Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Health Psychology, Language-Thought, mental illness, Physiology, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention.

Description: You drop into your doctor’s office and tell them you are not feeling well. Assuming COVID is not the issue (which would likely be picked up at the front desk of the clinic using screening questions) what is one of the first things the doctor will likely do? Take you temperature, right? (Or ask you if you have a fever if you connect with them on the phone or via Zoom). Why do physicians do this? Well because your temperature, if it is elevated above “normal,” is an indicator of something being physically amiss with you. Now, what if you contact your therapist and tell them you are not “feeling right”? What would be the fist thing they do? Well, whatever it, is would very likely NOT involve a thermometer. It would likely involve a lot of questions about how you are feeling, what has been happening with you lately how your relationships are going, what has changed for you recently, and perhaps how long have you been experiencing these feelings? Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a general, quick, test that could be done that would identify the presents of mental unwell-ness and perhaps even suggest what the issue might be? What might such a test involve? Well, for a possibility, have a look at this video. Really, go and look at the video and then come back here. Now, besides the issue with the character in the video having always been like that (sounding like that), what are some other issues that might be at play if one was to try and develop an AI app that would be aimed at identifying mental state and mental health through voice analysis? Think about that for a minute and then read the article linked below for a discussion of those sorts of questions and references to a few sample apps.

Source: Can A.I – Driven Voice Analysis Help Identify Mental Disorders? Ingrid K. Williams, The New York Times.

Date: April 5, 2022

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, do you think there is promise in voice samples being the body temperature indicator of mental health or change in mental health? Clearly more research — research — is needed. As well, we will need to get quite a distance beyond simply ascribing depressive symptoms to anyone who sounds like Eeyore. However, there ARE somewhat typical physiological issues correlated with particular disorders. The unmodulated, slower, Eeyore speech of people who are depressed or the tense somewhat sped up speech of people who are anxiety ridden. So, perhaps if voice sample assessment could be done regularly and compared to track individual changes (something that did not seem to be part of the Apps discussed in the linked article) maybe this could lead to a mental health temperature indicator.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some examples (maybe just stereotypes) of disorder/voice combinations?
  1. What sorts of research needs to be done to see if voice sampling could work as a screen for mental health issues?
  2. If research into this starts to look promising, how should the use of such apps be set up in order to both continue gathering validity data and to tune them for use at the individual level?

References (Read Further):

Gravenhorst, F., Muaremi, A., Bardram, J., Grünerbl, A., Mayora, O., Wurzer, G., … & Tröster, G. (2015). Mobile phones as medical devices in mental disorder treatment: an overview. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 19(2), 335-353. Link

Parola, A., Simonsen, A., Bliksted, V., & Fusaroli, R. (2020). Voice patterns in schizophrenia: A systematic review and Bayesian meta-analysis. Schizophrenia research, 216, 24-40. Link

Scherer, S., Stratou, G., Gratch, J., & Morency, L. P. (2013, August). Investigating voice quality as a speaker-independent indicator of depression and PTSD. In Interspeech (pp. 847-851). Link

Mundt, J. C., Snyder, P. J., Cannizzaro, M. S., Chappie, K., & Geralts, D. S. (2007). Voice acoustic measures of depression severity and treatment response collected via interactive voice response (IVR) technology. Journal of neurolinguistics, 20(1), 50-64. Link

Cannizzaro, M., Harel, B., Reilly, N., Chappell, P., & Snyder, P. J. (2004). Voice acoustical measurement of the severity of major depression. Brain and cognition, 56(1), 30-35. Link

Hashim, N. W., Wilkes, M., Salomon, R., Meggs, J., & France, D. J. (2017). Evaluation of voice acoustics as predictors of clinical depression scores. Journal of Voice, 31(2), 256-e1. Link

Cohen, A. S., Fedechko, T. L., Schwartz, E. K., Le, T. P., Foltz, P. W., Bernstein, J., … & Elvevåg, B. (2019). Ambulatory vocal acoustics, temporal dynamics, and serious mental illness. Journal of abnormal psychology, 128(2), 97. Link

Posted by & filed under Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Sensation-Perception, Social Psychology.

Description: Two large grocery stores near my home have been undergoing renovation for the past few months (though it feels like it has been a year!). Way the long drawn out process? Well the renovations are large and complex but as I wandered around trying to find my “usual stuff” to buy I started to wonder if there was something else going on. Maybe the stored wanted me, in my searching and wandering, to look at and to consider buying things that I never even glanced at prior to the renos starting. OK I know, they cannot keep up constant renovation to drive sales, can they? Well maybe not but if there IS a bump in sales due to the confusion that would cover some of the reno costs, right? Well, enough unfounded speculation. Think about how doing things like moving stock around in a grocery store or how different placement locations might impact shopper psychology and then have a read through the linked article that talks about those things.

Source: How shops use psychology to influence your buying decision, Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, The Conversation.

Date: April 7, 2022

Image by stevepb from Pixabay

Article Link:

OK so you don’t actually go shopping for a dopamine spike, do you? Yet, that IS a regular part of many shopping experiences. Maybe you have heard the suggestion that if you want to buy healthier food you should shop the outsides of the store, meaning around the edges of the shopping floor as that is where fresh food choices can be found whereas the sugar/fat rich processed foods tend to be in the middle areas of the store. It might be good to spend a bit of time thinking about how the layout of the store you are shopping in might have been set up to influence your buying decision, as you wander around looking for your usual stuff!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might dopamine be related to shopping?
  2. Are you aware of how the layout of the grocery store you shop in might be effecting your buying choices?
  3. What are some ways we might lessen the impact of location and or re-organization strategies on our buying behaviour?

References (Read Further):

Muruganantham, G., & Bhakat, R. S. (2013). A review of impulse buying behavior. International Journal of Marketing Studies, 5(3), 149. Link

Chan, T. K., Cheung, C. M., & Lee, Z. W. (2017). The state of online impulse-buying research: A literature analysis. Information & Management, 54(2), 204-217. Link

Zulfiqar, J., Ambreen, G., & Bushra, M. F. (2018). A comprehensive literature review of impulse buying behavior. J. Adv. Res. Soc. Behav. Sci, 11, 94-104. Link

Luniya, P., & Verghese, M. (2015). A study on impulse buying and its determinants: A literature review. Pacific Business Review International, 8(1), 66-69. Link

Cannuscio, C. C., Hillier, A., Karpyn, A., & Glanz, K. (2014). The social dynamics of healthy food shopping and store choice in an urban environment. Social Science & Medicine, 122, 13-20.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Cultural Variation, Emerging Adulthood, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Prevention, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: Are you aware of the consistent finding that the rates of perfectionism among adolescents and emerging adults have increased dramatically over the past 20 to 30 years? Young people driving themselves to be perfect, holding themselves to I possibly high standards, and believing that doing so is essential to moving forward positively in life in an increasingly common phenomenon. The article linked below talks about this from a general journalistic perspective with reference to a study in the area. Before you read it, however, think about this question for a moment. If this rise in perfectionism is a current fact (it is!) where does it come from? What is driving it and given your answers to these two questions, what might be done about it? There is a suggestion in the article that parents need to stop driving or avoid starting to drive their adolescent children towards perfectionism. While that may be part of a solution it is worth thinking that just as perfectionism among adolescents and emerging adults is a relatively new phenomenon so to is the phenomenon of parents “driving” their offspring to it. That suggests that some of this observed parental push to perfectionism is correlational or otherwise suggestive of other, larger, causal forces at work. As you read the linked article think about what those larger forces might involve and about where they arise from and THEN think about what steps might be taken to effectively address perfectionism among young people that go beyond simply telling them and their parents to stop it.

Source: The problem with Perfect, Jennifer Breheny Wallace, The Windsor Star.

Date: April 2, 2022

Image by nicoleagiordano from Pixabay

Article Link:

The article DID have some very thoughtful suggestions about things that parents could do to help their adolescent and emerging adult children with their struggles with perfectionism. However, there was very little in the article that spoke to the question of where the rise in perfectionism came from beyond suggestions that parent should stop driving their offspring towards it. One hint was in the line about the increased focus on individuality in western culture but that was not elaborated upon. What did you come up with in the way of possible larger causal forces? The shift in individualism is a good clue. It suggests that the sorts of social bonds that linked us and that helped sustain us and move us forward in difficult developmental times have weakened or even vanished. Leaving questions of spirituality aside it IS rather striking that attendance at church and other face-to-face (local) social locations and events have also significantly declined over the time-period in question. Add to this the finding that the jobs that many (perhaps upwards of 65%) young people end up doing once they complete their education and head into their careers did not exist when they were in school, and you can see another of the things driving young people’s uncertainty. If as “individuals” young people are looking into a world and a future where their outcome are entirely up to them and in which the possible pathways forward are shrouded in fog and uncertainty it is really not surprising at all that they are entertaining and acting upon the belief that they must be perfect in everything they still have any sort of control over (such as their school marks) if they are to contend with the foggy uncertainties of their futures. Now THAT is something to take on if we want to reduce the consequences of steeply rising perfectionism.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How big an issue are current rates of perfectionism among young people today?
  2. What roles do parents play in their adolescent’s perfectionism and is it fair to criticize parents for their role in this?
  3. What are some of the larger (socio-historical) causal forces driving this increase in perfectionism and what sorts of things might be done to reduce their impact on young people?

References (Read Further):

Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Nepon, T., Sherry, S. B., & Smith, M. (2022). The destructiveness and public health significance of socially prescribed perfectionism: A review, analysis, and conceptual extension. Clinical Psychology Review, 102130. Article Summary

Miloseva, L., & Vukosavljevic-Gvozden, T. (2014). Perfectionism dimensions in children: Association with anxiety and depression. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 159, 78-81. Link

Asseraf, M., & Vaillancourt, T. (2015). Longitudinal links between perfectionism and depression in children. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 43(5), 895-908. Link

Smith, M. M., Sherry, S. B., Ge, S. Y., Hewitt, P. L., Flett, G. L., & Baggley, D. L. (2022). Multidimensional perfectionism turns 30: A review of known knowns and known unknowns. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 63(1), 16. Link

Smith, M. M., Hewitt, P. L., Sherry, S. B., Flett, G. L., & Ray, C. (2021). Parenting behaviors and trait perfectionism: A meta-analytic test of the social expectations and social learning models. Journal of Research in Personality, 104180. Link

Smith, M. M., Sherry, S. B., Ray, C., Hewitt, P. L., & Flett, G. L. (2021). Is perfectionism a vulnerability factor for depressive symptoms, a complication of depressive symptoms, or both? A meta-analytic test of 67 longitudinal studies. Clinical psychology review, 84, 101982. Link

Posted by & filed under Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Motivation-Emotion, Physical Changes In Aging, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Quick question! How are attitudes towards aging and aging related health related? I am guessing but I suspect your answer to that question was something like; they are related in that as your health declines your attitudes about aging become more negative. That does seem to make sense. Those of us in our late 60’s (well maybe just me) notice things like being able to predict the imminent arrival of rain by pain in our knees do tend to lead to statement about aging not being for the faint-hearted, or as Bette Davis put it so accurately “Aging ain’t for sissies!” So, yes health and attitudes towards aging are likely correlated but are our causal assumptions about that correlation absolutely correct? The standard statement about correlation and causation goes something this: Attributing causality when you have a correlation is not straightforward because if two variables, A and B are correlated it might be the case that A causes changes in B or that B causes changes in A OR that changes in BOTH A and B are caused by some other, currently unmeasured and therefore unconsidered variable. At a simple level what this means is that declining health with age may cause a decline in attitudes towards but what about the possibility that increasingly positive attitudes towards aging might lead to increasingly healthy aging? If THAT is a hypothesis worth investigating (I think it IS) then what sorts of research design would one use? Once you have your thoughts on that sorted out read the articles linked below that describes recent research by folks from the University of British Columbia (my alma mater… Go Thunderbirds!) that sought to address just that causal hypothesis.

Source: New research: When people’s attitudes about aging improve, better health may follow, Eric Kim and Julia Nakamura, UBC News.

Date: February 9, 2022

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, had you decided that a longitudinal design would be a good way to get the causal data that was needed to address the casual questions of the relationship between aging satisfaction and health? While it is not a fully experimental design (that would have been unethical), the longitudinal design produced results that indicate that increases in aging satisfaction lead to better health at a later point in time. While more research is needed, of course, it might be a good idea to think a bit about what sorts of things could be done to increase general satisfaction with aging in our aging population. Oh and look up Ikigai as a concept that might help us to move all this along (you can start with a few of the articles linked in the Further Reading section below).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are attitudes towards aging and health in advancing years related?
  2. If the study results bear up under replication (others find similar results) what do they suggest about the causal relationship between attitudes towards aging and aging health?
  3. What sorts of interventions or other general changes might be worth considering if the research discussed bears up?

References (Read Further):

Nakamura, J. S., Hong, J. H., Smith, J., Chopik, W. J., Chen, Y., VanderWeele, T. J., & Kim, E. S. (2022). Associations Between Satisfaction With Aging and Health and Well-being Outcomes Among Older US Adults. JAMA network open, 5(2), e2147797-e2147797. Link

Deaton, A. (2010). Income, Aging, Health, and Well-Being around the World (p. 235). University of Chicago Press. Link

Ghimire, S., Baral, B. K., Karmacharya, I., Callahan, K., & Mishra, S. R. (2018). Life satisfaction among elderly patients in Nepal: associations with nutritional and mental well-being. Health and quality of life outcomes, 16(1), 1-10. Link

Nakao, R., Nitta, A., Yumiba, M., Ota, K., Kamohara, S., & Ohnishi, M. (2021). Factors related to ikigai among older residents participating in hillside residential community-based activities in Nagasaki City, Japan. Journal of Rural Medicine, 16(1), 42-46. Link

Kotera, Y., Kaluzeviciute, G., Gulcan, G., McEwan, K., & Chamberlain, K. (2021). Health Benefits of Ikigai: A Review of Literature. In Y. Kotera & D. Fido (Eds.). ‘Ikigai: Towards a psychological understanding of a life worth living’. Ontario, Canada: Concurrent Disorders Society Publishing, pp. 1-13. Link

Wilkes, J., Garip, G., Kotera, Y., & Fido, D. (2022). Can Ikigai Predict Anxiety, Depression, and Well-being?. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1-13. Link


Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Attitude Formation Change, Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Who is most susceptible to fake news? Children? Young adults? Middle aged adults? The elderly?  Let’s leave children out of the question for now as their fake news exposures and uptakes are, at least to some extent, their parents’ concern. What about the elderly? ON the one hand they have less access to the digital news (maybe), a lot of life experience, perhaps some wisdom and so they may be less vulnerable to fake news. Make sense? Or is it the case that the elderly are more vulnerable? If they ARE more vulnerable why might that be? Think about that for a minute and then go and read the research article linked below to see what the research literature has to tell us ab out these questions.

Source: Aging in an Era of Fake News, Nadia Brashier and Daniel Schacter, Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Date: April 3, 2022

Image by TheDigitalArtist from Pixabay

Article Link:

Did you think that there would be more than age-related cognitive declines among the elderly as causes of their deeper engagement with fake news? Cognitive issues are certainly one factors but then we need to factor in differences in digital literacy and changing social goals among other factors. The explosion of social media and the general shift away from shared mainstream sources for news and social commentary are huge challenges for al of society but the linked article makes it clear that these issues are amplified among the elderly. Some additional thought and research needs to be directed towards this matter.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What age groups most susceptible to fake news?
  2. Why might the answer to the above question matter?
  3. Outline some things that could or perhaps should be done to reduce the impacts of fake news on the elderly members of the population?

References (Read Further):

Brashier, N. M., & Schacter, D. L. (2020). Aging in an era of fake news. Current directions in psychological science, 29(3), 316-323. Link

Albright, J. (2017). Welcome to the era of fake news. Media and Communication, 5(2), 87-89. Link

Baptista, J. P., & Gradim, A. (2020). Understanding fake news consumption: A review. Social Sciences, 9(10), 185. Link

Zanatta, E. T., Wanderley, G. P. D. M., Branco, I. K., Pereira, D., Kato, L. H., & Maluf, E. M. C. P. (2021). Fake news: the impact of the internet on population health. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira, 67, 926-930. Link

Trninić, D., Kuprešanin Vukelić, A., & Bokan, J. (2021). Perception of “Fake News” and Potentially Manipulative Content in Digital Media—A Generational Approach. Societies, 12(1), 3. Link

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Research Methods, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: If you have taken a psychology course or two (or if you just read widely in the science media) you have likely heard about something called the replication crisis in social psychology. Because every study done involves less that everyone (i.e., a sample not the whole population) there is always a chance that any seemingly significant results are really only random effects or that something about the way the study was done subtly or not so subtly effected the results. One of the core tenants of psychology’s research methodology is replication or repeating one’s own or other people’s studies to see if one gets the same results. There is a reticence about doing such replication not due to a lack of courage but rather due to a general drive to build one’s own path into the research domain. But, replications were run, typically on studies that were considered a big deal or which had surprising results and many of the replication failed. A classic example was the collection of studies done originally by Darrel Bem, a social psychology research titan, that looked at whether future behaviour could influence past behaviour. One example was a study in which propel did a memory test and then studied a randomly selected number of items from the original memory list and were found to have done better recalling the words they were assigned to study AFTER they had taken the test. I know, sounds weird right? I blogged about it previously. As gloomy as this all seems for the science of Psychology we could consider a different question … that being, which studies or results in social psychology have consistently replicated well and what sorts of criteria might we use to decide on the extent and quality of those replications? You may not have any thoughts on this topic to gather before reading the linked article so just dive in and see what Roy Baumeister (another research titan) has to say on the matter.

Source: What’s the Best Replicated Finding in Social Psychology? Roy Baumeister, Cultural Animal, Psychology Today.

Date: March 23, 2022

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the obvious fix for a lack of replication would be … replications! But there is more to it than that. There should be a number of successful replications as well as few or no replication failures. But even there we run into a problem tied to the fact that the business of psychological research runs on publications and publications rarely (almost never) are build on negative results and failures of replication ARE negative results. Multi-site replication is also important as well because it is a way to control for the many possible intangible effects of single lab locations. Different methods, referred to as multi-methods, are important as they control for the possibility that findings are specific to particular methodologies. Preregistered replications involve researchers locking in their design and hypotheses with an independent recording body before conducting the study so as to ensure that they do not engage in ‘fishing’ for or ‘cherry picking’ results. These replication criteria may seem like a lot, but the article goes on to provide a few examples of the successful application of the criteria to concepts like ego depletion and the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion (you can read about those concepts in some of the articles linked in the further reading section below). The future of social psychological research is complex but ultimately, with replication, it is clearer.


Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is replication and why is it important?
  2. What are some of the criteria that could be used to define and ensure replication of research in social psychology?
  3. Why is replication important for the long run view of research in social psychology and in psychology in general?

References (Read Further):

Dang, J., Barker, P., Baumert, A., Bentvelzen, M., Berkman, E., Buchholz, N., … & Zinkernagel, A. (2021). A multilab replication of the ego depletion effect. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12(1), 14-24. Link

Dang, J. (2016). Commentary: A multilab preregistered replication of the ego-depletion effect. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1155. Link

Brandt, M. J., IJzerman, H., Dijksterhuis, A., Farach, F. J., Geller, J., Giner-Sorolla, R., … & Van’t Veer, A. (2014). The replication recipe: What makes for a convincing replication?. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 50, 217-224. Link

Laws, K. R. (2016). Psychology, replication & beyond. BMC psychology, 4(1), 1-8. Link

Hüffmeier, J., Mazei, J., & Schultze, T. (2016). Reconceptualizing replication as a sequence of different studies: A replication typology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 66, 81-92. Link

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In Communication and persuasion (pp. 1-24). Springer, New York, NY. Link

Kitchen, P. J., Kerr, G., Schultz, D. E., McColl, R., & Pals, H. (2014). The elaboration likelihood model: review, critique and research agenda. European Journal of Marketing. Link

Susmann, M. W., Xu, M., Clark, J. K., Wallace, L. E., Blankenship, K. L., Philipp-Muller, A. Z., … & Petty, R. E. (2021). Persuasion amidst a pandemic: Insights from the Elaboration Likelihood Model. European Review of Social Psychology, 1-37. Link

Bosnjak, M., Fiebach, C. J., Mellor, D., Mueller, S., O’Connor, D. B., Oswald, F. L., & Sokol-Chang, R. I. (2021). A template for preregistration of quantitative research in psychology: Report of the joint psychological societies preregistration task force. American Psychologist. Link

Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Research Methods, Sensation-Perception.

Description: Imagine that you were tasked, perhaps by a large insurance company you were working for, with coming up with a way of measuring individual risk -taking propensity. Some companies are doing a version of this already by rewarding drivers who do not have any accident claims with lower rates. Some companies are also looing at giving clients the option of downloading phone apps that will run in the background on their phones when they are driving and record and report on things like speed relative to speed limits, abrupt swerves or braking etc. all of which could also lead to rate reductions, if the data reflected safe driving. What you are being asked to do is come up with a one time (but perhaps repeatable) individual measure (perhaps a survey?) that would produce a number or set of numbers the predict the level of risk taking of the individuals who complete it. What would you measure? When would you measure it? Is there something you could measure while the individuals you were assessing are asleep, yes, asleep? Have a read through the linked article to see one possible solution.

Source: Our sleep shows how risk-seeking we are, ScienceDaily.

Date: March 22, 2022

Image by pexels from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, were your surprised by the findings of the search discussed in the linked article? Do not worry, if you were concerned, … no insurance company that I am aware of is currently requiring a sleep scan of its new clients. There are a number of logistical and ethical issues to be considered in relation to any consideration of possible applications of this sort of research. Largest among them is that while there is, of course, a relationship between things like risk-taking behaviour and brain activity/function we should think hard about whether the brain function involved is a correlative indicator or a possible place where influence could be exerted. Treating it as an indicator may well be putting far too much weight on it as a predictor to be acted upon in the provision or the withholding of insurance. That is an ethical issue, right? And if that IS an ethical issue then moving to manipulate activity in that area of the brain would be an even larger ethical deal, wouldn’t it? Interesting though!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the research discussed in the article look at in the way of prefrontal lobe function?
  2. How are the prefrontal lobes involved in risk-taking mediation?
  3. What are some of the ethical issues that would need to be seriously discussed and managed if this research were to be in any way applied to risk related cost management?

References (Read Further):

Mirjam Studler, Lorena R.R. Gianotti, Katharina Koch, Jan Hausfeld, Leila Tarokh, Angelina Maric, Daria Knoch. Local slow-wave activity over the right prefrontal cortex reveals individual risk preferences. NeuroImage, 2022; 253: 119086 Link

Raine, A., Lencz, T., Bihrle, S., LaCasse, L., & Colletti, P. (2000). Reduced prefrontal gray matter volume and reduced autonomic activity in antisocial personality disorder. Archives of general psychiatry, 57(2), 119-127. Link

Knoch, D., & Fehr, E. (2007). Resisting the power of temptations: The right prefrontal cortex and self‐control. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1104(1), 123-134. Link

Schonberg, T., Fox, C. R., & Poldrack, R. A. (2011). Mind the gap: bridging economic and naturalistic risk-taking with cognitive neuroscience. Trends in cognitive sciences, 15(1), 11-19.  Link

Floden, D., Alexander, M. P., Kubu, C. S., Katz, D., & Stuss, D. T. (2008). Impulsivity and risk-taking behavior in focal frontal lobe lesions. Neuropsychologia, 46(1), 213-223. Link

Fecteau, S., Pascual-Leone, A., Zald, D. H., Liguori, P., Théoret, H., Boggio, P. S., & Fregni, F. (2007). Activation of prefrontal cortex by transcranial direct current stimulation reduces appetite for risk during ambiguous decision making. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(23), 6212-6218. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Intelligence, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Way, way back when I was in high school, my English/Social Studies teacher invited a group of young people to come and talk to us. They had committed themselves to Hare Krishna, spent a LOT of time chanting (Google it) and a lot of time at the airport handing flowers to people and asking for donations. During the question period, a student in the class asked them how they managed financially and whether they had any sources of income other than the flower-related donations. I found the answer striking. The responder said, “well, we do not worry about money at all, but you know every month the amount of money that comes in matches the costs of our needs to the penny!” It was clear that they saw some sort of divine intervention, possibly related to their level of devotion and prayer as the cause of each month’s “to the penny” outcome. I remember thinking at the time that an alternative explanation was that they simply maintained a positive outlook and got by on whatever happened to come in in a particular month. I was not being cynical. I was just hypothesizing. Much more recently in a course I teach called Psychology For Everyday Life I usually spend some time in an early class talking about the self-help industry which is worth millions of dollars. I talk about the “self-help” book called The Secret which essentially says that if you want something you think about it a LOT and, if possible, hang around near where it may be found and if you do you may well get what you want. Sure, there are a LOT more words involved in the book itself, but it really does boil down to “think it into reality.” What is wrong with this? Well, I do not know but I am not aware of any systematic data supporting it as an approach to success and wellbeing. But perhaps I have not looked hard enough? Have you heard of manifesting? Leveling up your life? I am going to say no more at this point BUT read the article linked below and as you do think about these questions. What is going on with and for those people who are working on manifesting their desires? Manifesting, at face value, is one hypothesis but are there others? I saw no research cited in the article so, how would we empirically test the claims about manifestation being made?

Source: Making dreams come true: inside the new age world of manifesting, Stuart McGurk, The Guadian.

Date: March 20, 2022

Image by mohamed_hassan from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you think about manifesting? As a psychologist I am not prepared to say anything summarily such as “wow, these people are nuts to be believing in and pursuing something that is without tangible basis”. That said, I am also not prepared to say that there may be something to this manifesting business. What I am prepared to say is that there is something (actually likely a LOT of somethings) psychological going on with this clearly large interest in manifesting. But as to what it is, what it involves and what will prove out over time…. well we will have to see and, yes, a LOT of research needs to be done to make that possible. Could be quite interesting but maybe not in ways that will fit with current thoughts about or beliefs in manifesting.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is manifesting (according to those who seek it)?
  2. What might manifesting be connected to or involve, if not “thinking things into reality”?
  3. What sorts of research are needed in order to sort out answers to question 2 above?

References (Read Further):

Cunha, L. F., Pellanda, L. C., & Reppold, C. T. (2019). Positive psychology and gratitude interventions: A randomized clinical trial. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 584. Link

Lomas, T., Waters, L., Williams, P., Oades, L. G., & Kern, M. L. (2021). Third wave positive psychology: Broadening towards complexity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 16(5), 660-674. Link

Proyer, R. T., Gander, F., Wellenzohn, S., & Ruch, W. (2016). Nine beautiful things: A self-administered online positive psychology intervention on the beauty in nature, arts, and behaviors increases happiness and ameliorates depressive symptoms. Personality and Individual Differences, 94, 189-193. Link

Aspinwall, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2010). The value of positive psychology for health psychology: Progress and pitfalls in examining the relation of positive phenomena to health. Annals of behavioral medicine, 39(1), 4-15. Link

Tenney, E. R., Logg, J. M., & Moore, D. A. (2015). (Too) optimistic about optimism: The belief that optimism improves performance. Journal of personality and social psychology, 108(3), 377. Link

St. James, Y., Handelman, J. M., & Taylor, S. F. (2011). Magical thinking and consumer coping. Journal of Consumer Research, 38(4), 632-649. Link

Last Note: I searched for an hour online and did not find a single study that focused upon manifestation.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, General Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Personality, Personality Disorders, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: A few years back there was a bit of speculation in the press and around and about regarding the mental state and personality of the then president of the United States, Donald Trump. At the time there was discussion of what is referred to as the Goldwater rule which is part of section 7 of the American Psychological Associations Principles of Medical Ethics. It was involved and named following a number of news article in which psychologists and psychiatrists made statements regarding the mental health of then, presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Simply put, the Goldwater rule, states that psychologists cannot, ethically, diagnose or impute personality profiles to individuals whom they have not formally examined and assessed. Following them and their antics in the news does not count as appropriate examination or assessment. While this might seem a bit harsh for very public figures like Mr. Trump what if it became a matter of intelligence (as in foreign relations, CIA or CSIS)? In other words, might, today, it be important to have some sort of psychological profile of Vladimir Putin? Well, it turns out there are experts in such things who consult on for or are employed by various intelligence agencies. Listen to the podcast or read the transcript to find out about these folks and a bit about what they have been up to lately.

Source: How experts compile psychological profiles of world leaders – “Intelligence Matters” Podcast host Michael Morell with (psychiatrist) Kenneth Dekleva, CBS News.

Date: March 9, 2022

Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay

Article Link: Read the transcript or listen to the podcast:

What did you think? Applied lifespan developmental psychology in action? The importance of predicting how others are thinking and how they might act (i.e., tactical empathy) is of interest when we are considering country leaders in the world today and critical when the leader in question is involved in an invasion of a neighboring country. No need to the Goldwater rule here, … quite the opposite, lets get to work!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is tactical empathy and how does it differ from our typical definitions of empathy?
  2. Why might it be important or essential to conduct these sorts of psychological analyses of world leaders?
  3. What sources on information might the people building these sorts of profiles rely on and what might be done to add to the4 data they have at hand for their work?

References (Read Further):

Bubandt, N., & Willerslev, R. (2015). The dark side of empathy: Mimesis, deception, and the magic of alterity. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 57(1), 5-34. Link

Throop, C. J., & Zahavi, D. (2020). Dark and bright empathy: Phenomenological and anthropological reflections. Current Anthropology, 61(3), 283-303. Link

Papazoglou, K., Blumberg, D. M., & Schlosser, M. (2020). A brief discussion of effective ways to teach potentially life-saving psychology. Salus Journal, 8(1), 2-10. Link

Forsberg, T., & Pursiainen, C. (2017). The psychological dimension of Russian foreign policy: Putin and the annexation of Crimea. Global Society, 31(2), 220-244. Link

Hermann, M. G. (2005). Assessing leadership style: A trait analysis. The psychological assessment of political leaders, 7(2), 178-212. Link

Alizadeh, M., Weber, I., Cioffi-Revilla, C., Fortunato, S., & Macy, M. (2017). Psychological and personality profiles of political extremists. arXiv preprint arXiv:1704.00119. Link

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: I have been re-watching Game of Thrones recently and as a result have seen a great many depictions of acts of revenge (if you have not watched the series, you can trust me on this). Now it is a bit of a leap to jump from Game of Thrones to the “real world” but think for a moment about why people might take actions that could be called revenge. Is it done to redress problems with the social order of things? Is it done to address individual anger/sorrow/loss? Or, perhaps, is it done because it feels good? If we could monitor the brain functioning (using a brain scanning system) of people involved in acts of revenge, what do you think that data would suggest? Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article linked below to see what neuroscience research has to suggest.

Source: Revenge: The Neuroscience of Why It Feels Good in the Moment, but May Be a Good Idea in the Long Run, Geoff Beattie, The Conversation.

Date: January 26, 2022

Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the short-term answer is…. It feels good! The area of the brain that is active when something pleasurable is happening, the dorsal striatum, is also active as an individual in an experimental game is exacting revenge. As well people whose brains show higher levels of activity in that brain region engage more quickly and more deeply in revenge behaviours. However, longer term data suggests that acting on thoughts of revenge can, later, lead to negative mood states. Other research suggests thinking about but NOT acting upon actions of revenge could lead to better longer-term outcomes. Not Game of Thrones at all but more research is needed!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What motivates revenge related actions (at the levels of emotions and brain activity?
  2. How do feeling regarding revenge actions shift or vary over time following the events that give rise to them?
  3. Based on the research discussed in the linked article what is your current theory of revenge?

References (Read Further):

Dominique, J. F., Fischbacher, U., Treyer, V., Schellhammer, M., Schnyder, U., Buck, A., & Fehr, E. (2004). The neural basis of altruistic punishment. Science, 305(5688), 1254-1258. Link

Know your brain: Striatum, Link

Hamlin, A. P. (1991). Rational revenge. Ethics, 101(2), 374-381. Link

Carlsmith, K. M., Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2008). The paradoxical consequences of revenge. Journal of personality and social psychology, 95(6), 1316. Link

McCullough, M. E., Root, L. M., & Cohen, A. D. (2006). Writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression facilitates forgiveness. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 74(5), 887. Link

Schumann, K., & Ross, M. (2010). The benefits, costs, and paradox of revenge. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4(12), Link

Han, X., Gelfand, M. J., Wu, B., Zhang, T., Li, W., Gao, T., … & Han, S. (2020). A neurobiological association of revenge propensity during intergroup conflict. Elife, 9, e52014. Link