Posted by & filed under Aggression, Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Personality, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Do you take parit in Black Friday or Boxing Day sales? These are retail events where items, often in very limited quantities, are available at deep discounts and shoppers who take part in person can sometimes be quite aggressive in their efforts to obtain a super but limited bargain. You have likely not analyzed the reasons why people behave in such ways, thinking, perhaps, that the explanation is obvious – limited supply + bargains + huge demand = cutthroat competition. But the point at which we decide that something is ‘ours’ and that others are messing with our stuff seems to happen well before we actually purchase the item and does not have to involve Black Friday or Boxing Day sales (they are just more dramatic examples). What might the concept of Psychological ownership involve? What sorts of variables might mediate or moderate our experiences of Psychological ownership? Think about these questions for a moment and then read the article linked below by a researcher who has looked at these questions and see how they have been examined and what the research suggests.

Source: Why do Black Friday shoppers throw punches over bargains? A marketing expert explains ‘psychological ownership’, Colleen P. Kirk, The Conversation.

Date: December 28, 2019

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Article Link:

So, would you have predicted that a server simply moving one’s coffee cup slightly would result in a 25% reduction in tip and a stated intention to not return to the restaurant in future? Fascinating thing this Psychological ownership. Have you ever thought about how online shopping carts might influence our online shopping? And what about the use of selfies as a way of asserting or strengthening Psychological ownership? While the marketing angles or tactics are obvious the fact that they could blow back when inventory limits in big sales thwart for Psychosocial ownership than they facilitate. We could view all of this as a bit frothy but understanding how we can or are being manipulated while shopping or simply wandering around online or in the real world is potentially vital to managing one’s well-being (and as foundations for a career in marketing!).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Psychological ownership and when does it arise?
  2. What would you advise people to do in relation to the research reported in the linked article on Psychological ownership?
  3. What about your response to the previous question is unique to screen time and online shopping and what parts have been part of marketing to consumers for generations?

References (Read Further):

Kirk, C. P., Peck, J., & Swain, S. D. (2017). Property lines in the mind: Consumers’ psychological ownership and their territorial responses. Journal of Consumer Research, 45(1), 148-168.

Pierce, J. L., & Peck, J. (2018). The history of psychological ownership and its emergence in consumer psychology. In Psychological ownership and consumer behavior (pp. 1-18). Springer, Cham.

Kirk, C. P., & Swain, S. D. (2018). Consumer psychological ownership of digital technology. In Psychological ownership and consumer behavior (pp. 69-90). Springer, Cham.

Peck, J., & Luangrath, A. W. (2018). Looking ahead: Future research in psychological ownership. In Psychological Ownership and Consumer Behavior (pp. 239-258). Springer, Cham.

Swilley, E., & Goldsmith, R. E. (2013). Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Understanding consumer intentions on two major shopping days. Journal of retailing and consumer services, 20(1), 43-50.;sequence=1

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Human Development, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Is city living good for you? When lecturing on mental health and illness I usually refer to research suggesting that rates of a number of mental disorders are higher in urban centers but that causal nature of that observation is problematic as cities are where most mental health treatment centers are located and most of their clients are served on an outpatient basis. The more focused question is worth asking. Are there aspects of city living that contribute (causally) to higher rates of mental illness and if so, how do those causal factors work or play out? Think about these questions and once you have your thoughts and hypotheses in order read the article linked below to see what recent research looking at these questions has to suggest.

Source: Cities increase your risk of depression, anxiety and psychosis – but bring mental health benefits too, Andrea Mechelli, The Conversation.

Date: December 28, 2019

Photo Credit: Maddening? Shutterstock

Article Link:

Were you surprised by any of the findings reported in the linked article? The neuroscience findings are quite pointed showing that the size of the city one lives in effects the size of one’s stress response in stress inducing tasks. As well, the amplitude of one’s neural response to social stress is directly associated with the amount of time spent living in a city during one’s childhood. Further, the dosage one has of city living predicts risk for mental illness. Fewer clear things were stated about what could be involved in these findings. Lack of green space is suggested, and the preponderance of park space seems to predict positive city living dosages. Air pollution and loneliness are also implicated. There are a number of positive effects reported as well. The bottom line seems to be that we need to try to unpack the notion of city living if we are going to begin to understand the causal negative and positive influences of city living on our physical and mental health and well-being.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is city living good or bad for you or is this the right question to ask?
  2. What might the causal factors be that are associated with city living effects (both bad and good)?
  3. What are some of the city planning take-aways from this research area (and what other research is needed if planning and urban design are to be improved?

References (Read Further):

Galea, S., & Vlahov, D. (2005). Urban health: evidence, challenges, and directions. Annu. Rev. Public Health, 26, 341-365.,5&scillfp=4552323123954460341&oi=lle

Sundquist, K., Frank, G., & Sundquist, J. A. N. (2004). Urbanisation and incidence of psychosis and depression: follow-up study of 4.4 million women and men in Sweden. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 184(4), 293-298.

Peen, J., Schoevers, R. A., Beekman, A. T., & Dekker, J. (2010). The current status of urban‐rural differences in psychiatric disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 121(2), 84-93.

Gianaros, P. J., Horenstein, J. A., Cohen, S., Matthews, K. A., Brown, S. M., Flory, J. D., … & Hariri, A. R. (2007). Perigenual anterior cingulate morphology covaries with perceived social standing. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 2(3), 161-173.,5&scillfp=4691297228725954912&oi=lle

Astell-Burt, T., & Feng, X. (2019). Association of urban green space with mental health and general health among adults in Australia. JAMA network open, 2(7), e198209-e198209.

Galea, S., Uddin, M., & Koenen, K. (2011). The urban environment and mental disorders: Epigenetic links. Epigenetics, 6(4), 400-404.,5&scillfp=16682267641825107207&oi=lle

Evans, G. W. (2003). The built environment and mental health. Journal of urban health, 80(4), 536-555.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Human Development, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: We have looked at the issue of screen time and its potential effects on development before on this site. There is no doubt that children and adolescents (not to mention adults) are spending a lot more time with screens than even just 10 years ago. What has made the research into this question hard to sort out is that it typically focuses on screen time in general. While it is true that people are spending more time with screens, they are also doing more (different) things with more screens than before. So, maybe a better, more nuanced question might be; How much or what sorts of things that make up screen time have what sorts of effects on people’s functioning and well-being? Oh, and might some screen time be good for you? Think about what research addressing these more nuanced questions might suggest and then have a read through the article linked below to see what some studies are starting to suggest about screen time.

Source: New Research: How Much Screen Time IS Bad for Kids? Jamie Madigan, Games, Forbes

Date: December 20, 2019

Photo Credit: PIXEL BAY

Article Link:

There is NO doubt that the amount of time children and adolescents are spending with screens has more than doubled in just the past 10 years and that much more of anything would certainly draw some scrutiny and concern and would certainly by looked at as a possible cause for all kinds of parental and societal concerns. But we are all (well most of us are) using digital devices and screen related functionality more in ever increasingly broad aspects of our lives. So, perhaps we need to look a bit more closely at the question of screen time. Does the Goldilocks Hypothesis makes sense? By staring with the idea than not enough may be as bad as too much could help us to define how much of what sorts of screen time activities or engagement for who is “just right”? Addressing the questions of screen time this way can suggest (with data) what the tipping or inflection points are for many screen time activities and can show us how different those inflection points might be (e.g., over 4 hours of general computer time and under 32 hours of either game play or smart phone use). The effects size research is critical as well, if we are to understand something of the impacts of screen time. The author’s closing recommendations are worth repeating, use a diversity of screens but get enough sleep and have breakfast!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why is asking how a lot of screen time is bad for development and well-being a less than useful research question?
  2. What is the Goldilocks Hypothesis and why it is important in figuring out the effects of screen time?
  3. How should the emerging field of screen time research be defining and researching screen time effects? How might this research domain be expanded and what should such an expansion consider including?

References (Read Further):

Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2015

Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2017). A large-scale test of the Goldilocks Hypothesis: Quantifying the relations between digital-screen use and the mental well-being of adolescents. Psychological Science, 28(2), 204-215.

Orben, A., & Przybylski, A. K. (2019). Screens, teens, and psychological well-being: evidence from three time-use-diary studies. Psychological science, 30(5), 682-696.

Hale, L., & Guan, S. (2015). Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: a systematic literature review. Sleep medicine reviews, 21, 50-58.

Bucksch, J., Sigmundova, D., Hamrik, Z., Troped, P. J., Melkevik, O., Ahluwalia, N., … & Inchley, J. (2016). International trends in adolescent screen-time behaviors from 2002 to 2010. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58(4), 417-425.

Blum-Ross, A., & Livingstone, S. (2016). Families and screen time: Current advice and emerging research.

LeBlanc, A. G., Katzmarzyk, P. T., Barreira, T. V., Broyles, S. T., Chaput, J. P., Church, T. S., … & Kurpad, A. (2015). Correlates of total sedentary time and screen time in 9–11 year-old children around the world: the international study of childhood obesity, lifestyle and the environment. PloS one, 10(6), e0129622.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, General Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Neuroscience, Physiology, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Do you know what the Vagus nerve is and what it does? Well, to begin with, it is not a single nerve cell but rather a complex nerve network with connections throughout the body. In terms of what it does, we are still working on that one, but it could be loosely described as the system that fulfills the actions of the parasympathetic nervous system which could, again simply, be described as relaxation or counter-stress involved. Sound interesting? There has been a virtual explosion of interest in the Vagal nerve system in recent years and Vagal stimulation has been shown to positively impact a diversity of things from gut issues (Crohn’s disease) to depression, and stress issues. Read through the article linked below for a general overview and get tuned in to what will, I think, be an important research and application area to pay attention to over the next while.

Source: Science Confirms That the Vagus Nerve Is Key to Well-being, Markham Heid, The Nuance, Elemental.

Date: December 19, 2019

Photo Credit: Kieran Blakey

Article Link:

The article linked above scratches the surface of research and application work involving the Vagus nerve system. If you would like to dig in a bit deeper, you can do your own search, or you can start with a few of the references in the References section below. It is a certainty that there will be more than one or two things there that tweak your interest and curiosity and that there is likely an emerging application that will, at some point, be worth your personal attention. Dig in!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. The term “Vagus nerve” to many non-neuroscience folks suggests a much simpler thing that what the Vagus nerve actually is. What would be a better general descriptive term?
  2. How could the Vagus nerve be involved in gut issues, depression, and emotional expression??
  3. The linked article talked a lot about Vagus stimulation. With your possible answer to question 1 in mind what sort of more general “application” context might or should we place Vagus stimulation in? (E.g., if the Vagus nerve is the mechanism of action for the parasympathetic system what other system(s) could also be involved in applications/treatments?)

References (Read Further):

Yuan, H., & Silberstein, S. D. (2016). Vagus nerve and vagus nerve stimulation, a comprehensive review: part I. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 56(1), 71-78.

Yuan, H., & Silberstein, S. D. (2016). Vagus nerve and vagus nerve stimulation, a comprehensive review: part II. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 56(2), 259-266.

Yuan, H., & Silberstein, S. D. (2016). Vagus nerve and vagus nerve stimulation, a comprehensive review: part III. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 56(3), 479-490.

De Couck, M., Caers, R., Spiegel, D., & Gidron, Y. (2018). The role of the vagus nerve in cancer prognosis: a systematic and a comprehensive review. Journal of Oncology, 2018.

Porges, S. W. (2003). The polyvagal theory: Phylogenetic contributions to social behavior. Physiology & behavior, 79(3), 503-513.

Patriquin, M. A., Hartwig, E. M., Friedman, B. H., Porges, S. W., & Scarpa, A. (2019). Autonomic response in autism spectrum disorder: Relationship to social and cognitive functioning. Biological psychology, 145, 185-197.

Johnson, R. L., & Wilson, C. G. (2018). A review of vagus nerve stimulation as a therapeutic intervention. Journal of inflammation research, 11, 203.

Lendvai, I. S., Maier, A., Scheele, D., Hurlemann, R., & Kinfe, T. M. (2018). Spotlight on cervical vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of primary headache disorders: a review. Journal of pain research, 11, 1613.

Kim, H. G., Cheon, E. J., Bai, D. S., Lee, Y. H., & Koo, B. H. (2018). Stress and heart rate variability: A meta-analysis and review of the literature. Psychiatry investigation, 15(3), 235.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Research Methods, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Have you heard the exercise is good for reducing stress? How about Yoga? How about Pilates? How about deep breathing? Of course, you have, but do they REALLY lower stress levels and if they do HOW do they do that? How would a neuroscientist approach these questions? Well, he or she would likely NOT take up Pilates to deal with stress simply on the recommendation of their young adult children. If stress is driven by, among other things, the adrenal glands (a big part of fight/flight) which are located on top of  our kidneys within our “core” (mid-torso) region what do the things on the above list have to do with adrenalin production? Maybe those things calm your mind resulting in less stress signals being sent into the adrenals. But then, why is it that people who are in very good shape like competitive tennis players are so good at shrugging off a bad point and staying focused on their match? Could it be that they are better at relaxing or is that too complicated an explanation? So, consider this, what would a neuroscientist need to see in the way of evidence that would convince them to start taking Pilates to reduce their stress levels? Think about that for a moment and then read the article linked below to see a “case study” account of just such a process.

Source: Why One Neuroscientist Started Blasting His Core, James Hamblin, The Atlantic.

Date: December 24, 2019

Photo Credit: Ashley Cooper / Getty

Article Link:

So, did you follow the research and reasoning described in the linked article as it was undertaken by the searchers whose study it discusses? It suggests that stress reductions do not simply occur when our higher cognitive processing centers and calmed, thus reducing stress signaling. The stress processing pathways are much more complex that previously thought and much more decentralized that previously theorized. It makes sense given the fundamental importance of a nimble and complex stress system for coping with our experiences in the world. From an evolutionary perspective that sort of complexity makes sense, it supports rapid adaptive responses by not requiring all stress to be managed in thoughtful, top down sorts of ways. The technique of using rabies to map neural pathways is rather amazing just by itself. While the one study discussed does not answer all of the questions posed up at the top of this post it was enough o convince one neuroscientist to seriously take up Pilates so maybe it is worth a closer look! Oh, and it leads into broader understandings of psychosomatic illness, placebo effects, and fascinating things called allostasis and interoception (see some of the articles linked in the references section below).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Prior the release of this study and the line of theorizing it reflects came along why did we think exercise was a good way of reducing stress?
  2. What does the research study discussed in the article add to or suggest we consider changing about our understanding about how the human stress response is modulated?
  3. Why was the neuroscientist described in the article convinced to take up Pilates?

References (Read Further):

Dum, R. P., Levinthal, D. J., & Strick, P. L. (2016). Motor, cognitive, and affective areas of the cerebral cortex influence the adrenal medulla. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(35), 9922-9927.

Khalsa, S. S., Adolphs, R., Cameron, O. G., Critchley, H. D., Davenport, P. W., Feinstein, J. S., … & Meuret, A. E. (2018). Interoception and mental health: a roadmap. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 3(6), 501-513.

Kleckner, I. R., Zhang, J., Touroutoglou, A., Chanes, L., Xia, C., Simmons, W. K., … & Barrett, L. F. (2017). Evidence for a large-scale brain system supporting allostasis and interoception in humans. Nature human behaviour, 1(5), 0069.

Geuter, S., Koban, L., & Wager, T. D. (2017). The cognitive neuroscience of placebo effects: concepts, predictions, and physiology. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 40, 167-188.

Justice, L., Brems, C., & Ehlers, K. (2018). Bridging body and mind: considerations for trauma-informed yoga. International journal of yoga therapy, 28(1), 39-50.






Posted by & filed under Cultural Variation, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physiology.

Description: There are fewer left-handed people than right-handed people in the world, right? Yes, that is true, but the proportions vary from place to place and maybe from time to time. So, how does handedness play out from an evolutionary perspective? It is often difficult to think through how the interaction of nature (genetics) and nurture (experiences in the world) interact with each other on either an individual level or on the much broader level of long-term socio-historical time. This partly due to our not yet complete understanding of how such processes work but it is also due to our history of typically thinking of nature and nurture as reflecting distinct contributors to development. We need to get past this tenacious but outdated thought bias if we are to think clearly about naturenurture (a new hybrid word that will keep us from biased thinking) questions. The article linked below provides a very useful and instructive overview of how naturenurture has played out over socio-historical evolutionary time in relation to handedness and specifically to left-handedness. Think for moment about what you believe or think you now about the evolution of handedness and then have a read through the linked article.

Source: The Evolutionary Mystery of Left-Handedness, Brian Pickings and Mary Popova, Brain Pickings.

Date: December 24, 2019

Photo Credit: Vladimir Radunsky for “on a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein”

Article Link:

So, did you know about Broca’s interest in handedness and brain symmetry in addition to the study of the loss of speech production in stroke patients that is typically attributed to him? And how did the higher incidence of lefties in combative social groups? Handedness is a very useful example through which to consider historical questions of naturenurture and what it helps us to see more clearly can be applied to other important Psychological questions such as the naturenurture of mental illness, mental health and wellbeing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the incidence of handedness (or why is the answer to this question not simple)?
  2. Why might naturenurture be a better term for the ongoing interaction of genetics and environment?
  3. What are some things you picked up from the linked article that might be useful in thinking about similar issues related to mental illness and mental health?

References (Read Further):

Wolman, David (2006) A Left-handed Turn Around the World: Chasing the Mystery and Meaning of All Things Southpaw. Hazelden Publishing.

Corballis, M. C. (2003). From mouth to hand: gesture, speech, and the evolution of right-handedness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26(2), 199-208.

Cashmore, L., Uomini, N., & Chapelain, A. (2008). The evolution of handedness in humans and great apes: a review and current issues. Journal of Anthropological Sciences, 86(2008), 7-35.

Schaafsma, S. M., Geuze, R. H., Riedstra, B., Schiefenhövel, W., Bouma, A., & Groothuis, T. G. (2012). Handedness in a nonindustrial society challenges the fighting hypothesis as an evolutionary explanation for left-handedness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(2), 94-99.

Pollet, T. V., Stulp, G., & Groothuis, T. G. (2013). Born to win? Testing the fighting hypothesis in realistic fights: left-handedness in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Animal behaviour, 86(4), 839-843.

Faurie, C., Llaurens, V., Alvergne, A., Goldberg, M., Zins, M., & Raymond, M. (2011). Left-handedness and male-male competition: insights from fighting and hormonal data. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(3), 147470491100900307.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: How much sleep do you usually get each night? Are you sure? Do you know how much sleep you should get each night? Do you know what impact getting less sleep than you need would have on you? What about if you got less sleep than you need each night for 2 weeks (say during the end of term and over final exams)? Finally, can you tell, by paying attention to how awake and alert you feel, how deeply you are affected by a current state of sleep deprivation? Would it help to know that about 1/3 of North Americans get significantly less sleep than they need and that most people cannot tell by self-monitoring when they are serious negatively impacted by sleep deprivation. So, what do you think now? Maybe this is a good time for you to do a sleep audit. If you think this might be true and especially if you think it is NOT true you should read the article linked below and do an informal sleep audit.

Source: Why Six Hours of Sleep is as Bad as None at All, Jill Duffy, Fast Company.

Date: December 19, 2019

Photo Credit: Flickr/Mark Sebastian

Article Link:

So, have you started to figure out how you are going to do a sleep audit? It is important as while life itself these days is already challenging our sleep hygiene, things like the pending decisions in many jurisdictions to move to permanent daylight savings time is also something that could steal a significant amount of our sleep. All together this means that we first need to each figure out how much sleep we REALLY get, then we need to figure out what the quality of that sleep is and then we need to figure out what we are going to do to fix what is likely some sort of shortfall between the sleep we are getting and the sleep we actually need in order to function well. A good time to think about such things what with New Year’s resolution season fast approaching. Let’s get on it!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How much sleep to you get most nights and is that enough sleep (no not just do you think it is enough but is it really enough)?
  2. What is the quality of your typical night’s sleep?
  3. Given that we cannot tell when we are seriously sleep deprived what should we do?

References (Read Further):

Van Dongen, Hans, et al. “The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: dose-response effects on neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation.” Sleep 26.2 (2003): 117-126.

Lakshminarayana Tadimeti, M. D., Caruana-Montaldo, B., Wallace, B., & Mendelson, M. D. (2000). Sleep latency and duration estimates among sleep disorder patients: variability as a function of sleep disorder diagnosis, sleep history, and psychological characteristics. Sleep, 23(1), 1.

Sleep and Sleep Disorders,

Lauderdale, D. S., Knutson, K. L., Yan, L. L., Liu, K., & Rathouz, P. J. (2008). Sleep duration: how well do self-reports reflect objective measures? The CARDIA Sleep Study. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 19(6), 838.

Ricci, J. A., & Chee, E. (2005). Lost productive time associated with excess weight in the US workforce. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 47(12), 1227-1234.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children and Adolescents.

Description: In a recent post I suggested that what the world needs a new superhero and that the best candidate I could think of was a man who wore red cardigan sweaters, spoke very clearly and slowly in ways that made him VERY understandable by preschoolers and who spoke about important things like strong emotions and social issues and pressures experienced right within one’s neighborhood. Who is that? Well, Fred Rogers, of course. It is instructive to unpack some of what made Fred, Fred as that can help us to see his superpowers more clearly. As good place to start is with a reflection upon a week of programing he put together for his show after having heard of how a small child serious injured himself when he tied a towel onto his back like a cape and tried to fly like Superman off of a roof. Fred often worried deeply about some of the ways in which adults and children programming misleads you children about the difference between fantasy and reality, sometimes with dangerous results. So, think for a few minutes about how you would talk with preschoolers about superheroes, if you wanted to reduce danger and risk, and then read the article linked below to see how Fred did just that.

Source: Mr. Rogers vs. the Superheroes, Maxwell King; An excerpt adapted from: The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers.

Date: December 19, 2019

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Article Link:

Look! Walking down the street talking to local children about the world around them and about their own thoughts and feelings about what they are seeing hearing and feeling! Is it Batman? Wonder Woman? Superman? Spiderman? No, Its Mr. Rogers! We need to figure out what Fred’s shoes involved for him and we need to walk and talk softly within them now that he is gone if we are to make the world as better place for children, adolescents and, frankly all of us.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that watching shows or cartoon involving superheroes might add risk into the lives of young children?
  2. How should we talk with preschoolers about the powers that superheroes are depicted as having?
  3. Why might we need superheroes that are more like Fred Rogers than Superman these days?

References (Read Further):

Peters, K. M., & Blumberg, F. C. (2002). Cartoon violence: Is it as detrimental to preschoolers as we think?. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(3), 143-148.

Coyne, S. M., Linder, J. R., Rasmussen, E. E., Nelson, D. A., & Collier, K. M. (2014). It’sa bird! It’sa plane! It’sa gender stereotype!: Longitudinal associations between superhero viewing and gender stereotyped play. Sex Roles, 70(9-10), 416-430.

Coyne, S. M., Stockdale, L., Linder, J. R., Nelson, D. A., Collier, K. M., & Essig, L. W. (2017). Pow! Boom! Kablam! Effects of viewing superhero programs on aggressive, prosocial, and defending behaviors in preschool children. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 45(8), 1523-1535.

Bishop, R. (2003). The World’s Nicest Grown‐Up: A Fantasy Theme Analysis of News Media Coverage of Fred Rogers. Journal of Communication, 53(1), 16-31.

King, M. (2018). The good neighbor: The life and work of Fred Rogers.

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.