

Murray, S. H. (2019). Not Always in the Mood: The New Science of Men, Sex, and Relationships. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Mark, K. P., Vowels, L. M., & Murray, S. H. (2018). The impact of attachment style on sexual satisfaction and sexual desire in a sexually diverse sample. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 1-9.

Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of personality and social psychology, 58(4), 644.

Set, Z., & Altınok, A. (2016). In lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals: Attachment, self-compassion and internalized homophobia: A theoretical study. Journal of Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy and Research. Advanced online publication.

Diamond, G. M., & Shpigel, M. S. (2014). Attachment-based family therapy for lesbian and gay young adults and their persistently nonaccepting parents. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(4), 258.

Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, General Psychology, Human Development, Intelligence, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: I am often asked in my Introductory Psychology classes, just before exams, “do we have to memorize the names of the you talked about in class?” My answer to that question is not No but rather “I will not ask you any questions on the exam where the answer is a Psychologist’s name.” It is not that I think the concepts and theories that I am introducing my student to are any more important than the people who developed and tested them. Provide the names of many of the researchers and theorists we talk about in class partly out of respect for them, partly as part of providing some interesting life context to the research and theories we talk about and partly to help students to see that the science of Psychology is not just about human being but it is also a human enterprise that they, themselves can actively participate in and, at a minimum, think about and usefully apply to themselves and the world they find around them. The article linked below is to an obituary for Eleanor Maccoby, a psychologist of great stature and a good example of another little secret reason why I tell my students I do not ask name-answer questions. If one gets interested in and engaged with the theoretic debates and research activities associated with an area of study within Psychology (as I did with the issue of gender differences in self-reflection while working on my graduate degrees in developmental Psychology) the names of the key players in those areas will, along with their work, bury itself deep within your memory along with appreciation, respect, and curiosity such that you will never forget who they are or what they added to the discipline. As a result, I learned Eleanor Maccoby’s name early on and have not, not will I not ever, forget her and her work. The obituary linked below does not get into details of her work, but it does point to a number of key insights and motivations Eleanor provided over her many years of work. Imagine what it was like to be working on the general question of gender differences in areas of Psychological functioning while a faculty member at Harvard University and as such a member of the Harvard Faculty club and yet not be permitted to enter through the “men only” front door of the club? Imaging noticing that the results of a single or small number of studies showing sex differences in an area of functioning are taken to define the truth about sex differences in spite of the fact that many more well-designed studies showing no sex differences in those areas are not published due to being viewed as uninteresting by journal editorial boards. Have a read through the description of Eleanor Maccoby’s life and work in the link below and look for some of the wisdom or just plain thought provoking insights she offered us about Psychology and the nature of human development.

Source: Eleanor Maccoby, Pathbreaker on How Boys and Girls Differ, Dies at 101, Katharine Q. Seele, The New York Times.

Date: December 22, 2018

Photo Credit: Linda Cicero/Stanford News Service

Article Link:

Eleanor Maccoby DID conduct a lot of research but she also built and shared a very well informed and broad perspective on what Psychological research was or could be telling us about the sex differences – that there are not nearly as many as we believe, that those that exist are not as large as we believe, and that we socio-culturally follow patterns of development that socialize the thinking of our children in ways more in line with our beliefs than with what the data is telling  us is the truth. Researchers and theorists like Eleanor deserve our respect, our thanks, and space in our memories as we move forward within and with Psychology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Who was Eleanor Maccoby and what did she contribute to Psychology in terms of our understanding of sex differences?
  2. What were one or two of Eleanor Maccoby’s larger scale observations about the extent to which males and females are different (or not)?
  3. What did Eleanor Maccoby suggest about the enterprise of Psychological research in relation to sex differences in human  ability and functioning and what, of that might generalize to other areas of Psychology?

References (Read Further):

Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1978). The psychology of sex differences (Vol. 2). Stanford University Press.

Maccoby, E. E. (1990). Gender and relationships: A developmental account. American psychologist, 45(4), 513.

Maccoby, E. E. (1992). The role of parents in the socialization of children: An historical overview. Developmental psychology, 28(6), 1006.

Maccoby, E. E. (2000). Parenting and its effects on children: On reading and misreading behavior genetics. Annual review of psychology, 51(1), 1-27.

Greeno, C. G., & Maccoby, E. E. (1986). How Different Is the” Different Voice”?. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 11(2), 310-316.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Language-Thought, Neuroscience, Personality, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Reflect on this quote for a second: [voters] “… fixated on sexual deviance, embraced conspiracy theories and aligned themselves with domineering leaders “to serve powerful interests and so participate in their power,…”. Does that sound like part of a recently penned effort to account for the patterns of voting during the 2016 American presidential election? Would it surprise you to hear that it is from a book written by a psychologist named Theodor Adorno and published in a book called The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950? That was before even I was born! Adorno was, like many psychologists after the second world war, trying to understand the large number of supporters following authoritarian, fascist leaders like Mussolini, Franco, or Hitler. He developed a measure called the F-Scale that measured what he saw as a dimension of Authoritarianism in peoples’ personalities. Now Adorno’s theory is rather dated but the question is still worth considering: is support for strongmen and authoritarian figures a result of socio-cultural and historical factors, personality factors, or perhaps even genetic factors? Think about what your own hypothesis are and then read the article linked below that provides an interesting retrospective and current reflection on thee questions.

Source: Is There Such a Thing as an Authoritarian Voter? Molly Worthen, The New York Times.

Date: December 15, 2018

Photo Credit: Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Article Link:

So, now what do you think? I think that Adorno was partly on to something, BUT he was also limited by the assumption that the most important and most interesting influences on our behavior would be found within individuals, in their genes, in their personalities, in their upbringing. I agree with the quote included in the article that we should banish use of the word “determine” from our efforts to explain such thing and focus instead on words like shape, mold, or influence. Our genes are part of how we adapt to our environments (physical, social and political) but NOT a separable part. Support for the current political leader spectrum is a complex biopsychosocial amalgam and, indeed, we learn again that we are not as rational as we would like to believe.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did Adorno have in mind for his theory of the Authoritarian Personality?
  2. Are political choices psychologically explainable?
  3. If your answer to the second question above was “no” then what else do we need and how does psychology factor in?

References (Read Further):

Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality.

Lakoff, George (2016) Understanding Trump,

Hetherington, M., & Weiler, J. (2018). Prius Or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America’s Great Divide. Houghton Mifflin.

Fowler, J. H., & Dawes, C. T. (2008). Two genes predict voter turnout. The Journal of Politics, 70(3), 579-594.

Charney, Evan and English, William (2012) Why Genes Don’t Predict Voting Bevaior, Scientific American,

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Consciousness, mental illness, Neuroscience, Pain-General, Psychological Disorders, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Somatic Symptoms Dissociative Disorders, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: What would you think if you went to the emergency at your local hospital with intense stomach pain and were told after examination that they could find nothing wrong with you and that maybe the pain was “just in your head”? Does that mean you are crazy (to use the technical term)? Well the actual old technical terms that you may have heard before is psychosomatic meaning psychologically caused. However, the term psychosomatic has acquired a certain common usage cache over the years and often its use hints at malingering or faking or other mental health issues. But, such characterization, especially as a first attribution when “medical” cause is not apparent are inappropriate, cruel, and likely unethical. If you have had an introductory course in Psychology (or just read about it) think about what you have learned about the powerful physical aspects of the human stress response and about the potentially long-term consequences (psychosocial AND physical) of exposure to traumatic events. Yes, thoughts about stressful situations, circumstances or event ARE “in your head” but their being there can have serious physical impacts. The more recent dignostic category is somatic symptom and other related disorders and there are clinical psychologists and psychiatrists now specializing in understanding and treating them, sometimes with astonishing results. So, check your stereotypic assumptions about such things and read the article linked below which will introduce you to a psychiatrist, Allan Abbass, to intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP), and to the stories of several people who experienced medically unexplained pain and were helped by Abbass and ISTDP.

Source: It’s not all in your head, Erin Anderssen, Folio, The Globe and Mail.

Date: December 8, 2018

Photo Credit:

 Article Link:

So, yes, it could be “in your head” but that in no way dismisses your pain as not real or as crazy. Just as our understanding of the potentially profound impact that early exposure to traumatic events can have on subsequent development, adjustment and physical health (search Social Determinants of Health and Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACEs) improves so are we starting to better understand how what we used to dismiss as psychological stress can produce very, very real pain. This is another example of why we should, perhaps, reconsider the stereotypic belief that there is a significant gap between medical issues and psychological issues. Seeing more of the emerging number of cross links between these two domains will help many people get better help quicker.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to call something psychosomatic?
  2. Are somatic symptoms and other related disorders “real”?
  3. What does your reading of the article suggest to you in the way of things we might want to adjust in our primary health care systems?

References (Read Further):

Abbass, Allan (2018) Hidden from View: A clinician’s Guide to Psychophysiological Disorders, Psychophysiologic Press, LLC.

Some clarifications by Allan Abbass about the Globe and Mail article

Abbass, A. A., Joffres, M. R., & Ogrodniczuk, J. S. (2008). A naturalistic study of intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy trial therapy. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 8(2), 164.

Abbass, A. (2002). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy in a private psychiatric office: clinical and cost effectiveness. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 56(2), 225-232.

Abbass, A., Town, J., & Driessen, E. (2012). Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of outcome research. Harvard review of psychiatry, 20(2), 97-108.,?sequence=2

Solbakken, O. A., & Abbass, A. (2013). Effective care of treatment-resistant patients in an ISTDP-based in-patient treatment program. Psychiatric Annals, 43(11), 516-522.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: If you are a student (high school, college or university) I suspect you have heard more than once that a good night’s sleep the night before big exams (finals!) is strongly recommended. If you are a psychology student, or have had a research aware teacher, you may have also heard some of the following, research derived findings: 60% of university students in a large American study were described as “poor-quality” sleepers (that is a majority); recommended sleep amounts for adults are 7 to 9 hour a night and for teenagers it is 8 to 10 hours a night; one less hour of sleep a night for a week is equivalent to a complete “all-nighter” with no sleep; shortened sleep increases susceptibility to colds, risk of automobile collisions, and incidence of depression; shortened sleep impairs the abilities to sustain attention, consolidate memories, and perform cognitively (a good idea during exam periods?); and, during finals weeks high school students average 6.38 hours of sleep a night and college/university students average 6.36 hours a night. So, when they need sufficient amounts of sleep most, during exams, students are routinely getting 2 to 3 hours less of it than they should every night. But you KNOW this right? And you get the sleep you need right? Well, putting aside whether you are telling the truth or deluding yourself or tracking your experience in a self-serving manner, it may also be that you are not taking into account the time you spend awake in bed at night during finals week. The researcher who wrote the article linked below calls this an important knowledge-behavior gap, intention-behavior, or implementation gap. You know what to do but you are not doing it. This leads to a research challenge as well as previous studies have tended to rely on self-reports of quality and quality of sleep. What to do? Well, some recently available actigraphy monitors (those things you wear on your wrist that track many factors related to your activity levels) also provide data about sleep amount AND sleep quality. Actigraphy monitors were used in this study. Students were taught in their psychology class about the impacts of sleep reduction and the benefits of sleep during exam weeks. They were then offered a challenge: Average 8 hours of nighttime sleep (naps do not count) each night and no night less than 7 hours during exam week and receive a mark bonus on your Psychology course final. Additionally, those that accepted the challenge and did not meet the sleep goals would lose some marks from their final exam. Before you read about the study using one of the sources listed below think about whether you expect that the challenge worked (lead to sufficient sleep AND better exam performance outside of bonus marks). As well, think about any research design issues that should be considered in this research and then go read about the studies.

Source: The Eight Hour Sleep Challenge During Final Exams Week, Michael K. Scullin, see reference in Reference (Read Further) section below along with links to two media articles on the research and a related academic article link (all added because the original research article is not available for free download  — you will need to access it through your library if you want to see it).

Date: December 14, 2018

Photo Credit:

Article Link:

The description of the sleep challenge provided above actually only applied to the first of 3 studies described in the article. You may have wondered if the way the challenge was set might have influenced which students decided to take the challenge and whether they were different than other or average students. In the second study the researcher dropped the “penalty” that was applied to the final exam scores of those who accepted the challenge but did not complete the sleep requirements. As well, the researcher had participants complete an actigraphy analysis of their sleep at the start of term so that their usual or typical non-exam week sleep patterns could be used to compare to their sleep challenge totals. Overall the results were clear: accepting the challenge beat the knowledge-behavior gap and more importantly, those that completed the challenge did better on their final exams than did those who did not complete the challenge (and who had lower levels of sleep during exam week) without the bonus marks being considered. So, the take home here: challenge yourself to get enough sleep during exam week (and, of course, to organize your daytimes to get your studying done so you Can meet the challenge) and you will likely do better on your exams. Yes, getting a good night’s sleep is NOT empty advice, it is supported by research data!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How much sleep do you get during the lead up to exams?
  2. How confident are you that your subjective sleep estimates are correct?
  3. How might versions of the sleep challenge be systematically implemented into Psychology (and other) classes?

References (Read Further):

Scullin, M. K. (2018). The Eight Hour Sleep Challenge During Final Exams Week. Teaching of Psychology, 0098628318816142. NOTE: To access this article (for free) you will need to go in through your college or university library in order to obtain access. I have asked the journal to consider making it available free on  line as a service to students.

A US News and World Reports article about the research can be found here:

and and Insider Higher Education article can be found here:

The Sleep Challenge research is also described in detail here:

King, E., & Scullin, M. K. (in press). The eight-hour challenge: Incentivizing healthy sleep during end of term assessments. Journal of Interior Design. (Sorry for the size of the link)



Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Depression, Early Social and Emotional development, Emerging Adulthood, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Answer two questions: Where you born before or after 1995? How old were you the first time you were allowed, by your parents, to out of your house and into your neighborhood by yourself? If you were born after 1995 you are more likely to have said 10, 11 or 12 years of age in response to the second question while if you were born a decade or two earlier you more likely said 5 or 6 years of age. Even if this was NOT true for you, general data on American young adults suggests that these ages were largely normative for the recent generation (I-Gen or Gen Z) compared to earlier generation (millennials on back). So, what? Well, as those born after 1995 have started to head off to college or university and over the past few years, we have observed startling jumps in the rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm (cutting) and suicide in that part of the population.  These trends could be related to a lack of developmental experience with independence (out on own in neighborhood) as well as to the earlier use of social media and higher rates of screen time than previous generations. Sound a bit simplistic? Well, yes, correlational observations often are but the changes in the rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm (cutting) and suicide are real and are very worrying. What do you think might be going on and what should we (everyone not just parents) be doing about it? Watch the video record of a talk about these matters delivered recently by social and cultural psychologist Johnathan Haidt at the London School of Economics.

Source: The Coddling of the American Mind, A talk by Johnathan Haidt at the London School of Economics and Political Science, November 23, 2018

Date: November 23, 2018

Image Credit:

Video Link:

If you search the internet for reaction to the book (The Coddling of the America Mind) you will see that much of it is focussed upon the parts of the book (spoken to in part of the talk linked above) that concern the observed jump in student stated concerns about safety (fragility) and requests for trigger warnings and the shouting down of speaker (including professors) whose positions or views are perceived as unsafe or threatening. It is NOT that I think those lines of inquiry and discussion are uninteresting, rather I am currently more interested in how the points raised in the talk link to the reported jump I anxiety levels among undergraduate students. I have written about this issue previously in this blog (search Life Design) and I am quite fascinated with the possibility that the jump in anxiety may be related to sociohistorical changes in the contexts in which members of I-Gen and with how those contexts are potentially influencing how 18- to 25-year old’s are navigating the developmental opportunities and challenges of emerging adulthood. Typically, we focus more on developmental shifts and challenges as though they are universal (the same for young people today as they were for their parents and grandparents). Sometimes that is warranted, but changes in social norms associated with parenting and the emergence of social media and it’s “television-like” uptake mean that they may well reflect (or be) socio-historical factors that are changing the normative course of development. I do not now if this is the case, but I am going to look into it and I think that anyone with an interest in the development of emerging adults (parents, instructors/professors, and employers) and emerging adults themselves should consider coming along for the ride. It could be quite fascinating!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. In addition to the age at which they typically were allowed to be out on their own in their neighborhoods what other ways are the developmental (socio-historical) experiences of young people born after 1995 different than those of previous generations?
  2. Why might those differences lead to higher levels of anxiety after a transition to post-secondary developmental life?
  3. What are some ways in which those of us working in, or growing through, post-secondary educational institutions or other post-secondary developmental settings can facilitate the healthy development and adaptation of emerging adults born after 1995?

References (Read Further):

Lukianoff, G., & Haidt, J. (2015). The coddling of the American mind. The Atlantic, 316(2), 42-52.

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by & filed under Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Does failure lead to more failure or to success? You have probably heard from one source or another that we learn more from failure than from success which would suggest some sort of a link between failure and subsequent success. But is that true and if so just how is it that failure could lead to success? Is it just that we learn something that we did not know before and, based on that new knowledge, do well enough next time to succeed? What other factors might be at play in the production of success after failure? Think about your own experience and about what you think might be involved in this failure – success sort of link and then read the article linked below to see what some recent research suggests.

Source: Turning Failure into Fuel for Success, Nick Hobson, Leandra McIntosh and Maryam Marashi, Ritual and the Brain, Psychology Today

Date: December 5, 2018

Image Credit: Pexels

Article Link:

So, failure may well be a pre-cursor condition for success.  The key, however, is to figure out who shows this sort of pattern, under what conditions do they show it, and what, exactly do they do that increases the likelihood that they will succeed after failure (and is that trainable)? This sort of insight would be very helpful as it could help us to flesh out related concepts like resilience, girt and perseverance and things like growth mindsets. While we, of course, need more search in this area the authors of the article linked above suggest 4 steps we can try and take after failure that could help us to leverage our emotional response to failure in ways that could increase our chances for subsequent success. As the author’s suggest after failure you should: (1) see it for what it is (do not let your defense mechanisms “hide” your failure from you; (2) don’t think your failure away through excuses or rationalizations; (3) Turn on and pay attention to your feelings, not to wallow in them be to experience and understand them; and (4) lean towards taking action and reconfigure any emotions that seem to be pushing for inaction (sulking, wound-licking, or rumination) and get ready to try again and, perhaps, to succeed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is success or more failure most likely to follow failure on a task?
  2. What sort of things can/should we do after a failure in order to increase the likelihood that our next efforts will lead to success?
  3. What others sorts of research might we do that would build on the results discussed in the linked article on post-failure emotion work and expand our understanding of resilience, grit and perseverance and suggest post failure trainable actions?

References (Read Further):

Lebeau, J. C., Gatten, H., Perry, I., Wang, Y., Sung, S., & Tenenbaum, G. (2018). Is failing the key to success? A randomized experiment investigating goal attainment effects on cognitions, emotions, and subsequent performance. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 38, 1-9.

Healy, L. C., Ntoumanis, N., Stewart, B. D., & Duda, J. L. (2015). Predicting subsequent task performance from goal motivation and goal failure. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 926.

Nelson, N., Malkoc, S. A., & Shiv, B. (2018). Emotions know best: The advantage of emotional versus cognitive responses to failure. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 31(1), 40-51.

Ntoumanis, N., Healy, L. C., Sedikides, C., Smith, A. L., & Duda, J. L. (2014). Self-regulatory responses to unattainable goals: The role of goal motives. Self and Identity, 13(5), 594-612.

Jones, N. P., Papadakis, A. A., Orr, C. A., & Strauman, T. J. (2013). Cognitive processes in response to goal failure: A study of ruminative thought and its affective consequences. Journal of social and clinical psychology, 32(5), 482-503.

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual Cognitive Measures, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, General Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Neuroscience, Personality, Physiology, Research Methods, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Book titles such as Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus (John Gray) suggest that there are some fundamental differences between men and women. What might that hypothesis or sentiment suggest about the brains of men and women? Well, the idea that, at the level of the brain, men and women are essentially different kinds of people has been around for many many years. While we might not be surprised at such a view existing 100 years ago at the height of the sorts of views advanced by Freud that there are fundamental, basic and large differences between the sexes which are very likely reflective of brain based differences what are we to make of the fact that such a view can be found today at a time when brain scanning abilities might allow up to address the brain difference question directly. So, ARE there sex differences in brain structure, organization, or function? First, sort out what YOU think. What have you heard? What do you think you know? What do you think might be “the truth”? After you have reflected briefly on these questions read through the article linked below for an overview of recent research and discussion in this area.

Source: Can We Finally Stop Talking About ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ Brains? Daphna Joel and Cordelia Fine, Opinion, The New York Times.

Date: December 3, 2018

Image Credit: Oxford Science Archive/Print Collector/Getty Images

Article Link:  

So, it seems that even the data does not tend to get in the way of us playing with a hypothesis (or assumption) that we are comfortable with including the suggestion that autism reflects and “extreme male brain”. One of the authors of the article linked above (Daphne Joel) examined a huge number of brains and concluded that claims about general differences in brain structure or organization along sex lines cannot actually be seen at the level of individual brains. What does that mean? Well it is like what we should be reminding ourselves about a lot when we talk about any “sex-differences” in things like mathematics performance – even when there are significant differences in the population averages on scores or abilities in any area of human endeavor the distribution overlaps are massive. So, in math skills for example, there are many, many females who outperform males and as such knowing only that an individual is male or female does not make possible any sort of prediction (that would be accurate or useful) about their math skills. Add that to the increasing pile of aggregated findings that there are even fewer mean differences than we used to think (see the APA blog reference below in Further Reading) and it becomes clearer that we perhaps need to examine our assumptions about how deep or brain-based (or real) sex differences really are. The bottom line is that some of our assumptions are not matters of simple personal biases but are, rather, reflections of deeper, socio-cultural belief systems. Rather than blaming individuals for sustaining or advancing them we need to more carefully examine our shared assumptions and look more objectively at the data!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the title Men and from Mars and Women are from Venus suggest about the nature males and females and about males’ and females’ brains?
  2. What does looking at (researching) population means on things like math skill, social skill, or leadership tell us about individual males or females (when there ARE population mean differences)?
  3. What should I be teaching students in my introductory psychology classes about male and female brains and about male and female skill or performance differences?

References (Read Further):

Fine, C. (2017). Testosterone rex: Myths of sex, science, and society. WW Norton & Company.

Fine, C. (2010). Delusions of gender: How our minds, society, and neurosexism create difference. WW Norton & Company.

Fine, C. (2010). From scanner to sound bite: Issues in interpreting and reporting sex differences in the brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(5), 280-283.

APA (2005) Men and Women: No Big Difference, , Accessed December 9, 2018.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Group Processes, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: In developmental psychology the term resilience has an interesting recent history. It debuted in research in the 1970’s in studies such as one looking at the children of Kuai.  That important study gathered detailed data regarding the prenatal, birth and post-natal experiences of every child born on the island of Kuai in Hawaii in a year year (1955) period and then followed then developmentally for 40 years. The goal was to see what early developmental issues and influences were associated with later emerging developmental challenges, delays or performance shortfalls. A large number of results followed including that birth complications were associated with later emerging learning issues and/or ADHD and diminished school success. One general result was that children who amassed 4 or more developmental risk factors early in life were much more likely to struggle academically and socially in school and other outcomes. One surprising finding, however, was that there were quite a few children who had four of more risk factors who, nonetheless were doing fine and even thriving in school and one through adolescence. For succeeding developmentally despite the presence of risk in their early years these children were called resilient and the researchers dove back into their data to see if they could figure out what things or sorts of things contributed to those children’s’ resilience. What they found was that resilient children had higher IQ scores, were more upbeat and socially outgoing, more perseverant, and despite likely having a dysfunctional family, had one adult (not necessarily a relative) who took special, positive interest in them. These children were said to have resilience almost a kind of trait. Partly as a consequence of the particular array of child specific variables the researchers gathered the idea that resilience was something that individual children had was a large part of the early definition of resilience – viewing them as tough, superkids. More recently, over the past 15 years, research and conceptual work around the concept of resilience has expanded. One important insight into the relationship between early risk and development is that early negative life events or experiences in and of themselves have very little impact upon children’s development. Essentially risks only seem to turn into developmental harms if they are, in some way, carried along with the developing child. That is, early risk only become developmental harm when it damages some ongoing developmental support of cognitive or social developmental process such as a disruption in early literacy and vocabulary development or a disorders or sub-optimally competent parent who acts in ways the thwart the development of a secure attachment relationship. Poor literacy foundations or an insecure base attachment are essentially examples of noxious developmental baggage that travel with the developing child either through concepts or outlooks or abilities they have internalized or in the form of ongoing negative or noxious relationships. This led to the realization that resilience is better thought if in relational terms, as a through development process. Resiliency researchers and theorists now speak of ecologies of resilience that surround and engulf or support developing children rather than being a set of internal characteristics that children may or may not possess. Now…. I have provided this rather wordy introduction to this article post as I believe it is important the that larger developmental conceptualization of resilience be kept in mind as a sort of outrigger to keep you from tipping too strongly into a new version of the old resilience in inside of certain children view when you read the article linked below. Think of what the stress related implications might be for a child growing up in a neighbourhood rife with violence, threats and dangers. The researchers looked at children living in an array of Chicago neighbourhoods, many of which, indeed, are quite dangerous as reflected in the rates of gun violence and other indicators. So, how are those children doing in terms of the sorts of stress related reactions that have been linked to things like PTSD? Most specifically, are there differences in the brain structures of those children that seem to be more resilient while living and developing under these sorts of conditions? Read the article and see what they found.

Source: Brain Imaging Unearths Neurobiological Roots of Resilience, Christopher Bergland, The Athlete’s Way, Psychology Today.

Date: November 29, 2018

Image Credit: goa novi/Shutterstock

Article Link:

Questions for Discussion: OK, this brain scan research suggests that resilience “under fire” may be related to superior executive function driven by the parietal frontal areas of the brain. What might this mean? Well, it is important to reflect carefully on the researchers’ (very appropriate) statement that their findings are correlational. Are the resilient children resilient because they had better functionality in the particular regions of their brains (genetically) or did those parts of their brains get that way as the result of the particular resilience ecologies that surrounded them as they developed to the point at which their brain structure and function were assessed. The researchers mention the potential value in developing training that would support the development or augmentation of those brain areas and the most important question is what would that “training” look like? How closely would it end up looking like the sorts of relational experiences researchers have been looking at in recent years as part of their work on the ecologies of resilience. It would be rather interesting to link these different levels of analysis!

  1. How does the functioning of the CEN brain region seem to be related to resilience?
  2. How is the definition of resilience invoked in the research linked above related to the definitions or conceptualizations of resilience discussed in my opening statement above?
  3. What does the approach to resilience discussed in the research article linked above suggest that might be useful in helping to design interventions to help children living in the sorts of violent neighborhoods looked at in the study? Or what doesn’t it provide in this area?

References (Read Further):

Gregory E. Miller, Edith Chen, Casey C. Armstrong, Ann L. Carroll, Sekine Ozturk, Kelsey J. Rydland, Gene H. Brody, Todd B. Parrish, and Robin Nusslock. “Functional Connectivity in Central Executive Network Protects Youth Against Cardiometabolic Risks Linked with Neighborhood Violence.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (First published online ahead of print: November 5, 2018) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1810067115

Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American psychologist, 56(3), 227.

Waller, M. A. (2001). Resilience in ecosystemic context: Evolution of the concept. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 71(3), 290-297.

Werner, E. E. (1992). The children of Kauai: Resiliency and recovery in adolescence and adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, 13(4), 262-268.

Werner, E. E. (1987). Vulnerability and Resiliency: A Longitudinal Study of Asian Americans from Birth to Age 30.