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

Description: Mammals are aware of social hierarchies, right? You are sitting around a table sharing pizza with a few other people. There is one slice left and you want it. As you reach out for it another hand also reaches out for it. What do you do? It depends, right? What if you are sitting around the family dinner table and the other hand belongs to your much younger sister? What if the table is in the breakroom at work and the other hand belongs to your boss? Does it matter how much you want to last piece of pizza? How so? Now, is all this just family or work politics or do you think that there might be identifiable things going on in your brain that could predict what you would do AND which would take the social relationships and your need state into account and predict your action with quite good accuracy? NO, they have not yet, to my knowledge, run a study on pizza tugs of war with the participants in brain scanning machines. However, they HAVE done similar research with mice (but without pizza). Have a read through the linked article to see what was done and what the results suggest about our brains, social status tracking and winning mind-sets.

Source: How the Brain encodes social rank and ‘winning mindset.’ ScienceDaily.

Date: March 16, 2022

Image by Kapa65 from Pixabay

Article Link:

So perhaps the pizza examples made this seem a bit simple but the idea that mammal brains have an area that codes and stores social dominance clearly speaks to the evolutionary (and perhaps current social, importance of this factor. Better understanding of this area of the brain, as suggested by the researchers, may provide some deeper insight into the sorts of social withdrawal that are linked to depression and other issues. Also, know more about how the brain-based foundations of winning mindsets and their portrayal assistance in general theories of motivation and in remediation of the impacts of social traumas or recovery from mental conditions. The developmental question, that the researchers are moving on to next – looking at when in development this brain representations of social hierarchies are first laid down will be quite fascinating.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are social hierarchies and what are some examples in humans and other animals?
  2. What areas of our understanding of mammal (human) functioning be better illuminate by the line of research discussed in the linked article?
  3. What sorts of areas or questions might be better illuminated by the developmental research that the linked article researchers are turning to next?

References (Read Further):

Padilla-Coreano, N., Batra, K., Patarino, M. et al. Cortical ensembles orchestrate social competition through hypothalamic outputs. Nature (2022). Link

Fan, Z., Zhu, H., Zhou, T., Wang, S., Wu, Y., & Hu, H. (2019). Using the tube test to measure social hierarchy in mice. Nature Protocols, 14(3), 819-831. Link

Van Den Berg, W. E., Lamballais, S., & Kushner, S. A. (2015). Sex-specific mechanism of social hierarchy in mice. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(6), 1364-1372. Link

Lee, W., Yang, E., & Curley, J. P. (2018). Foraging dynamics are associated with social status and context in mouse social hierarchies. PeerJ, 6, e5617. Link

Yamaguchi, Y., Lee, Y. A., Kato, A., Jas, E., & Goto, Y. (2017). The roles of dopamine D2 receptor in the social hierarchy of rodents and primates. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-10. Link

Tramacere, A., & Iriki, A. (2021). A novel mind‐set in primate experimentation: Implications for primate welfare. Animal Models and Experimental Medicine, 4(4), 343-350. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Families and Peers, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Motivation-Emotion, Prevention, Social Psychology, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: When I was 7 years old (in grade 3) at around 11 am on or about October 26, 1962, there was a general announcement by our elementary school principal over the PA system that we were all to pack up and go home. I do not recall whether I had any clue as to why that was done (at the time). It turns out it was at or around the peak of what was called the Cuban missile crisis. Russia (under Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev), in support of its pledge to protect Cuba from aggression to the United States of America, had sent ships to transport nuclear missiles for installation in Cuba. President Kennedy and his administration had taken the position that nuclear missiles in Cuba would represent an unacceptable threat to the United States. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba and stated that if the missile carrying ships did not turn around and return to Russia they would be attacked and impounded. I was not, I recall, aware of much or any of this when my younger brother and I were sent home from elementary school. When we got home, we asked my mother why we all got to go home early. She seemed “stressed” (at least as far as I as a 7-year-old could tell). She told us that the Russians and Americans were arguing about whether some serious weapons should be allowed to go to Cuba, which was an island country south of the United States and people were worried that they might fight about it rather than argue about it. I think all I asked at the time was something like “is Cuba a long way from here?” and I was told that yes, it was, and I recall spending the afternoon playing in the back yard with my brother and a couple of friends. Looking back now with my degrees and years of experience working within Developmental Psychology I can give my mother high marks for how she handled the situation. She told me, simply, what was going on, and she answered the questions I asked directly, being thoughtful to simply answer the questions asked and not adding all sorts of adult concerns about Cold War politics and the odds of, or concerns about, nuclear armageddon. I did not, later, thank my mother for her thoughtful, parental mediation of the information I needed and was provided at the time, … I should have. So, recently the Russians began an invasion of Ukraine. As adults we may have (and I have had) some difficulties sleeping as we ponder scary ideas like a re-kindling of the Cold War, the impact of millions of Ukrainian (and perhaps Russian) refugees pouring out into the world and about the possible drop in the security of the Russian nuclear arsenal. At least as adults we can, and should, discuss all of this and our concerns and worries with other adults but what about our children? Well, I take it as part of my professional ethical commitments as a developmental psychologist to find and provide the best advice on this question that I can. So, think about how you would answer this timely poignant question and then read the article linked below where several developmental psychologists (from MY previous employing university, the University of Calgary) have to suggest on this topic.

Source: How to talk to children about the invasion of Ukraine, and why those conversations are important, Nicole Racine, Camille Mori, and Sheri Madigan, The Conversation.

Date: February 28, 2022

Image by ELG21 from Pixabay

Article Link:

The article makes it clear that it is not a simple matter of deciding whether or not to talk with children about big deal global events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Was is important is that conversations about such events be held at developmentally appropriate levels AND that the adults involved try hard to focus on the child/adolescent’s perspectives rather that their own. I think the most important point made is that research indicates that children whose families talk about stressful world and local events cope more effectively that children whose families do not. After all, avoidance is a classic maladaptive coping style.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some reasons that it is a good idea to talk with children about world events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
  2. What are some of the age-related developmental differences that should be considered when deciding how to talk with children or adolescents about world events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
  3. The article did not talk about this directly but what are some ways that talking (as opposed to not talking) with children or adolescents about world events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine could result in LESS use of maladaptive coping strategies?

References (Read Further):

Lepore, S. J., Ragan, J. D., & Jones, S. (2000). Talking facilitates cognitive–emotional processes of adaptation to an acute stressor. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(3), 499. Link

Kliewer, W., Fearnow, M. D., & Walton, M. N. (1998). Dispositional, environmental, and context-specific predictors of children’s threat perceptions in everyday stressful situations. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27(1), 83-100. Link

Lumiere (2019) What is Perspective-Taking? Empathy and Child Development. Link

Cullins, Ashley (2020) Key Strategies to Teach Children Empathy (Sorted by Age), Big Life Journal. Link

Knorr, Caroline (2019) How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War, Common Sense Media. Link

Orlando, Joanne (2022) From ‘Vladdy daddy’ to fake TikToks: how to guide your child through Ukraine news online, The Conversation. Link

Brotherson, S. (2006). Talking to Children About Armed Conflict. Link

Posted by & filed under Clinical Assessment, Cultural Variation, Health Psychology, Indigenous Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders.

Description: Think about this question: Is neuroscience (brain science) universal or does it, or should it, vary across diverse cultural communities? On the one hand, brains are brains, right? On the other hand, a HUGE part of what goes into mental health, wellness and dealing with mental illness IS culturally linked isn’t it? Which of these two latter statements do your thoughts bend toward? Hold those thoughts for a moment and consider another question. What is a scoping review and how is it different than a literature review or a meta-analysis? Generally put, literature reviews involve looking into archives of previous research to see who had done research in a particular area or on a particular question. Meta-analyses are more detailed as they gather as many studies as can be found that looked at a particular research question and, to the extent possible based on the details available of each study, pool the results to provide a more definitive view on the questions considered (e.g., how well do different treatment of depression work, etc.).  The assumption that links literature reviews and meta-analyses is that the research they collect together generally share similar definitions of what it was they were studying. However, sometimes questions arise about the extent to which such shared conceptualizations assumptions make sense. A scoping review often involves a careful search of research databases to see how approaches to certain problems or concepts or issues vary. Such reviews can help us expand out perspective and understandings of approaches to concepts, issues or problems in ways that may not have been considered by many of those working in those areas. The question of whether brain science/understanding varies across cultural groups and particularly across divergent indigenous groups is certainly suited to a scoping review. So, recall your answers to the questions that opened this paragraph above, gather your curiosities about scoping reviews (of course you are curious now about scoping reviews), and have area through the actual scoping review on Indigenous perspectives on ways of knowing of the brain and mind linked below.

Source: Ways of Knowing of the Brain and Mind: A Scoping Review of the Literature About Global Indigenous Perspectives. Louise Harding, Caterina Marra, Vyshnavi Manohara, and Judy Illes, Journal of Neuroscience Research

Date: March 12, 2022

Image by Norm_Bosworth from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what were your main take-aways from the linked article? Perhaps you were a bit disappointed that the article did not actually talk about the ways in which indigenous perspectives on brain and mind varied (no worries, have a look at the Read Further section below for a few places you can go for this). Certainly, what I was most struck by was how short the resulting list of scoped articles was. Additionally, I was also struck by how the majority of the articles found were conceived, conducted and written up by settler researchers. At some point, sooner rather than later, if we are going to be open to and listen to divergent voices of enquiries in to knowing about brain and mind we need to encourage, facilitate, and get out of the way of indigenous voices and perspectives on these core aspects of the human experience. More (diverse) research is most certainly needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are concepts and theories of brain and mind universal?
  2. If the answer to the previous question is even a little bit, no, why might it be important to fond or support more research into this type of diversity (by indigenous researchers)?
  3. Why might it be important or useful to have more of the sort of research referred to in the previous question?

References (Read Further):

Harding, L., Marra, C. J., Manohara, V., & Illes, J. (2022). Ways of Knowing of the Brain and Mind: A Scoping Review of the Literature About Global Indigenous Perspectives. Journal of Neurology Research. Link

Dudgeon, P., Bray, A., D’costa, B., & Walker, R. (2017). Decolonising psychology: Validating social and emotional wellbeing. Australian Psychologist, 52(4), 316-325. Link

Dale, E., Conigrave, K. M., Kelly, P. J., Ivers, R., Clapham, K., & Lee, K. S. (2021). A Delphi yarn: applying Indigenous knowledges to enhance the cultural utility of SMART Recovery Australia. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 16(1), 1-15. Link

Perreault, M. L., King, M., Gabel, C., Mushquash, C. J., De Koninck, Y., Lawson, A., … & Illes, J. (2021). An Indigenous Lens on Priorities for the Canadian Brain Research Strategy. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 1-3. Link

Danziger, K. (2006). Universalism and indigenization in the history of modern psychology. Internationalizing the history of psychology, 208-225. Link

Adams, G., Dobles, I., Gómez, L. H., Kurtiş, T., & Molina, L. E. (2015). Decolonizing psychological science: Introduction to the special thematic section. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3(1). Link

Wesley-Esquimaux, C. C., & Snowball, A. (2010). Viewing violence, mental illness and addiction through a wise practices lens. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8(2), 390-407. Link

Clark, N. (2016). Shock and awe: Trauma as the new colonial frontier. Humanities, 5(1), 14. Link

Nabigon, H., & Wenger-Nabigon, A. (2012). ” Wise Practices”: Integrating traditional teachings with mainstream treatment approaches. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Emerging Adulthood, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Prevention, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: You do not need me to tell you that we are living in uncertain times with a (hopefully) waning pandemic and an invasion of a democratic country (Ukraine). Aside from the stresses associated with these events there are also boatloads of uncertainty about what it all means, about where it is all going, about what will happen along the way and about that the implications of all this will be for us … for our lives. There is a lot out there in the way of research-based suggestions for coping with stress but much less out there about how to cope with uncertainty.  Uncertainty IS stressful but it is different that stressful events or circumstances given it indeterminate nature, as I have posted previously.  Think about the differences between stress and uncertainty and about what sorts of things one might do to deal with uncertainty and then, with your certain or uncertain thoughts in mind have a read through the linked article that looks at issues in uncertainty and at what we might do about it.

Source What’s the Best Way to Cope in an Anxious World? Do Something. Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times.

Date: March 10, 2022

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:

What did you make of the suggestion that generalized anxiety is possibly associated with living in wealthy countries? It does not make it any less uncomfortable and telling people to stop worrying because they are better off that other propel does not help much either. It does help our understanding to see a link between uncertainty and generalized anxiety issues. And talking of the “luxury” of being generally anxious does not help much either. What does help? Realizing that uncertainty is not new and naming it when we see it is an initial BIG step toward dealing with it. In addition, help others helps us, there is good research on this. Take some control of what is happening in “your little corner of the world” and the noxious impacts of uncertainties will diminish.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are uncertainties different than specific stressful events?
  2. Many adaptive coping strategies involve taking aim at and working towards addressing stress producing situations or events. How does that relate to issues of uncertainty?
  3. What are some action steps one could take to address uncertainty and why might they help?

References (Read Further):

Ruscio, A. M., Hallion, L. S., Lim, C. C., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Al-Hamzawi, A., Alonso, J., … & Scott, K. M. (2017). Cross-sectional comparison of the epidemiology of DSM-5 generalized anxiety disorder across the globe. JAMA psychiatry, 74(5), 465-475. Link

Chochinov, H. M. (2005). Vicarious grief and response to global disasters. Lancet (London, England), 366(9487), 697-698. Link

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

Isaacs, K., Mota, N. P., Tsai, J., Harpaz-Rotem, I., Cook, J. M., Kirwin, P. D., … & Pietrzak, R. H. (2017). Psychological resilience in US military veterans: A 2-year, nationally representative prospective cohort study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 84, 301-309. Link

Rettie, H., & Daniels, J. (2021). Coping and tolerance of uncertainty: Predictors and mediators of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. American Psychologist, 76(3), 427. Link

Li, J. Y., Sun, R., Tao, W., & Lee, Y. (2021). Employee coping with organizational change in the face of a pandemic: The role of transparent internal communication. Public Relations Review, 47(1), 101984. Link

Rankin, K., Walsh, L. C., & Sweeny, K. (2019). A better distraction: Exploring the benefits of flow during uncertain waiting periods. Emotion, 19(5), 818. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Consciousness, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: You know what Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is, don’t you? It is, perhaps the most widely used approach to therapy taken by psychologists treating clients with depression, anxiety and many other symptoms of mental illness or the lack of wellbeing. I suspect you also know something of what CBT involves: The challenging of irrational, overgeneralized thought or beliefs and the use of faulty reasoning. Lots of research data has been collected on the impact of CBT and it reasonable strongly shows that CBT seems to work at reducing the symptoms of mental illness and getting folks back on track. So, CBT works. However, if you had to come up with a clear account of HOW CBT works, would you be able to do so? Would it surprise you to hear that there are quite a few psychologist/researchers suggesting that psychology and psychological research has not come close to reasonable answering this very question of HOW CBT works? Think about that for a minute and then read the article linked below for an overview of this CBT theory critical perspective.

Source: CBT is wrong in how it understands mental illness, Sahanika Ratnayake, The Conversation.

Date: March 1, 2022

Image by brenkee from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did the arguments regarding the “how it works” of CBT land with you? Pragmatically we could say, it works so who cares why but that does not, I believe, sit well with what we are about when we conduct research into human function, mental illness and wellbeing. The author of the article, quite appropriately I believe, points out the ethical implication of this situation. However, the article ends at that point without opening a discussion of possible avenues of theoretic and empirical work that might fix this lack of a solid theory regarding how CBT works. Of course, more research is needed BUT before that can happen effectively, perhaps more theory work is needed. THAT is something interesting to think or speculate about!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is CBT?
  2. What does CBT involve and how does it work (produce the positive results it is consistently shown to produce)?
  3. Where or how do you think we should start work on the task of coming up with a new theory for how CBT works?

References (Read Further):

APA (2017) What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy? American Psychological Association. 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

Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (1979). Judgment of contingency in depressed and nondepressed students: Sadder but wiser? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 108(4), 441–485. Link

Owen, G. S., Cutting, J., & David, A. S. (2007). Are people with schizophrenia more logical than healthy volunteers? The British Journal of Psychiatry, 191(5), 453-454. Link

Fricker, M. (2007). Epistemic injustice: Power and the ethics of knowing. Oxford University Press. Book Review

Leder, G. (2017). Know thyself? Questioning the theoretical foundations of cognitive behavioral therapy. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 8(2), 391-410. Link

Wheelahan, L. (2009). The problem with CBT (and why constructivism makes things worse). Journal of education and work, 22(3), 227-242. Link

Gipps, R. G. (2013). Cognitive behavior therapy: a philosophical appraisal. The Oxford handbook of philosophy and psychiatry, 1-24. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: I am sure you are aware of discussions and perhaps research looking at the possibility that video gaming could have addictive properties, and this leads to several degrees of caution around gaming “too much” as an adult. Gaming is also generally categorized as “play” and play is only for children, right? Well, how about reversing the reasoning on these statements? Play IS good for children. It promotes exploration and wellbeing. If it is good for children than could it also be good for adults? If it IS good for adults, HOW might it be good? What would spending a bit of time (not every waking moment) playing video games do for adults? Think about possible hypotheses and then read the article linked below to see what some psychologists have to say on this subject.

Source: Why playing games is good for you, Ellie Smith, State of Play, Psychology, BBC Future.

Date: Feb 3, 2022

Image by ChristianaT from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the statements regarding gaming in the article are generally positive and they certainly are different than the statement made by those arguing that intense/extreme video gaming can be problematic. What was your take-away from the article? Did you notice that there while there was some research into playfulness among adults showing positive effects, there was no research discussed into whether video game playing also has those effects? The popularity of gaming among adults would seem to suggests that it may have more value psychologically, than mere escapism, It would certainly be interesting and potentially valuable to do some research into the nature and possible extent of that value.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the positive features or outcomes of play for children?
  2. What are some of the positive features or outcomes of play for adults?
  3. What sorts of research could/should be done to examine possible positive impacts of video gaming among adults?

References (Read Further):

Proyer, R. T. (2013). The well-being of playful adults. The European Journal of Humour Research, 1(1), 84-98. Link

Masek, L., & Stenros, J. (2021). The Meaning of Playfulness: A Review of the Contemporary Definitions of the Concept across Disciplines. Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture, 12(1), 13-37. Link

Deterding, S. (2018). Alibis for adult play: A Goffmanian account of escaping embarrassment in adult play. Games and culture, 13(3), 260-279. Link

Cowley, B., Charles, D., Black, M., & Hickey, R. (2008). Toward an understanding of flow in video games. Computers in Entertainment (CIE), 6(2), 1-27. Link

Shi, J., Renwick, R., Turner, N. E., & Kirsh, B. (2019). Understanding the lives of problem gamers: The meaning, purpose, and influences of video gaming. Computers in Human Behavior, 97, 291-303. Link

Brilliant T, D., Nouchi, R., & Kawashima, R. (2019). Does video gaming have impacts on the brain: Evidence from a systematic review. Brain sciences, 9(10), 251. Link

Fraser, A. M., Padilla-Walker, L. M., Coyne, S. M., Nelson, L. J., & Stockdale, L. A. (2012). Associations between violent video gaming, empathic concern, and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends, and family members. Journal of youth and adolescence, 41(5), 636-649. Link

Gee, E., Siyahhan, S., & Cirell, A. M. (2017). Video gaming as digital media, play, and family routine: implications for understanding video gaming and learning in family contexts. Learning, Media and Technology, 42(4), 468-482. Link

Nuyens, F. M., Kuss, D. J., Lopez-Fernandez, O., & Griffiths, M. D. (2019). The empirical analysis of non-problematic video gaming and cognitive skills: A systematic review. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17(2), 389-414. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Depression, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Here is a “design a study” challenge. You may have run across discussions of recent research looking at the therapeutic use of drugs that are or were considered recreational and illegal, e.g., LSD, Ecstasy, or Psilocybin (magic mushrooms). What you may not have run across yet are discussion of more recent research looking at the effects of microdosing, or, taking just 5 to 10% of a full dose of a hallucinogenic drug as a means of improving mood and general outlook on life. What would a properly designed study of microdosing involve (assume ethical clearance has been granted)? Who would participate? Would you use a no-drug control or a placebo control? What would you measure by way of dependent variables? How would you measure them? Beyond your hypotheses in the study you are designing, what do you think your results will tell you? Once you have your design sketched out and maybe written down in point form so you will remember what you decided to do, read through the article linked below that talks about a number of researchers’ attempts to design just such a study.

Source: More People Are Microdosing for Mental Health. But Does It Work? Dana G. Smith, Mind, The New York Times.

Date: Feb 28, 2022

Image by allyartist from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did you include a placebo control? Would the people participating in your study all have volunteered because they though microdosing would really do something good for them? Did you include a question about which group your participants thought they were in (microdose or placebo control)? And what did you think of the suggestion that if microdosing produced changes in the brain consistent with those seen with full doses, it MUST be doing something? I suspect that the designing of an effective study looking at microdosing has turned out to be way more complicated than you though it would be. Most telling, I thought, was that two of the researchers who had done research on microdosing were planning to or were already switching back to studying full doses. Maybe more research in needed but also, maybe different research is needed if we are going to figure out the realities of microdosing (and the possible power of placebos)!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is microdosing?
  2. What are some of the challenges of using a placebo control in research into the possible impacts, or lack thereof, of microdosing?
  3. What sorts of research should be done next in relation to microdosing?

References (Read Further):

Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Carducci, M. A., Umbricht, A., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Cosimano, M. P., & Klinedinst, M. A. (2016). Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 30(12), 1181–1197. Link

Kuypers, K. P., Ng, L., Erritzoe, D., Knudsen, G. M., Nichols, C. D., Nichols, D. E., Pani, L., Soula, A., & Nutt, D. (2019). Microdosing psychedelics: More questions than answers? An overview and suggestions for future research. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 33(9), 1039–1057. Link

Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2011). Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects. Psychopharmacology, 218(4), 649–665. 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

Hutten, N. R., Mason, N. L., Dolder, P. C., Theunissen, E. L., Holze, F., Liechti, M. E., … & Kuypers, K. P. (2020). Low doses of LSD acutely increase BDNF blood plasma levels in healthy volunteers. ACS pharmacology & translational science, 4(2), 461-466. Link

Cameron, L. P., Nazarian, A., & Olson, D. E. (2020). Psychedelic microdosing: prevalence and subjective effects. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 52(2), 113-122. Link

Marschall, J., Fejer, G., Lempe, P., Prochazkova, L., Kuchar, M., Hajkova, K., & van Elk, M. (2022). Psilocybin microdosing does not affect emotion-related symptoms and processing: A preregistered field and lab-based study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 36(1), 97-113. Link

Szigeti, B., Kartner, L., Blemings, A., Rosas, F., Feilding, A., Nutt, D. J., … & Erritzoe, D. (2021). Self-blinding citizen science to explore psychedelic microdosing. Elife, 10, e62878. Link

Madsen, M. K., Fisher, P. M., Burmester, D., Dyssegaard, A., Stenbæk, D. S., Kristiansen, S., … & Knudsen, G. M. (2019). Psychedelic effects of psilocybin correlate with serotonin 2A receptor occupancy and plasma psilocin levels. Neuropsychopharmacology, 44(7), 1328-1334. Link


Posted by & filed under Cultural Variation, General Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: We humans are remarkably good at expressing our emotions through our facial expressions (think about how hard it is to hide them, say, for example when you are playing poker or otherwise trying to noy show others what you are feeling). We are rather good at reading other people’s facial expressions too. Darwin wrote about how the sending and receiving of emotional facial expressions provided us with an evolutionary advantage and as such strengthened over many generations. But how to study this skill? Paul Ekman and his research colleagues studies this ability to read facial expressions generally among north American research participants and then cross culturally as well showing a certain level of universality in the ability to present or read expressions of basic emotional states like happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise. Think about one of the big challenges in this sort of research. If you are wanting to study peoples’ ability to read facial expressions of emotion you need to be able to present them with consistent facial expression to read. To control for variability of expression, one could use photographs, but photographs are NOT the same as live faces and using love faces introduces a potentially large amount of variance. For example, what are people really feeling? Are faked emotional displays as good as the real thing? Ekman worked on this by training a group of “facial experts” to control the 42 (yup 42) muscles in their faces that are involved in expressing emotions and at the same time, trained them to read the use of those same muscles in other people. And they got pretty good at it… pretty good at using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). Even so, variability was an issue. So, what if someone created an android face/head with actuators under its “skin” that could be used to consistently (without variability that was uncontrolled) produce facial expressions of emotions that FACS experts would agree are recognizable? Would that be of value in research into human face-reading of emotions? Once you have decided what you think, read the articles linked below (the second link has pictures) to see what the creators of Nikola have to say on this topic.

Source: Introducing Nikola, the emotional android kid, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: Feb 16, 2022

Image by KELLEPICS from Pixabay

Article Link: or here for pictures of Nikola:

So, are you convinced of the research utility of Nikola? As well, were you able to see how, as the researchers claim, such an android might be of assistance in caring for isolated people with mobility needs? I am unsure but there has been some interest and success in using robot pets with dementia patients or an animated interactive chacter also for use in dementia care so perhaps there is a booming future in full-bodied Nikola offspring.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How effectively can people read the facial expressions of emotion in others?
  2. What are some of the variability challenges of conducting research into our ability to read facial expressions of emotion?
  3. What do you make of the potential application claims made by the creators of Nikola? What possible applications can you think of that seem possibly viable to you?

References (Read Further):

Sato, W., Namba, S., Yang, D., Nishida, Y., Ishi, C., & Minato, T. (2022). An android for emotional interaction: Spatiotemporal validation of its facial expressions. Frontiers in Psychology, 6521. Link

Ekman, P., Freisen, W. V., & Ancoli, S. (1980). Facial signs of emotional experience. Journal of personality and social psychology, 39(6), 1125. Link

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1974). Detecting deception from the body or face. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, 29(3), 288. Link

Ekman, P. (1976). Movements with precise meanings. Journal of communication, 26(3), 14-26. Link

Ekman, P. (2003). Darwin, deception, and facial expression. Annals of the new York Academy of sciences, 1000(1), 205-221. Link

Hess, U., & Thibault, P. (2009). Darwin and emotion expression. American Psychologist, 64(2), 120. Link

Pessoa, L. (2017). Do intelligent robots need emotion?. Trends in cognitive sciences, 21(11), 817-819. Link

Breazeal, C. (2003). Emotion and sociable humanoid robots. International journal of human-computer studies, 59(1-2), 119-155. Link

Cañamero, L. (2005). Emotion understanding from the perspective of autonomous robots research. Neural networks, 18(4), 445-455. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Development of the Self, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Psychological Health, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I do not know if you notice but stories about specific areas of Psychological research seem to pop up in bunches. I take this to be a reflection of there being a particular issue or need that is emerging around that point in time and the folks writing articles are looking for things, or research, that speak to it. Psychologists who do research are happy to talk about their work and enjoy opportunities to let people know about it but it IS interesting when a psychology topic seems to start popping up in a number of places withing the news media. I mention this because last week I posted about burnout and how to note signs of it within yourself and your emotions, thoughts and behaviour and this week I ran across an article containing an interview with Laurie Santos, the Yale professor who teaches a course called Psychology and the Good Life which is by far the most popular Yale psychology course and perhaps just the most popular (by enrollment) Yale course ever. So what? Well, Dr. Santos is taking a break, a leave, in order to address her own symptoms of approaching burnout! As she puts it, she is NOT taking the leave because she is burned out but, rather, because she wants to NOT burnout and is seeing a few signs and want to address them before they take a toll on her. Whether you read my previous post or not I think it is worth your taking a few minutes to read the interview linked below for the tips and advice and observations it offer particularly for college/university students of today.

Source: Yale’s Happiness Professor Says Anxiety Is Destroying Her Students, David Marchese, Talk, The New York Times.

Date: Feb 18, 2022

Image by AbsolutVision from Pixabay

Article Link:

There are, in my humble opinion, a number of important possible take-ways in the interview with Laurie Santos. One is that our mind lies to us about what will make us happy. It is worth noting that money is only significantly liked to happiness when a person has practically none of it and is struggling below the poverty line. Above that level there is only a very small relationship between more money and more happiness. In addition, what we feel like we need to do after a stressful day to feel better likely includes things like a Netflix binge watch rather than work out or call and talk with a friend. Social media is something many people reach for to “connect with others” when it may be that “real” social contact (remember that?), would be better for them. Finally, the perceived purpose of post-secondary education seems to have narrowed with students reflecting views like the one quoted in the article as saying “…if I am not just working for grades and trying to get into college, then what’s the purpose of life?” I particularly like Dr. Santos’ answer to the question. “Its all the good things in life.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things do our minds (brains) tend to do that makes it difficult for us to avoid slipping towards anxiety and burnout?
  2. What does Dr. Santos and the research she discusses suggest about how many people use social media?
  3. What sorts of things could (should) you be doing on a daily/weekly basis to reduce the level of anxiety you are experiencing and to increase your level of happiness now and/or in the future?

References (Read Further):

Reitman, D. (1998). Punished by misunderstanding: A critical evaluation of Kohn’s Punished by Rewards and its implications for behavioral interventions with children. The Behavior Analyst volume 21, pages 143–157. Link

Killingsworth, M. A. (2021). Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(4). Link

Santos, Laurie (2019) The Happiness Lab Podcast – Season 1 Link

Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. D. (2018). World happiness report 2018. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Link

Steptoe, A. (2019). Happiness and health. Annual review of public health, 40, 339-359. Link

Zhang, Z., & Chen, W. (2019). A systematic review of the relationship between physical activity and happiness. Journal of happiness studies, 20(4), 1305-1322. Link

Quoidbach, J., Taquet, M., Desseilles, M., de Montjoye, Y. A., & Gross, J. J. (2019). Happiness and social behavior. Psychological science, 30(8), 1111-1122. Link

Madigan, D. J. (2019). A meta-analysis of perfectionism and academic achievement. Educational Psychology Review, 31(4), 967-989. Link

Gärtner, J., Bußenius, L., Prediger, S., Vogel, D., & Harendza, S. (2020). Need for cognitive closure, tolerance for ambiguity, and perfectionism in medical school applicants. BMC medical education, 20(1), 1-8. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, Cultural Variation, Intelligence, Personality, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: Think about what you have read, learned or heard about wisdom. It is not a characteristic typically applied to young people, is it? In fact, it is one of the few positive things associated with aging and with advanced age in particular. Why is that? What is it about wisdom that leads us to apply it so sparingly?  Wisdom is not intelligence exactly, is it? It has something to do with what people (some people) are able to glean from their life experiences … maybe not in relation to figuring things out but more in relation to seeing and living with the complexities of life. Given this, would you expect that the wisdom that one may gather over time might vary depending upon whether the gatherer was male or female? This might make sense given the foundation of wisdom in experience and the experiences of men and women varying somewhat in relation to the gendered nature of experience. With tis in mind come up with a couple of hypotheses as to how wisdom might vary along gender lines and once you have your hypotheses sorted out, have a read through the linked article to see what some researchers found in their study of this topic.

Source: Wisdom engendered: Study finds men and women have different strengths, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: Feb 3, 2022

Image by PICNIC-Foto-Soest from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did your hypotheses fare? Had you predicted that women would show more compassion related wisdom and more self-reflection while men would show higher levels of emotional-regulation and cognitive wisdom? Can you see how these patterns may be linked to gender-based patterns of socialization? It makes sense that wisdom could vary if it is based on experience which itself can vary by (cultural) socialization patterns. People get wise about things they have seen or experienced. Now, how might this already be changing as we move towards greater equity and diversity across the social world?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that wisdom is different than intelligence or simple life experience?
  2. How did the research discussed in the linked article suggest wisdom varied along gender lines?
  3. The researchers suggest that their results could guide efforts to increase wisdom-related resilience in the general population. What might that involve and how might such an intervention be configured and launched?

References (Read Further):

Emily B. H. Treichler, Barton W. Palmer, Tsung-Chin Wu, Michael L. Thomas, Xin M. Tu, Rebecca Daly, Ellen E. Lee, Dilip V. Jeste. (2022) Women and Men Differ in Relative Strengths in Wisdom Profiles: A Study of 659 Adults Across the Lifespan. Frontiers in Psychology, 12,  Link

Flebus, G. B., Tagini, A., Minonzio, M., Dushku, E., & Crippa, F. (2021). The Wisdom Acquired During Emergencies Scale–Development and Validity. Frontiers in psychology, 4334. Link

Xiong, M., & Wang, F. (2021). Gender Effect on Views of Wisdom and Wisdom Levels. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. Link

Aldwin, C. M. (2009). Gender and wisdom: A brief overview. Research in Human Development, 6(1), 1-8. Link

Tang, T. L. P., & Chen, Y. J. (2008). Intelligence vs. wisdom: The love of money, Machiavellianism, and unethical behavior across college major and gender. Journal of business ethics, 82(1), 1-26. Link

Maroof, R., Khan, M. J. Z., Anwar, M., & Anwar, A. (2015). A cross-sectional study of wisdom: A matter of age and gender. FWU Journal of Social Sciences, 9(2), 63-71. Link