Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, Clinical Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Intervention, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: If you have taken an introductory psychology course what were your take-aways from it regarding Sigmund Freud and his theories? What pops to mind? Old? Dated? Sexist or even misogynistic? And what about the nature and efficacy of psychoanalysis? Same descriptors? Given the nature of these typical take-aways would it surprise you to hear that the number of people training to be and now working as analysists offering psychoanalytic therapy (3 to 5 sessions a week for 2 to 5 years at up to $400 an hour) is on the increase? Why might this be? Think about why this might be the case ‘these days’ and then read the article linked below that dives into this very question and tries to understand just what Freudian analysis might be offering today, and to whom.

Source: Not Your Daddy’s Freud, Joseph Bernstein, The New York Times.

Date: March 22, 2023

Image by Welcome to All ! ツ from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what did you make of the article? I was rather taken with the idea that in such complicated times as we are living in now the support offered by cognitive behavior therapy with its symptom-focused, get in and get out quickly with a symptomatic fix might seem a bit thin to some people. Even without buying into Freud’s particular description of the role of the deep unconscious in human psychology, the idea of starting self-reflection with the notion that there may well be more here than meets the eye (beneath our bad habits and anxieties) is a rather appealing marketing point for analysis. Maybe we need something like this sort of way to dive deeper into our life’s story and meaning and perhaps this renewed interest in Freudian analysis is just one possible way to dig into it a bit. What else if not this? Well, have a look at some of the recent work and approaches to identity development which is paying a lot of rich and detailed attention not just to how people think about their identity but also to the range of personal, family, cultural and historical factors that are involved in the process and in the autobiographical stories people develop and tell as they work on their identities over time (sounds rather analytic to me).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is your general understanding of or perspective on Freud and his psychoanalytic theory (and psychoanalysis)?
  2. What are some possible reasons for the recent jump in interest in Freudian analytic training and in psychoanaysis?
  3. What might this jump in interest in psychoanalysis be suggesting about what is is like to be trying to live well and meaningfully in the western world these days?

References (Read Further):

American Psychological Association, Divisions 12, Psychological Treatments. Link

Crews, Frederick C. (2017) Freud: What’s Left? Link

Moncrieff, J., Cooper, R. E., Stockmann, T., Amendola, S., Hengartner, M. P., & Horowitz, M. A. (2022). The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Molecular psychiatry, 1-14. Link

Bachrach, H. M., Galatzer-Levy, R., Skolnikoff, A., & Waldron Jr, S. (1991). On the efficacy of psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39(4), 871-916. Link

Yakeley, J. (2018). Psychoanalysis in modern mental health practice. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(5), 443-450. Link

Crocetti, E., Fermani, A., Pojaghi, B., & Meeus, W. (2011, February). Identity formation in adolescents from Italian, mixed, and migrant families. In Child & Youth Care Forum (Vol. 40, pp. 7-23). Springer US. Link

Keijsers, L., Branje, S. J., VanderValk, I. E., & Meeus, W. (2010). Reciprocal effects between parental solicitation, parental control, adolescent disclosure, and adolescent delinquency. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20(1), 88-113. Link





Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Development of the Self, Families and Peers, Personality, Research Methods, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP.

Description: Imagine what it would be like as a teenager to have friends who were significantly more socially dominant than you. By dominant I mean that they insist on deciding where you will go with them, what movies you will see and perhaps even who you will follow in social media. You could decide you needed better friends and move on but what if you did not move on. What would be the consequences to you of having such friends? Once you have your thoughts sorted out about that think about how you would design a study to test your hypotheses about the outcomes of having dominant friends. Your study design should be ethical, so you cannot randomly assign some participants to dominant friends and some to less dominant friends and maybe some to submissive friends. Without random assignment though the it will be difficult to come up with a design that will potentially result in findings that speak to or suggest something about the casual connections between dominant friends and personal wellbeing outcomes of those who have such friends. Once you have your design worked out read the article linked below to see what the researchers who wrote it did when they designed a study to look into this question. As you read the article, evaluate their design in terms of whether it addresses the question of the impact of having dominant friends and pay particular attention to what they describe as the limitations of their design.

Source: Teens who feel dominated by their friends experience lower self-esteem and more symptoms of anxiety and depression, Hannah L. Schacter, Adam Hoffman, and Alexandra Ehrhardt, PsycPost.

Date: March 21, 2022

Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what did you make of the authors’ study design and how did it compare to yours? The description of their results is a bit thin and so it is hard to tell how effectively their data speaks to the question of the influence of dominant friends on teens’ wellbeing. In other words, it is hard to tell from what we are told in the article whether having dominant friends causes low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression or whether having low self-esteem, anxiety and depression leads to picking dominant friends (or makes one’s existing friends seem dominant). Did their discussion of limitations in the last paragraph capture everything you thought might be needed in order to properly answer the overall research question or were some things missing (e.g., clear causal findings)? One study is rarely if ever enough to sort out this sort of (or any) research question.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does your design for research into the question of the relationship between friend dominance and wellbeing look like?
  2. What did you think of the design and results description provided by the linked article’s authors?
  3. What sort of study should the researchers do next to move towards greater clarity regarding their research question(s)?

References (Read Further):

Schacter, H. L., Hoffman, A. J., & Ehrhardt, A. D. (2023). The power dynamics of friendship: between-and within-person associations among friend dominance, self-esteem, and adolescent internalizing symptoms. Journal of youth and adolescence, 1-13. Link

Paus, T., Keshavan, M., & Giedd, J. N. (2008). Why do many psychiatric disorders emerge during adolescence?. Nature reviews neuroscience, 9(12), 947-957. Link

Hielscher, E., Moores, C., Blenkin, M., Jadambaa, A., & Scott, J. G. (2021). Intervention programs designed to promote healthy romantic relationships in youth: A systematic review. Journal of Adolescence, 92, 194-236. Link

Arslan, G. (2021). Loneliness, college belongingness, subjective vitality, and psychological adjustment during coronavirus pandemic: Development of the College Belongingness Questionnaire. Journal of Positive School Psychology, 5(1), 17-31. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Neuroscience, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development.

Description: At some point infants start to move around, then they typically start to crawl and later the stand up and start to walk. No surprises there. However, how are these behavioral changes managed  by or supported by the brain? In particular how do our brains manage the visual information we gather as we crawl or walk or, further on, the information we take in when using a map to plan a route to a desired location? Does the mode of movement (crawling, walking, or mentally imagining navigating city streets) make a difference in terms of where in the brain  our visual sensory data is processed and then organized for use in navigation? Further, how does the development of our abilities to do these things play out withing and across the brain region or regions involved?  Have a read through the article linked below to find out a bit about how researchers have approached th4see questions and a bit about how they went about setting up a scanning study using MRI scanners to try and begin to answer these questions.

Source: Visually navigating on foot used unique brain region, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: March 15, 2023

Image by Denise Husted from Pixabay

Article Link:


Developmental questions about brain function are complicated. Things do not just grow bigger with age or experience. Nor do things just get more complex with growth, age, or experience. In the case of processing visual information it looks like there are a number if brain regions involved in different forms of movement from crawling to walking to map reading. Figuring out how the brain region s work and develop and how those changes map onto or support or make possible successful navigation while crawling or walking or map reading is an ongoing (and interesting) challenge.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some ways I which the brain processing of visual information varies while we are crawling or walking??
  2. Why might it take so long (8 years) for the occipital place area of our brains to become functional?
  3. What sorts of developmental (longitudinal) studies might we design to get a closer look at the development of the OPA in visual navigation while walking?

References (Read Further):

Jones, C. M., Byland, J., & Dilks, D. D. (2023). The occipital place area represents visual information about walking, not crawling. Cerebral Cortex, bhad055. Abstract

Durgin, F. H. (2009). When walking makes perception better. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(1), 43-47. Link

Matthis, J. S., Barton, S. L., & Fajen, B. R. (2015). The biomechanics of walking shape the use of visual information during locomotion over complex terrain. Journal of vision, 15(3), 10-10. Link

Hallemans, A., Ortibus, E., Truijen, S., & Meire, F. (2011). Development of independent locomotion in children with a severe visual impairment. Research in developmental disabilities, 32(6), 2069-2074. Link

Anderson, D. I., Campos, J. J., Witherington, D. C., Dahl, A., Rivera, M., He, M., … & Barbu-Roth, M. (2013). The role of locomotion in psychological development. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 440. Link

Franchak, J. M., & Adolph, K. E. (2010). Visually guided navigation: Head-mounted eye-tracking of natural locomotion in children and adults. Vision research, 50(24), 2766-2774. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Cultural Variation, Depression, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: OK quick, off the top of your head answer these questions. What is the standard form of treatment for clinical depression and what percentage of people with depression treated that way experience substantial relief of their symptoms? If you said anti-depressant medication  as you answer to the first question you are correct but would it surprise you to learn that only 50 to 60 percent of those treated with anti-depressants experience a reduction in the depressive symptoms over their first 2 months on the medication AND that nearly 80% of those who are prescribed anti-depressants stop taking them within a month of starting them? Think about what these (lots of research supported) numbers suggest about the treatment of depression and then about what else we do or should consider when trying to figure out what treatment approach should be taken on a person-by-person basis. Once you have your thoughts/proposals in order have a read through the article linked below to see what researchers in treatment of depression have to say on this.

Source: Depression too often gets deemed ‘hard to treat’ when medication falls short Elissa H. Paterson and Jay Kayser, The Conversation.

Date: March 15, 2023

Image by Holger Langmaier from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, is depression a social problem or a disease? Whichever direction you lean in with your answer to that question you have to see that we need to think about and to work harder the challenge of how to most effectively treat depression. The ‘medicate and move on’ (depression as a chemical imbalance in the brain) approach to treating depression does not seem to be very effective and rather than holding out hope for more effective medication it may be time to consider a broader approach to dealing with depression. Psychotherapy (cognitive behavior therapy) helps but also walking in nature, exercising, working on getting better sleep, and all sorts of other things also seems to help. So maybe we need to broaden our treatment options list a bit AND do the research needed to help us figure out how to optimize treatment options for depression on a person by person basis.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the debate about the effectiveness of antidepressant medications involved?
  2. What are some of the ‘other than medication’ approaches to treating depression?
  3. What would research designed to work out optimal depression treatment approaches on a person by person basis look like?

References (Read Further):

Cipriani, A., Furukawa, T. A., Salanti, G., Chaimani, A., Atkinson, L. Z., Ogawa, Y., … & Geddes, J. R. (2018). Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Focus, 16(4), 420-429. Link

Schroder, H. S., Patterson, E. H., & Hirshbein, L. (2022). Treatment-resistant depression reconsidered. SSM-Mental Health, 2, 100081. Link

Cuijpers, P., Stringaris, A., & Wolpert, M. (2020). Treatment outcomes for depression: challenges and opportunities. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7(11), 925-927. Link

Burns, R. A., Windsor, T., Butterworth, P., & Anstey, K. J. (2022). The protective effects of wellbeing and flourishing on long-term mental health risk. SSM-Mental Health, 2, 100052. Link

Brown, D. J., Arnold, R., Fletcher, D., & Standage, M. (2017). Human thriving. European Psychologist, 22(3). Link

Moncrieff, J., Cooper, R. E., Stockmann, T., Amendola, S., Hengartner, M. P., & Horowitz, M. A. (2022). The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Molecular psychiatry, 1-14. Link

Remes, O., Mendes, J. F., & Templeton, P. (2021). Biological, psychological, and social determinants of depression: a review of recent literature. Brain sciences, 11(12), 1633. Link

Sarris, J., O’Neil, A., Coulson, C. E., Schweitzer, I., & Berk, M. (2014). Lifestyle medicine for depression. BMC psychiatry, 14(1), 1-13. Link

Posternak, M. A., Solomon, D. A., Leon, A. C., Mueller, T. I., Shea, M. T., Endicott, J., & Keller, M. B. (2006). The naturalistic course of unipolar major depression in the absence of somatic therapy. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 194(5), 324-329. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Cultural Variation, General Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Personality Disorders, Personality Disorders, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Without thinking about diagnostic criteria conjure up a mental image of a psychopath in the form of a movie character. Who or what does your image look like? Anthony Hopkins from Silence of the Lambs? Heath Ledger as the Joker from Dark Knight? Maybe Sean Connery and James Bond? Even if you did not picture one these characters the person you DID picture was most likely male and this would agree with what other people (and even the FBI) tend to think. Also notice that most of the characters are also VERY criminal (antisocial), with the possible exception of James Bond who has a “license to kill.” So, can a psychopath be female and/or non-criminal? In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM) there is no specific diagnostic category of psychopath. Instead, psychopathic tendencies are covered in a sub-category of personality disorders called Antisocial Personality Disorder. There has been a lot of debate in recent years among those involved in reviewing and possibly re-working the DSM personality disorder diagnostic categories. A big part of those debates involves the question of whether it fits the data and supports clinical practice to treat personality disorders as categoric (i.e., meet the diagnostic criteria and you HAVE the disorder, do not meet the diagnostic criteria and you DO NOT have the disorder) or whether the fit and clinical utility would be better if personality disorders were treated as continuums or dimensions (i.e., like personality traits) along which people could be located based on their presenting characteristics and behaviors. This sort of dimensional approach would open up the possibility of talking about and doing research on whether it makes sense to say that people may fall somewhere along a dimension of spectrum of psychopathy without having to be a criminal or a movie villain/monster. Related to this debate is the question of what the dimensions (i.e., more than one) of psychopathy might be and whether it makes sense to look at different ways that psychopathological dimensions or traits might be expressed (e.g., perhaps by CEO’s or successful entrepreneurs or perhaps by women). Think a bit about what this more dimensional approach to psychopaths might look like if applied more broadly and then have a read through the article linked below which provides a rich but concise overview of the use of psychopathology as a disorder or pattern of behaviors and then which examines the extension of the term psychopath to include women.

Source: What it’s like living as a female psychopath, Megha Mohan, The Health Gap, Psychology, BBC.

Date: March 19, 2023

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Article Link:

When we look at how gender is or is not related to psychological concepts or diagnostic categories we must contend with the question of whether apparent gender differences in presentation or behavior are linked to sex (i.e., biology) or to socio-cultural variations of expression. Violence in relationships, for example, is more likely to be perpetrated by males and male offenders tend to become less violent as they age. This could be due to levels of testosterone in males (that fall off with age) but it could also be linked to societal norms of male privilege. Also, there are other forms of aggression other than physical aggression and their gender patter might be different. The point is that in relation to things like psychopathy it could be that our tendency to see it as a condition much more common in males that females ties us too closely to an essentialist, biological argument while it may be that psychopathy is actually expressed differently in females compared to males. Looking into possible differences in expression open up a whole new and much broader scope of study into psychopathy. And yes, more research IS needed!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Based on the examples shown most often in movies what are psychopaths like?
  2. What are some of the diagnostic and application consequences of possibly shifting from a  categorical framework for thinking about and diagnosing personality disorders and moving towards a dimensional approach (especially for psychopathy)?
  3. How do our definitions or conceptualization of psychopathy need to change if we are to include women in the category or along the dimension of psychopathy?

References (Read Further):

Arrigo, B. A., & Shipley, S. (2001). The confusion over psychopathy (I): Historical considerations. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45(3), 325-344. Link

Pemment, J. (2013). Psychopathy versus sociopathy: Why the distinction has become crucial. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18(5), 458-461. Link

De Brito, S. A., Forth, A. E., Baskin-Sommers, A. R., Brazil, I. A., Kimonis, E. R., Pardini, D., … & Viding, E. (2021). Psychopathy. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 7(1), 49. Link

Crego, C., & Widiger, T. A. (2015). Psychopathy and the DSM. Journal of personality, 83(6), 665-677. Link

Sharp, C., & Wall, K. (2021). DSM-5 level of personality functioning: Refocusing personality disorder on what it means to be human. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 17, 313-337. Link

Sleep, C. E., Weiss, B., Lynam, D. R., & Miller, J. D. (2020). The DSM–5 section III personality disorder criterion a in relation to both pathological and general personality traits. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 11(3), 202. Link

Busmann, M., Wrege, J., Meyer, A. H., Ritzler, F., Schmidlin, M., Lang, U. E., … & Euler, S. (2019). Alternative Model of Personality Disorders (DSM-5) predicts dropout in inpatient psychotherapy for patients with personality disorder. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 952. Link

Thomson, N. D., Bozgunov, K., Psederska, E., & Vassileva, J. (2019). Sex differences on the four‐facet model of psychopathy predict physical, verbal, and indirect aggression. Aggressive behavior, 45(3), 265-274. Link

Landay, K., Harms, P. D., & Credé, M. (2019). Shall we serve the dark lords? A meta-analytic review of psychopathy and leadership. Journal of applied psychology, 104(1), 183. Link

Dolan, M., & Völlm, B. (2009). Antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy in women: A literature review on the reliability and validity of assessment instruments. International journal of law and psychiatry, 32(1), 2-9. Link

Wynn, R., Høiseth, M. H., & Pettersen, G. (2012). Psychopathy in women: theoretical and clinical perspectives. International journal of women’s health, 257-263. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Personality Disorders, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Whether or not you have a course or even just part of a course on psychology research design think about this question. If you were designing a study which you hoped would produce results that would allow you to say something about how people in general approached or dealt with a particular social situation how would you go about recruiting people to participate in the study? Lets say that you were comfortable with limiting your study (and thus your results generalizability) to emerging adult college or university students (because there are a LOT of them around at the university where you work). Now, to maximize the generalizability of your results (assuming they are statistically significant) it would be best to put together a sample by randomly selecting people from the entire population of emerging adult students at the university where you are working. But that would not be ethical would it. People have to be able to volunteer for research participation not be not pressed into it after being selected entirely at random from the local population. So, you put up posters advertising your research opportunity. You could offer incentives like a bit of money or entrance into a draw for gift cards or other prizes or, perhaps your department would set up a system where students can earn bonus course credits for participating in research. But there are ethical issues there too, aren’t there? Just as paying for blood or plasma donations reduces the freedom of choice of impoverished individuals so too does offering cash, prizes or marks to stressed and mark-worried students. Now, ethical review boards typically allow such incentives if they are small and bonus marks if they are optional and extra to overall course credits and/or if there are alternatives for earning bonus credits such as writing an article review. So it is all good right? Well, think for a minute about what other possible threats to the generalizability of your planned social psychology study there might be. Once you have your hypotheses in order have a read through the article linked below to see what the research it describes suggests you might need to worry about.

Source: People with personality disorders are more likely to sign up for psychology studies – here’s why that’s a problem, Nigel Holt, The Conversation.

Date: March 14, 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

Social psychology as a research discipline has struggled in a number of ways with the fact that the research studies done by social psychologists in efforts to better understand human social interaction are, themselves, made up of social interactions. Participants might, for example, try and figure out what the researchers’ hypothesis is and then either behave in ways that will support it or mess with it depending on how they feel about the researcher (the former is much more common). Add to this the difficulties with replication that have popped up across psychology but particularly within social psychology and things are pretty dicey already. Now add in the finding reported in the study discussed in the linked article that more frequent partivpants in psychology studies are more likely to exhibit symptoms of one or another of the current DSM recognized array of personality disorders and generalizability is now stressed in yet another way. We clearly need to do some thinking about this AND researchers need to be more cautious about the statements they make about the clarity of the generalizability claims they can make with their significant research results.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the limitations to generalizability in social psychology studies conducted at colleges and universities using student volunteer participants?
  2. What sorts of ethical issues apply to efforts by researchers to optimize the generalizability of their possible research results??
  3. What does the research discussed in the linked article suggests about the greater likelihood that people participating in multiple psychology studies are more likely to also display symptoms of one or more personality diosorder?

References (Read Further):

Kaźmierczak, I., Zajenkowska, A., Rogoza, R., Jonason, P. K., & Ścigała, D. (2023). Self-selection biases in psychological studies: Personality and affective disorders are prevalent among participants. Plos one, 18(3), e0281046. Link

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). Most people are not WEIRD. Nature, 466(7302), 29-29. Link

Jones, D. (2010). A WEIRD view of human nature skews psychologists’ studies. Link

Camerer, C. F., Dreber, A., Holzmeister, F., Ho, T. H., Huber, J., Johannesson, M., … & Wu, H. (2018). Evaluating the replicability of social science experiments in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015. Nature human behaviour, 2(9), 637-644. Link

Wiernik, B. M., Raghavan, M., Allan, T., & Denison, A. J. (2021). Generalizability challenges in applied psychological and organizational research and practice. PsyArXiv. March, 31. Link

Barsalou, L. W. (2019). Establishing generalizable mechanisms. Psychological Inquiry, 30(4), 220-230. Link

Yarkoni, T. (2022). The generalizability crisis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 45, e1. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Memory, Neuroscience, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP, Sensation-Perception, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: I am sure I do not have to tell you that psychology is a very broad discipline. However in addition to its breadth psychology is can also be seen as a hub science, meaning that research and theoretic work in psychology informs thinking and scholarship in a wide range of other disciplines. Another aspect of psychology’s broad range of influence (and a really good reason for every post-secondary student to take at least one or a few psychology courses as part of their program of study) are its scientific foundations. Humans are difficult things to study (e.g., rocks do not talk back to geologists) and the ongoing research work of psychologists to gain deeper understanding of human thoughts, emotions, behaviors and experiences is taken up and utilized to advance work and research in a wide range of other fields (e.g., education, business, public health etc. etc.). The science foundations part of how psychologists do the research they do is what makes the usefulness of the research that psychologists generate viable. So, I write a LOT in this blog about the vital importance of having a working understanding of the science of psychology in order ensure you avoid making “people are like…” statements without scientific support. When the topic of psychological interest is, say, how the brain processes contradictory information we are not likely to leap in with our personal thoughts or hypotheses as we realize that we do not have access to MRI scanners or other tools needed to observe brain activity. Sometimes, however, a question seems to more readily invite subjective speculation that may not follow the steps of scientific investigation. Here is an example of such a question for you to consider and to see how psychological sciency (for want of a better term) your approach to the question is. I will quote here the question that opens the article linked below:

“You’re walking down a busy street on your way to work. You pass a busker playing a song you haven’t heard in years. Now suddenly, instead of noticing all the goings on in the city around you, you’re mentally reliving the first time you heard the song. Hearing that piece of music takes you right back to where you were, who you were with and the feelings associated with that memory.”

A very human experience isn’t it. What are your first thoughts as you consider the general question “why is that?” If your first thoughts are not stated in terms and phrases reflecting good scientific methodology (assuming, of course that you are not deeply familiar with research on this topic already) then step back and consider what sorts of hypotheses you might pose to start an investigation of this why is that question and then think about what sorts of research studies you might design in order to test your hypotheses. Once you have all that roughed out in your mind have a read through the article linked below in which the author does a very good job of doing what I have just asked you to do (applying psychological science to an interesting part of human experience).

Source: Why does music bring back memories? What the science says, Kelly Jakubowski, The Conversation.

Date: March 9, 2023

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did your scientific research plans for investigating “music-evoked autobiographical memory” compare to the approaches (and conceptual terms) described by the music psychology author/researcher? If you consider the map of disciplinary cross fertilization generated by the researchers who examined (with the help of analytic algorithms) over one million research articles in over 7000 journals (you can see it in either of the first two linked articles in the References/Read Further section below and the first one also explains nicely how to read the map) you can see that Psychology, with its commitment to scientific methods has become one of seven hub sciences that informs and supports research, theory and application work in a broad range of disciplines. A little psychology is good for everyone as we try to make sense out of the world around us (and of ourselves and the people around us).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does it mean to describe psychology as a hub science?
  2. How much work did you have to do to shift your initial thinking about what was referred to in the linked article as music-evoked autobiographical memory in the direction of a scientific approach?
  3. Did you have any (constructively) critical thoughts about the way that the studies described by the researcher who wrote the linked article were designed and run?

References (Read Further):

Cacioppo, J. (2007). Psychology is a hub science. Aps Observer, 20. Link

Boyack, K.W., Klavans, R., & Börner, K. (2005). Mapping the backbone of science. Scientometrics, 64, 351-374. Link

Salakka, I., Pitkäniemi, A., Pentikäinen, E., Mikkonen, K., Saari, P., Toiviainen, P., & Särkämö, T. (2021). What makes music memorable? Relationships between acoustic musical features and music-evoked emotions and memories in older adults. PloS one, 16(5), e0251692. Link

Jakubowski, K., & Ghosh, A. (2021). Music-evoked autobiographical memories in everyday life. Psychology of music, 49(3), 649-666. Link

El Haj, M., Antoine, P., Nandrino, J. L., Gély-Nargeot, M. C., & Raffard, S. (2015). Self-defining memories during exposure to music in Alzheimer’s disease. International Psychogeriatrics, 27(10), 1719-1730. Link

Jakubowski, K., & Eerola, T. (2021). Music evokes fewer but more positive autobiographical memories than emotionally matched sound and word cues. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 11(2), 272–288. Link

Jakubowski, K., & Francini, E. (2022). Differential effects of familiarity and emotional expression of musical cues on autobiographical memory properties. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 17470218221129793. Link

Jakubowski, K., Belfi, A. M., & Eerola, T. (2021). Phenomenological differences in music-and television-evoked autobiographical memories. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 38(5), 435-455. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Consciousness, Depression, Emerging Adulthood, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Research Methods, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: You have likely run across recent concerning discussions regarding the levels of anxiety and depression being reported among teens and emerging adults and particularly among young teen aged girls. The reported (in population surveys) jumps in anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts in young teen girls since around 2010 are worrying and research and debate are pursuing the questions of why this might be happening. The explosive arrival of social media, accessed through smart phones, lines up very closely with these jumps and a large part of the current study and debate has been about whether any or most of the magnitude of these jumps can be ascribed to the impacts and effects of social media use. These sorts of generational differences issues are typically examined initially using population level surveys that involve the collection of broad sweeps of data at regular intervals (e.g., annually) from large, hopefully representative samples of teens, emerging adults or other age cohorts on interest or concern. Population data showing the sorts of jumps noted above in a relative short period of historical time (10 years) among a narrowly focused part of the population (teen girls) immediately give rise to questions like; Is it true? If so, what is causing it? What do the teens themselves think about this? And, of course, what can be done about this? The causal question is a big one, particularly when population level datasets are involved as it can be difficult to clearly show causality as opposed to correlation. Another huge issue concerns how the things that are of interest are being measured. For example, are anxiety levels being assessed in ways that previous (clinical) research has done and if not are the questions being asked valid for their stated use? Also, how is social media use being defined? Are the population datasets looking specifically at the use and the amount of use of core social media apps like Instagram, TikTok etc. or are they just looking at digital engagement that could also include television, video streaming and gaming as well as social media use? Another issue with population level research is that it lends itself to very general concerns or questions like “what is wrong with kids these days,” tends to view teens (for example) as passive victims of their age or their technologies and does not easily address important questions like: What do the teens themselves think about all this? What, if anything are they doing about it? What sorts of things can and/or should we be doing about things like social media use? We will be thinking about and working on all of these questions for a long time but for now think for a moment about the last three questions I posed just above and once you have a few thoughts lined up have a read through the article linked below to see what one researcher is doing to try and broaden our approach to and understanding of the population data on teen girls’ social media use.

Source: Not Hapless Victims: Teen Girls and Social Media, Terri Apter, Domestic Intelligence, Psychology Today.

Date: March 6, 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

The debate about the causal connections we may or may not be seeing clearly is heating up as is the push to see if we can better understand what is going on for individual teens in relation to social media and with anxiety and depression, how they are coping (as some clearly ARE), and what sorts of things can we try and or do that might help (e.g., the Disrupt Your Feed project mentioned in the article). The measures question is important as it is also a concept question about how the mood data being gathered through the [population surveys relate, if at all, to core questions of life satisfaction. We are only beginning our efforts to unpack, understand, and address current issues of teen and emerging adult mental health and wellbeing  and we clearly need to broaden our investigative focus AND to include teens as well, as suggested by the author of the linked article rather than simply viewing them as “hapless victims”.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What has been going on since 2010 in relation to teen and emerging adult mental health?
  2. What are some explanatory possibilities (hypotheses) that could contribute to or account for the observed jumps in levels of anxiety and self-harm particularly among teen girls?
  3. What do you see as some of the large and not so large research questions we should bee seeking to explore in this are in the immediate future and why?

References (Read Further):

Plaisime, M., Robertson-James, C., Mejia, L., Núñez, A., Wolf, J., & Reels, S. (2020). Social media and teens: A needs assessment exploring the potential role of social media in promoting health. Social Media+ Society, 6(1), 2056305119886025. Link

Twenge, J. M., Blake, A. B., Haidt, J., & Campbell, W. K. (2020). Commentary: Screens, teens, and psychological well-being: Evidence from three time-use-diary studies. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 181. Link

Barry, C. T., Sidoti, C. L., Briggs, S. M., Reiter, S. R., & Lindsey, R. A. (2017). Adolescent social media use and mental health from adolescent and parent perspectives. Journal of adolescence, 61, 1-11. 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

Haidt, Jonathan (2021) The Dangerous Experiment on Teen Girls, Ideas, The Atlantic Link

Haidt, Jonathan (2023) After Babel, Substack Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Language-Thought, Research Methods, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in SP, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Have you run across the term/concept of implicit bias? Simply put, implicit bias is typically taken to refer to unconscious tendencies people have to associate some traits, characteristics, or behaviors with other people based upon surface or first-look attributes such as age, gender, or race. Depending upon social circumstance such biases may be somewhat innocuous (e.g., aged/slow versus young/fast) or, more concernedly, they may lean toward being agist, gender-biased, or racist. There are online sites where you can take an implicit association test. If you have not taken such a test and decide to do so go ahead but don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what it may or may not mean until after you have finished reading this and the article linked below. The question you should consider is: what is implicit bias or what is it reflective of? One suggestion is that implicit bias tests reveal bits of unconscious racism (or agism or gender-bias) held by individuals and can point to a need to reflect upon one’s perspectives on matters of rage or age or gender or whatever. This suggests a link between implicit bias and stereotypes and prejudice and as such suggests that one’s implicit bias test results could be viewed as individual calls for reflective action to root out and remove one’s biases. It IS true that human cognition (including social cognition) contains biases meaning that our mind takes shortcuts or simplifies or stereotypes how we read or “perceive” meaning in the world around us. This is generally an advantage as if we had to treat every single perceptual glimpse of the world as entirely unique we would be incredibly slow thinkers and we would miss patterns and organizations in the world around us. Add to this that when we are considering the social world of people, language, history and culture we are doing so utilizing the main tool we have learned and internalized for doing that, our language. Our language has a history outside of our personal experience and its organization is, in many ways, a map of our history/culture and as such some words are more typically collocated (found or used) near one another in ways that assume or presuppose certain connections or meanings. So how would this may onto the concept of implicit bias? In other words, how responsible should we hold individuals for implicit biases that may be noted in their implicit bias test results (which are, in fact, quite variable/unstable). Further, how might implicit bias and prejudice be linked? Think about these questions for a little bit and then read the article linked below to see what a social psychology research suggests.

Source: How should we think about implicit bias? Paul Bloom, The Globe and Mail.

Date: March 3, 2023

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what are your take-aways from the linked article regarding implicit bias? As I noted above, there is no question about the fact that our thought processes contain biases. A challenge when trying to sort out what this might mean and, following that, what we should do to be unbiassed is related to the growing tendency within western thought (and psychology) to interpret all of these sorts of psychological phenomena on the individual level as in if your implicit bias test results suggest you have implicit bias then you need to notice this, come to terms with it and stop it or at least to feel some guilt about being caught out as biased by the test. I think we DO need to think about our test results but in doing so we also need to think about the possible overlaps and differences between implicit bias and conscious prejudice. They ARE linked thorough socio-cultural history and language but the relationship is a complicated one that requires a lot of thought and work as do all versions of systemic prejudice (racism, agism, gender-bias, etc.). So keep at it!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is implicit bias and what are some examples of it?
  2. How might implicit bias be related to basic human cognitive processes on one hand and conscious prejudice on another?
  3. How do you think people should approach, think about and deal with implicit bias in themselves and others?

References (Read Further):

Gawronski, B. (2019). Six lessons for a cogent science of implicit bias and its criticism. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(4), 574-595. Link

Jolls, C., & Sunstein, C. R. (2006). The law of implicit bias. Calif. L. Rev., 94, 969. Link

Greenwald, A. G., & Krieger, L. H. (2006). Implicit bias: Scientific foundations. California law review, 94(4), 945-967. Link

Pritlove, C., Juando-Prats, C., Ala-Leppilampi, K., & Parsons, J. A. (2019). The good, the bad, and the ugly of implicit bias. The Lancet, 393(10171), 502-504. Link

Staats, C. (2016). Understanding implicit bias: What educators should know. American Educator, 39(4), 29. Link

Vuletich, H. A., & Payne, B. K. (2019). Stability and change in implicit bias. Psychological science, 30(6), 854-862. Link

Hauser, D. J., & Schwarz, N. (2022). Implicit bias reflects the company that words keep. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. Link

De Houwer, J. (2019). Implicit bias is behavior: A functional-cognitive perspective on implicit bias. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(5), 835-840. Link

Greenwald, A. G., Dasgupta, N., Dovidio, J. F., Kang, J., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Teachman, B. A. (2022). Implicit-bias remedies: Treating discriminatory bias as a public-health problem. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 23(1), 7-40. Link

Holroyd, J., Scaife, R., & Stafford, T. (2017). What is implicit bias?. Philosophy Compass, 12(10), e12437. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cultural Variation, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition.

Description: When I started university (a looong time ago) I had decided I was going to go into physics. By the end of my first year I had failed physics and math and was beginning to realize I would need to rethink my direction of study. Being somewhat perseverant though, I took the non-honors versions of the physics and math courses the next year and passed them (more to prove to myself that I could do them). Then, I took a year off, worked, saved some money and went off on a 6-week wander through Europe with a couple of friends. Before starting my year off I was chatting with a neighbor whose gas station I had worked at while in high school and I mentioned that I was taking a year off to work, travel and figure out what I wanted to do at university. His reaction was quick and quite negative. He told me that if I “quit” university I would likely not go back and that was a very bad thing to be thinking about doing. Luckily, I was undeterred (and my parents were supportive) and I spent the academic year working and then the late spring and early summer poking around Europe from Greece up to my grandparent’s city of origin, Edinburgh. I had a good time, saw a lot of stuff, met quite a few people and got a sense of diversities of culture and I came home with a desire to study something focused on people and social interaction. I returned to university (much to my neighbor’s relief). My initial choice was anthropology, but I hedged by bets with courses in sociology and psychology and found that anthropology did not do much for me interest-wise, sociology was somewhat intriguing but psychology… that grabbed and held my interest and curiosity and here I am today a retired developmental psychologist still writing and teaching and researching in the part of psychology that drew me in the deepest. So, while we did not call it that back then I think my “gap year” really helped me. It broadened my experience and perspective, pushed me to do some serious self-reflection, and moved me towards figuring my things out for myself. I was more willing and better able to dive into the exploration and learning opportunities that were there in university and which started me down my career path. Now, my story, I would say, is a developmental one as in my year off and my travel find traction with my self-reflection and education and life planning. Gap years are now viewed much more positively than my old neighbor viewed them, for a lot of reasons, some anecdotal, some based on expert observation, and some based on research data. One of the important areas of expert reflection and organizational psychology research involves the business argument that might be made in favor of gap year travel. Think about what sorts of things organizations and employers might by looking for in potential new employees ‘these days.” What sorts of things do you think are high on their ‘looking for’ lists of potential new hire skills, experiences and attributes? Of those which might be positively linked to gap year travel experiences? Once you have generated and ordered your list have a read through the article linked below written by and expert in organizational hiring practices (and with a little bit of data as well) and see what they have to suggest.

Source: There’s wider economic sense in helping young people get overseas experience, Zabeen Hirji, The Globe and Mail.

Date: February 3, 2023

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did the author’ list line up with yours? Did you list include critical thinking, adaptability, self-reflection, emotional intelligence (soft skills), cultural awareness, developing a sense of purpose and resilience? The author indicates that many of the things on their list cannot be taught (as part of a university curriculum) but, I would suggest, that this is not because they have simply been left off the curriculum but rather, they are things that you have to learn by figuring them out for yourself by focusing and working on your development on purpose. And you can do that just by travelling, good deal huh?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are gap years and are they good or not so good from a developmental life planning perspective?
  2. What sorts of things are employers looking for these days aside from education credentials?
  3. What sorts of things that employers and organization are looking for would also be good for you to have just in terms of life quality?

References (Read Further):

Global Skills Opportunity (Canada) Link

Al Asefer, M., & Abidin, N. S. Z. (2021). Soft skills and graduates’ employability in the 21st century from employers’ perspectives: A review of literature. International Journal of Infrastructure Research and Management, 9(2), 44-59. Link

Warrner, J. (2021). Integrating Soft Skills into an Academic Curriculum. American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. Link

Hahn, S. E., & Pedersen, J. (2020). Employers needs versus student skillsets. Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division, 10(1), 38-53. Link

Kóré, K. (2021). The effect of gap years on sense of purpose and career development (Doctoral dissertation). Link

Snee, H. (2014). Doing something ‘worthwhile’: Intersubjectivity and morality in gap year narratives. The Sociological Review, 62(4), 843-861. Link

Tian, G., & Ran, W. (2017, November). Review on the impact of gap years on career development. In 2nd International Conference on Education Technology and Economic Management (ICETEM 2017) (pp. 280-284). Atlantis Press. Link