Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Personality, Personality in Aging, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: Whether the year and then some that we have been engaged by the pandemic will result in people’s personalities seeming to have changed once we get to see them and spend time with them face-to-face again is an interesting question. But how about this question. Do you want to be a different sort of person after the pandemic than you were before? Of course, we are wanting to get back to what we did before but are there ways in which we would like to do things differently once our freedom of social engagement and movement returns? Are there parts of your personality you would like to do differently? Is such change possible and if so, how would you go about doing it? Think about this last question for a moment and then have a read through the article linked below to see what research suggests about how you might be able to answer it.

Source: You Can Be a Different Person After the Pandemic, Olga Khazan, The New York Times.

Date: April 6, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Alexandra Haynak from Pixabay

Article Link:

If our personality, as assessed by the factors of the Big 5 model for example, is a summary of our social behavior rather than a manifestation of our base character or our genetic make-up then, perhaps, it IS more open to change than we suspect or believe. For many people, having had to step back from social interaction over this past Covid-infected year has provided a bit of perspective on the questions of “how do I want to be and what do I want to do”? The research reported on in the linked article clearly indicate that significant personality change is very possible and can be enacted by deciding to act differently. Purposefully behaving in ways that you would like to have become part of your behavioral repertoire (your personality), in fact, seem to produce exactly those results. As some say, fake it ‘til you make it, actually works. So, make a plan, work out some scripts and get ready to emerge from isolation ready to work on becoming a different person!

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. How flexible are people’s personality prfiles?
  2. What sorts of things can people do to shift one or more of their personality dimension scores in directions that they want to shift towards?
  3. Given the research on the changeability of personality discussed in the linked article how would you describe the nature and structure of personality in general?

References (Read Further):

Göllner, R., Damian, R. I., Rose, N., Spengler, M., Trautwein, U., Nagengast, B., & Roberts, B. W. (2017). Is doing your homework associated with becoming more conscientious? Journal of Research in Personality, 71, 1-12. Abstract Link

Roberts, B. W., Luo, J., Briley, D. A., Chow, P. I., Su, R., & Hill, P. L. (2017). A systematic review of personality trait change through intervention. Psychological Bulletin, 143(2), 117. Link

Stieger, M., Flückiger, C., Rüegger, D., Kowatsch, T., Roberts, B. W., & Allemand, M. (2021). Changing personality traits with the help of a digital personality change intervention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(8). Link

Hudson, N. W., & Fraley, R. C. (2015). Volitional personality trait change: Can people choose to change their personality traits?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 109(3), 490. Link

Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E., & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological bulletin, 132(1), 1. Link

Allemand, M., & Flückiger, C. (2017). Changing personality traits: Some considerations from psychotherapy process-outcome research for intervention efforts on intentional personality change. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 27(4), 476. Link

Dweck, C. S. (2008). Can personality be changed? The role of beliefs in personality and change. Current directions in psychological science, 17(6), 391-394. Link

Hudson, N. W., Briley, D. A., Chopik, W. J., & Derringer, J. (2019). You have to follow through: Attaining behavioral change goals predicts volitional personality change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(4), 839. Link


Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Development of the Self, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: When have you been happiest in life, at what age? If you are just in your twenties, do you think things will get better or worse in terms of your happiness as you go forward in life? If you could pick, what age would you like to stay at for the rest of your lilfe? What do you think that lifespan developmental research suggests is the happiest or preferred life age? What do you think contributes to this particular finding? Once you have your hypotheses in order, have a read through the linked article to see what research suggests.

Source: At what age are people usually happiest? New research offers surprising clues, Clare Mehta, The Conversation.

Date: April 9, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how close was your prediction to the 36 years of age reported by the ongoing lifespan developmental research? Did it surprise you that the age was not a lot younger? Certainly, the freedoms of childhood are balanced against the lack of knowledge, expertise and experience and the emerging agency of young adulthood is balanced by the stress, anxieties and uncertainties of identity development, planning and world engagement. So, despite the challenges of work-life balance of family and life responsibilities and challenges established adulthood seems like a good place to be. Though, caveats relating to socioeconomic standing and gender and race related stresses do limit the generalizability of this research program it does provide an interesting start to consideration of the question of when we are happiest in life..

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. What factors seem to contribute to the high happiness ratings of established adults?
  2. If you are not there yet (in established adulthood) do you think your experience will be the same as that reported in the research ponce you get there and if not what will be different about you and about the world you will be in?
  3. What should be done to broaden the generalizability of the research reported upon in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Mehta, C. M., Arnett, J. J., Palmer, C. G., & Nelson, L. J. (2020). Established adulthood: A new conception of ages 30 to 45. American Psychologist, 75(4), 431. Link

Videos regarding systemic racism Link

Rogers, Katie (2021) 2.5 Million Women Left the Work Force During the Pandemic. Harris Sees a ‘National Emergency’ The New York Times. Link

Schaefer, Kayleen (2021) But You Are Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings are Redefining Adulthood, Penguin.

Lacey, H. P., Smith, D. M., & Ubel, P. A. (2006). Hope I die before I get old: Mispredicting happiness across the adult lifespan. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(2), 167-182. Link

Chopik, W. J. (2017). Associations among relational values, support, health, and well‐being across the adult lifespan. Personal relationships, 24(2), 408-422. Link

Baird, B. M., Lucas, R. E., & Donnellan, M. B. (2010). Life satisfaction across the lifespan: Findings from two nationally representative panel studies. Social indicators research, 99(2), 183-203. Link

Battersby, A., & Phillips, L. (2016). In the end it all makes sense: Meaning in life at either end of the adult lifespan. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 83(2), 184-204. Link

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Do people who witness acts of aggression or violence against other in their town or cities typically intervene to stop or diffuse the situation? When attacks against Indigenous, Asian, or other identifiable member of minority groups occur as they have recently, how likely is it that you, when hearing of the incidents, wondered why no one intervened? If no one else was present that is one thing but what about when there are others around? If you have taken an introductory psychology course that included a section on social psychology, you have likely heard about the case of Kitty Genovese who was murdered while, it is often told, 38 people heard the attack and did nothing. There has been a great deal of research done looking at this question and it is a good time to take stock of what reality actually involves in this area. So, start with what you think. DO bystanders typically intervene in situations where one person id attacking another or not, and if not why not? Once you have your hypotheses sorted out read the article linked below to see what psychological research, both historical and recent, have to say regarding this matter.

Source: Would You Jump In to Stop an Assault? Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times.

Date: April 3, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, bystanders DO rather consistently intervene when one person is being attacked or when a fight is going on. As well, the main reasons for not intervening are typically related to really not knowing what to do or how to do so relatively safely. Further, re-analysis of the Kitty Genovese case accounts suggest that it was improperly reported and not nearly as clear a case of bystander indifference as it has routinely been presented as being. It is very encouraging to see that research is indicating that things are not as bad as we often think and that there are training programs that can help people to understand how to intervene safely and effectively.  Now we need to get THAT word out a far as the older negative accounts got!

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. What is over and understated in most accounts of circumstances surrounding the Kitty Genovese case?
  2. What effect does the presence of more people have on the likelihood that someone will intervene in a violent altercation?
  3. What step could help further reduce the number of situations where bystanders do not intervene and what could increase safety and efficacy for those that do intervene?

References (Read Further):

Rasenberger, Jim (2004) Kitty, 40 Years Later, The New York Times Link

Rosenthal, A. M. (2015). Thirty-eight witnesses: The Kitty Genovese case. Open Road Media.

Manning, R., Levine, M., & Collins, A. (2007). The Kitty Genovese murder and the social psychology of helping: The parable of the 38 witnesses. American Psychologist, 62(6), 555. Link

Kassin, S. M. (2017). The killing of Kitty Genovese: what else does this case tell us?. Perspectives on psychological science, 12(3), 374-381. Link

Griggs, R. A. (2015). The Kitty Genovese story in introductory psychology textbooks: Fifty years later. Teaching of Psychology, 42(2), 149-152. Link

Philpot, R., Liebst, L. S., Levine, M., Bernasco, W., & Lindegaard, M. R. (2020). Would I be helped? Cross-national CCTV footage shows that intervention is the norm in public conflicts. American Psychologist, 75(1), 66. Link

Mentors in Violence Prevention Link

Berkowitz, A. D. (2009). Response ability: A complete guide to bystander intervention. Beck & Company.

Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: diffusion of responsibility. Journal of personality and social psychology, 8(4p1), 377. Link

DiFranzo, D., Taylor, S. H., Kazerooni, F., Wherry, O. D., & Bazarova, N. N. (2018, April). Upstanding by design: Bystander intervention in cyberbullying. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1-12). Link

Jenkins, L. N., & Nickerson, A. B. (2019). Bystander intervention in bullying: Role of social skills and gender. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 39(2), 141-166. Link

Thornberg, R., Landgren, L., & Wiman, E. (2018). ‘It Depends’: A qualitative study on how adolescent students explain bystander intervention and non-intervention in bullying situations. School psychology international, 39(4), 400-415. Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Group Processes, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: Longitudinal research tells us that personality is reasonably stable over time and that when there are changes, as we age, they tend to be positive changes with us becoming somewhat calmer, more self-confident and socially sensitive with age. Sounds just fine, doesn’t it. But what about this past year? As we pass the one-year anniversary of the Covid pandemic driving our social lives south, think back, if you can, and reflect upon whether your personality is the same today as it was a year ago. Is it the same now as it was a year ago? If not think about why that might be and then have a look through the article linked below to see if your hypotheses match those of the author and if you think your personality is exactly the same I do not believe you but think about how other peoples’ personalities may have changed instead.

Source: How Covid Can Change Your Personality, David Brooks, The New York Times.

Date: April 1, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Lucija Rasonja from Pixabay

Article Link:

The linked article is more focused on subjective experience than on personality dimensions, but it does provide some food for reflection. We tend to think of our personality as something that is internally and intrinsically ours. In fact, however, personality is what we extract from our social interactions and while somewhat stable over long-term time it can be quite volatile as we move through different social situations. Further, our personality arises out of our social selves, out of our social interactions and we have had far fewer of those this year and many that we have had have been of a new, not well understood or well calibrated non-face-to-face variety.  If our personality is one of our main tools for social adaptation, then consider this question: How have your adapted over the past year? I suspect that will hold your attention for a bit as you carry out the reflection and as you, perhaps, include your future perspective as well (just HOW are things going to be different later this year? A LOT to think about.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. In what ways are you the same or different today as compared to who you were 1 year ago?
  2. What sorts of things contributed to those changes do you think?
  3. Like everyone else, you are likely having difficulty even imagining what things will be like is 6 months. How will this affect your personality and what are you planning or looking forward to?

References (Read Further):

Pappas, Stephanie (2017) Personlaity Traits & Personlaity Types: What is Personlaity? Live Science. Link

Roberts, B. W., & DelVecchio, W. F. (2000). The rank-order consistency of personality traits from childhood to old age: a quantitative review of longitudinal studies. Psychological bulletin, 126(1), 3. Link

Kagan, J., Snidman, N., Zentner, M., & Peterson, E. (1999). Infant temperament and anxious symptoms in school age children. Development and psychopathology, 11(2), 209-224. Link

Thompson, R. A., Winer, A. C., & Goodvin, R. (2011). The individual child: Temperament, emotion, self, and personality. In M. H. Bornstein & M. E. Lamb (Eds.), Developmental science: An advanced textbook (p. 427–468). Psychology Press. Link

Damian, R. I., Spengler, M., Sutu, A., & Roberts, B. W. (2019). Sixteen going on sixty-six: A longitudinal study of personality stability and change across 50 years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(3), 674. Link

Zajenkowski, M., Jonason, P. K., Leniarska, M., & Kozakiewicz, Z. (2020). Who complies with the restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19?: Personality and perceptions of the COVID-19 situation. Personality and Individual Differences, 166, 110199. Link

Liu, S., Lithopoulos, A., Zhang, C. Q., Garcia-Barrera, M. A., & Rhodes, R. E. (2021). Personality and perceived stress during COVID-19 pandemic: Testing the mediating role of perceived threat and efficacy. Personality and individual differences, 168, 110351. Link

Sutin, A. R., Luchetti, M., Aschwanden, D., Lee, J. H., Sesker, A. A., Strickhouser, J. E., … & Terracciano, A. (2020). Change in five-factor model personality traits during the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic. PloS one, 15(8), e0237056. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Prevention, Social Psychology.

Description: I am sure you have heard something of the debates going on as to whether we should be shifting our clocks forward in spring and backwards in fall each year. Part of the science discussed within that debate concerns the impact of the time change (especially the one in spring) on our circadian rhythms or the multitude of bodily and mental functions that are tied to our daily cycles: our circadian cycles. However, another big part of those debates concerns social rhythms or social time. We would adapt much better to losing an hour in the spring if we social life shifted forward by an hour at the same time (if school or work started at 10 am rather than 9 am, for example) but that would defeat the purpose of the daylight-saving time change. Well, think about this: COVID-19 has hugely impacted our social time. We have not had to leave our homes at regular times each day (if at all), meals have become unstuck from our previously usual comings and goings, and our usual daily routines and schedules are… well messed up. Some television morning programs are (a little bit seriously) providing public service of announcing what day it is each morning. Think about how your perception of time has wobbled or been odd over the past year and think a bit about why, specifically, that might be and then have a read through the article linked below for some psychological perspectives.

Source: How COVID-19 Has Altered Our Perception of Time, Joseph Mazur, Psychology Today.

Date: April 2, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

A big difference between daylight-saving time changes and the past year of COVID-19 has been that while we may or may not like our twice annual time shifts, we have experience with them, see them coming, and can name (blame) the effects they have on us clearly and directly. With COVID, we did not see the changes coming as their impacts unfolded slowly over time. COVID messed with our social contacts, social time, our social rhythms in ways we did not see coming. Managing within social time is difficult at the best of times (just search work-life balance if you want to see how difficult it can be) but when COVID social distancing protocols hit we were in new territory and we are still figuring out the multitude of ways this has impacted us. It is well worth thinking a bit about this as the shift back to “normal” will likely be just about as disorienting and our shift into COVID social reality was.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. Why do the time changes associated with daylight-savings mess us up?
  2. Why does the spring (forward) daylight-savings time change affect s more profoundly than the fall (back) daylight-savings time change?
  3. How has COVID messed up our time sense and our social time routines and how might “getting back to normal” also mess us up a bit?

References (Read Further):

Meck, W. H. (1996). Neuropharmacology of timing and time perception. Cognitive brain research, 3(3-4), 227-242. Link

Glicksohn, J., Berkovich-Ohana, A., Mauro, F., & Ben-Soussan, T. D. (2017). Time perception and the experience of time when immersed in an altered sensory environment. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 487. Link

Di Lernia, D., Serino, S., Pezzulo, G., Pedroli, E., Cipresso, P., & Riva, G. (2018). Feel the time. Time perception as a function of interoceptive processing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12, 74. Link

Üstün, S., Kale, E. H., & Çiçek, M. (2017). Neural networks for time perception and working memory. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 11, 83. Link

Davydenko, M., & Peetz, J. (2017). Time grows on trees: The effect of nature settings on time perception. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 54, 20-26. Link

Droit-Volet, S., Gil, S., Martinelli, N., Andant, N., Clinchamps, M., Parreira, L., … & Dutheil, F. (2020). Time and Covid-19 stress in the lockdown situation: Time free,«Dying» of boredom and sadness. PloS one, 15(8), e0236465. Link

Van Way III, C. W. (2020). The Curse of Time. Missouri medicine, 117(2), 105. Link

Roenneberg, T., Wirz-Justice, A., Skene, D. J., Ancoli-Israel, S., Wright, K. P., Dijk, D. J., … & Klerman, E. B. (2019). Why should we abolish daylight saving time?. Journal of biological rhythms, 34(3), 227-230. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Classification Diagnosis, Disorders of Childhood, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Over the past year with COVID-19 there has been a marked increase in the number of adults who are either revealed to have ADHD or in whom ADHD has emerged as they struggled with the broad array of issues such as social distancing, social isolation, and work and economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19. Does this statement make sense to you? It very well might seem to make sense because we seem to have a readiness to believe that any indications of difficulties in focusing, concentrating, and staying on task likely reflect an emerging Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Now consider this finding. A clinic that specializes in diagnosing and treating ADHD reviewed its long-term records and reported that of the hundreds of people who came into the clinic convinced they had adult ADHD only 5% (yes, only one in twenty) actually turned out to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. This finding suggests two things. First, perhaps we should question our sense that the statement I opened with above is true. Second, we really need to ask and find out what is going on; why are so many people looking for help with what they think is an attention deficit disorder that it turns out they do not have? Give the article linked below a read to see what research has to say on this matter.

Source: Is it adult ADHD? COVID-19 has people feeling restless, lacking focus and seeking diagnosis, Allyson G. Harrison, The Conversation.

Date: March 24, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, do the questions seem a bit more sorted out now after having read the article? The bottom line is that our ability to focus our attention and maintain that focus is a core part of how we mentally manage ourselves on a day-to-day and even moment-to-moment basis and there are a LOT of things that can mess with our attentional abilities. ADHD only accounts for a tiny proportion of this as only 4.4% of adults meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Now, functional ADHD is a much bigger thing and life in the time of COVID-19 HAS created conditions that have seriously attacked our ability to manage our attention and maintain our focus. Luckily, the symptoms Can be dealt with and the authors of the linked article provide a good list of things you can do to improve your attentional skills and abilities these days so re-read them and try some of them out if you have been wondering about your current ADHD status.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the difference between having ADHD and having difficulties maintaining attentional focus?
  2. What is the relationship between childhood and adult ADHD?
  3. What does the research discussed in the linked article suggest about the role of attention and attention management in our day-to-day functioning?

References (Read Further):

Kessler, R. C., Adler, L., Barkley, R., Biederman, J., Conners, C. K., Demler, O., … & Zaslavsky, A. M. (2006). The prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in the United States: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. American Journal of psychiatry, 163(4), 716-723. Link

Fayyad, J., De Graaf, R., Kessler, R., Alonso, J., Angermeyer, M., Demyttenaere, K., … & Jin, R. (2007). Cross-national prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 190(5), 402-409. Link

Harrison, A. G., Nay, S., & Armstrong, I. T. (2019). Diagnostic accuracy of the Conners’ adult ADHD rating scale in a postsecondary population. Journal of attention disorders, 23(14), 1829-1837. Link

Mannuzza, S., Klein, R. G., Klein, D. F., Bessler, A., & Shrout, P. (2002). Accuracy of adult recall of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(11), 1882-1888. Link

Harrison, A. G., Alexander, S. J., & Armstrong, I. T. (2013). Higher reported levels of depression, stress, and anxiety are associated with increased endorsement of ADHD symptoms by postsecondary students. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 28(3), 243-260. Link

Offord, Catherine (2020) How Social Isolation Affects the Brain, The Scientist. Link

Harrison, A.G. and Medd, J. (2011) Screening Young Adults for Possible ADHD: Think Horses Not Zebras, paper presented at the Canadian Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Resource Alliance Conference, Toronto, Canada Link

Sibley, M. H., Rohde, L. A., Swanson, J. M., Hechtman, L. T., Molina, B. S., Mitchell, J. T., … & Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) Cooperative Group. (2018). Late-onset ADHD reconsidered with comprehensive repeated assessments between ages 10 and 25. American Journal of Psychiatry, 175(2), 140-149. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Depression, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience.

Description: Even if you are not old enough to have experienced the 1960’s and 70’s personally you are no doubt aware that one of the things that era was known for is the illicit use of drugs and of psychedelics like LSD, peyote, mescaline and magic mushrooms. Within what was referred to as counterculture (outside of the mainstream or the “establishment”) they were referred to as mind expanding substances. The idea was that use of such substances could open one’s mind up to a broader, deeper perception of reality. Beyond recreational use there were also, later reveled, “experiments” conducted on mental patients with the interest and support of the CIA that were not intended as investigation of their potential healing capacities but more as investigations of their potential for use in interrogation procedures. Nothing about those uses of psychedelic drugs sound particularly ethical or useful, right? So, given this, would it surprise you to learn that the state of Oregon has provided limited approval for the use of magic mushrooms in clinical settings under the supervision of clinical therapists for the treatment of things from anxiety and depression to smoking cessation? Want to find out more about these uses and about what brain scans are showing about how they work? Well, then read the article linked below to find out.

Source: Can Magic Mushrooms Heal Us? Ezra Klein, Opinion, The New York Times.

Date: March 18, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Scotty Frey from Pixabay

Article Link:

So did it surprise you to read that what is being tried in Oregon is not so much a modern turn in the exploration of psychedelics in general psilocybin mushrooms in particular but a revisitation of work done in the 1950’s and 60’s on these same questions? The biggest consideration is that Oregon is not simply looking at legalization (magic mushrooms cannot be sold retail) and nor are they looking at reducing harms associated with a war on drugs approach to magic mushrooms. Rather they are building on the idea that the carefully managed use of magic mushrooms in clinical settings with clinical supervision has the potential to contribute to powerful, positive life change. What do you think? It is not the 1960’s “flower power” but perhaps a new mushroom power (and NOT a Super Mario version at that)!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What has Oregon actually done with regards to Psilocybin mushroom use?
  2. What impact do Psilocybin mushrooms have in the brains of those who inject them?
  3. What sorts of clinician/therapeutic ethical issues should be considered in relation to the therapeutic use of Psilocybin mushrooms?

References (Read Further):

Slate Star Codex Is There A Case For Skepticism Of Psychedelic Therapy? Link

Davis, A. K., Barrett, F. S., May, D. G., Cosimano, M. P., Sepeda, N. D., Johnson, M. W., … & Griffiths, R. R. (2020). Effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy on major depressive disorder: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA psychiatry. Link

Keim, Brandon (2014) Science Graphic of the Week: How Magic Mushrooms Rearrange Your Brain, Wired. Link

Kaertner, L. S., Steinborn, M. B., Kettner, H., Spriggs, M. J., Roseman, L., Buchborn, T., … & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2021). Positive expectations predict improved mental-health outcomes linked to psychedelic microdosing. Scientific reports, 11(1), 1-11. Link

Aday, J. S., Davis, A. K., Mitzkovitz, C. M., Bloesch, E. K., & Davoli, C. C. (2021). Predicting Reactions to Psychedelic Drugs: A Systematic Review of States and Traits Related to Acute Drug Effects. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science. Link

Yaden, D. B., & Griffiths, R. R. (2020). The Subjective Effects of Psychedelics Are Necessary for Their Enduring Therapeutic Effects. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science. Link

Garcia-Romeu, A., Barrett, F. S., Carbonaro, T. M., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2021). Optimal dosing for psilocybin pharmacotherapy: Considering weight-adjusted and fixed dosing approaches. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881121991822. Link

McCoy, A. W. (2007). Science in Dachaus shadow: HEBB, Beecher, and the development of CIA psychological torture and modern medical ethics. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 43(4), 401. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: You have heard of service dogs, right? They help out people struggling with PTSD and help them get on with their lives with fewer of the issues that can be associated with PTSD. However, what do you know about what having a service dog actually does for a person with PTSD? Perhaps you just “know” that having a canine best friend is obviously good for anyone and likely confirms additional benefits to those with PTSD but what does a service dog actually DO for those with PTSD and how does what they do compare to the potential positive impacts of medications or therapy? Well, there IS research on tis. Have read through the linked article to see what it has to say about the added therapeutic value associated with service dogs.

Source: Service dogs can help veterans with PTSD – growing evidence shows they may reduce anxiety in practical ways, Leanne Nieforth and Marguerite E. O’Hare, The Conversation.

Date: March 26, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by CLVann from Pixabay

Article Link:

I found it fascinating to see what service dogs can do for those with PTSD and how service dogs have therapeutic impact above and beyond that provided by medications and therapies. The suggestion that more information needs to get out to the public at large about the nature and role of service dogs has at least two components. First, it is important for those of us who like dogs to understand the role that service dogs play in their owners’ lives so that we do not simply start interacting with the “good dogs” that are service companions without first considering their job and their owners’ needs. Second, as with mental health issues in general we need to work to reduce stigma in society in general and, by extension to reduce and eliminate the impact of stigma on those dealing with issues like PTSD.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do service dogs do for individuals with PTSD?
  2. How does what service dogs do for folks with PTSD compare or interact with medications and psychotherapies?
  3. What does the public need to know or be aware of with regards to service dogs and why?

References (Read Further):

O’haire, M. E., & Rodriguez, K. E. (2018). Preliminary efficacy of service dogs as a complementary treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in military members and veterans. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 86(2), 179. Link

Reisen, Jan (2021) Service Dogs, Working Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs: What’s the Difference? American Kennel Club. Link

Rodriguez, K. E., LaFollette, M. R., Hediger, K., Ogata, N., & O’Haire, M. E. (2020). Defining the PTSD service dog intervention: perceived importance, usage, and symptom specificity of psychiatric service dogs for military veterans. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1638. Link

Rodriguez, K. E., Bryce, C. I., Granger, D. A., & O’Haire, M. E. (2018). The effect of a service dog on salivary cortisol awakening response in a military population with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, 202-210. Link

Nieforth, L. O., Rodriguez, K. E., & O’Haire, M. E. (2021). Expectations versus experiences of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) service dogs: An inductive conventional content analysis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Abstract Link

O’haire, M. E., & Rodriguez, K. E. (2018). Preliminary efficacy of service dogs as a complementary treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in military members and veterans. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 86(2), 179. Link

Schoenfeld-Tacher, R., Hellyer, P., Cheung, L., & Kogan, L. (2017). Public perceptions of service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(6), 642. Link

LaFollette, M. R., Rodriguez, K. E., Ogata, N., & O’Haire, M. E. (2019). Military veterans and their PTSD service dogs: associations between training methods, PTSD severity, dog behavior, and the human-animal bond. Frontiers in veterinary science, 6, 23. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Health Psychology, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Psychological Intervention.

Description: I will not even ask whether you know what anxiety is, of course you do, especially given how much experience we have all had with it recently. Have you also heard about the Yerkes-Dodson Law?  Basically, it says that for most tasks that we take on, a certain amount of stress increases our performance on that task while a lot of stress reduces our performance and the “sweet spot” for optimal performance varies with the complexity of the task. For complex tasks, the inverted U-shaped curve of the Yerkes-Dodson Law shifts left so that the amount of stress that starts to cause performance to degrade is lower while for simple tasks the curve shifts right so that increases in stress lead to increased performance for higher levels of stress. We tend to think the same way about anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling we experience in situations of threat and uncertainty. How does anxiety relate to our motivation and performance? I suspect you think that something like the Yerkes-Dodson Law applies there too. Low to moderate levels of anxiety get us going on required tasks while high levels of anxiety shut us down. That is why many people procrastinate, right? They put things off in order to build up a sufficiently motivating level of anxiety. Makes sense, does it not? But what if all of this is not really based on a solid research foundation? If anxiety is a reactive response to threat, then it is not something we would be able to dial up and down. What we can dial up and down is worry or thinking about things that could produce anxiety. We seem to believe that we can cognitively control our anxiety, by thinking about it. But what if our worry and particularly the debilitating worry that many people are struggling with is a habit? What if, when we experience anxiety, we find that we distract ourselves from it by worrying (ruminating) about possible negative outcomes and that distraction reduces our experience of anxiety and thus is negatively reinforcing? That negative reinforcement can lead us to a habit of worrying as a way of fending off anxiety, much like how eating cake or chocolate can be negatively reinforcing when we are anxious or stressed and can lead to an overeating or a sweets stuff eating habit. Our current treatments for anxiety really do not work very well at all. Would treating what we do in response to anxiety as a worry habit make a difference in treatment efficacy? Wouldn’t THAT be something? Read the article linked below to find out more about this possible approach.

Source: Why Targeting Entrenched Habits Can Treat Anxiety, Judson Brewer, The Craving Mind, Psychology Today.

Date: March 19, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Article Link:

I must say I was surprised to see the data on the small level of empirical support or the Yerkes-Dodson Law. I will certainly be updating my lecture notes. The data on the treatment effects of various approaches to treatment anxiety disorders was also surprising to me with only 1 in over 5 people responding to drug-based treatment and CBT producing 50/50 rates of impact. The data on the positive impacts of treating the worry associated with anxiety issues the same way that eating and smoking habits might be treated is very intriguing. I am going to dig in a bit deeper to Brewer’s work in those areas and to his anxiety treatment app as well. Could be worth consideration!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the Yerkes-Dodson Law?
  2. How might the Yerkes-Dodson Law apply to anxiety issues?
  3. What might approaching the worry cycles associated with anxiety issues as a habit provide us in that way of a new anxiety treatment approach?

References (Read Further):

Brewer, Judson (2021) Unwinding Anxiety: New Sciences Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind, Avery. Link

Brewer, J. A., Mallik, S., Babuscio, T. A., Nich, C., Johnson, H. E., Deleone, C. M., … & Rounsaville, B. J. (2011). Mindfulness training for smoking cessation: results from a randomized controlled trial. Drug and alcohol dependence, 119(1-2), 72-80. Link

Mason, A. E., Jhaveri, K., Cohn, M., & Brewer, J. A. (2018). Testing a mobile mindful eating intervention targeting craving-related eating: feasibility and proof of concept. Journal of behavioral medicine, 41(2), 160-173. Link

Roy, A., Druker, S., Hoge, E. A., & Brewer, J. A. (2020). Physician anxiety and burnout: symptom correlates and a prospective pilot study of App-delivered mindfulness training. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 8(4), e15608. Link

Segerstrom, S. C., Tsao, J. C., Alden, L. E., & Craske, M. G. (2000). Worry and rumination: Repetitive thought as a concomitant and predictor of negative mood. Cognitive therapy and Research, 24(6), 671-688. Link

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, General Psychology, Neuroscience, Sensation-Perception.

Description: Do you watch horror films? If you do because you like the jumps and frights or if you don’t because you dislike the jumps and frights, then either way you are reacting or responding to that film genre the way virtually everyone does. What about written horror, such a Steven King or Edgar Allan Poe novels? I avoid them almost as assiduously as I avoid horror films, they keep me awake at night and not in the good, to enjoyable to put down, way that a mystery novel can. Where is this going? Well, if you are someone who has a string opinion about horror films but tend to avoid horror novels because they do nothing for you at all one way or the other then you may have a rare condition called Aphantasia or mind-blindness. Wonder what that is? Read the article linked below to find out.

Source: I ain’t afraid of no ghosts: People with mind-blindness not so easily spooked, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: March 10, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Alexandra ❤️A life without animals is not worth living❤️ from Pixabay

Article Link:

The impact that a novel passage can have upon is not solely cognitive, is it? If you read a passage about someone who is being snuck up on by a malevolent person or creature, we have an emotional or visceral reaction to it because we can visualize it and the mental image drives or physiological reaction to the scene that the passage involves. People with mind-blindness or Aphantasia cannot visualize mentally and so while they DO respond viscerally to a movie horror scene, they show no such reaction to written horror passages. It gives a whole different meaning to a phrase like “the movie was WAY different than the book!”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Aphantasia?
  2. What role does the research suggest that mental images play in our emotional responses to written texts or novels?
  3. What are some other areas besides horror novel’s and films where we might expect to see similar response patterns in those with Aphantasia or mind-blindness?

References (Read Further):

Wicken, M., Keogh, R., & Pearson, J. (2021). The critical role of mental imagery in human emotion: insights from fear-based imagery and aphantasia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 288(1946), 20210267. Link

Werner, M. (2010). Why Do We Crave Horror? Evolutionary Psychology and Viewer Response to Horror Films. Bright Lights Film Journal, 68. Link

Park, M. (2018). The Aesthetics and Psychology Behind Horror Films. Link

Martin, G. N. (2019). (Why) do you like scary movies? A review of the empirical research on psychological responses to horror films. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2298. Link

McAndrew, F. T. (2020). The psychology, geography, and architecture of horror: How places creep us out. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, 4(2), 47-62. Link

Ballon, B., & Leszcz, M. (2007). Horror films: tales to master terror or shapers of trauma?. American journal of psychotherapy, 61(2), 211-230. Link

Zeman, A. Z., Dewar, M., & Della Sala, S. (2015). Lives without imagery-Congenital aphantasia. Link

Keogh, R., & Pearson, J. (2018). The blind mind: No sensory visual imagery in aphantasia. Cortex, 105, 53-60. Link

Zeman, A., Dewar, M., & Della Sala, S. (2016). Reflections on aphantasia. Cortex, 74, 336-337. Link

Watkins, N. W. (2018). (A) phantasia and severely deficient autobiographical memory: Scientific and personal perspectives. Cortex, 105, 41-52. Link