Posted by & filed under Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: The transition from high school to college or university can be easy or challenging. Those of you contemplating your own upcoming transitions to post-secondary settings may be wondering how it will go for you. The best predictor of post-secondary educational success in secondary educational success, or on other words, if you got good marks in high school the odds are good you will get good marks in college or university. But…..hearing that your odds are good or not so good (if your GPA is just going to get you in the door at a college or university) are really just statements about your likely standing in a normative distribution of other transitioners. What would be more encouraging, or more motivating if you need to change things to succeed, would be some insight into the personal characteristics you might have or that you could work on that will contribute to success in college or university. There are two things that make this sort of information useful.

First, there is a restricted range issue. Most people make it through high school but only those with suitably high GPA’s get to go to college or university. This means that by entering college or university you have left a lot of people behind (well, maybe better to say a lot of people made other career path decisions) and this means that you and your new college and university peers (all with good to great GPA’s) are going to re-sort yourselves into new distributions that will be determined by grades certainly but also by interests, choices, motivational drive, study skills, academic and personal commitment an engagement – many of which are not directly academic in nature. Figuring out how these other dimensions work and apply to you can be an important part of making a successful post-secondary transition.

Second, your shift to post-secondary settings is associated with your shift into a stage of emerging adulthood which will last from around 18 to 29 years of age and while this life stage has a lot of thing going on in it one of its biggest features is that in involves your taking up personal responsibility not just for the signs and symptoms of adulthood but for how you are taking up and getting engaged in the processes involved in becoming a functional adult member of your communities. It is more up to you now than at any previous point in development.

So, the article linked below talks about an array of non-academic factors that differentiate Thrivers (top 10% of academic performers in 1st year) from Divers (bottom 10% of academic performers in 1st year). The results are potentially quite useful. The article itself is a bit daunting, being 56 pages long but navigating it can help you develop research paper reading skills that will be of great assistance to you going forward. First, there is a LOT of detail in the paper regarding the data management strategies and statistical tests the researchers used in processing their data. These things are important in some contexts as they help us to evaluate the value of the data. However, if you just want to see what the researchers found that might be worth thinking about then you can set the technical sections aside for now. Read the introduction first (pages 1 through 4) then skip down into the results section (the part starting on the bottom of page 14) and read from there to the end of the article.  Oh, and before you start, think about what you believe might be some of the important non-academic things that students can do to increase the likelihood that they will move through first year as Thrivers rather than Divers. This will help you to see more clearly if there are thin gs in the paper that you can take away and apply usefully to your own situation!

Source: Beattie, Graham, Laliberte, Jean-William P., and Oreopoulos, Philip (2016) Thrivers and Divers: Using non-academic measures to predict college success and failure. Working Paper 22629 National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.

Date: March 4, 2018

Photo Credit: tes teach

Links:  Article Link –

I am hoping you found the article interesting and potentially useful. Avoiding procrastination, cultivating a conscientious outlook, showing patience about longer term outcomes and aiming to make societal contributions are all important. Their bottom line conclusion is important: “Overall, our findings suggest that effort (study hours), rather than conscientiousness

or patience, is the key predictor to an exceptionally successful transition to college.” Some good things to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are Thrivers different from Divers in terms of their academic performances?
  2. How are Thrivers different from Divers in terms of their non-academic performances?
  3. Are there any insights in this study that you feel are worth “taking away” and applying to your own circumstances? What are they and how do you see yourself acting upon them?

References (Read Further):

Dexter, L. R., Huff, K., Rudecki, M., & Abraham, S. (2018). College Students’ Stress Coping Behaviors and Perception of Stress-Effects Holistically. International Journal of Studies in Nursing, 3(2), 1.

Fromme, K., Corbin, W. R., & Kruse, M. I. (2008). Behavioral risks during the transition from high school to college. Developmental psychology, 44(5), 1497.

Bozick, R., & DeLuca, S. (2005). Better late than never? Delayed enrollment in the high school to college transition. Social Forces, 84(1), 531-554.

Hicks, T., & Heastie, S. (2008). High school to college transition: A profile of the stressors, physical and psychological health issues that affect the first-year on-campus college student. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 15(3), 143.


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Depression, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Persuasion, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: One of the biggest challenges in dealing with depression in the population is getting those who are struggling with it to seek help. Efforts to set up screening systems for any psychological (or physical) health matter are potentially very costly and very difficult to design effectively (just think about two issues – false negatives, people with the problem who do not turn up on the screen test and so are missed and false positives, people who screen positive as having the condition but actually do not have it. Both of these errors come with costs that can be prohibitive and can essentially make screening too foggy to be useful. There ARE alternatives. The article linked below describes one such alternative. The project described is based on a peer-to-peer model where small numbers of high school students are trained and then lead a depression awareness campaign amongst their school peers and the results are encouraging. Before you read the article think a bit about what sorts of tings it might or should involve and a bit about how effective you think it might be AND about other issues that might benefit from a peer-to-peer approach.

Source: Teen-Led Depression Awareness Can Help Others Get Help, Janice Wood, PsycCentral.

Date: March 4, 2018

Photo Credit: The Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Program developed by the Univ. of Michigan

Links:  Article Link –

So, as you saw in the article the peer-to-peer program for depression awareness and action described in the article worked very well. In ways that reflect efforts to reduce mental illness stigma the peer-to-peer depression awareness program with its key points including identification od symptoms, asking for help, understanding depression’s immunity to willpower fixes, helper self-efficacy, and help seeking. The peer-to-peer approach is as much about challenging negative assumption as it is about outreach.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might a teen struggling with depression not seek help?
  2. How did the peer-to-peer approach to depression work?
  3. What are some other situations or issues that might benefit from a peer-to-per approach and where else might such approaches be useful outside of high schools?

References (Read Further):

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Depression. Retrieved from  on February 27, 2018.

Teen Depression Symptoms:

Peer-to-peer Depression Awareness Campaign: 2016-2017 school year.

Eysenbach, G., Powell, J., Englesakis, M., Rizo, C., & Stern, A. (2004). Health related virtual communities and electronic support groups: systematic review of the effects of online peer to peer interactions. Bmj, 328(7449), 1166.

Morris, R. R., Schueller, S. M., & Picard, R. W. (2015). Efficacy of a web-based, crowdsourced peer-to-peer cognitive reappraisal platform for depression: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 17(3).

Ali, K., Farrer, L., Gulliver, A., & Griffiths, K. M. (2015). Online peer-to-peer support for young people with mental health problems: a systematic review. JMIR mental health, 2(2).

Kessler, R. C., Barker, P. R., Colpe, L. J., Epstein, J. F., Gfroerer, J. C., Hiripi, E., … & Zaslavsky, A. M. (2003). Screening for serious mental illness in the general population. Archives of general psychiatry, 60(2), 184-189.

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, General Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: What makes a Psychology experiment a “classic”? Well perhaps that s too broad a question but, in truth, “classic” psychology experiments, even, or perhaps especially, the ones that would not get through an ethic panel review today can cause us to reflect upon some important issues and variables in our lives. Think about what seem to you to be a few of Psychology’ classic studies and think about what each might offer in the way of insights or reflection opportunities for managers and leaders in organizational settings. With those thoughts in mind have a look through the article linked below and see what its author came up with (and see if you agree with his analyses).

Source: What 5 Classic Psychological Experiments Can Teach Workplace Leaders, Ric Kelly, Leadership, Business Psychology,

Date: March 4, 2018

Photo Credit: Andrew Rich/Getty Images

Links:  Article Link –

The power of the situation and social roles (Zimbardo’s Prison Study), the power of expectation (Rosenthal and Jacobson’s Pygmalion Effect), making exercise options fun, the abandonment of personal moral judgement in situations, and seeing only what you focus upon ARE classic psychological studies and whether we apply their lessons to developing our leadership potential or just to trying to be better people they are well worth reflecting upon. How did your own choices and predictions as to leadership applicability fare?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Pick two of the classic studies noted in the article and explain what could be seen to make them “classic”.
  2. Pick one of the studies noted and explain how its results might apply to management or leadership development in organizations.
  3. What are one or two other classic studies that could have been mentioned and what might each have to say about leadership in organizations?

References (Read Further):

Reicher, S. D., Haslam, S. A., & Platow, M. J. (2007). The new psychology of leadership. Scientific American Mind, 18(4), 22-29.

Vugt, M. V., & Ronay, R. (2014). The evolutionary psychology of leadership: Theory, review, and roadmap. Organizational Psychology Review, 4(1), 74-95.

Wang, C. S., & Thompson, L. L. (2006). The negative and positive psychology of leadership and group research. In Advances in Group Processes (pp. 31-61). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Burger, J. M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today?. American Psychologist, 64(1), 1.

Zimbardo, P. G. (1973). On the ethics of intervention in human psychological research: With special reference to the Stanford prison experiment. Cognition,().

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Classification Diagnosis, Consciousness, Psychological Disorders, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, The Self.

Description: When you consider one or another of the array of disorders you may have been presented in the Abnormal Psychology section of an Introductory Psychology course or in an Abnormal Psychology course it is easy to step back and take a broad perspective on the population of individuals who at some point meet the diagnostic criteria for a given disorder. This broad perspective is amenable to questions about incidence, prevalence, and slightly more focused questions about the relative distribution of particular symptoms or disorder trajectories across the population of those diagnosed with the disorder. What is most often NOT a part of such considerations of disorders is the lived experience of the individuals diagnosed with the disorder, that is, of what it is actually like to have the disorder. Such considerations would include BOTH an inside portrayal of the disorder AND an account of the social consequences of having the disorder (how others treat you or react to you). All of this is necessary if we are to properly understand both disorders AND their individual and social challenges and consequences. The article linked below discusses an interview with the author of a book on his experiences living with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that can involve sudden, unexpected bouts of sleep during one’s otherwise waking hours. Henry Nicholl’s book Sleepy Head describes his experiences with the disorder and with the reactions of other people to him as well. Think a bit about what such an account might include and then read the article linked below thinking about how, what he has to say might apply to people with other mental illness diagnoses.

Source: Narcolepsy isn’t funny – living with a sleep disorder, Amelia Hill, Sleep, Self and Wellbeing, The Guardian.

Date: February 25, 2018

Photo Credit: Henry Nicolls Illustration: Andrea De Santos/Observer

Links:  Article Link –

Nicholl’s account of his life with his diagnosis of narcolepsy is eye-opening both in terms of its phenomenological narrative and its accounting of social reactions to him and his disorder. His point about sleep disorders being more “usual” than typically understood is also a good one. Our understanding of mental disorders will not be complete until we have also understood and come to terms with our social reactions to them and to the people who are diagnosed with them. Terms like stigma involve a kind of tyranny of the normal and the normative that is grounded in a deeply held position that being average, normal, or “well” is the limited proper reference point for considering anyone who is an outlier, atypical, unwell or ill. We have a long way to go to sort this out but sort it out we must.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Looking through the article what are some of the ways Nicholls experienced issues of stigma in relation to narcolepsy?
  2. How do issues of stigma related to things beyond issues of mental illness or wellness?
  3. What are some other examples of the tyranny of the normative ?

References (Read Further):

Nicholls, Henry (2018) Sleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience and the Search for a Good Night, Profile Books. See also

Kornum, B. R., Knudsen, S., Ollila, H. M., Pizza, F., Jennum, P. J., Dauvilliers, Y., & Overeem, S. (2017). narcolepsy. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 3, 16100.

Ho, R. T., Potash, J. S., Ho, A. H., Ho, V. F., & Chen, E. Y. (2017). Reducing mental illness stigma and fostering empathic citizenship: Community arts collaborative approach. Social Work in Mental Health, 15(4), 469-485.

Tucker, S. E. (2017). Stigma of mental illness and multicultural counseling self-efficacy: investigating the implications of the multicultural training environment, mental health literacy, and empathy.

Patterson, P., & Sextou, P. (2017). ‘Trapped in the labyrinth’: exploring mental illness through devised theatrical performance. Medical humanities, 43(2), 86-91.

Roe, D., Corrigan, P., & Link, B. G. (2017). Mental Health Stigma: so much progress and yet a long way to go-Introduction to special issue on stigma. The Israel journal of psychiatry and related sciences, 54(1), 3-5.

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Moral Development, Personality, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Can you tell when someone is lying to you? If you do a You Tube search on lie detection you will find a great many postings showing versions of the classic lie detection game where someone tells you several things about themselves one of which is a lie and you have to figure out which one it is based on your “reading” of their body language, tone of voice eye contact or lack thereof etc. It is a hard thing to do with strangers but not quite as hard to do with people we know. Why do you think that might be? Well, of course, one possibility is that you simply know more of the truth about people you know well and can therefore check facts within your own memory. It may be that your knowledge of the other person will give you the ability to note atypical body language or vocal characteristics and thus to spot lying. But think about that a minute. What if the person you know well is simply a good liar? I am not suggesting that you conduct a psychological audit of all your friends in order to calibrate how you will think about them or act in response to them (that might not help your relationship with them if they found out) but think for a minute about what sort of data might help you sort out this question of just how honest the people you know actually are. Might there be some part of their personality profile that could be informative about this question? Which personality dimensions might be useful? Think about that, and about what sorts of dimensions would be useful if the standard Big Five dimensions do not seem to give you what you can use here, and then read the article linked below that makes use of the HEXACO personality model developed by a colleague of mine Kibeom Lee of the University of Calgary.

Source: Get to the Truth with This New Way to Spot a Liar, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today.

Date: February 24, 2018

Photo Credit: Pam Douglas, Huffington Post / Adam the Teacher WordPress

Links:  Article Link –

Kibeom Lee’s work with the HEXACO model includes the development of a dimension that seems to capture honesty-humility (Kibeom’s book on the subject is listed in the Further Reading section below). Certainly honesty, or the lack thereof, would potentially be related to lying and cheating but the way the personality dimension relates to real-world cheating and lying is a bit more complicated. In a two-part predictive process, the suggestion is that being honest translates to being fair and trustworthy and thus unwilling to gain through unethical means. When this is paired with humility, wherein people avoid being greedy because they do not feel entitled to special treatment, you have a personality combination that makes it less likely people who possess it will exploit, steal, lie or cheat. That is the hypothesis that the study discussed in the article/post linked above evaluated. The results supported the hypothesis. So, you now have an audit tool to use quietly. Consider a person’s sense of fairness and their greed avoidance and you will have a angle on their character in this area. You can do this without having to figure out how to get them to complete a HEXACO profile. Simply watch how they behave in situations with limited resources such as a shared meal or after a meal in a restaurant or an evening in a bar when it comes time to address the shared bill. Both of these situations are good sources of evaluative data related to the honesty-humility dimension.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are honesty and humility (in terms of personality dimensions)?
  2. How do honesty and humility relate to behaviors like cheating, lying, and stealing?
  3. Besides the ones noted in the paragraph above what are some social situations where you might be able to gather data from people on these dimensions? Be specific about the sorts of behaviors you would look for and how you would do so in ways that would not influence the behavior of the person or persons you are observing (and yes this sounds sneaky but, think about it, a LOT of personality data gathering IS rather sneaky, isn’t it?

References (Read Further):

van Rensburg, Y. J., de Kock, F. S., & Derous, E. (2018). Narrow facets of honesty-humility predict collegiate cheating. Personality and Individual Differences, 123199-204.


Lee, Kibeom, and Aston, Michael, C. (2012) The H Factor of Personality: Why some people are manipulative, self-entitled, materialistic and exploitive – Why it matters for everyone, Wilfred Laurier University Press.

Baiocco, R., Chirumbolo, A., Bianchi, D., Ioverno, S., Morelli, M., & Nappa, M. R. (2017). How HEXACO Personality Traits Predict Different Selfie-Posting Behaviors among Adolescents and Young Adults. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 2080.

Visser, B. A., Book, A. S., & Volk, A. A. (2017). Is Hillary dishonest and Donald narcissistic? A HEXACO analysis of the presidential candidates’ public personas. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 281-286.


Posted by & filed under Clinical Assessment, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: The Calgary Distress Centre (in my home town) started out as a call-in center, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Until recently its only form of contact with distressed individuals was over their phone lines and that worked very well as a way for people to find someone to talk to in critical moments of personal crisis and, besides a human contact and a friendly ear, potentially receive suggestions and even direct referrals for additional assistance. Recently the Distress Center has added a chat interface option and more recently a text connection option. Initially they offered this service through their “ConnectTeen” service aimed at teens in crisis but are looking at expanding this to their other services. While there are concerns about the validity of non-face-to-face therapy, in crisis situations any contact that works is good. Putting aside for the present purposes the question of whether non-face-to-face therapy is viable think a bit about the huge potential that social media and the web in general could have on issues of mental health and wellness. Of course, we need a lot of data on these possibilities BUT to get data we also need to have possibilities out there to examine and evaluate. Now, if you have heard of the show Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneurs and product/service developers pitch their ideas to a panel of deep pocketed potential investors, imagine what an opportunity to pitch web or app-based ideas for promoting mental health and wellness might look like. With those thoughts in mind read the article linked below to see some bold thinking and actions in this area.

Source: ‘Money Supermarket for mental health’: Could the future of treatment be digital? Mark Rice-Oxley, Mental Health: The Upside, The Guardian.

Date: February 15, 2018

Photo Credit: Fixing a hole. Illustration: Blok Magnaye

Links:  Article Link –

“…this [metal health] is a crisis that is ripe for innovation.” Isn’t THAT a fascinating quote? And how about this one: “We want to build a whole new global system for mental health. A platform with answers for people rich and poor,” (Jim Woods). I have written previously about the challenges associated with mental health when compared to our (In Canada) commitment to global health care provision. Moving large on mental health issues is a HIGE challenge. If you are interested in this new angle on mental health and related issues, then check out Zinc ( ) and start developing your pitch!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the way we approach physical health different than the way we approach mental health?
  2. How might we re-think how we talk about and think about mental illness (and mental health) in ways that would get us moving in some of the direction suggested by the Zinc initiative?
  3. What are some of the ways in which thinking about mental health is different than thinking about mental illness?

References (Read Further):

Links to Check Out (provided for interst not as a recomendation):


Rochlen, A. B., Zack, J. S., & Speyer, C. (2004). Online therapy: Review of relevant definitions, debates, and current empirical support. Journal of clinical psychology, 60(3), 269-283.

Cook, J. E., & Doyle, C. (2002). Working alliance in online therapy as compared to face-to-face therapy: Preliminary results. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 5(2), 95-105.

Sundram, F., Hawken, S. J., Stasiak, K., Lucassen, M. F., Fleming, T., Shepherd, M., … & Merry, S. N. (2017). Tips and traps: lessons from codesigning a clinician e-monitoring tool for computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. JMIR mental health, 4(1).

Sprenger, M., Mettler, T., & Osma, J. (2017). Health professionals’ perspective on the promotion of e-mental health apps in the context of maternal depression. PLoS One, 12(7), e0180867.

Grist, R., Porter, J., & Stallard, P. (2017). Mental health mobile apps for preadolescents and adolescents: a systematic review. Journal of medical internet research, 19(5).

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, Language Development, Language-Thought, Neuroscience, Sensation-Perception.

Description:  Two questions before we get into this topic. First, who has strokes? Second, if someone has a massive left hemisphere stroke what will likely happen to their spoken language abilities? Old people and language will suffer right? Well, not entirely. You see, infants, and in fact, newborns (about 1 in 4000) can have strokes. The birth process is stressful and can involve huge spikes in baby blood pressure which, in turn, can lean to strokes. What are the impacts of such strokes, especially when they are large? Well, before you try to answer make sure your response involves using the term “plasticity.” If you are unsure what that means then read the article linked below to find out and even if you do know what plasticity is read the article to see if what it says matches your responses to the first two questions I posed above.

Source: Newborn babies who suffered stroke regain language function I opposite side of brain, Science Daily.

Date: February 17, 2018

Photo Credit: Elissa Newport, Georgetown University

Links:  Article Link –    and

If you have had an introductory level Psychology course you have likely heard about Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, their roles in the processing and production of spoken language and the finding that they are typically located in the left hemisphere of your brain. You also have likely heard about how stroke damage in the left hemisphere of the brain can be associated with mild to severe loss of language production or language processing ability (look up the two areas of the brain noted above for more information). All this is supported by a lot of research. But, if the person who has the stroke is a newborn language development and language processing may not be impacted at all and, in fact those tasks might actually be taken up by the right hemisphere of the brain. THAT is neural plasticity, where other brain areas take up functions that would “normally” be in areas of the brain damaged by strokes. An additional, and potentially quite important finding of the study reported in the linked article is that there are constraints on precisely what areas of the brain take over what functions following stroke. In other words language processing does not get written any old place but in specific regions of the right hemisphere following severe left hemisphere strokes. The researchers are looking ahead to study the molecular basis of plasticity as an understanding of those processes may be very informative as to opportunities for assisting in the recovery of function following stroke at any age.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why do some newborns have strokes?
  2. Why do newborns who have strokes often show little or no long term detrimental effects?
  3. Why might there be specific “back-up” areas for certain specifically located functions in the opposite hemisphere of the brain and how might that back-up function (or back-up potential) work?

References (Read Further):

Westmacott, R., Askalan, R., MacGregor, D., Anderson, P., & Deveber, G. (2010). Cognitive outcome following unilateral arterial ischaemic stroke in childhood: effects of age at stroke and lesion location. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 52(4), 386-393.

Oakes, L. (2017). Introduction to Special Issue:“Current Perspectives on Neuroplasticity”. Cognitive Development, 42, 1-3.

Oakes, L. M. (2017). Plasticity may change inputs as well as processes, structures, and responses. Cognitive development, 42, 4-14.

Chen, C. Y., Georgieff, M., Elison, J., Chen, M., Stinear, J., Mueller, B., … & Gillick, B. (2017). Understanding brain reorganization in infants with perinatal stroke through neuroexcitability and neuroimaging. Pediatric physical therapy: the official publication of the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association, 29(2), 173.

Stiles, J. (2017). Principles of brain development. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 8(1-2).

Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Intergroup Relations, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: There is an increasing large research literature on Sports Psychology in generally and on Olympic performance in particular. I have posted about parts of this research work previously in this blog ( The British Psychological Society has suggested in the posting linked below that it would be interesting to consider what the winter Olympics mean to us individually (that is also Psychology!). The Olympics are not regular occurrences. They twig thoughts of national identity and international connectedness and competitiveness. The Olympics present sports activities that could be considered a part of who we are (especially the Winter Olympics for Canadians). So, think for a minute…..What do the Winter Olympics mean to you? Once you have reflected on this question have a read through the postings linked below and see what else they may bring to mind.

Source: What does the Winter Olympics mean to you? Paul Gorczynski, The Psychologist, The British Psychological Society.

Date: February 18, 2018

Photo Credit: Getty Images, The Sun, UK.

Links:  Article Link –

For me the Winter Olympics are a place and time where Canadian athletes get to content at things that are very close to the Canadian heart ,… like hockey (even if the NHL kept their players playing here in North American instead of allowing them to go to Korea). I get to watch our athletes content on snow and ice, where, like it or not, we are at home for a (this year what feels like a LARGE) number of months. I most like seeing sports we do not typically get to see, like “big air” boarding and skiing, skeleton, luge and bobsledding and that weird event that involves skiing fast and shooting (OK maybe that is nor Nordic that Canadian). At the same time that I contemplate the parts of my identity as a Canadian that the Winter Olympics tweaks I am fascinated by the number of warm climate countries with representation at the Winter Games (Togo, Eritrea, and Nigeria, oh and Jamaica, of course). I have not reached any clear conclusions about what the Winter Olympics means to me in relation to my identity but, at least, they provide something entertaining and diversionary to watch and engage with as the cold winter February winds and snows blow.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some ways in which large international sporting events like the Winter Olympics might increase or feed into our reflections about personal, cultural, and national identity?
  2. What is your favourite Winter Olympic sport? What do you think that might suggest about you?
  3. If the Olympics are in any way “good for us” (psychologically speaking) what might we do to optimize this “goodness”?

References (Read Further):

Clift, B.C. & Manley, A. (2016). Five reasons why your city won’t want to host the Olympic Games. The Conversation. Retrieved December 4, 2017 from

Petro-Canada – Share the flame (1987). Share the flame. Retrieved December 1, 2017, from

Holt, N. L., & Dunn, J. G. (2004). Toward a grounded theory of the psychosocial competencies and environmental conditions associated with soccer success. Journal of applied sport psychology, 16(3), 199-219.

Hill, D. M., Hanton, S., Matthews, N., & Fleming, S. (2010). Choking in sport: A review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 3(1), 24-39.

Hill, D. M., & Shaw, G. (2013). A qualitative examination of choking under pressure in team sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14(1), 103-110.

Gould, D., Guinan, D., Greenleaf, C., Medbery, R., & Peterson, K. (1999). Factors affecting Olympic performance: Perceptions of athletes and coaches from more and less successful teams. The sport psychologist, 13(4), 371-394.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Aggression, Classification Diagnosis, General Psychology, mental illness, Personality, Personality Disorders, Prevention, Psychological Disorders, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As I contemplated whether to choose to blog on this particular topic I ran across the article linked below and while reading through it, for a number of associative reasons (I suspect), I was reminded of a song by Canadian Blues artist Lest Quitzau called Home on the Range. It contains the line “Welcome to America, ain’t it strange.” The song was on an album from back in 2001 but the line still reverberates today.  Specifically, what struck me as “strange” about America in relation to this blog topic is that America actually has a large enough sample of mass shootings in recent years (even on an annual basis) to ask the question implied by the title of the article. That question is something like, “what do mass shooters have in common?” The picture below is from the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shootings last October and last night while at the Calgary Flames game against the Florida Panthers we were asked to stand a minute’s silence for those killed just north of where the Panthers play at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There is a LOT in this that is strange. It is strange that a common response to such events is to dig into the North American and particularly into the American focus on individual responsibility is all things to try and figure out both what was wrong with all those shooters and what could have been done to identify them and their future actions early enough to stop them. Unfortunately, this strategy runs up against the documented research fact that if the issue is one of mental instability or mental illness (just if) then it places the individuals of concern into a very small subgroup of all mentally unstable or mentally ill persons – those that may become violent and, further, it places them in the even smaller (microscopic) subgroup of mentally instable or mentally ill people who act in mass violent ways. It is strange that there is profound resistance towards the taking of steps toward gun control in America and that State legislative steps taken in Connecticut following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012 has only managed to track (and only slightly restrict) access to automatic weapons and to limit the size of the magazines in such weapon to 10 bullets.

So….. while it may not be something you feel comfortable doing (and if so them please do not do so and move on to another posting) but reflect for a moment on what you have heard seen and read about the large American mass shootings dataset (its constituent elements are intensely focused upon I the news media) and see if any candidate hypotheses come to mind that could be applied to the question of what mass shooters might or might not have in common. Once you have done that, have a read through the article linked below.

Source: Mass Shooters Are All Different. Except for One Thing: Most are Men. Daniel Victor, The New York Times.

Date: February 17, 2018

Photo Credit: The Washington Post

Links:  Article Link –  

So, the explanation for mass shootings is NOT a clear mental illness. Shooters are often paranoid, resentful or narcissistic but typically NOT to the level of disorder and at least half have no clear evidence of mental illness before they start “crazy” shooting. As such, improved access to mental health care would likely not have resulted in therapeutic engagement for most shooters prior to their acting. A past involving exposure to or engagement in domestic violence may be a factor but certainly NOT a definitive one in that suspecting all involved in the perpetration of domestic violence of being potential mass shooters would result in exponentially more false positives than true positives (although engaging therapeutically with all who perpetrate or observe domestic violence would not be a bad idea). A sense of grievance and a desire for notoriety (particularly in adolescent and young adult shooters) are useful descriptors of mass shooter’s mental states but, again, taking social change or just pushes for social change personally would, like paranoia, resentfulness or narcissism, hardly get us focused closely enough on potential shooters in any way that would be preventatively useful. So what to do? It is not entirely and American problem. Canada had Marc Lepine at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, but that was nearly 30 years ago and was only followed by enough subsequent shooters to fill an automobile as opposed to the 2 to 2.5 busses that could be filled with American mass shooters in the same time frame (and American numbers are increasing – see the figure above). The big difference between Canada and the United States? Well its NOT psychology, at least in relation to the shooters (Marc Lepine certainly had a sense of grievance), hmmm, maybe it is access to guns? Ain’t it strange?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What psychological traits, issues, or illnesses may be involved in cases of mass shooters?
  2. Could any of the things you noted in response to the previous question be used to identify and stop or to at least warn more effectively about potential mass shooters?
  3. If gun control IS the best road to addressing the increasing rate of mass shooting in America what psychology will need to be brought to bear on the challenge such an approach would represent?

References (Read Further):

Berkowitz, Bonnie, Lu, Denise, and Alcantara, Chris (December 14, 2012 and updated February 18, 2018) The terrible numbers that grow with each mass shooting, The Washington Post,

Ansair, Sadiya (2014) 10 of the worst mass murders in Canada, The Toronto Star,

Metzl, J. M., & MacLeish, K. T. (2015). Mental illness, mass shootings, and the politics of American firearms. American journal of public health, 105(2), 240-249.

McGinty, E. E., Webster, D. W., Jarlenski, M., & Barry, C. L. (2014). News media framing of serious mental illness and gun violence in the United States, 1997-2012. American Journal of Public Health, 104(3), 406-413.

Fox, J. A., & DeLateur, M. J. (2014). Mass shootings in America: moving beyond Newtown. Homicide studies, 18(1), 125-145.

McGinty, E. E., Webster, D. W., & Barry, C. L. (2014). Gun policy and serious mental illness: priorities for future research and policy. Psychiatric services, 65(1), 50-58.

Ferguson, C. J., Coulson, M., & Barnett, J. (2011). Psychological profiles of school shooters: Positive directions and one big wrong turn. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, 11(2), 141-158.

Posted by & filed under Health and Prevention In Aging, Human Development, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, The Self, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: When you read the words “retirement planning” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Well, probably money and pension (and even at an early age you SHOULD be thinking about this) but what else should folks be thinking about as they approach and enter their retirement? I have written in an earlier post to this blog about Ikigai (search it) and about other retirement considerations beyond finances. What do you think folks approaching retirement should be thinking about from a psychological point of view? Once you have a few hypotheses in mind read through the news article linked below and see if any of what it suggests was on your list. Research links to some non-financial retirement planning ideas are down at the bottom of this post if you want to see if your ideas have been studied.

Source: What people don’t tell you about retirement, Dani-Elle Dube, Smart Living, Global News.

Date: January 3, 2018

Photo Credit: Calvert Investment Council,

Links:  Article Link –

So how did your hypotheses do?  Did you come up with one or two of the things that have been studied as part of retirement transition? Certainly, things like the changes in routine and the related shifts in day-to-day activities are important factors in retirement adjustment. The extent to which people’s identities are wrapped up in what they do occupationally can make for a huge post retirement transition. Bridge employment or encore careers are one way in which some people ease their retirement transitions. In previous postings to this site I have written about Developmental Life Design (mainly focusing upon how it applies to emerging adults) and much of what it involves could be a very useful part of peoples’ ongoing retirement planning. This, of course, brings us back to ikigai, the Japanese word on this topic referring to one’s search for inner meaning, self and purpose. Now THAT is a psychological concept worth exploring and what better time to do that but when you have more free time in your retirement! So, start preparing for this NOW by searching for the Developmental Life Design posts I put here at the beginning of this year (2018) and you will find what they suggest useful at ANY age.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Beyond financial matters what else should we think about a plan for as we look ahead to retirement?
  2. When should you start to think about these things?
  3. What sorts of benefits might you accrue today by thinking about retirement planning using Life Design concepts and strategies (regardless of your age today)?

References (Read Further):


Osborne, J. W. (2012). Psychological Effects of the Transition to Retirement/Effets psychologiques de la transition vers la retraite. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online), 46(1), 45.

Chamberlin, Jamie (2014) Retiring minds want to know: What’s the key to a smooth retirment?, APA Monitor, 45(1), 61.

Latif, E. (2013). The impact of retirement on mental health in Canada. The journal of mental health policy and economics, 16(1), 35-46.

Zhan, Y., Wang, M., Liu, S., & Shultz, K. S. (2009). Bridge employment and retirees’ health: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of occupational health psychology, 14(4), 374.

Wang, M., Zhan, Y., Liu, S., & Shultz, K. S. (2008). Antecedents of bridge employment: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of applied Psychology, 93(4), 818.

Reitzes, D. C., & Mutran, E. J. (2004). The transition to retirement: Stages and factors that influence retirement adjustment. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 59(1), 63-84.

Teuscher, U. (2010). Change and persistence of personal identities after the transition to retirement. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 70(1), 89-106.