Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Neuroscience, Research Methods, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development.

Description: Here is a very simple and complex question. Do you see red like I see red? Simple, right? Look at the picture below. The garment and the umbrella are red right? So, what is complicated? Well, yes, we seem to use the same label for our sensory experiences when we see things like the robes and the umbrella in the picture but are we really experiencing “red” the same way? Now that is sounding more like a philosophical question. However, perhaps, neuroscience research into the brain function can save us from the philosophical slippery slopes of questions like what is red anyway? If you had access to the sophisticated brain imaging/scanning systems available today what might you try and do in order to address the “simple” question of whether your red is the same as my red? Think about that for a moment and then read through the article oinked below to see what researchers who really do have access to those serious scanning tools have approached this question.

Source: Do you see red like I see red? Bevil R. Conway and Danny Garside, The Conversation.

Date: February 5, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, colors are not just labels and they are not just tags that help us identify objects. When under a yellow light (so that all colors are different) people can still identify strawberries but they no longer find them appetizing. Add to this the fact that older people bring their own “yellow” visual filters to day-to-day life with the yellowing of their cornea’s with age which effects how they perceive colors like green. Diving into the brain a bit deeper, research suggests that it may be possible to identify what a person is “seeing” without asking them and to have that generalize across reading other people’s brain responses to a color. So, while it takes a lot of work, and we are not there yet, it may be that neuroscience research looking into our brains will show us that “color IS a fact we can agree on.” (Linked article).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How could you know if you and your friend are seeing the same thing (experiencing the same color sensations) when you are both looking at the same red apple?
  2. What does brain scanning research allow us to add to your consideration of the previous question?
  3. So, what ARE colors and what do they do for use (what do we use them for)?

References (Read Further):

Lafer-Sousa, R., Hermann, K. L., & Conway, B. R. (2015). Striking individual differences in color perception uncovered by ‘the dress’ photograph. Current Biology, 25(13), R545-R546. Link

Thierry, G., Athanasopoulos, P., Wiggett, A., Dering, B., & Kuipers, J. R. (2009). Unconscious effects of language-specific terminology on preattentive color perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(11), 4567-4570. Link

Lotto, R. B., & Purves, D. (2002). The empirical basis of color perception. Consciousness and Cognition, 11(4), 609-629. Link

Brown, A. M., Lindsey, D. T., & Guckes, K. M. (2011). Color names, color categories, and color-cued visual search: Sometimes, color perception is not categorical. Journal of vision, 11(12), 2-2. Link

Rosenthal, I., Ratnasingam, S., Haile, T., Eastman, S., Fuller-Deets, J., & Conway, B. R. (2018). Color statistics of objects, and color tuning of object cortex in macaque monkey. Journal of vision, 18(11), 1-1. Link

Gibson, Ted and Conway, Bevil R. (2017) Languages don’t all have the same number of terms for colors – scientists have a new theory why, The Conversation. Link

Hasantash, M., Lafer-Sousa, R., Afraz, A., & Conway, B. R. (2019). Paradoxical impact of memory on color appearance of faces. Nature communications, 10(1), 1-10. Link

Henderson, A. J., Lasselin, J., Lekander, M., Olsson, M. J., Powis, S. J., Axelsson, J., & Perrett, D. I. (2017). Skin colour changes during experimentally-induced sickness. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 60, 312-318. Link

Lafer-Sousa, R., & Conway, B. R. (2017). # TheDress: categorical perception of an ambiguous color image. Journal of Vision, 17(12), 25-25. Link

Hatfield, G. (2003). Objectivity and subjectivity revisited: Color as a psychobiological property. Colour perception: Mind and the physical world, 187-202. Link

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, General Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Neuroscience, Social Perception, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Being lonely is not an enjoyable experience and in many ways that I suspect you are aware of or could guess at, it is not good for you either. But how does prolonged loneliness effect your brain and why might it be useful and important to know how loneliness impacts people’s brains? Think about possible answers to both of these questions and once you have your thoughts inn order read through the article linked below and, if you are intrigued about the research article in question then read the research article itself which is also linked below.

Source: What does a lonely brain look like? Study offers new answers, Eric Andrew-Gee, The Globe and Mail.

Date: February 6, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Isa KARAKUS from Pixabay

Article Link: or get the research article itself HERE.

So, why might it be important to be able to point to the way that loneliness changes the brain? Well, first it matters that the study in question contained detailed brain scanning data from around 40,000 people, meaning that any consistent differences linked to loneliness will likely be consistent and worth paying attention to. The the age range of the participants (40 to 69 years) is a bit narrow but it contains older individuals which is a group of particular concern in terms of loneliness so that is not a problem. The question of causality is also unclear. Is it that loneliness causes the observed differences if the default pathways in the brains of lonely people or is it that people with that variations in their default pathways are more likely to be lonely? Of course, more research is needed. BUT, the possible links between the observed brain changes and things that lonely people very likely do more of, such as reminisce or imagine or plan possible social connections is very interesting. That finding links very nicely into concerted efforts among physicians in Britain, where the study was done, to encourage the use of social prescriptions, particularly for their elderly patients. Literally prescribing social activities (e.g., taking a gardening class or joining a community group or club) has been shown to significantly improve general functioning among the elderly. In addition, the possible line of enquiry looking at links between loneliness and Alzheimer’s disease is also quite intriguing. We already know a great deal about the impacts of early childhood experiences of social and on physical health, and illness so expanding our research into the health impacts of later life experiences makes sense.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What changes seems to have occurred in the brains of older lonely people?
  2. How and why might those changes occur?
  3. What are some of the possible future implications that we might look forward to if, as the researchers indicate they intend to do, this line of research is expanded?

References (Read Further):

Spreng, R. N., Dimas, E., Mwilambwe-Tshilobo, L., Dagher, A., Koellinger, P., Nave, G., … & Bzdok, D. (2020). The default network of the human brain is associated with perceived social isolation. Nature communications, 11(1), 1-11. Link

Jani, A., & Gray, M. (2019). Making social prescriptions mainstream. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 112(11), 459-461. Link

Jungmann, S., Mistry, P., Conibear, T., Gray, M., & Jani, A. (2020). Using technology-enabled social prescriptions to disrupt healthcare. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 113(2), 59-63. Link

Bird, W., Adamo, G., Pitini, E., Gray, M., & Jani, A. (2020). Reducing chronic stress to promote health in adults: the role of social prescriptions and social movements. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 113(3), 105-109. Link

Gray, M., Adamo, G., Pitini, E., & Jani, A. (2020). Precision social prescriptions to promote active ageing in older people. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 113(4), 143-147. Link

Mercer, C. (2018). Primary care providers exploring value of “social prescriptions” for patients. Link

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Group Processes, Legal Ethical Issues, Persuasion, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Discussion and debate about the factors that lead up to the violent actions taken by supporters of Donald Trump in Washington on January 6, 2021 are often wrapped in political stances and loyalties. As the Senate trial of Donald Trump on the single article of impeachment of encouraging insurrection approaches it is useful to step back and consider that there are many examples of people and situations where things were said that may have led to groups taking violent actions. In that, Donald Trump is not new. Common across such nasty historical moments is that speakers do not directly ask or tell their “followers” to go forth and commit violence despite the violence that follows their speeches. So, if they do not directly request or demand violence what does research examining past examples of speech that incited violence indicate may be the factors that causally link the speech with the subsequent violent actions? Think about what might be involved and it may help to think about what was said (and how it was said) by Donald Trump at the Ellipse Park in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 if only because it is a recent example that anyone tracking North American events over the past month or so heard something about. After you have reflected a bit on the possible causal impacts of what was said have a read through the article linked below for some examples of what research into past events suggests.

Source: Incitement to violence is rarely explicit – here are some techniques people use to breed hate. H. Colleen Sinclair, The Conversation.

Date: January 26, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Article Link:

for further application see:

SO, did the discussion of some of the research into speech that incites violence clarify anything for you regarding recent events? Certainly, we have, over the past 4 years, heard a lot of top-down talk containing aspects of Anger, Contempt and Disgust aimed at other countries, immigrants, and political opponents (both Democrat AND Republican). Donald Trump’s speech of January 6 may be seen to have ticked a lot of the content points discussed in the article. It will be interesting to see where legal, political and general social debate goes with the speech and related actions in the coming weeks and the available research on previous speech/violence links can be rather informative.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Can a speech contribute to violence without actually containing specific calls to be violent?
  2. What does it mean to “incite” violence and how might we work out issues of moral and legal culpability in such situations?
  3. What areas of Psychology does the research discussed in the article trade in and what other research would be worth doing or at least interesting to do to further expand our understanding of the Psychology of incitement to violence (and how to control it)?

References (Read Further):

United Nations (2018) A New Era of Conflict and Violence, Link

Matsumoto, D., Frank, M. G., & Hwang, H. C. (2015). The role of intergroup emotions in political violence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24(5), 369-373. Link

Leader Maynard, J., & Benesch, S. (2016). Dangerous speech and dangerous ideology: An integrated model for monitoring and prevention. Genocide Studies and Prevention, 9(3). Link

Williams, T., & Neilsen, R. (2019). “They will rot the society, rot the party, and rot the army”*: Toxification as an ideology and motivation for perpetrating violence in the Khmer Rouge genocide?. Terrorism and Political Violence, 31(3), 494-515. Link

Marcus, K. L. (2012). Accusation in a Mirror. Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, 43(2), 357-393. Link

Speech, D., & Sudan, S. Dangerous Speech: A Practical Guide. Link

Faris, R., Ashar, A., Gasser, U., & Joo, D. (2016). Understanding harmful speech online. Berkman Klein Center Research Publication, (2016-21). Link

Buyse, A. (2014). Words of violence: Fear speech, or how violent conflict escalation relates to the freedom of expression. Hum. Rts. Q., 36, 779. Link

Bleich, E. (2011). The rise of hate speech and hate crime laws in liberal democracies. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(6), 917-934. Link

Posted by & filed under Legal Ethical Issues, Memory, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Sometimes an individual who has confessed to a crime recants or withdraws their confession. What comes to mind when you read that sentence? Knowing nothing else about an individual case, what would you estimate is the likelihood that the person recanting a confession is actually guilty of what they origin ally confessed to? Now consider this fact. Police in the United States and Canada (where the practice if frowned upon) are allowed to lie to possible suspects while they are interrogating them. To what extent might police interrogators lying to a possible subject who then pled guilty change your original answer to the “what comes to mind” question I asked above? Think about that and then read through the article linked below to see what sorts of considerations and research might be involved in trying to sort out these question.

Source: It’s Time for Police to Stop Lying to Suspects, Saul Kassin, The New York Times.

Date: January 29, 2021

Photo Credit:  Photo by Martin Lopez from Pexels

Article Link:

It is hard to wrap one’s head around the circumstances under which an individual might end up confessing to a crime they did not commit. The role that explicit lies by their interrogators might play in their confessions is hard to sort out. Clearly being presented with false incriminating information plays a strong role as reflected by the American Psychological Association’s and a large group of confession experts stated opinions against such police behavior reflects. It is important to note that these positions include the statement that such police behavior can alter a suspect’s memory for the events in question. It is not that they give up and go along with the lies of their interrogators but rather that they come to think that they remember doing things they did not do. IT would seem that in Canada we should perhaps do more than frown upon such police behavior during interrogations and the United States should consider moving well away from condoning such actions. The research data support such changes.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might a suspect confess to a crime they did not commit?
  2. What role might interrogators’ lying about evidence implicating a possible suspect play in that suspect possibly confessing to a crime they did not commit?
  3. How might it be that some of those who confess to crimes they did not commit actually “remember” that committed the crimes?

References (Read Further):

Kassin, S. M., Drizin, S. A., Grisso, T., Gudjonsson, G. H., Leo, R. A., & Redlich, A. D. (2010). Police-induced confessions: Risk factors and recommendations. Law and human behavior, 34(1), 3-38. Link

Gudjonsson, G. H., & Pearse, J. (2011). Suspect interviews and false confessions. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(1), 33-37. Link

APA (2014) Resolution on Interrogations of Criminal Suspects. Link

Kassin, S. M., Redlich, A. D., Alceste, F., & Luke, T. J. (2018). On the general acceptance of confessions research: Opinions of the scientific community. American Psychologist, 73(1), 63. Link

Stewart, J. M., Woody, W. D., & Pulos, S. (2018). The prevalence of false confessions in experimental laboratory simulations: A meta‐analysis. Behavioral sciences & the law, 36(1), 12-31. Link

Gubi-Kelm, S., Grolig, T., Strobel, B., Ohlig, S., & Schmidt, A. F. (2020). When do false accusations lead to false confessions? Preliminary evidence for a potentially overlooked alternative explanation. Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice, 20(2), 114-133. Link

Vick, K., Cook, K. J., & Rogers, M. (2020). Lethal leverage: false confessions, false pleas, and wrongful homicide convictions in death-eligible cases. Contemporary Justice Review, 1-19. Link

Paton, W., Bain, S. A., Gozna, L., Gilchrist, E., Heim, D., Gardner, E., … & Fischer, R. (2018). The combined effects of questioning technique and interviewer manner on false confessions. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 15(3), 335-349. Link

Bernhard, P. A., & Miller, R. S. (2018). Juror perceptions of false confessions versus witness recantations. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 25(4), 539-549. Link


Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Social Psychology.

Description: How important and how valuable in terms of long-term wellbeing are mindfulness and positivity? Well, if you have been paying just half-attention to well-ness buzz in the media in recent years you will probably say that positivity and mindfulness are two of the corner stones of success and wellbeing. I don’t really want to talk you out of that view if you hold to it as that would be a nasty thing to do but how about this question? Can you think of situations or circumstances where version of grumpiness and angriness might actually be good for you? And might there be ways in which having grumpiness and angriness (or perhaps surliness) might be good for you? Intrigued? Have a read through the article linked below to see what quite a bit of Psychological research has to say about all of these questions.

Source: Why it Pays to Be Grumpy and Bad-Tempered, Zaria Gorvett, BBC Future.

Date: January 30, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Tracy Lundgren from Pixabay

Article Link:

The research talked about in the linked article mirrors other work on the personality dimension of Agreeableness. We might naturally think that being agreeable would be a good trait to have. It would make us easier to get along with, wouldn’t it? Sure, but perhaps there is a line between agreeable and gullible. Being less agreeable means that you are more likely to think critically about claims others make and, perhaps, be more likely to think things through and make you own decision. That is very much like the research on grumpiness. It suggests that a little anger here and there provides better outcomes for us and a singular focus on positivity contributes to binge drinking, overeating, and unsafe sex. So, perhaps in stead of sorting emotions into bad and good or negative and positive piles we should pay a bit closer attention to what ALL emotions or personality traits might do for us, including grumpiness.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What good might come of being somewhat grumpy or somewhat angry more of the time?
  2. What might some of the limitations of all the time positivity be?
  3. What might a balance of positivity and grumpiness look like? How might we manage the balance (and know how to make adjustments to it)?

References (Read Further):

Sinaceur, M., Van Kleef, G. A., Neale, M. A., Adam, H., & Haag, C. (2011). Hot or cold: Is communicating anger or threats more effective in negotiation?. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(5), 1018. Link

Neff, L. A., & Geers, A. L. (2013). Optimistic expectations in early marriage: A resource or vulnerability for adaptive relationship functioning?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(1), 38. Link

Henley, A., Dawson, C. G., de Meza, D., & Arabsheibani, G. R. (2015). The Power of (Non) Positive Thinking: Self-Employed Pessimists Earn More than Optimists. Link

Lang, F. R., Weiss, D., Gerstorf, D., & Wagner, G. G. (2013). Forecasting life satisfaction across adulthood: Benefits of seeing a dark future?. Psychology and Aging, 28(1), 249. Link

Gruber, J., Mauss, I. B., & Tamir, M. (2011). A dark side of happiness? How, when, and why happiness is not always good. Perspectives on psychological science, 6(3), 222-233. Link

Baas, M., De Dreu, C. K., & Nijstad, B. A. (2011). Creative production by angry people peaks early on, decreases over time, and is relatively unstructured. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(6), 1107-1115. Link

Sell, A., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2014). The human anger face evolved to enhance cues of strength. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35(5), 425-429. Link

Judge, T. A., Livingston, B. A., & Hurst, C. (2012). Do nice guys—and gals—really finish last? The joint effects of sex and agreeableness on income. Journal of personality and social psychology, 102(2), 390. Link


Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Health Psychology, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: If you have taken an introductory Psychology course that included a section on stress you may be aware that ongoing stress can have a negative impact upon your immune system. Those with sustained moderate to high levels of stress are at increased risk for things ranging from colds to cancer as a result of the stress-linked reductions in the functioning of their immune systems. An obvious Covid related issue is that those who are stressed may be at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus and at risk for a more serious case as well. While it is not like we need anything more to worry about these days think for a moment about the possible relationship between levels of stress and the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine(s) now that the vaccines are slowly rolling out and people are getting their “jabs” (as the British call them). So as not to just be adding to our stress, also take a moment and thinks about what sort of intervention(s) might be mounted in order to try and reduce the negative influence of stress on vaccine efficacy. Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article linked below to se what some Psychological researchers looked at and what their results suggest (positively) in this area.

Source: Depression and Stress Could Dampen Efficacy off COVID-19 Vaccines: Interventions and Health Behavior Changes Could Boost Immunity, Association for Psychological Science.

Date: January 13, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, as scary as the possibility that stress reduces vaccine efficacy, or more specifically, reduces the immune response of our immune systems to virus targeted by the vaccine can be it is a great relief to see that simple things like a vigorous work out and a good night’s sleep in the 24 hours before getting the jab can significantly reduce the negative impact of stress on our immune systems reaction to the vaccine. It is a useful reminder that while we tend to think of stress as a subjective or psychological phenomenon we cope with its effects much more successfully when we focus in on the physiological aspects of our stress response and realize the exercise and getting a good night’s sleep can significantly reduce the impact that stress has upon us.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does stress effect out immune response?
  2. How might stress impact the efficacy of vaccines?
  3. What sorts of interventions reduce the potential negative impacts of tress on our immune system responses to Covid vaccines and how might we set up and implement such interventions at the population (public health) level?

References (Read Further):

Madison, A., Shrout, M. R., Renna, M. E., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. Psychological and Behavioral Predictors of Vaccine Efficacy: Considerations for COVID-19. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Link

Glaser, R., Sheridan, J., Malarkey, W. B., MacCallum, R. C., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2000). Chronic stress modulates the immune response to a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. Psychosomatic medicine, 62(6), 804-807. Link

Reiche, E. M. V., Nunes, S. O. V., & Morimoto, H. K. (2004). Stress, depression, the immune system, and cancer. The lancet oncology, 5(10), 617-625. Link

Arora, S., & Bhattacharjee, J. (2008). Modulation of immune responses in stress by Yoga. International journal of yoga, 1(2), 45. Link

Antoni, M. H., & Dhabhar, F. S. (2019). The impact of psychosocial stress and stress management on immune responses in patients with cancer. Cancer, 125(9), 1417-1431. Link

Schakel, L., Veldhuijzen, D. S., Crompvoets, P. I., Bosch, J. A., Cohen, S., van Middendorp, H., … & Evers, A. W. (2019). Effectiveness of stress-reducing interventions on the response to challenges to the immune system: a meta-analytic review. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 88(5), 274-286. Link

Morey, J. N., Boggero, I. A., Scott, A. B., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2015). Current directions in stress and human immune function. Current opinion in psychology, 5, 13-17. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Families and Peers, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Human Development, Neuroscience, Sensory-Perceptual Development, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: You have likely heard about the research looking at the longer term imp0acts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) on later development and functioning as children grow into adulthood. In has supported and spurred on an ongoing push for early intervention with at-risk families in an effort to minimize the existence of or to mitigate the impact of ACE’s on later development. Such programs (e.g., Home Visitation, Head Start etc.) have been shown to be effective in this regard and Head Start, in particular, has been shown to produce a 7 to 1 cost/benefit ratio (for every dollar spent on Head Start programming 7 dollars are saved in longer term social costs (e.g., welfare, underemployment, criminal justice etc.). Assuming that these social “corrections” for ACE’s are effective with a group of individuals should we be at all concerned about how the children go on to have when they reach adulthood will do? Think about that for a moment or two and include in your thoughts how the neurodevelopment of the next generation children might proceed and then read through the linked article. I suspect you will be surprised by the reported results.

Source: Childhood neglect leaves generational imprint. ScienceDaily.

Date: January 19, 2021

Photo Credit:  Tama66 at Pixabay

Article Link:

The difficulty with brain focused work like this is that while it can point to differences in the brains of 1-month-olds, in this case finding stronger functional connections between the amygdala and cortical regions in infants of mothers who experienced neglect as infants it does not provide clear indications as to why this might be the case. To their credit the researchers suggest the possibility that such structures could contribute to resilience if needed. As to causal hypotheses, perhaps the mothers’ adaptation to their own past experience created a prenatal environment for their own children and contributed to the observed differences. The closing statement that longitudinal research is needed to sort this out more definitively is well stated.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might a mother’s own ACE’s influence the early (even pre-natal) development of their own infants?
  2. What do the results of the research discussed in the linked article suggest about the research into early intervention programming?
  3. What might we do to improve our responses and our interventions to ACE’s in light of the research discussed in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Hendrix, C. L., Dilks, D. D., McKenna, B. G., Dunlop, A. L., Corwin, E. J., & Brennan, P. A. (2020). Maternal childhood adversity associates with frontoamygdala connectivity in neonates. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Abstract Link

Burke, N. J., Hellman, J. L., Scott, B. G., Weems, C. F., & Carrion, V. G. (2011). The impact of adverse childhood experiences on an urban pediatric population. Child abuse & neglect, 35(6), 408-413. Link

Finkelhor, D. (2018). Screening for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs): Cautions and suggestions. Child abuse & neglect, 85, 174-179. Link

Felitti, V. J. (2009). Adverse childhood experiences and adult health. Academic pediatrics, 9(3), 131. Link

Brown, D. W., Anda, R. F., Tiemeier, H., Felitti, V. J., Edwards, V. J., Croft, J. B., & Giles, W. H. (2009). Adverse childhood experiences and the risk of premature mortality. American journal of preventive medicine, 37(5), 389-396. Link

Hughes, K., Bellis, M. A., Hardcastle, K. A., Sethi, D., Butchart, A., Mikton, C., … & Dunne, M. P. (2017). The effect of multiple adverse childhood experiences on health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Public Health, 2(8), e356-e366. Link

Garces, E., Thomas, D., & Currie, J. (2002). Longer-term effects of Head Start. American economic review, 92(4), 999-1012. Link

Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., Robertson, D. L., & Mann, E. A. (2002). Age 21 cost-benefit analysis of the Title I Chicago child-parent centers. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(4), 267-303. Link

Ludwig, J., & Phillips, D. A. (2007). The benefits and costs of Head Start (No. w12973). National Bureau of Economic Research. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Depression, General Psychology, Health Psychology, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Prevention, Psychological Intervention, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: When we look back on the year or two (or whatever it finally turns out to be) of the Covid-19 pandemic what do you think we will find happened to the suicide rate during the pandemic? If the rate increased significantly why might that have occurred? What factors were (are) involved? The study of suicide is incredibly difficult. It is a rare event and most contributing factors we can identify are either solely correlational (e.g., being an indigenous youth) or apply to such a large number of people who do NOT consider or act in suicidal ways that they are not particularly informative or useful. So, think for a moment about what you would predict we will find looking back at the Covid months in terms of suicide rates and suicidal behavior and think a bit about why there might be a change (if you think there will be one (hint, there very likely WILL be) and then have a read through the linked article for a Psychological consideration of thee questions.

Source: Will the Pandemic Result in More Suicides? Kim Tingley, The New York Times

Date: January 21, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏 from Pixabay

Article Link:

The distinction between predictive (correlational) factors and causal factors is important in general but is crucially important if we are to figure out why people attempt suicide and how we might help them not do so. Covid-related data might give us some insight into this question but as we wait it is vital to heed the suggestions offered as to what we can do in the meantime. Asking someone if they have or are considering suicide DOES NOT nudge them towards doing so and it can, in fact, open a line of communication and support that could well reduce the likelihood that they will act on such thoughts if they are having them. So, ask, if you are concerned and offer support even if it is just to help someone make a call to a suicide prevention hotline or distress center. Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566), Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. For an internationalist of suicide crisis lines visit .

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why is it difficult to conduct informative (useful) research into the factors associated with suicide?
  2. What is the difference between a predictive and a causal factor when trying to sort of the questions associated with why people commit suicide?
  3. What might we learn about suicide by studying it during these times of COVID-19?

References (Read Further):

Franklin, J. C., Ribeiro, J. D., Fox, K. R., Bentley, K. H., Kleiman, E. M., Huang, X., … & Nock, M. K. (2017). Risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors: a meta-analysis of 50 years of research. Psychological bulletin, 143(2), 187. Link

Fox, K. R., Huang, X., Guzmán, E. M., Funsch, K. M., Cha, C. B., Ribeiro, J. D., & Franklin, J. C. (2020). Interventions for suicide and self-injury: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials across nearly 50 years of research. Psychological bulletin. Link

Bridge, J. A., Horowitz, L. M., Fontanella, C. A., Sheftall, A. H., Greenhouse, J., Kelleher, K. J., & Campo, J. V. (2018). Age-related racial disparity in suicide rates among US youths from 2001 through 2015. JAMA pediatrics, 172(7), 697-699. Link

Mann, J. J., Apter, A., Bertolote, J., Beautrais, A., Currier, D., Haas, A., … & Hendin, H. (2005). Suicide prevention strategies: a systematic review. Jama, 294(16), 2064-2074. Link

Zalsman, G., Hawton, K., Wasserman, D., van Heeringen, K., Arensman, E., Sarchiapone, M., … & Zohar, J. (2016). Suicide prevention strategies revisited: 10-year systematic review. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(7), 646-659. Link

Yip, P. S., Caine, E., Yousuf, S., Chang, S. S., Wu, K. C. C., & Chen, Y. Y. (2012). Means restriction for suicide prevention. The Lancet, 379(9834), 2393-2399. Link

Sisask, M., & Värnik, A. (2012). Media roles in suicide prevention: a systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 9(1), 123-138. Link


Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Health Psychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Memory, Persuasion, Research Methods, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Think back over the past 10 days and then itemize everything you did, everywhere you went, everyone you saw, interacted with, for how long and how far apart were you during that interaction? Include every place or situation you encountered over that same period that involved groups of people. How many people? How close where they to you and for how long. Oh, and who were they? How well would you do at this task? How accurate would you be? Now what if some of what you did in that 10-day period was a bit sketchy in terms of any Covid social contact rules, requests or suggestions? What if YOU were the one asking the questions as part of your new job as a contact tracer trying to gather the sorts of data that have been identified as part of the most effective thing we can do (other than complete vaccination) to control and limit the spread of the Coronavirus? How would you engage with the people you are interviewing (likely by phone? What questions would you ask? How would you ask them? How would you describe the purpose of the interview to the person you are interviewing? What sorts of things would you try and avoid doing or saying? While there is a solid history of research looking at witnesses and witness interviewing there is actually not very much research at all on interviewing by contact tracers and on what sorts of questions asked in what sorts of ways produce the most complete, most reliable contact data, which is crucial to the efficacy of contact tracing. So, what sorts of things should good, valid, contact tracing interviewing involve?  Have a look through the article linked below to see what Psychological research on human memory and cognition suggests we consider.

Source: Contact Tracing: A Memory Task with Consequences for Public Health, Maryanne, Garry, Lorraine Hope, Rachel Zajac et al., Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Date: January 16, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Article Link:

Maybe it is just me, but I have found that when I have been reading research on eyewitness memory and testimony in the past it has seems a bit distanced from my own experience mainly because it either involves witnessing criminal activity or low frequency incidents like automobile collisions. As such, the faults, shortfalls and frailties of human (eyewitness) memory somewhat feel like other people’s problems. However, every single one of us (unless you are living alone in a cave of on a desert island) could be asked to answer a series of questions about our activities and whereabouts if we think we have or are thought to have been exposed to Coivid-19. Add to that the reality that effective, valid contact tracing does or could significantly flatten the current or future curves and asking and getting goo, complete as possible, answers to those questions matters even more. We need a Psychological science of contact tracing research and research informed practice, as soon as possible!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Assuming that your recollection of everything you did and everyone you encountered over a 10-day period was not perfect (and it would NOT be) what sorts of errors or emissions would you make?
  2. What sorts of things can contact tracers do as part of their standard interviewing practice to optimize the data they collect from those they interview?
  3. Why can’t we just fix these problems with a decent tracking app?

References (Read Further):

Garry, M., Hope, L., Zajac, R., Verrall, A. J., & Robertson, J. M. (2020). Contact Tracing: A Memory Task With Consequences for Public Health. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1745691620978205. Link

Mosser, A. E., & Evans, J. R. (2019). Increasing the number of contacts generated during contact tracing interviews. Memory, 27(4), 495-506. Abstract Link

Eames, K. T., & Keeling, M. J. (2003). Contact tracing and disease control. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 270(1533), 2565-2571. Link

Gabbert, F., Hope, L., Carter, E., Boon, R., & Fisher, R. P. (2016). The role of initial witness accounts within the investigative process. Communication in investigative and legal contexts, 107-131. Link

Ferretti, L., Wymant, C., Kendall, M., Zhao, L., Nurtay, A., Abeler-Dörner, L., … & Fraser, C. (2020). Quantifying SARS-CoV-2 transmission suggests epidemic control with digital contact tracing. Science, 368(6491). Link

Newton, C. (2020). Why Bluetooth Apps Are Bad at Discovering New Cases of COVID-19. The Verge, April, 10. Link

Posted by & filed under Clinical Psychology, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Human Development, Research Methods, Social Psychology.

Description: How would you decide which Psychological research articles were the 10 most important of 2020?  Well, you could read a lot and come up with your own list but that would not be very scientific would it? So, what would you use for metrics? Well, how about the impact articles have on society in general and, as well, the impact they have on future Psychological research (and research in related disciplines? Social impact or newsworthiness can be checked with versions of google searches to see how widely the research is picked up and covered by new media. As to impact on future research there is actually something called an impact index which looks at both how many times other researchers include a particular article in their own citation lists in their own research and, as well, the impact ranking of the journal in which the article and the ones that cite it are published can also be factored in. Based on a blend of these factors, the Association for Psychological Science has produced a list of the “top 10” Psychology Research Discoveries and Breakthroughs of 2020. So, without further fanfare, have a read through the linked article to see what stood out and had the greatest impact in the way of Psychology research last year!

Source: Breakthroughs and Discoveries in Psychological Science: 2020 Year in Review, Psychological Science.

Date: January 16, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Megan Rexazin from Pixabay

Article Link:

You likely anticipated the number of Covid related articles on the list. We have needed, and have seen, a lot of research into the Psychology of Covid-19 over the past year and perhaps the articles on misinformation on social media and on why people might claim that reputable journalism is “Fake News” did not surprise you either. As I noted in another post this week, there is a LOT of Psychologizing going on generally these days and it is most encouraging to see that Psychological research is diligently working to keep up with current issues and concerns and provide valid, research-grounded input to our efforts to understand what is going on within and around us these days AND inform our efforts to decide how best to proceed towards resilience and wellness.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Pick one of the breakthrough or discovery articles and compose a brief description of what it did and what it found?
  2. Which breakthrough or discovery did you find most interesting or surprising and why?
  3. What area or areas of possible research were NOT represented in the list and what would you like to see in the way of future Psychology research?

References (Read Further):

The titles of each article in the list within the linked article are hyperlinks that will take you to each of the articles themselves.

Ingwersen, P. (1998). The calculation of web impact factors. Journal of documentation, 54(2), 236-243. Link

Moed, H. F., & Van Leeuwen, T. N. (1996). Impact factors can mislead. Nature, 381(6579), 186-186. Link

Ioannidis, J. P., & Thombs, B. D. (2019). A user’s guide to inflated and manipulated impact factors. European journal of clinical investigation, 49(9), e13151. Link

Van Leeuwen, T. N., & Wouters, P. F. (2017). Analysis of publications on journal impact factor over time. Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics, 2, 4. Link