Posted by & filed under Clinical Psychology, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Student Success, The Self.

Description: There is a palpable sense (if you pause quietly and look for it) that we are all very close to getting a restart opportunity. While we will have to wait a bit for the Delta variant to rage, we will be able to get back to things again soon. We could simply breathe a heavy sigh and say Ah, normal returned! BUT it is not really clear that what we move into next WILL be normal. We have a rare opportunity to reflect on what our personal worlds and experiences will, can, or might look, feel and be like in the near future. Wouldn’t some research looking at moments like this be helpful? (Yes, please!). So, if we are all taking stock and reflecting and sorting options for moving forward with our very lives, what sorts of things should we be considering? Well, of course, you can do whatever you like but if you would like some broader options consider this question. Looking forward would you prefer a life that is happy? A life that in meaningful? Or a life that is rich (in experiences but not necessarily money)? I am NOT going to pose this as a research question because I think you should think about you own personal answer to the question first. After you have done that THEN have a look at the wonderfully rich article linked below that will, among other things, suggest a third path for moving forward in your life (that if richness of experiences). And, the research the author discusses provide data of this question!

Source: Perspective-changing experiences, good or bad, can lead to richer lives, Sujata Gupta, Science News

Date: September 1, 2021

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you think of the “Third Road” that you can set out along in life? Happiness is an option but it is tied to many things. Meaningfulness if also tied to many things. Either can definitely be viable life pathway options. But what of a rich life? Many who are trying to understand what is involved in building a sense of personal identity suggest that focusing upon and pursing interests and curiosities can be very productive ways of finding personal pathways forward in times and spaces of uncertainty, change and novelty. If THAT sounds like the way the world is looking like in the near to foreseeable future than perhaps including some, or a LOT, of richness search and focus in your post-Covid game plan would be a wonderful way to move into the new normal (whatever THAT is going to involve)!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are happiness and meaningfulness considered in research looking at life direction choices?
  2. What does a focus on life richness involve?
  3. Of the three pathway options, happiness, meaningfulness and richness which do you think you are most likely to pursue over the next few years? How might you at least dabble in the richness stream?

References (Read Further):

Wilson, T.D. et al. Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind. Science. Vol. 345, p.75. Link

Oishi et al. Happiness, meaning and psychological richness. Affective Science. Vol. 1, June 23, 2020, p.107. Link

Oishi et al. The psychologically rich questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality. Vol. 81, August 2019, p.257. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2019.06.010. Link

Oishi et al. Experiences associated with psychological richness.” European Journal of Personality. Posted December 2, 2020, Link

R.F. Baumeister et al. Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life. The Journal of Positive Psychology. Vol.8, p.505, Link

Sacks, O. (2015)  My own life. New York Times. Posted Feb. 19, 2015. Link

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Group Processes, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Persuasion, Research Methods, Social Influence, Social Psychology.

Description: Is there a home field advantage in professional sports? Regardless of your opinion (or hypothesis) on this question think about this: How could we possibly set up an experiment that would address this question? And if we could, what would be the results? Well, have you already come up with the natural experimental o[opportunity in relation to this question provided by Covid? The European professional leagues played many games over the past year and a bit without any fans in the stands. Yes, of course, there may be MORE to home field advantage that fans in the stands but what would your predictions be for a research question regarding home teach performance with (pre-covid) and without (during covid) fans in the stands at home games? Oh, and how do you think referees would respond? Get your hypotheses in order an then have a look through the article below that talks about recently published research looking at this question.

Source: ‘Ghost games spotlight the psychological effect fans have on referees, Nikk Ogasa, Science News.

Date: August 20, 2021

Image by David Mark from PixabayPixabay

Article Link:

So, were you surprised by the results of the research reported upon? The presence of hometown fans at soccer games makes a significant difference in BOTH win and loss percentages and in referee behaviour. The sample used for the research was large and so the results are likely valid and robust. So, when you are allowed again, get out and support your local team!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did the of presence of local fans in the stand (and their absence) affect the performance of the home team in European soccer?
  2. How were the actions of game referees affected by the absence of local fans?
  3. Given this data, should profession sports leagues make any adjustments as we move into the post Covid world?

References (Read Further):

Leitner, M. C., & Richlan, F. (2021). No Fans–No Pressure: Referees in Professional Football During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, 221. Link

Entine, O. A., & Small, D. S. (2008). The role of rest in the NBA home-court advantage. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, 4(2). Link

Nettleton, D. (1998). Investigating home court advantage. Journal of Statistics Education, 6(2). Link

Price, M., & Yan, J. (2021). The Effects of the NBA COVID Bubble on the NBA Playoffs: A Case Study for Home-Court Advantage. arXiv preprint arXiv:2103.02832. Link

Kotecki, J. (2014). Estimating the effect of home court advantage on wins in the NBA. Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Sensation-Perception, The Self.

Description: Lets’ start with a quick definition (we will not hold ourselves to it). Let’s say that our consciousness involves our mind’s awareness of, and internal model for keep track of, the outside world. Make sense? I bet that is pretty close to how you currently think about your consciousness, if you think about it much at all. Now, would it surprise you to consider the following 2 things? First, that Psychologists have worked rather hard to NOT spend a lot of time trying to figure out the nature of human consciousness (it seems to be too complicated, perhaps even too magical to get hold of for research purposes). Second, it may very well be that your consciousness (your mind) does NOT map the world very well as it actually is but, instead, works on the basis of a sort of theory about what the world is like based a little bit on past experience. How does that sound? And in the face of those statements how do you feel about your ability to know yourself and to know the world you are living in? know yourself and to know the world you are living in? Yes, I know, that sounds a bit like voo doo philosophy but …. Read the article linked below to see an overview of where the consciousness questions are at and a little bit about what that might mean.

Source: Being You by Professor Anil Seth review – the exhilarating new science of consciousness, Gaia Vince, The Guardian.

Date: August 25, 2021

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how are you feeling about being you now? At some level it should not be a surprise as there is quite a bit of research evidence that people see (or believe) what they expect to see (or expect to be true) and often miss it when reality either does not quite match up with expectations. However, it does create some issues with advice like “to thine own self be true” (so says, Polonius in Hamlet). The coming years of consciousness research will be fascinating but while we wait for it to arrive it may help to reflect on Anil Seth’s suggestion that we have some mental influence in the model of the world we have in our brain and that we live in. Perhaps we need to try and be more aware of and take more advantage of this authorial role.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How accurately do our minds map the world we live in?
  2. If this mapping is less than perfect what does that mean for our thoughts and theories of consciousness?
  3. What are some questions (research or just hypotheses) about consciousness that need to be address in the near future?

References (Read Further):

Seth, A. (2021). Being you: A new science of consciousness. Penguin.

Grof, S. (2019). Psychology of the future: Lessons from modern consciousness research. Suny Press. Link

Grof, S. (2013). Revision and Re‐Enchantment of Psychology: Legacy from Half a Century of Consciousness Research. The Wiley‐Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology, 89-120. Link

Pereira Jr, A., & Ricke, H. (2009). What is Consciousness?: Towards a preliminary definition. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 16(5), 28-45. Link

Cicero, D. C., Cohn, J. R., Nelson, B., Gawęda, Ł., Cicero, D. C., Cohn, J. R., … & Gawęda, Ł. (2021). Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders.

Description: Do you know anyone (including yourself) who you think might be addicted to their smartphone? They cannot put it down or they cannot bear to be separated from it and they must return home and get it immediately if they forget it. There are some suggestions that smartphone addiction should be considered for addition to the DSM (the manual used to diagnose mental disorders). Research reported that in the early days of the Covid pandemic, peoples’ cell phone use jumped 70% and a more recent study suggested that usage increased further than that for 40% of Canadian users over the past year. Sounds like addiction, right? Well, not so fast! Think about alternative hypotheses. If people drank a LOT more water during a heat wave would it make sense to say they are addicted to water? Once you have thought a bit about alternative explanations and formed a few hypotheses, read through the article linked below to see what some Psychologists have suggested.

Source: Does being away from your smartphone cause you anxiety? The fact that it makes you available 24/7 may be the reason. Wuyou Sui and Anna Sui, The Conversation.

Date: September 1, 2021

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you think? Should we add Nomophobia to the list of DSM disorders? Or does it make sense to note the roles played by employer demands and other issues that are simply taking advantage of smartphone functionality. As with many technological advances, the new reality is complex and  requires reflection and rushing to add to the DSM’s list of issues may not be a good idea (yet).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do you think it is possible for people to be addicted to their smartphones?
  2. Should smartphone use be regulated?
  3. What other variables should be considered, if any, before advancing the position that smartphone addiction should be added to the DSM?

References (Further Reading):

Djalante, R., Lassa, J., Setiamarga, D., Sudjatma, A., Indrawan, M., Haryanto, B., … & Warsilah, H. (2020). Review and analysis of current responses to COVID-19 in Indonesia: Period of January to March 2020. Progress in Disaster Science, 6, 100091. Link

Yildirim, C., Sumuer, E., Adnan, M., & Yildirim, S. (2016). A growing fear: Prevalence of nomophobia among Turkish college students. Information Development, 32(5), 1322-1331. Link

Ayar, D., Gerçeker, G. Ö., Özdemir, E. Z., & Bektas, M. (2018). The effect of problematic internet use, social appearance anxiety, and social media use on nursing students’ nomophobia levels. CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 36(12), 589-595. Link

Bragazzi, N. L., & Del Puente, G. (2014). A proposal for including nomophobia in the new DSM-V. Psychology research and behavior management, 7, 155. Link

Yildirim, C., & Correia, A. P. (2015). Exploring the dimensions of nomophobia: Development and validation of a self-reported questionnaire. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 130-137. Link

Mendoza, J. S., Pody, B. C., Lee, S., Kim, M., & McDonough, I. M. (2018). The effect of cellphones on attention and learning: The influences of time, distraction, and nomophobia. Computers in Human Behavior, 86, 52-60. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Cultural Variation, General Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Quickly think of an answer to this question: “would more free time make you happier?” What do you think? If you thought, “it depends” then lay out what you think it might depend upon. Once you have your hypotheses in order consider this observation consistently offered by researchers looking at human happiness that humans typically are consistently wrong in their guesses about what would make them happier. So, with that statement of confidence in place have a look at the article linked below that discusses a large research project that attempted to address these questions to see how your hypotheses stack up against those of the researchers..

Source: Would More Free Time Really Make You Happier? HealthDay, US News and World Reports.

Date: September 9, 2021

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

Article Link:

We really are NOT very good at predicting what would actually make us happier are we? Too much free time and we suffer from feeling of non-productivity. Not enough free time and we feel stress and put upon. Clearly a lot depends on the attributions you make about what you are spending your free time doing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you spend your free time and what would you do if you had more of it?
  2. What sorts of things do you do that make you feel happier when you commit your free time to doing them?
  3. What other variables (beside ratings of happiness) should be considered when doing research on free time and happiness?

References (Read Further):

Sharif, M. A., Mogilner, C., & Hershfield, H. E. (2021). Having too little or too much time is linked to lower subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication.  Summary Only

Mogilner, C., Whillans, A., & Norton, M. I. (2018). Time, money, and subjective well-being. Handbook of well-being. Link

Helliwell, J. F., & Barrington‐Leigh, C. P. (2010). Measuring and understanding subjective well‐being. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d’économique, 43(3), 729-753. Link

Dolan, P., Peasgood, T., & White, M. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of economic psychology, 29(1), 94-122. Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Language-Thought, Student Success.

Description: If you pulled a couple of almost all-nighters completing a term paper and then stayed up and got up early preparing for and then writing several final exams how many good nights’ sleeps would you need to have before you would be comfortable taking on the 10-hour drive home for holidays? If you said one or two, you might want to think again. Think a bit about how you would know and about what you might not be as good at after sleep deprivation than before and then read the article linked below that describes a study looking directly at these questions.

Source: Deficits may remain after 7-day recovery from 10 days in insufficient sleep, ScienceDaily.

Date: September 1, 2021

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the research DID suggest that reaction time did fully recover after 7 days rest following sleep deprivation (yes, 7 days) but other functions did not. Perhaps reaction time would be enough of your driving ability that you would not need to be concerned, though who would wait for 7 days before driving home for holidays? More importantly in many work settings and other areas of life people do not get 2 to 3 weeks of end of term holiday downtime after completing a sleep depriving work push, their lives just go on. Perhaps some re-thinking is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What signs do you know of or look for that you are not optimally functioning following sleep deprivation?
  2. How long do YOU think it takes you to recover from sleep deprivation?
  3. What might be some of your recommendation for occupational health and safety officers to consider when employees in their companies become sleep deprived?

References (Read Further):

Ochab, J. K., Szwed, J., Oleś, K., Bereś, A., Chialvo, D. R., Domagalik, A., … & Nowak, M. A. (2021). Observing changes in human functioning during induced sleep deficiency and recovery periods. PLoS one, 16(9), e0255771. Link

Jung, C. M., Melanson, E. L., Frydendall, E. J., Perreault, L., Eckel, R. H., & Wright, K. P. (2011). Energy expenditure during sleep, sleep deprivation and sleep following sleep deprivation in adult humans. The Journal of physiology, 589(1), 235-244. Link

Patrick, Y., Lee, A., Raha, O., Pillai, K., Gupta, S., Sethi, S., … & Moss, J. (2017). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive and physical performance in university students. Sleep and biological rhythms, 15(3), 217-225. Link

Ikegami, K., Ogyu, S., Arakomo, Y., Suzuki, K., Mafune, K., Hiro, H., & Nagata, S. (2009). Recovery of cognitive performance and fatigue after one night of sleep deprivation. Journal of occupational health, 0907140090-0907140090. Link

Orzeł-Gryglewska, J. (2010). Consequences of sleep deprivation. International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health. Link

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Consciousness, Health Psychology, Research Methods, Sensation-Perception, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Without getting into the issues, principles and challenges associated with climate change and global warming, just simply think about how you would answer these questions: “Are you connected to Nature?” “How might we conceptualize a connection to Nature?” “How might we measure a connection to Nature?” Perhaps you see Nature as simply defined as the world around us, but perhaps you have a much deeper, perhaps even spiritual connection to Nature. I know people who must get out into the mountains (I live near the Rockies) at least once a month or more to reconnect with Nature and to recenter and recharge. I also know people who do not seem to need to connect with nature and who seem to prefer to take vacations to other big cities. Is there a dimension of some sort between these two groups of people? How would you measure connectedness to nature? What sorts of questions would you ask?

What sorts of dimensions might connectedness to nature unfold along? I did some research of my own on this question a number of years ago in which I asked grade school children questions about their thoughts and feelings about and their connections to nature and then showed them a film about a killer whale named Luna that had been separated from her pod (The Whale) and started to approach and interact with the local humans in Nootka Sound off the coast of British Columbia. It is a wonderful film and well worth finding and viewing. In our research (which we did not get around to publishing) we found that children with deeper connections to nature were more likely to more legal and moral standing, closer to that they would give to humans. One of the hardest parts of that work was finding ways to measure connectedness to nature.

Think back about the questions posed at the start of this post and about how you might operationalize (measure) connectedness to nature and about how you would ground your concept or concepts theoretically (is it spiritual? cognitive? emotional? biological? cultural?). Once you have thought about it a bit, have a read through the article linked below and maybe go and have a quick look at the Martin et al., 2020 and the Keaulana, et al., 2021 articles to see where the research science has gotten with these questions.

Source: 38 Ways to Measure Awe and Connectedness to Nature, Christopher Bergland, The Athlete’s Way, Psychology Today.

Date: September 5, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Bessi from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you think? I was very impressed with what has been done since my own efforts at addressing these question as they arose around viewings of The Whale (Luna’s Story). Given the jump in discussions around climate change and Nature respect and given the huge jump in the need to take big steps quickly to deal with climate change it might be a good idea to think a bit not just about measuring connectedness to nature but about how encourage or build deeper respect for Nature both socio-culturally and individually. The planet needs it but maybe we need it too.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do you have a connection to Nature and if so how would you describe it? What does it involve?
  2. What have researchers done to try and measure peoples’ connectedness to nature? What sorts of scales have they used and what sorts of questions do those scales contain? Is there anything the researchers are missing that should to investigated and added?
  3. Using the available measures for assessing connectedness to nature to track progress what sorts of interventions, campaigns, or educational efforts might we try in an effort to increase connectedness to nature?

References (Read Further):

Martin, L., White, M. P., Hunt, A., Richardson, M., Pahl, S., & Burt, J. (2020). Nature contact, nature connectedness and associations with health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 68, 101389. Link

Keaulana, S., Kahili-Heede, M., Riley, L., Park, M. L. N., Makua, K. L., Vegas, J. K., & Antonio, M. C. (2021). A Scoping Review of Nature, Land, and Environmental Connectedness and Relatedness. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(11), 5897. Link

Mayer, F. Stephan and McPherson Frantz, Cynthia (2004). “The Connectedness to Nature Scale: A Measure of Individuals’ Feeling in Community With Nature.” Journal of Environmental Psychology Link

de Jager Meezenbroek, E., Garssen, B., Van den Berg, M., Tuytel, G., Van Dierendonck, D., Visser, A., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Measuring spirituality as a universal human experience: Development of the Spiritual Attitude and Involvement List (SAIL). Journal of psychosocial oncology, 30(2), 141-167. Link

Schultz, P. W., & Tabanico, J. (2007). Self, identity, and the natural environment: exploring implicit connections with nature 1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(6), 1219-1247. Link

Heerwagen, J., & Hase, B. (2001). Building biophilia: Connecting people to nature in building design. Environmental Design and Construction, 3, 30-36. Link

Salingaros, N. A. (2015). Biophilia and healing environments. Healthy principles for designing the built world. ed. Metropolis magazine e Terrapin Bright-Green, New York. Link

Kalvaitis, D., & Monhardt, R. (2015). Children voice biophilia: The phenomenology of being in love with nature. Journal of Sustainability Education, 9, 2151-7452. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Research Methods, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: What comes to mind when you read or hear a statement that starts with the words “young people these days….”? There has been a lot of press over the research finding that young people (born around or since 1995) are expressing and experiencing significantly higher levels of stress, anxiety and loneliness even when compared to the generation immediately in front of them (born in the 80’s and early 90’s). I have posted previously about the work of Jean Twenge and Jonathan Haidt that examined large scale datasets and suggested that an understanding of this large stress/anxiety/loneliness jump might be linked to the impact of recent changes in the functionality and widespread usage of smartphones and social media. Skeptics of their suggestions and claims have pointed out that there have always been concerns raised about the possible negative impacts of new technologies like television or even telephones, but that causality is hard to determine. The higher levels of stress, anxiety and loneliness among teems and emerging adults “these days” are clearly established by data but the question that remains difficult is the causal one; why is this? One criticism of research by Twenge and Haidt and others looking at this question has been that it has only involved looking at the experiences of young people who use smartphones and social media a LOT. In the article linked below, Twenge and Haidt discuss their more recent efforts to understand and illuminate this new reality. They ask us to consider the question of how the social worlds of teens and emerging adults have changed since 1995 and how those changes have possibly influenced the important social developmental work young people are (or were) doing between 10 and 20 years of age. Think about what might be involved and about what sort of research designs might better illuminate how things could be different for the current cohort of teems and emerging adults and then have a read through the linked article.

Source: This is Our Chance to Pull Teenagers Out of the Smartphone Trap, Johnathan Haidt and Jean Twenge, The New York Times.

Date: July 31, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what did you think of the suggestion that thousands of hours of face-to-face social interaction might well be an important component of development if one is to become an emerging adult capable of managing their challenges of stress, anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness? More importantly, perhaps, is the question of what to do about this possible new developmental reality? Certainly, it should NOT involve victim blaming by calling current teens and emerging adults coddled snowflakes. What it could involve is thinking about and looking more closely at how social media and smartphone apps influence or shape the social engagements that everyone, but especially teens and emerging adults, experience. Twenge and Haidt suggest several possible steps to begin to reduce the impacts of these effects of social development. Provide daily, in school, breaks from smartphones and social media. Delay entry into social media until 13 years of age. Encourage face-to-face social interactions among peers, friends, and within families. Most certainly, take the apparently higher levels of stress, anxiety and loneliness being experienced by teens and emerging adults seriously, there is nothing wrong with them as individuals, what is challenging them is thew world they are developing into, and we are all responsible to understanding and the current nature of that world and of what we can all do to make growing up in it as positive as possible.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why do you think teens and emerging adults are experiencing significantly higher levels of stress, anxiety, and loneliness these days?
  2. What role do smartphones and social media potentially play in the above, especially in relation to social development during the teenaged and emerging adult years?
  3. What should schools, parents, adults and teens and emerging adults do to cope with or to push back against these higher levels of stress, anxiety, and loneliness?

References (Read Further):

O’Keeffe, G. S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800-804. Link

Nesi, J., & Prinstein, M. J. (2015). Using social media for social comparison and feedback-seeking: Gender and popularity moderate associations with depressive symptoms. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 43(8), 1427-1438. Link

Kim Armstrong, A. P. S. (2020). Technology in Context: The Surprising Social Upsides of Constant Connectivity. APS Observer, 33(8). Link

Odgers, C. L., & Jensen, M. R. (2020). Annual Research Review: Adolescent mental health in the digital age: facts, fears, and future directions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61(3), 336-348. Link

Twenge, J. M., Haidt, J., Blake, A. B., McAllister, C., Lemon, H., & Le Roy, A. (2021). Worldwide increases in adolescent loneliness. Journal of Adolescence. Link

Haidt, J., & Twenge, J. (2021). Social media use and mental health: A review. Unpublished manuscript, New York University. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: If you were experiencing anxiety or struggling with trauma would dancing be good for you? If you first thought is, “well it might be a distraction but other than that….” You might benefit from a look at and some reflection upon research that looks directly at this question. If you know something about the sub-cortical systems that drive our stress responses (check out the information videos on stress on this website!), then you may already have a sense that for some things that challenge us thinking and talking about it may not be enough and certainly are not the only ways to take up challenges arising from stress and anxiety. To prime your thinking about this, consider that lifestyles in recent years have become increasingly sedentary and this is rather counter to how we are evolutionarily built. You may have also run across research pointing to the mental health benefits of exercise. As well you may have run across research or discussions of how young children are less able to talk about their anxieties and stressor and more likely to experience then somatically (e.g., anxiety over school challenges presents as a morning tummy ache). So, think a bit about what dance or movement therapy might involve and what benefits it might provide and then ready the article linked below to see what research is suggesting.

Source: Dance and movement therapy holds promise for treating anxiety and depression, as well as deeper psychological wounds, Lana Ruvolo Grasser, The Conversation.

Date: September 3, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, are you going start to look for opportunities to move, dance and create the next time you are feeling tressed and anxious? The research (see links below to read further) suggests dance and movement reduces perceived stress, lowers bodily inflammation, and contributes to cognitive flexibility and self-direction. Great payoffs for a bit a creative movement or dancing. Give it a try!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might dance or movement therapy have a positive impact on anxiety and trauma?
  2. Why might active therapies such a movement therapy be more effective with children than other, more cognitive approaches??
  3. How do you see movement therapies potnetially fitting in or being strategically employed around other approaches to treating anxiety and trauma in adults?

References (Read Further):

Gleeson, M., Bishop, N. C., Stensel, D. J., Lindley, M. R., Mastana, S. S., & Nimmo, M. A. (2011). The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease. Nature reviews immunology, 11(9), 607-615.


Bräuninger, I. (2014). Specific dance movement therapy interventions—Which are successful? An intervention and correlation study. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41(5), 445-457. Link

Van der Kolk, B. A., Hopper, J. W., & Osterman, J. E. (2001). Exploring the nature of traumatic memory: Combining clinical knowledge with laboratory methods. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 4(2), 9-31. Link

Child Mind Institute (2021) 2018Children’s Mental Health Report Link

Dieterich-Hartwell, R. (2017). Dance/movement therapy in the treatment of post traumatic stress: A reference model. The arts in psychotherapy, 54, 38-46. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Emerging Adulthood, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I was teaching a summer course called Psychology for Everyday Life last summer in a dual credit format which meant that it was a real university course, but it was being taken by 150 senior high school students who would receive credit for the university course as well as receive a number of senior credits for their high school transcript. This was a high-flying bunch of students. Their average incoming cumulative percentage standing was 94%. One of the assignments in the course is for the students to complete a self-reflection and goal planning task that involved identifying things they wanted to work on and work towards over the next 6 to 12 months. On reviewing the submissions two things stuck out to me. The first was not particularly surprising and that was that nearly half of the students identified an academic goal of attending medical school, they were a high-flying bunch after all. The second thing WAS rather surprising. A near majority of the students indicated that in addition to their education and career goals they expressed a desire to figure out how to stop procrastinating. While I found it difficult to imagine how so many in this very productive group of students could have problems with procrastination, the data was there. Most indicated that they believed they needed to essentially talk sternly to themselves about getting down to work on whatever task demanded their attention as opposed to putting it off, checking social media or watching something. As the assignment was the last thing, they submitted in the course I did not have a chance to spend any time in virtual lecture/discussion on the topic of procrastination and, truth be told, I was not sure what to say. I had looked into the research literature before and basically what was there about procrastination made it rather clear that it is not a matter of needing enough deadline pressure to be sufficiently motivated to get working on a task. Yes, there is deadline pressure as due dates loom, but it does not tend to contribute to people doing their best. No, using your prefrontal brain region to command yourself to get to work does not work well either. Recently I found a source and a line of research that takes a different approach towards, and which offers useful advice regarding how to deal with, the anxiety that is powerfully associated with procrastination. Judson Brewer is a psychiatrist/researcher whose recently published book, Unwinding Anxiety, summarizes his extensive research into habits and brain systems involved in everything from anxiety to smoking and problem eating and procrastination. (see a previous post on this work) Brewer is also intent on finding ways to show people how they can utilize what his, and his colleagues, research is suggesting about the roots of anxiety. Simply put it works like this. When we are stressed our prefrontal cortex, our cognitive or thinking brain shuts down. Evolutionary forces have shaped us to fall back on reactive fight/flight brain systems when stressed taking time to think likely reduces our chances of survival (at least back when our stresses were predators). So, cognitive strategies do not work when we think they will help us, when we are stressed. Now, if we break down anxiety we can see, according to Brewer, that it is not a simple feeling or emotion. It arises in situations where we are uncertain, and uncertainty is another evolutionarily old cue that produces fear. When we sense fear within us arising from uncertainty, we discover that if we distract ourselves by having something sweet to east, by having a cigarette, by checking our email or social media, by scrolling YouTube, Tok-tok or Instagram we feel a little better (less fearful) and THAT is rewarding (plain old operant conditioning). This pattern of Trigger-Behavior-Reward sets up a repeating anxiety loop – a habit. Procrastination is the result of just such an anxiety habit loop. The fix? I will let Jud Brewer explain it in his Ted talk linked below. I will say that his suggestions fit very nicely into some things I am seeing in my own work on identity development in which waiting for a tsunami of passion about a potential career path to carry you forward into your future self is not a viable identity development strategy. Given the, sometimes overwhelming, uncertainty surrounding and shrouding possible pathways into your future it can be much more effective to take one of Brewer’s key suggestions for when fear/anxiety arises in moments of uncertainty and pause and get curious. Curiosity may have killed the cat (as that obtuse old saying suggests) but it can also to the key that opens a door to mindful strategies for dealing constructively with uncertainty, fear and resulting anxiety habit loops like procrastination. To find out about unwinding anxiety and its related habit loops watch Jud Brewer’s Ted Talk linked below or the Ultimate Health podcast interview with him regarding his recently released book Unwinding Anxiety also linked below. I have also provided references to some of the work from his lab on the subject in the References (Read Further) section if you would like to dive into the science.

Source: A simple way to break a bad habit, Judson Brewer, TEDMED 2015 and Unwinding Anxiety, Judson Brewer, Penguin.

Date: April 29, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Article Link:


One of the things I appreciate most about Brewer’s approach to anxiety and mindfulness is that it is based in basic brain science. One of the things we tend to lose sight of within the vast array of suggestions about being more mindful is that mindfulness does not essentially involve thinking harder or asserting cognitive control. The curiosity that Brewer talks about in relation to uncertainty and anxiety and which I and other work with in relation to uncertainty and identity involves pausing and considering the whats and whys of our current feelings and physiological and social situation. Check out Brewer’s book and, if you think his approach might be of interest and of assistance, you can check out his app for unwinding anxiety.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. Why do you or other people procrastinate and what can you or they do to stop?
  2. How are feelings of anxiety, fear and uncertainty related?
  3. What does it mean to suggest that anxiety is a fear-linked habit loop?

References (Read Further):


Brewer, J. A., Ruf, A., Beccia, A. L., Essien, G. I., Finn, L. M., Lutterveld, R. V., & Mason, A. E. (2018). Can mindfulness address maladaptive eating behaviors? Why traditional diet plans fail and how new mechanistic insights may lead to novel interventions. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1418. Link

Crane, R., Brewer, J., Feldman, C., Kabat-Zinn, J., Santorellli, S., Williams, J. M. G., & Kuyken, W. (2020). What defines mindfulness-based programs?. The warp and the weft. Link

Ludwig, V. U., Brown, K. W., & Brewer, J. A. (2020). Self-Regulation Without Force: Can Awareness Leverage Reward to Drive Behavior Change?. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 15(6), 1382-1399. Link

Brewer, Judson (2021) Unwinding Anxiety: New Sciences Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind, Avery. Link

Brewer, J. A., Mallik, S., Babuscio, T. A., Nich, C., Johnson, H. E., Deleone, C. M., … & Rounsaville, B. J. (2011). Mindfulness training for smoking cessation: results from a randomized controlled trial. Drug and alcohol dependence, 119(1-2), 72-80. Link

Mason, A. E., Jhaveri, K., Cohn, M., & Brewer, J. A. (2018). Testing a mobile mindful eating intervention targeting craving-related eating: feasibility and proof of concept. Journal of behavioral medicine, 41(2), 160-173. Link

Roy, A., Druker, S., Hoge, E. A., & Brewer, J. A. (2020). Physician anxiety and burnout: symptom correlates and a prospective pilot study of App-delivered mindfulness training. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 8(4), e15608. Link