Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, General Psychology, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience.

Description: Think for a moment about how good you are at editing your own and other peoples’ writing. To put a finer point on your self-assessment, place yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 in editing skill with 10 being razor sharp and missing little or nothing and 1 being sloppy and inconsistent. Now, be honest, in rating your editorial skills did the phrase “it depends” even cross your mind and if it did was it tied to anything more than a version of “how much the task matters”? Did the idea that your editorial skill might vary depending on your passing mood (and NOT your mood about the editorial task but your general mood)? How might your general mood be related to your editing skill? Think about it and then read the article linked below to see what recent research suggests might be going on. Oh, and pay attention to how the research study discussed was designed to see if that has any influence on your evaluation of the work.

Source: How your mood affects the way you process language, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: January 13, 2023

Image by Wokingham Libraries from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/01/230113145340.htm

It is interesting that being in a negative mood seems to improve our attention to detail in tasks like proof reading. I also hope you took close note of the discussion of the research design elements as they are particularly important parts of how we decide if the study “properly” addressed its focal questions. For example, they used the movie Sofie’s Choice which was described as a sad movie (no argument there) and then indicated that they viewed the resulting participant mood states as negative. The funny clips (Friends episodes) were reported to have no influence on mood. As such there was no positive mood state condition in the study. Participants served as their own controls by completing both study conditions a week apart in random order. This is a good way to control cross participant differences without using random-assignment. Overall a good design but I am left wondering what the impact of positive moods might be and I am also wondering how it is that negative mood states make us more analytical. Finally, I am wondering if the researchers gave any thought to the possible impact of their findings on the behavior of managers overseeing workers engaging in important analytic tasks. A statement to the effect that their data is not conclusive enough to support adjustments to management practices in such workplace settings might be in order. I am only partly serious about this last point, but researchers do need to be prepared to speak to the limitations of their findings.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of tasks besides proofreading require analytic thinking and focus?
  2. Did the research design and participant tasks make sense to you in light of what the researchers wanted to investigate? How might you change the tasks or the design to broaden their potential findings?
  3. As it was NOT assessed in the described study what do YOU think the effect of a positive mood might be on proofreading tasks or on other work tasks and how would you research this?

References (Read Further):

Lai, V. T., Van Berkum, J. J., & Hagoort, P. (2022). Negative affect increases reanalysis on conflicts between discourse context and world knowledge. Frontiers in Communication. Link

Mancini, E., Beglinger, C., Drewe, J., Zanchi, D., Lang, U. E., & Borgwardt, S. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine, 34, 26-37. Link

Chepenik, L. G., Cornew, L. A., & Farah, M. J. (2007). The influence of sad mood on cognition. Emotion, 7(4), 802. Link

Forgas, J. P., & Eich, E. (2013). Affective influences on cognition: Mood congruence, mood dependence, and mood effects on processing strategies. In A. F. Healy, R. W. Proctor, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Experimental psychology (pp. 61–82). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Link

Forgas, J. P. (2002). Feeling and doing: Affective influences on interpersonal behavior. Psychological inquiry, 13(1), 1-28. Link

Forgas, J. P., Laham, S. M., & Vargas, P. T. (2005). Mood effects on eyewitness memory: Affective influences on susceptibility to misinformation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41(6), 574-588. Link

Beal, D. J., Weiss, H. M., Barros, E., & MacDermid, S. M. (2005). An episodic process model of affective influences on performance. Journal of Applied psychology, 90(6), 1054. Link

Forgas, J. P. (1998). On feeling good and getting your way: mood effects on negotiator cognition and bargaining strategies. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(3), 565. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Depression, General Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: It is fascinating to see how some ideas, theories and research pop up in the popular press as opposed to in peer review research journals that are not generally read recreationally. Perhaps you have run across articles and related references recently to the potential efficacy of psychedelics in the treatment of depression and other mental disorders. There was a related popular press pop up this week in the form of the release of Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare. The largest buzz around the release of the book has been the account it contains of a fight between Harry and his brother William. However, also in the book are account of Harry’s recreational use of psychedelics and his more recent “therapeutic use” of psychedelics such as ayahuasca and psilocybin to deal with intense and long-term grief over the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Do psychedelics help with significant long-term grief or trauma? Good question. Should accounts of their efficacy provided based on the experiences of one person, even a royal person, be taken as clear, reliable, valid, assessment of their efficacy? I very much hope that, as someone with an interest in psychology, your answer to this question is no (even if you do not have a working knowledge of the limitations of the generalizability of single case studies, or personal accounts even by royals). The original question, though, is still a good one and luckily some articles, such as the one linked below, move beyond the case study approach and ask researchers thinking about and working on the question, what their data says or what research they think we need to do in order to start to address the original question of the potential use of psychedelics in grief and trauma treatment. This is a new enough area that I suspect you do not have enough information to form your own hypotheses at this point so, give the article a read and see what may be at play or possible.

Source: What We Know About Treating Extreme Grief With Psychedelics, Dana G. Smith, The New York Times

Date: January 10, 2023

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Article Link (Read or Listen): https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/10/well/psychedelics-grief-mental-health.html

So, what are your take-ways from this article? Aside from the positive personal account of Prince Harry it is clear that there is not a lot of research data on this question. The few studies available that focused upon psychedelics and grief were based on small samples and involved participants who were expecting positive treatment effects AND did not have control groups. Does this mean that this line of study should be abandoned? Well, no, not yet. Initial studies in such areas are often hard to get off the ground (and to get funding for) and as such tend to be of the sort described in the article with small sample sizes and fewer than an optimal degree of experimental control. In addition, there have been better studies on the possible role of psychedelics in the treatment of depression and other disorders so perhaps there are grounds for considering larger studies into the possible therapeutic use of psychedelics in the treatment of long-term grief and perhaps trauma. This is exactly what is meant by the term “more research is needed” but we could add to that the observation that early studies do seem to be producing interesting results.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did Prince Harry use psychedelics for (beyond earlier recreational use)?
  2. Which psychedelics were discussed in the article as potentially useful in the treatment of extended grief and how might extended or long-term grief be distinguished from “normal” or natural grief?
  3. What sorts of studies are needed next to move our understanding of the possible use of psychedelics in grief and trauma forward?

References (Read Further):

American Psychiatric Association (2022) Prolonged Grief. Link

Anderson, B. T., Danforth, A., Daroff, R., Stauffer, C., Ekman, E., Agin-Liebes, G., … & Woolley, J. (2020). Psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralized older long-term AIDS survivor men: An open-label safety and feasibility pilot study. EClinicalMedicine, 27, 100538. Link

Agin-Liebes, G., Ekman, E., Anderson, B., Malloy, M., Haas, A., & Woolley, J. (2021). Participant reports of mindfulness, posttraumatic growth, and social connectedness in psilocybin-assisted group therapy: An interpretive phenomenological analysis. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 00221678211022949. Link

González, D., Cantillo, J., Pérez, I., Farré, M., Feilding, A., Obiols, J. E., & Bouso, J. C. (2020). Therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in grief: a prospective, observational study. Psychopharmacology, 237(4), 1171-1182. Link

Carhart-Harris, R., Giribaldi, B., Watts, R., Baker-Jones, M., Murphy-Beiner, A., Murphy, R., … & Nutt, D. J. (2021). Trial of psilocybin versus escitalopram for depression. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(15), 1402-1411. Link

Gonzalez, D., Aixalá, M. B., Neimeyer, R. A., Cantillo, J., Nicolson, D., & Farré, M. (2022). Restorative Retelling for Processing Psychedelic Experiences: Rationale and Case Study of Complicated Grief. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 832879-832879. Link

Kitchenham, B., Pickard, L., & Pfleeger, S. L. (1995). Case studies for method and tool evaluation. IEEE software, 12(4), 52-62. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Cultural Variation, Families and Peers, General Psychology, Group Processes, Human Development, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology.

Description: I was not intending to post three conceptually focused pieces (another one, a third one) when I sat down at my computer this week. By conceptual, I mean looking at articles that ask us if we are looking at or thinking about some aspect of human psychological functioning properly or whether a different conceptual (theoretic) perspective might be important to consider. Maybe this is a good way to start a new year by considering alternate conceptual directions in our thinking about psychology. So, here goes again. I have posted before on some of the issues associated with the strongly individual focus of much of the research and theoretic work in psychology. An individual focus can go a long way towards accounting for LOT of behavior but treating social relations and culture simply as backdrops for individual behavior downplays or ignores the powerful impacts that relationships, community, and culture has upon our behavior. Think about (sorry to bring them up again) the many debates about how to deal with the psychology of the Covid pandemic. Questions like “How do we get people to wear masks” or “How do we get people to get vaccinated” or “How do we get people to focus clearly and rationally on the science?” all assume that individual decisions are the key turning point of how we might manage the epidemic. What if we started thinking about things like the pandemic and about health issues in general by acknowledging the essential role that our connections to others play in building an understanding of human psychology and in figuring out how best to understand and influence human health decision-making? Think about what this might look like and then have a read through the article linked below to see what this approach might involve.

Source: We can’t view health as an exclusively personal matter – it’s a collective endeavor. Wency Leung, The Globe and Mail.

Date: January 6, 2022

Image by Bob Dmyt from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-we-cant-view-health-as-an-exclusively-personal-matter-its-a-collective/

So, while I appreciate that you may have done far more Covid reflection than you would want to do by now, what did you take away from the broad argument offered in the article that “the collective” should be playing at least an equal role in our theorizing and research about human decision making to that of the individual? Understanding what it means to be a social species involves more than just stating, in relation to Covid for example, that “we are in this together”.  A perspective that more actively respects the role of the collective (and the impact of current decisions on broader and future generations) may not just lead to different approaches and different decisions but, maybe, to more effective decisions and approaches. Worth thinking about!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some problems with conceptualizing health decisions like getting vaccinated or wearing a ask as matters of individual choice?
  2. How might our public health strategies in relation to issues like Covid, change if we broaden the role of “the collective” in our thinking about and development of those strategies?
  3. What are some other areas within psychology that would shift (potentially dramatically) with the inclusion of a focus on “the collective” and what might the resulting theories and approaches look like?

References (Read Further):

Fotaki, M. (2013). Is patient choice the future of health care systems?. International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 1(2), 121. Link

Goldberg, D. S. (2012). Social justice, health inequalities and methodological individualism in US health promotion. Public Health Ethics, 5(2), 104-115. Link

Haslanger, S. (2020). Failures of methodological individualism: the materiality of social systems. Link

Valsiner, J. (2019). Culture & psychology: 25 constructive years. Culture & Psychology, 25(4), 429-469. 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

Murphy, J., Vallières, F., Bentall, R. P., Shevlin, M., McBride, O., Hartman, T. K., … & Hyland, P. (2021). Psychological characteristics associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Nature communications, 12(1), 1-15. Link

Barello, S., Palamenghi, L., & Graffigna, G. (2021). Looking inside the ‘black box’of vaccine hesitancy: Unlocking the effect of psychological attitudes and beliefs on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and implications for public health communication. Psychological Medicine, 1-2. Link

Böhm, R., & Betsch, C. (2022). Prosocial vaccination. Current opinion in psychology, 43, 307-311. Link

Butter, Sarah, Emily McGlinchey, Emma Berry, and Cherie Armour. “Psychological, social, and situational factors associated with COVID‐19 vaccination intentions: A study of UK key workers and non‐key workers.” British Journal of Health Psychology 27, no. 1 (2022): 13-29. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: Piagetian and Vygotskian Approaches, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, General Psychology, Human Development, Legal Ethical Issues, Student Success.

Description: I have encountered several articles in the past couple of weeks that report on, ponder, and worry about what seems like a recent advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI), that has likely been in the works for a very long time. The articles were looking at things like ChatGPT which are forms of artificial intelligence that can, upon request, produce cogently written prose of any desired length on a topic or question of your choice. Think about that for a moment. Is this writing’s ‘math when calculators arrived’ moment? What are the differences between a student (or you) being asked to write a 1000 word essay on the impact of Genghis Kahn on the world of his time and who writes it after doing research online or in a library as opposed to one who asks ChatGPT to provide the 1000 words on that question? One difference is that while ChatGPT would produce the requested “paper” in 20 to 30 seconds the student version would take longer. But, add in that ChatGPT would produce a different result if asked “write” the paper a second time. Beyond some not so simple questions related to plagiarism, what do you make of this AI ‘advancement’? Think about it from educational and developmental perspectives and then have a read through the article linked below which touches on both of these perspectives.

Source: ChatGPT, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Writing, Glenn Geher, Darwin’s Subterranean World, Psychology Today.

Date: January 6, 2023

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/202301/chatgpt-artificial-intelligence-and-the-future-of-writing

So, what did you come to in your own thinking about this AI ‘advancement’ and in your reading of the issues raised by the author of the linked article? From a developmental perspective I have to say I am very concerned. I agree wholeheartedly with Jake Mayer that learning to write and developing your thought processes (your reflective, analytic, and critical thinking competencies/skills) are completely intertwined. While one needs some math skills and understanding to use a calculator properly and effectively, it does not seem that many if any thinking/reflective processes are needs to use AI like ChatGPT. Developing one’s writing skills requires the related development of thinking/reflective skills. This is why it is far too simple to say that issues of procrastination are simply due to needing more deadline related pressure to kick oneself into gear. A lot of procrastination is a resistance to the unacknowledged thinking/reflective development and work that are essential to the writing process and to moving every writing project along. Seeing the broader developmental parts of the writing task can help one get past issues of procrastination AND can help one to see some of the possible reasons for concern over the coming impacts of AI like ChatGPT. More thinking (not less) is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is ChatGPT and what are some of its possible positive and negative implications?
  2. What are some ways in which the development of reflection, thinking and problem solving might be related to the development of writing skill?
  3. What sort of thing is ChatGPT (good, bad, complicated)?

References (Read Further):

Gotoh, Y. (2016). Development of Critical Thinking with Metacognitive Regulation. International Association for Development of the Information Society. Link

Teng, M. F., & Yue, M. (2022). Metacognitive writing strategies, critical thinking skills, and academic writing performance: A structural equation modeling approach. Metacognition and Learning, 1-24. Link

Hogan, M. J., Dwyer, C. P., Harney, O. M., Noone, C., & Conway, R. J. (2015). Metacognitive skill development and applied systems science: A framework of metacognitive skills, self-regulatory functions and real-world applications. In Metacognition: Fundaments, applications, and trends (pp. 75-106). Springer, Cham. Link

Magno, C. (2010). The role of metacognitive skills in developing critical thinking. Metacognition and learning, 5(2), 137-156. Link

Haque, M. U., Dharmadasa, I., Sworna, Z. T., Rajapakse, R. N., & Ahmad, H. (2022). ” I think this is the most disruptive technology”: Exploring Sentiments of ChatGPT Early Adopters using Twitter Data. arXiv preprint arXiv:2212.05856. Link

Susnjak, T. (2022). ChatGPT: The End of Online Exam Integrity?. arXiv preprint arXiv:2212.09292. Link

Domain, P., Domain, M., Learning-Engagement, S. M. S. O., Toolkit, S. O. L. E., YouTube, S. O. L. E., Framework, D. E., … & Framework, P. O. I. S. E. Category: Theoretical Perspectives. Link

Zhai, X. (2022). ChatGPT User Experience: Implications for Education. Available at SSRN 4312418. Link

Dallas, S. T. C. Thoughts on ChatGPT after reading Crawford’s Why We Drive: whatever skill you outsource, atrophies. Link

King, M. R. (2023). A Conversation on Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots, and Plagiarism in Higher Education. Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, 1-2. Link

Noever, D., & Ciolino, M. (2022). The Turing Deception. arXiv preprint arXiv:2212.06721. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Depression, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Research Methods, Social Perception, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: How happy are you? If you are not as happy as you would like to be what can you do to fix that? Is how happy you are an important question? If not, what else should we be thinking about or working on? These questions started out simple and then got fuzzier and more complex. Why is that and why, given all the research that has been done on happiness (it is a HUGE part of the work done withing Positive Psychology, for example), are we not all very clear on what happiness is, how much we have, how much we need and how to get what we need? Important questions! Think for a moment about why they are so hard to answer and then have a read through the article linked below which works through this quite long and complicated terrain. It is tough going at time but then, happiness is worth it, right?

Source: We cracked the happiness code. Why are humans still a mess? Tom Rachman, The Globe and Mail.

Date: January 6, 2023

Image by AbsolutVision from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-we-cracked-the-happiness-code-why-are-humans-still-a-mess/

SO, what did you think and make of the brief history if the philosophy and research into happiness? It IS complicated, and existentially uncertain? Can we actually want or hope for or seek happiness in life? Some say no and some say that is the wrong way to think about it all. Nobel prize winning cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman gave up on the study of happiness when he found that we tell ourselves (and anyone who will listen) stories about our experiences that may not line up with the experiences we had. So do we want positive experiences or just the opportunity to provide happy narratives of the experiences we might or might not have had? If you know about it, does that not sound somewhat like the reason behavioral theorists gave for psychology needing to give up ‘arm-chair theorizing’ and subjective self-reports of psychological functioning as unscientific? As was suggested in the article human wellbeing (of which happiness is a simplistic form) is not something you can yoga yourself into. But perhaps, as the article’s author suggests, “we might improve society, our jobs, ourselves.” I would add, with the help of some how-to-do-so research; a challenge to positive psychologists!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does tracking how happy you are on a day-to-day basis make sense?
  2. Is trying to be happy a good, useful or even possible thing to strive towards?
  3. How should we be thinking about and working on questions about the role of happiness in our lives these days?

References (Read Further):

Gallup (2022) Gallup Global Emotions. Link

Unhappiness is soaring around the world, laments Jon Clifton (2022) The Economist. Link

The World Happiness Report (2022) Link

Helliwell, J. F., Huang, H., Wang, S., & Norton, M. (2020). Social environments for world happiness. World happiness report 2020, 1, 13-45. Link

Ford, B. Q., Shallcross, A. J., Mauss, I. B., Floerke, V. A., & Gruber, J. (2014). Desperately seeking happiness: Valuing happiness is associated with symptoms and diagnosis of depression. Journal of social and clinical psychology, 33(10), 890. Link

Kahneman, Daniel (2010) The riddle of experience vs. memory, a TED talk. Link

Ward, G. (2019). Happiness and voting behaviour. World Happiness Report 2019, 46-65. Link

Twenge, Jean (2019) The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media, Chapter 5, World Happiness Report. Link

Roser, Max (2022) The world is awful. The world is much better. The world can be much better. Our World in Data, Link

Bond, T. N., & Lang, K. (2019). The sad truth about happiness scales. Journal of Political Economy, 127(4), 1629-1640. Link

Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., Proulx, J., Lok, I., & Norton, M. I. (2020). Does spending money on others promote happiness?: A registered replication report. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 119(2), e15. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, Successful Aging, The Self.

Description: I have really never been one to make New Years Resolutions. That said I have, over the years, noted the sense of renewal and new starts that accompany the annual calendar turnover. Some of that is a general part of the year as the fall seems to contain a focused slide down to the holiday season after which the New Year seems just that: New. The academic year fits in with this as the fall term heats up and winds down by the holiday season and the winter term feels like a new fresh start early in the new year. So, does this explain why so many of us make resolutions to change some aspects of our behavior and/or our goals this time of year and even if it does, why do most of us (60 to 70%) fail to follow through on our resolutions? Think for a moment about why that might be the case (psychologically speaking) and about what we might do to succeed with our resolutions (maybe not make any?) and then give the article linked below a read to see what psychologists suggest in this area.

Source: The Psychology Behind New Year’s Resolutions, Michelle Konstantinovsky, WebMD.

Date: January 3, 2023

Image by Simon from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/psychology-of-new-year-resolution

So, was the article helpful? Goal setting is a very useful thing to practice as you move through the world, whether you do it at New Years or all year round. Following the SMART approach to setting goals will help you get started realistically, stay on track, allow you to make adjustments when challenges or issues arise (and they will arise) and will help you build in some checks along the way so you can be assured that you are making progress. How about if, instead of making specific resolutions right now you resolve to find out more about SMART goals and use what you learn to plan your new year? Now THAT would be an effective resolution!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What proportion of people who make New Year’s resolutions accomplish them?
  2. Why do people make New Year’s resolutions?
  3. What are SMART goals and what are you going to do to find out more about them in THIS New Year?

References (Read Further):

Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PLoS One, 15(12), e0234097. Link

Harkin, B., Webb, T. L., Chang, B. P., Prestwich, A., Conner, M., Kellar, I., … & Sheeran, P. (2016). Does monitoring goal progress promote goal attainment? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. Psychological bulletin, 142(2), 198. Link

Duckworth, A. L., Milkman, K. L., & Laibson, D. (2018). Beyond willpower: Strategies for reducing failures of self-control. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19(3), 102-129. Link

Koestner, R. (2008). Reaching one’s personal goals: A motivational perspective focused on autonomy. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(1), 60. Link

Lawlor, K. B. (2012). Smart goals: How the application of smart goals can contribute to achievement of student learning outcomes. In Developments in business simulation and experiential learning: Proceedings of the annual ABSEL conference (Vol. 39). Link

Haughey, D. (2014). A brief history of SMART goals. Project Smart Website. https://www. projectsmart. co. uk/brief-history-of-smart-goals. php. Link

Sull, D., & Sull, C. (2018). With goals, FAST beats SMART. MIT Sloan Management Review, 59(4), 1-11. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Health, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Successful Aging.

Description: Which is more stressful, catastrophic life events or daily stresses (hassles)? One on one, of course catastrophic life events are more stressful but which stressors, all in all, take more of a toll on us physically and psychologically? Classic stress research by Richard Lazarus found that in the long run daily stresses or hassles were more strongly linked to stress-related consequences such as burnout and physical illness that major stressors. As a species we seem to have evolved to cope with intense, short-term stressful events that come and go and as such we do not do so well with long-term, ongoing, daily stresses (e.g., financial issues, job issues, relationship issues etc.). With this in mind consider how the impacts of daily stressors might shift or change for us as we age and especially as we enter our ‘elderly’ years. Does it grind us down or do we manage it better as we age? Think about what your hypotheses might be in relation to this question and then read the article linked below which contains an interview with a researcher who has looked very closely at this question.

Source: Your Response to Stress Improves as You Grow Older, Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American..

Date: December 30, 2022

Image by Mhy from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/your-response-to-stress-improves-as-you-grow-older/

It is valuable from time to time when considering human psychological functioning to remember that we need to also pay attention to the contexts in which that functioning is occurring. Human experiences vary by the age at which, and by sociohistorical contexts within which, they occur. As such, the impact of what life is like ‘these days’ and what life is like at one age or another vary and interact. So, while aging individuals have more serous existential stuff to contemplate they seem to experience less stress while doing so compared to younger individuals. Some good stress news indeeed!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. In terms of stress, how are with differently impacted by major life events compared to daily life stressors?
  2. How do older individuals experience or manage their daily stresses as compared to how middle aged or younger individuals do so?
  3. What sorts of suggestions, advice or interventions might we offer to seniors in terms of how they deal with daily stresses?

References (Read Further):

Biggs, A., Brough, P., & Drummond, S. (2017). Lazarus and Folkman’s psychological stress and coping theory. The handbook of stress and health: A guide to research and practice, 351-364. Link

Jeste, D. V., Savla, G. N., Thompson, W. K., Vahia, I. V., Glorioso, D. K., Martin, A. V. S., … & Depp, C. A. (2013). Association between older age and more successful aging: critical role of resilience and depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170(2), 188-196. Link

Almeida, D. M., Rush, J., Mogle, J., Piazza, J. R., Cerino, E., & Charles, S. T. (2022). Longitudinal change in daily stress across 20 years of adulthood: Results from the national study of daily experiences. Developmental psychology. Link

Almeida, D. M., Charles, S. T., Mogle, J., Drewelies, J., Aldwin, C. M., Spiro III, A., & Gerstorf, D. (2020). Charting adult development through (historically changing) daily stress processes. American Psychologist, 75(4), 511. Link

Charles, S. T., Mogle, J., Chai, H. W., & Almeida, D. M. (2021). The mixed benefits of a stressor-free life. Emotion, 21(5), 962. Link

Sin, N. L., Graham-Engeland, J. E., Ong, A. D., & Almeida, D. M. (2015). Affective reactivity to daily stressors is associated with elevated inflammation. Health Psychology, 34(12), 1154. Link

Chiang, J. J., Turiano, N. A., Mroczek, D. K., & Miller, G. E. (2018). Affective reactivity to daily stress and 20-year mortality risk in adults with chronic illness: Findings from the National Study of Daily Experiences. Health Psychology, 37(2), 170. Link

 

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, General Psychology, Memory, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology.

Description: I will freely admit that I am completely unable to understand (and frankly not very interested in) crypto currency. That said, I AM rather interested in how it was that so many people got deeply into things like FTX (Google it and Ponzi schemes). There is a lot of talk from the perspective of economics regarding the rise and then the possible burst of the ‘crypto bubble’ comparing it to the ‘Tulip bubble” of the 1700’s and the “dot com bubble’ of the late 1990’s in which fast moving investors lost a lot of money when the bubble collapsed. Maybe I am just not wired for economics but how about this psychological question? How was it that so many, likely smart and rational people, got so deep into Crypto currency? In an ironic way, the psychological means for looking at this question arises from economics. Specifically, in 2003, Daniel Kahneman (a cognitive psychologist) won the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences for work he did with Amos Tversky (also a cognitive psychologist but the Nobel people do not award their prizes posthumously) on human cognitive biases or on shortfalls in our rationality. Their work and the mountains of related work that it has generated has helped us to understand how it can be that seemingly smart, rational people happily hop unto certain ‘bandwagons’ in such numbers that ‘bubbles’ are created leading to all sorts of losses and despair when the bubbles burst. Have you heard about the human cognitive biases that lead to Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel prize? Well have a read through the article linked below to get a glimpse of what they can tell us about the thought patterns that supported many people’s dives into Crypto currency. The article does not help with one’s understanding of Crypto currency itself but if the ‘Crypto bubble has burst or is bursting then perhaps that does not mater as much as understanding out basic cognitive biases.

Source: The crypto collapse demonstrates why we need to boost financial education, Wynn Quan, The Globe and Mail.

Date: December 29, 2022

Image by Mohamed_Hassan from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-crypto-collapse-demonstrates-why-we-need-to-boost-financial/

So, what did you think? I thought the brief crypto-related examples of several classic cognitive biases were very helpful in showing how people might have jumped deeply into crypto currency without a solid ‘rational’ understanding of what it involved. The description of the Ashe conformity research was useful as well in showing how sometimes people will go against ‘what their eyes see’ in making decision in the presence of others. Th conclusion in the article that a boost in financial education is needed in order to lessen the buy-in to future possible market bubbles is sound but such education should very probably include instruction in the nature and possible effect of our cognitive biases on our decisions. We are not as rational as we would like to believe.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why do you think so many people bought into crypto currency?
  2. What are some of the cognitive biases that could help us understand runs like that into crypto currency?
  3. What are some ways we might include cognitive bias understanding into an updated financial education plan?

References (Read Further):

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1996). On the reality of cognitive illusions, Psychological Review, 103(3), 582–591. Link

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases: Biases in judgments reveal some heuristics of thinking under uncertainty. science, 185(4157), 1124-1131. Link

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1984). Choices, values, and frames. American psychologist, 39(4), 341. Link

Kahneman, D. (2002). Maps of bounded rationality: A perspective on intuitive judgment and choice. Nobel prize lecture, 8(1), 351-401. Link

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillan. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Development of the Self, General Psychology, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Maybe you are not interested in having another look at the question of why it might be that some people are more receptive to the conspiracy theories proffered by the QAnon bunch but, despite their seeming aversion to it, science can help us understand them a bit better. So, take a moment and consider this. We tend to assume that the main predictor of interest in and engagement with conspiracy theories is political stance with people whose political perspectives are best described as extreme right being much more likely to be involved. But consider the idea that political ‘bandwagons’ are things that people hop onto when they view them as supportive of beliefs they already have. In other words, what if conspiracy theory adherents find extreme right political groups after they have their views set not before? This would mean that involvement in extreme right political groups would correlate with beliefs in conspiracy theories but perhaps not be so causal. Think about that and think about what other sorts of things (e.g., personality tendencies etc.) might better predict engagement with conspiracy theories and thus get us closer to understanding causal possibilities? Once you have your hypotheses in order have a read through the article linked below to see what some recent research suggests.

Source: Anti-social personality traits are stronger predictors of QAnon conspiracy beliefs than left-right orientations, Beth Ellwood, PsycPost..

Date: December 21, 2022

Image by Deiterich from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.psypost.org/2022/12/anti-social-personality-traits-are-stronger-predictors-of-qanon-conspiracy-beliefs-than-left-right-orientations-64552

The suggestion by the researcher quoted in the article that research into why people find and engage with conspiracy theories has not looked beyond political choices is an important one. It is harder to get into the underlying, potentially causal, factors involved in conspiracy theory engagement if we stay at the political level. Now, the identification of links to personality factors such as anti-establishment orientations and propensity for interpersonal conflict moves us past political leanings and towards more underlying influences of openness to conspiracy theories. Liking of Trump falls somewhere in the middle I think. The suggestion that these links begin to speak to the question of why conspiracy theory followers are difficult to shift, or change, is interesting and challenging. Of course, more research is needed, in a non-partisan fashion!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What were your hypotheses for factors other than political inclination related to engagement with conspiracy theories?
  2. What factors other than political inclination related to engagement with conspiracy theories, were discussed in the linked article?
  3. Given the research discussed in the linked article, what sorts of things might be tried or tested in efforts to shift people away from engagement in conspiracy theories?

References (Read Further):

Enders, A., Klofstad, C., Stoler, J., & Uscinski, J. E. (2022). How Anti-Social Personality Traits and Anti-Establishment Views Promote Beliefs in Election Fraud, QAnon, and COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation. American Politics Research, 1532673X221139434. Link

Douglas, K. M., Uscinski, J. E., Sutton, R. M., Cichocka, A., Nefes, T., Ang, C. S., & Deravi, F. (2019). Understanding conspiracy theories. Political Psychology, 40, 3-35. Link

Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current directions in psychological science, 26(6), 538-542. Link

Brotherton, R., French, C. C., & Pickering, A. D. (2013). Measuring belief in conspiracy theories: The generic conspiracist beliefs scale. Frontiers in psychology, 279. Link

van Prooijen, J. W., & Van Vugt, M. (2018). Conspiracy theories: Evolved functions and psychological mechanisms. Perspectives on psychological science, 13(6), 770-788. Link

Sutton, R. M., & Douglas, K. M. (2020). Conspiracy theories and the conspiracy mindset: Implications for political ideology. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 34, 118-122. Link

van Prooijen, J. W., & Acker, M. (2015). The influence of control on belief in conspiracy theories: Conceptual and applied extensions. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29(5), 753-761. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Cultural Variation, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Of course the holiday period in late December is supposed to be a time away from work and engaged in other activities such as spending time with loved ones, friends and family. This does NOT mean that it is a time to be away from Psychology (in fact maybe just the opposite)! It can, in fact, be particularly important to plan or to consider some of what we might call holiday research. Last week, for example, I posted about some ongoing research into the myth that suicide rates climb during the holiday period (it is NOT true). What other holiday season issues could use a research look? In another post this week I take a look at the social interactional challenges the season places upon introverts (think about it). In this post I want you to take on the role of a therapist (though be clear you are likely not actually qualified to act this way, so this is a purely hypothetical ‘mind experiment’). Perhaps aside from introverts, many people may experience feelings of loneliness during the friends and family-oriented holiday period. What would you advise or help them to do to cope with such feelings? Remember that as an acting clinical therapist your approach to how you engage with your client will need to be supported by research that speaks to its efficacy. Now that is too much to ask of you, given that this is your first day on the job and you are not actually fully trained yet so hypothesize about what some solid (researchable) foundations might be for approaches to things you could help clients with seasonal loneliness work on. Once you have your practice plans in place have a read through the article licked below to see what some researchers and therapists (real ones) suggest.

Source: Simple Steps for Managing Holiday Loneliness, Catherine Pearson, The New York Times.

Date: December 20, 2022

Image by 8926 from Pixabay

Article Link: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/lonliness-tree-lonely-landscape-2066696/

As with any clinical interaction, it is important to define terms and assumptions. Noting the differences between aloneness and loneliness is an important starting point. Another standard clinical point is that one size does not fit all which means that an approach to dealing with loneliness that works for one person may not work for another. Given this it is good that the article has 5 suggestions. Your task as a therapist (or as an individual with deep feelings of loneliness) is to find the best fit between approach and individual and then provide support and suggestions for implementation by the individual (client). Oh, and follow up and a check of the efficacy of the intervention (by therapist or by the client) are also an important part of treatment. And if you were careful, thoughtful and it worked, then well done!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the differences between aloneness and loneliness?
  2. What are each of the suggested intervention/self-help options built upon in terms of underlying psychology?
  3. Which approach to intervention do you think would be most effective if you were the one with significant feelings of loneliness and why?

References (Read Further):

Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., Dillard, A. J., & Smith, D. M. (2013). Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality. American journal of public health, 103(9), 1649-1655. Link

Lim, M. H., Qualter, P., Hennessey, A., Smith, B. J., Argent, T., & Holt-Lunstad, J. (2021). A randomised controlled trial of the Nextdoor Kind Challenge: a study protocol. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1-17. Link

Pauly, T., Chu, L., Zambrano, E., Gerstorf, D., & Hoppmann, C. A. (2022). COVID-19, time to oneself, and loneliness: Creativity as a resource. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 77(4), e30-e35. Link

Heinrich, L. M., & Gullone, E. (2006). The clinical significance of loneliness: A literature review. Clinical psychology review, 26(6), 695-718. Link

Hawkley, L. C., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2010). Loneliness matters: A theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Annals of behavioral medicine, 40(2), 218-227. Link

Cacioppo, J. T., & Cacioppo, S. (2018). The growing problem of loneliness. The Lancet, 391(10119), 426. Link