Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Physiology, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development.

Description: The standard introductory psychology account of how our systems maintains consistent levels of food intake used to involve a couple of components. The first involves close areas within the hypothalamus which seem to be implicated in appetite regulation. The most dramatic data involved rats who had one or the other of these areas surgically cut with the result being either hyperphagic (eating all the time) or hypophagic (never seem hungry) rats. The other levels of explanation include systemic factors such as cyclical calorie reduction due to dieting or famine leading to big increases in efficiency in processing what food is eaten (and thus no or little weight loss in repeated dieting efforts). The most recent factor suggested that the brain, by tracking levels of various hormones circulating in the blood, monitors the general condition of our fat cells which suggested that individual fat cells could “complain” about a lack of nutritive input. Recent research takes this a big step further suggesting that our brains are not just passively monitoring the condition of our fat cells but are actively engaged in surveying and communicating with our fat cells as part of our sensory system activity. Have a read through the linked article that talks about this new work and think a bit about what intervention opportunities might arise from it.

Source: Scientists eavesdrop on communication between fat and brain, ScienceDaily, Science News.

Date: August 31, 2022

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, while the information about how such things work was a bit thin in the linked article, the suggestion was that the rate of fat burning in the body may be regulated by the sport of homeostatic (oppositional) system that is used to regulate things like body temperature or thirst. Perhaps if the rate of fat burning could be slightly increased weight reduction might follow (or being warmer in winter). Maybe too simple an application? Yes, maybe, certainly more research is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do our body’s regulate out levels of food intake?
  2. What does the linked article tell us that is new?
  3. What sorts of the possible applications (interventions) might arise from this work and what else would we need to know (research) before trying them out?

References (Read Further):

Yu Wang, Verina H. Leung, Yunxiao Zhang, Victoria S. Nudell, Meaghan Loud, M. Rocio Servin-Vences, Dong Yang, Kristina Wang, Maria Dolores Moya-Garzon, Veronica L. Li, Jonathan Z. Long, Ardem Patapoutian, Li Ye. (2022) The role of somatosensory innervation of adipose tissues. Nature. Link

Cypess, A. M., & Kahn, C. R. (2010). Brown fat as a therapy for obesity and diabetes. Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity, 17(2), 143. Link

Contreras, C., Gonzalez, F., Fernø, J., Diéguez, C., Rahmouni, K., Nogueiras, R., & López, M. (2015). The brain and brown fat. Annals of medicine, 47(2), 150-168. Link

Reddy, N. L., Tan, B. K., Barber, T. M., & Randeva, H. S. (2014). Brown adipose tissue: endocrine determinants of function and therapeutic manipulation as a novel treatment strategy for obesity. BMC obesity, 1(1), 1-12. Link

Kim, S. H., & Plutzky, J. (2016). Brown fat and browning for the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders. Diabetes & metabolism journal, 40(1), 12-21. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Disorders of Childhood, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Psychological Intervention, Stress, Stress: Coping Reducing, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Perhaps you have heard about the alarming increases that are being observed in rates of self-harming behavior and suicidal thoughts and actions among teenagers. These stats are often discussed in relation to the question of whether they might be linked to recent generational jumps in use of social media and the attendant shifts in the nature and extent of social contact (that I have previously posted about). Research into those questions is ongoing but a more important research question is to ask, “for those teens, what helps, what works?” One of the fundamental ethical commitments of clinical psychology and psychiatry is to only use treatment approached tools and techniques that have been shown to be effective not at the individual level but in well designed and large research projects. To have a look not just at the `what works` question but at how psychological researchers take up such questions have a rad through the article linked below. As you go though the article pay particular attention to the research/practice links and discussions.

Source: ‘The Best Tool We Have’ for Self-Harming and Suicidal Teens, Matt Richtel, The New York Times.

Date: August 27, 2022

Image by Wokandapix at

Article Link:

Clearly the simple answer to the question of what works is Dialectical Behavior Therapy as demonstrated by the several large well designed, peer reviewed studies noted in the article (see links to some of that work below if you would like a closer look). The bigger picture answer, however, is more complicated and involves consideration of the cost of such treatment and of the number of levels it involves (Individual, group, and parent therapy/instruction and related supports). What is available will vary by jurisdiction (province or state). Many jurisdictions provide insurance coverage if the therapy is provided by medical professionals (Psychiatrists) or by others such as Psychologists or social workers in hospitals or other funded health settings. There are a few sample links below but you will need to research your local resources to know what is available in your area.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why are issues of self-harm or suicide particularly challenging when they involve teenagers?
  2. What are some of the developmental issues that contribute to a full answer to the previous question?
  3. What works by way of treatment and how do we know?

References (Read Further):

University of Washington (2022) Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Link

Brown, G. K., Ten Have, T., Henriques, G. R., Xie, S. X., Hollander, J. E., & Beck, A. T. (2005). Cognitive therapy for the prevention of suicide attempts: a randomized controlled trial. Jama, 294(5), 563-570. Link

Iyengar, U., Snowden, N., Asarnow, J. R., Moran, P., Tranah, T., & Ougrin, D. (2018). A further look at therapeutic interventions for suicide attempts and self-harm in adolescents: an updated systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 583. Link

Berk, M. S., Starace, N. K., Black, V. P., & Avina, C. (2020). Implementation of dialectical behavior therapy with suicidal and self-harming adolescents in a community clinic. Archives of suicide research, 24(1), 64-81. Link

Tebbett-Mock, A. A., McGee, M., & Saito, E. (2021). Efficacy and sustainability of dialectical behaviour therapy for inpatient adolescents: a follow-up study. General Psychiatry, 34(4). Link

University Health Network (2022) A guide to finding dialectical behaviour therapy (Ontario). Link (2022) Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Link


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cultural Variation, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Human Development, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, The Self.

Description: Ok, here is a challenging question. Imagine you are a parent, and your child is 4 years old, and you need some butter for a recipe you are working on for a large family dinner, but you have several things in the oven and on the stove and you cannot leave (Covid inspired delivery will take too long). There is a corner store 2 blocks from your house that your child is very familiar with because you walk with them to the store every Friday for “treat day” (where your child gets to pick a small amount of candy from the offerings at the store. You have a passing thought that your 4-year-old could be given some money and a note saying, “a pound of butter please” and could walk to the store and get you the butter you need…. What are your thoughts? Wow, I just had a crazy daydream? Or I better get back on my meds, that is a crazy thought? They are not old enough for that (and if you think that how old WOULD they have to be before you would send them on the butter errand)? How about “that’s against the law isn’t it?” Well, let me date myself rather severely. When I was in grade 1 I would walk from my family home 4 blocks to my school, and I would also walk home for lunch everyday too. Sometimes I would walk with friends but really only if we happened to run into each other along he way. I walked past a corner store that was across the street from the school (which had crossing guards who were grade 6 and 7 students, not adults). My mother would often send me to the store with a note and money to get something she needed for a meal preparation or baking task. I, and no one else, thought my life was in jeopardy when I did those things. Was my Mom crazy? No. That was how we (and most other families) did things back then. Yes, I know, maybe if I rode my pet dinosaur to school I would have been better off. Would you do this today? Well before you snort or laugh dismissively consider that there is a TV show made in Japan called Old Enough! That follows young children doing just those sorts of errands (check them out on YouTube and maybe on Netflix). Oh, and as crazy as this might sound to you consider the possibility that having young children do things like this might actually be good for them. Dubious? Aghast? Well, have a read through the article linked below and consider one or two of the articles in the Further Reading list and see if you budge a bit from your position in this area.

Source: A 4-year-old can run errands alone … and not just on reality TV, Maichaeleen Doucleff, Goats and Soda, Stories of Life in a Changing World.

Date: April 22, 2022

Image by langll from Pixabay

Article Link:

OK as crazy as the premise of a young child walking alone to and from a local store (or a relative’s hose, a park or a neighbor’s or a friend’s house) there IS data that indicates that many of our neighbourhood have become safe and safer over the past 25 years. And what about the matter of being able to practice autonomy? Growth in the area of autonomy is a vital part of positive development. In Erikson’s psychol social model, it is the second thing to start to emerge as a need or developmental issue at around 2 years of age, proceeded only by trust, which is at the core of the development of attachment relationships in the first 2 years of life. So, while checking local laws and regulations would be a good idea maybe this idea of encouraging autonomy is not as crazy as it may have seemed when I first mentioned it above.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are your concerns about the idea of having a young child run such errands?
  2. What about being responsible to doing something helpful with an adult hand-holder be good for your children developmentally?
  3. What are some longer-term developmental and adjustment implications for today’s children and youth of their NOT having autonomy opportunities like the ones that I had as a child (not that I am perfect in any way)?

References (Read Further):

Ochs, E., & Izquierdo, C. (2009). Responsibility in childhood: Three developmental trajectories. Ethos, 37(4), 391-413. Link

Lancy, D. F. (2012). The chore curriculum. African Children at Work: Working and Learning in Growing Up., 23. Link

Frankenhuis, W. E., & Amir, D. (2021). What is the expected human childhood? Insights from evolutionary anthropology. Development and psychopathology, 1-25. Link

Vasquez, A. C., Patall, E. A., Fong, C. J., Corrigan, A. S., & Pine, L. (2016). Parent autonomy support, academic achievement, and psychosocial functioning: A meta-analysis of research. Educational Psychology Review, 28(3), 605-644. Link

Haidt, J., & Rodin, J. (1999). Control and efficacy as interdisciplinary bridges. Review of general psychology, 3(4), 317-337. Link

Schiffrin, H. H., Liss, M., Miles-McLean, H., Geary, K. A., Erchull, M. J., & Tashner, T. (2014). Helping or hovering? The effects of helicopter parenting on college students’ well-being. Journal of child and family studies, 23(3), 548-557. Link

Pimentel, D. (2016). Protecting the free-range kid: recalibrating parents’ rights and the best interest of the child. Cardozo L. Rev., 38, 1. Link

Free Range Kids Web Site

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Intelligence, Language-Thought, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Sensation-Perception, Social Psychology.

Description: What does sentient mean? Its dictionary definition typical says something like responsive to and conscious of sense impressions; aware; conscious. We (us humans) are sentient, though there was a time when we believe that infant humans were not (we DO think they ARE sentient now). A huge part of how we manage or are expected to manage our interactions with other people is grounded in their being sentient. Many ethical considerations or issues. Now, what else is sentient? Let’s leave AI out of this for now. Is your dog or cat sentient? I am pretty sure you think so or act like it is so. Are you sensing a sort of ethical dimension here? If we and our pets are up at one end what is at the other end? How about lobsters and crabs? Typically, we prepare them for our dinner tables by tossing them live into boiling water. Would that be an ethical way to treat a sentient being, even if we were going to eat it? What about things that are between us and lobsters and crabs? What about octopuses? If we are using sentience to guide our drawing of ethical treatment lines where do we draw those lines? If you are a me, my friends and relatives, and my pets only line drawer maybe find and watch the film My Octopus Teacher for some things to think about. Once you have though a bit about how and where you would acknowledge sentience and draw ethical lines have a rad through the article linked below for a considered discussion of these questions.

Source: Do octopuses, squid and crabs have emotions? ScienceDaily.

Date: March 24, 2022

Image by glucosala from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, is your ethical world now in chaos? There have been efforts to have “higher” species, such as chimpanzees and gorillas viewed as persons in terms of law and ethics (yes, I know, more chaos). What about other species? If they can be shown to have emotions, or curiosity, or individual preferences how might we have to re-work our ethical word views. As the author of the linked article suggest in closing, “It may be time to look at our world differently.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is sentience?
  2. How do you see sentience playing into issues and thoughts about ethics (or do you)?
  3. How might we look at the world differently if we start to lean towards acknowledging sentience in other species (like octopuses)?

References (Read Further):

Frans B. M. de Waal and Kristin Andrews. The question of animal emotions. Science, 2022 Abstract Link

Kittilsen, S. (2013). Functional aspects of emotions in fish. Behavioural processes, 100, 153-159. Link

Kret, M. E., Massen, J. J., & de Waal, F. (2022). My Fear Is Not, and Never Will Be, Your Fear: On Emotions and Feelings in Animals. Affective Science, 3(1), 182-189. Link

Engelen, T., & Mennella, R. (2020). What Is It Like to Be an Emotion Researcher?. PsyArXiv. September, 8. Link

Hutton, J. (2022) Animals Feel What’s Right and Wrong, Too. Nautilus. Link

Andrews, K., Comstock, G., Crozier, G. K. D., Donaldson, S., Fenton, A., John, T. M., … & Sebo, J. (2018). Chimpanzee rights: The philosophers’ brief. Routledge. Link

Mazor, M., Demertzi, A., Fahrenfort, J., Faivre, N., Francken, J., Lamy, D., … & Lubianker, N. (2021). The scientific study of consciousness cannot, and should not, be morally neutral. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: Quick! Which of these is easier to remember: a song you heard last week and really liked or what you had for lunch last Tuesday? Unless the lunch was particularly good or unique or special it is most likely you would remember the song and if you think about it you agree with that hypothesis, don’t you? Why do you suppose that is? What is it about music or even just arts of songs that we recall years later or that end up as “earworms” running through our heads and being hard to get rid of (if we want to get rid of them)? Think about what you know or have heard about how human memory functions and then come up with some thoughts/hypotheses as to why music might be easier to recall than other things and then read the linked article to see what research suggests.

Source: Why We Remember Music and Forget Everything Else, Nayantara Dutta, Health, Psychology,

Date: April 14, 2022

Image by OmarMedinaFilms from Pixabay

Article Link:

A pioneering memory researcher named Hermann Ebbinghaus working over 100 years ago tested his own memory with different kinds of lists and stated that memory is associationistic (well, he called it associationism theory). By this he meant that memories are connected to events and to previous memories by their meaning. This supports the consistent finding in research and among first year students preparing for their first exam that rote memorization (no associations) does not prepare on for recall when needed on exams etc. nearly as well as developing understanding of the concepts, theories and research that will need to be recalled. Songs, by their nature, are richly connected with situations, emotions and aspects of personal identity. With all those associations it should be of no surprise that music is better remembered that last Tuesday’s lunch! Oh, and search HEARDLE (like Wordle but with music) and give it a try.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why are songs easier to recall than other bits of memory?
  2. What can one learn from memory for songs and music that might help first year students working out how they will prepare for their first midterm exams?
  3. What are some other areas where the research discussed in the linked article might be usefully applied (e.g., with dementia patients perhaps)?

References (Read Further):

Nordström, H., & Laukka, P. (2019). The time course of emotion recognition in speech and music. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145(5), 3058-3074. Link

Liikkanen, L. A., & Jakubowski, K. (2020). Involuntary musical imagery as a component of ordinary music cognition: A review of empirical evidence. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 27(6), 1195-1217. Link

Salimpoor, V. N., Benovoy, M., Larcher, K., Dagher, A., & Zatorre, R. J. (2011). Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. Nature neuroscience, 14(2), 257-262. Link

Jakubowski, K., Farrugia, N., Halpern, A. R., Sankarpandi, S. K., & Stewart, L. (2015). The speed of our mental soundtracks: Tracking the tempo of involuntary musical imagery in everyday life. Memory & Cognition, 43(8), 1229-1242. Link

Baird, A., & Samson, S. (2009). Memory for music in Alzheimer’s disease: unforgettable?. Neuropsychology review, 19(1), 85-101. Link

Leggieri, M., Thaut, M. H., Fornazzari, L., Schweizer, T. A., Barfett, J., Munoz, D. G., & Fischer, C. E. (2019). Music intervention approaches for Alzheimer’s disease: A review of the literature. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13, 132. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Neuroscience, Personality, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Social Psychology.

Description: What does the brain of someone diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder look like? How about the brain of someone recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? How about the brain of a depressed person … a happy person … an introvert … a risk-taker ….? The list could go on and on. For a number of years now we have had the ability, using scanning procedures such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging to not have to wait to do post-mortem analyses of the brains of people with conditions or profiles of interest. Now we can get a finely detailed look at their brains, safely, while they are alive. So, now we must know a LOT about what many many conditions of interest lo like in the brain, right? As well, knowing this could be helping us with diagnosis, treatment, early identification and prevention of all manner of conditions of interest and of challenges for those who experience them (you would think/hope). BUT, add this fact into your considerations: MRI machines are VERY expensive and renting/buying time on them for research purposes, while better than it was when they were first available is still the most daunting line item in the budget of any research project planning to make use of MRI tools. Think about what effect that fact might have on the sort of research I mentioned above at the start of this post. Think small sample sizes. Think what sorts of issues that might raise for research of this sort. What kinds of studies would be most challenged by small samples? What kinds of studies would not be challenged (at least as much) by small samples? What should be done about this? Once you have your thoughts in order, read thorough the article linked below to see what neuroscience psychology researchers are talking about in this area.

Source: M.R.I.s Are Finding Connections Between Our Brain Activity and Psychology, Kim Tingley, Studies Show, The New York Times

Date: April 19, 2022

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:


So, did you predict a replication concern or crisis akin to that seen in social psychology? Did you tik that such a concern would apply directly to studies looking for general brain structure – psychology connections? Did you suggest that the concern might not apply very much or at all to studies looking for real time changes in peoples’ brains as they do specific things such as try to focus and concentrate of specific things? Power analyses are things that students learn about in their first courses on research methodology and statistic in psychology. Power analysis basically asks, how many research participants are needed in order to be comfortably certain that a finding or a difference of a specified (expected) size is real as opposed to simply being a sample specific random anomaly. Replication (rather than just more research) is needed is an increasingly loudly heard phrase in psychology research communities. Replication efforts are challenged by the fact that negative results (e.g., we did not find the significant results in our study that they found in theirs) are much less likely to be viewed by journal editorial boards as publishable. At least, top tier journals such as Nature, noted in the article and included in the Further Reading section below, are starting to include article looking at important questions such as just how many participants do we need in order to be more confident in the replicability of our studies?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some areas where researchers are looking for connections between brain structures and things of psychological interest?
  2. Beyond knowing more about the brain, why might the sorts of things addressed in the previous question be important to know about?
  3. What are the key replication issues in “brain psychology” these days (and what types of research are NOT impacted by these concerns? What should be done to address the replication concerns (especially given the still VERY steep costs of MRI access)?

References (Read Further):

Marek, S., Tervo-Clemmens, B., Calabro, F. J., Montez, D. F., Kay, B. P., Hatoum, A. S., … & Dosenbach, N. U. (2022). Reproducible brain-wide association studies require thousands of individuals. Nature, 1-7. Link

Szucs, D., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2020). Sample size evolution in neuroimaging research: An evaluation of highly-cited studies (1990–2012) and of latest practices (2017–2018) in high-impact journals. NeuroImage, 221, 117164. Link

Szucs, D., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2020). Sample size evolution in neuroimaging research: An evaluation of highly-cited studies (1990–2012) and of latest practices (2017–2018) in high-impact journals. NeuroImage, 221, 117164. Link

The ABCD Study in the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States, Link

Rosenberg, M. D., Finn, E. S., Scheinost, D., Papademetris, X., Shen, X., Constable, R. T., & Chun, M. M. (2016). A neuromarker of sustained attention from whole-brain functional connectivity. Nature neuroscience, 19(1), 165-171. Link

Barch, D. M., & Yarkoni, T. (2013). Introduction to the special issue on reliability and replication in cognitive and affective neuroscience research. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 13(4), 687-689. Link

Yeung, A. W. (2017). Do neuroscience journals accept replications? A survey of literature. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 468. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Health, Research Methods.

Description: I am willing to bet that you have already heard something about the practice of if not the term being used for forest bathing. No, it does not involve getting wet in the woods (unless perhaps it is raining). The term comes out of Japan (shinrin yoku = forest bathing) where the practice of taking a slow walk in the woods and perceptually “soaking up” all that it offers in the way of sights, sounds, smells and textures is thought to be relaxing and rejuvenating … a stress reducer. Consider why it might be that walks in the forest could have significant positive effects on those who take them. Once you have your hypotheses in order read the article linked below and see if you can decide whether the increasing popularity of the forest bathing is due to a solid and growing base of research support or due to the increasing amounts of money being investing in training forest therapy guides and marketing (and whether these two things are or should be separate questions).

Source: The secret to well-being could be a walk in the woods, Gayle MacDonald, The Globe and Mail.

Date: April 22, 2022

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what were your conclusions? Yes there IS a rather large amount on research data showing positive health impacts that support the Japanese view of forest bathing as preventative medicine, though the control conditions in such studies might need a close look. It IS true that as urban dwellers we are more stressed and anxious that we used to be AND we spend a higher proportion of our time indoors that we used to. Now, does that mean we need more outdoor time or does that mean we need more time away from whatever is driving us when we are indoors? It would be worth look more closely at existing research to see if it sorts this out. That said, While you are doing that or doing whatever else you are doing, maybe take some time, some regular time, and take some walks in the woods. That might make you feel better even if we are still figuring out why!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is forest bathing?
  2. Forest bathing seems to have a number of benefits. Why might that be (what are the “active ingredients” in forest bathing?
  3. What sorts of research do we need to do, using what sorts of designs, if we want to sort out what it is about forest bathing that seems to be making people feel and be better?

References (Read Further):

Li, Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 9-17. Link

Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 18-26. Link

Tsunetsugu, Y., Park, B. J., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010). Trends in research related to “Shinrin-yoku”(taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing) in Japan. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 27-37. Link

Hansen, M. M., Jones, R., & Tocchini, K. (2017). Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) and nature therapy: A state-of-the-art review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(8), 851. Link

Wen, Y., Yan, Q., Pan, Y., Gu, X., & Liu, Y. (2019). Medical empirical research on forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku): A systematic review. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 24(1), 1-21. Link

Kim, J. G., & Shin, W. S. (2021). Forest therapy alone or with a guide: is there a difference between self-guided forest therapy and guided forest therapy programs?. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(13), 6957. Link

Lee, I., Choi, H., Bang, K. S., Kim, S., Song, M., & Lee, B. (2017). Effects of forest therapy on depressive symptoms among adults: A systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(3), 321. Link

Song, C., Ikei, H., & Miyazaki, Y. (2017). Sustained effects of a forest therapy program on the blood pressure of office workers. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 27, 246-252. Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: How you think of yourself can make a big difference in how you manage yourself when things in your life change. Now THAT is a vague general statement that I suspect you can see some truth in even if what you think may not match up with what I, or others, might have in mind. So, let me focus the question a bit. How do you think about and how do you manage your self-continuity through time? Are you just the same person today that you were last month, last year, or 5 years ago or have you had to do somethings to maintain a sense that you are still you? This may seem like an odd or confusing question but give it some thought. Once you have thought about it, consider how you would react to or copy with a traumatic event such as an impactful life event like the loss of a loved one, the unexpected loss of a job or a relationship and think of it in terms of your self-continuity processes. Would you be able to “get over” or “get past” the event and then carry on as before? Or would that even be possible given the way in which the event changed, stole or messed up a part of yourself, of who you are? We think of grief as arising from the loss of something, or someone, but we do not tend to think about how grief might also involve a loss part of ourselves or of our ability, our self’s ability, to continue on. What if what we need to do is not get past or get over as if the trauma of loss will just go away but, instead we needed to revise or rewrite the story of ourselves. I do not mean that you make up a new story of yourself. What if, from early adulthood onward, we have already been self-authoring ourselves and our life stories? And maybe if we worked with that as how we have been managing our self-continuity we would be able to find a way to cope with life traumas more as (not easy) parts of life rather than bad luck or anomalies or disasters. Have a read through the article linked below to explore these possibilities a bit further.

Source: Some People Turn Suffering Into Wisdom, David Brooks, The New York Times.

Date: April 21, 2022

Image by Counselling from Pixabay

Article Link:

The belief in a just world is talked about and researcher a lot in social psychology. We do not just like, but we seem to need, to hold tightly to the belief that good things happen to good people (like us) and that when bad things happen they only happen to bad people, to people who deserve them. However, life is not like that, is it? There are things that happen that involve loss and grief and change that part of life and that happen to good people. The impact can be disorienting at a very basic level. Some things are equally challenging while, at the same time, being a regular part of life, such as trying to develop and implement an educational/career plan in these increasingly changing and uncertain times. Self-authoring and re-authoring can be a very useful way to plan and to move forward in all of these situations. Check out one or two of the references in the Further Reading section below for some places you can go to find out more about this and about how to do more of it.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some places where the belief in a just world creates coping problems for people?
  2. What is self-authoring and how or where might it be helpful?
  3. How does the way in which we consider and manage self-continuity change as we grow, develop, and age?

References (Read Further):

Pennebaker, J. W. (2018). Expressive writing in psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), 226-229. Link

Pennebaker, J. W., & Chung, C. K. (2011). Expressive writing: Connections to physical and mental health. In H. S. Friedman (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of health psychology (pp. 417–437). Oxford University Press. Link

Gortner, E. M., Rude, S. S., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2006). Benefits of expressive writing in lowering rumination and depressive symptoms. Behavior therapy, 37(3), 292-303. Link

Bluck, S., & Alea, N. (2008). Remembering being me: The self-continuity function of autobiographical memory in younger and older adults. Self continuity: Individual and collective perspectives, 55-70. Link

Becker, M., Vignoles, V. L., Owe, E., Easterbrook, M. J., Brown, R., Smith, P. B., … & Lay, S. (2018). Being oneself through time: Bases of self-continuity across 55 cultures. Self and Identity, 17(3), 276-293. Link

Rutchick, A. M., Slepian, M. L., Reyes, M. O., Pleskus, L. N., & Hershfield, H. E. (2018). Future self-continuity is associated with improved health and increases exercise behavior. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 24(1), 72. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Prevention, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Social Cognition, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: We are hearing from several directions that there are not enough therapists to go around these days. Even discounting the impact of the Covid pandemic (if we can), the successful reduction of stigma associated with admitting that help is needed and increasing levels of burnout and retirement among support and therapy providers, and we are short of what we need. What to do? An interesting thought is to consider who else might be able to be of assistance to those around them who are coping with mental health issues. How about friends, neighbors, anyone (with appropriate training)? Think about at least two implications of this suggestion. One is who could or should be trained and how. A second implication is more general, and it may become clear to you if, as you read through the linked article and all of the ways it considered for regular citizens providing ‘therapy,’ you think about what those things have to say about us and the state of our social connections these days.

Source: How mental health training for regular citizens is helping fill Canada’s therapy gap, Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail.

Date: April 16, 2022

Image by sasint from Pixabay

Article Link:

The linked article discusses a number of options and areas where regular citizens could be of assistance in issues of mental health, from being aware of suicide, to talking with fellow students, employees, or to family friends or neighbors. The article also includes mention of aspects of the second implication I hinted at above. We have seen in research data for a long time that social support, social connections, listeners reduce the impact and even the incidence of mental health problems. Very early work showed us that people living in small towns or communities tended to recover more quickly from mental health issues that did city dwellers. Part of this is likely due cities being where mental health clinics and therapists may be found but it was also suggested that the closer social ties found in small communities lead to people being helped to access support earlier and provided more support upon their return from treatment leading to quicker and more complete returns to adaptive functioning. Bottom line, perhaps we need more genuine and regular social contacts that we routinely have these days if we are to comfortably maintain our mental health and wellbeing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things can regular folks provide that could be of assistance to those dealing with mental health issues?
  2. What are some ways in which citizen mental health supports might work with profe4ssional mental health services?
  3. What do you make of the second implication I suggested in terms of what this article and what it discussed might suggest about where we are at socially these days in general and in terms of our mental health and wellness?

References (Read Further):

Iyer, S. N., Boksa, P., Lal, S., Shah, J., Marandola, G., Jordan, G., … & Malla, A. K. (2015). Transforming youth mental health: a Canadian perspective. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 32(1), 51-60. Link

Halsall, T., Manion, I., Iyer, S. N., Mathias, S., Purcell, R., & Henderson, J. (2019, March). Trends in mental health system transformation: Integrating youth services within the Canadian context. In Healthcare management forum (Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 51-55). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications. Link

Grant, K. L., Simmons, M. B., & Davey, C. G. (2018). Three nontraditional approaches to improving the capacity, accessibility, and quality of mental health services: An overview. Psychiatric Services, 69(5), 508-516. Link

Hendryx, M., Green, C. A., & Perrin, N. A. (2009). Social support, activities, and recovery from serious mental illness: STARS study findings. The journal of behavioral health services & research, 36(3), 320-329. Link

Chronister, J., Chou, C. C., & Liao, H. Y. (2013). The role of stigma coping and social support in mediating the effect of societal stigma on internalized stigma, mental health recovery, and quality of life among people with serious mental illness. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(5), 582-600. Link

Luxton, D. D., June, J. D., & Comtois, K. A. (2013). Can postdischarge follow-up contacts prevent suicide and suicidal behavior?. Crisis. Link

Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., Marsch, L. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences, 25(2), 113-122. Link

Shalaby, R. A. H., & Agyapong, V. I. (2020). Peer support in mental health: literature review. JMIR Mental Health, 7(6), e15572. Link


Posted by & filed under Group Processes, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: If you cannot say something nice say nothing at all! Did you ever get that advice? It is possibly good advice for young children who are learning how to “play nice” together but what about in adulthood and especially what about in work settings where you might be training or managing others or working on teams with fellow employees where effective team performance is what will move the organization (and its staff) forward? Certainly ‘being critical’ sounds a lot like ‘being negative’ or ‘being mean’ but when hedged as ‘constructive criticism’ it is more typically seen as positive, if maybe a bit hard to hear. How do you feel about providing criticism even if it is constructive? Do you avoid doing it? Sugar coat it with a positive comment or two? Happily, dish it out? Do you describe it to yourself in more positive ways, perhaps as giving advice and if you do does that make you feel better, and does it go better with the person you are providing it to? Industrial organizational psychologists study people and issues that arise in workplace settings. Think about what sorts of approaches have been taken to studying how people who provide feedback as part of their jobs do that and about what works and what does not and then read the article linked below that provides a general overview of some of this interesting work.

Source: The Case for Criticism, Melinda Wenner Moyer, The New York Times.

Date: April 14, 2022

Image by nastya_gepp from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, were there research finding relating to the intricacies of providing feedback that surprised you? The finding that people underestimate or fail to attend at all to the fact that people want feedback about their actions and that we even do this when the other people involved are people close to us. The idea that we have to push back against natural feeling of empathy to be able to offer advice to others is quite interesting. Given this, though, the fix is obvious – think about how good the other person will feel when they received valuable advice regarding their behavior. The coaching advice is quite good as well. Telling someone to try harder or play better is not helpful (of course they have thought of that already) but suggesting specific things they can try to improve their performance is much more often positively received. Just as we can benefit from reflecting upon and managing our own goals and behaviors we can, if it is delivered positively and in a focused manner (and if it is invited), benefit from feedback (criticism) from others.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Define criticism and explain if or how it is distinguished from feedback?
  2. Does saying criticism can be positive if provided in a coaching situation make the criticism positive (or at least less negative) and why or how?
  3. Given the research discussed in the article what are some suggestions or guidelines you can offer o someone who is about to start their first manager position within a company?

References (Read Further):

Abi-Esber, N., Abel, J. E., Schroeder, J., & Gino, F. (2022). “Just letting you know…” Underestimating others’ desire for constructive feedback. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Link

Henley, A. J., & DiGennaro Reed, F. D. (2015). Should you order the feedback sandwich? Efficacy of feedback sequence and timing. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 35(3-4), 321-335. Link

Simon, L. S., Rosen, C. C., Gajendran, R. S., Ozgen, S., & Corwin, E. S. (2022). Pain or gain? Understanding how trait empathy impacts leader effectiveness following the provision of negative feedback. Journal of Applied Psychology, 107(2), 279. Link

Blunden, H., Yoon, J., Kristal, A., & Whillans, A. (2019). Soliciting advice rather than feedback yields more developmental, critical, and actionable input. Unpublished results. Link

Heen, S., & Stone, D. (2014). Find the coaching in criticism. Harv Bus Rev, 92, 108-111. Link

Taylor, J., Jenkins, J., & Barber, L. (2013). Breaking bad (news): Some constructive criticisms of performance feedback. Link

Steelman, L. A., & Wolfeld, L. (2018). The manager as coach: The role of feedback orientation. Journal of business and psychology, 33(1), 41-53. Link

Zhang, L., & Zheng, Y. (2018). Feedback as an assessment for learning tool: How useful can it be?. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(7), 1120-1132. Link