Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Motivation-Emotion, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prevention, Research Methods, Research Methods in ChD, Social Influence, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: How much time should toddlers and preschoolers be allowed to spend in front of screens, including televisions, computers, tablets, smartphones etc.)? Based on detailed reviews of current research the advice of the Canadian Pediatric Society used to be no more than 1 hour a day due to the lack of physical or cognitively challenging activity involved thought to be detrimental to toddler development. Very recently the Canadian Pediatric Society released a new set of guidelines. Why new guidelines and what do they involve? Well, think about it from a research perspective. Think about what a simple “only one hour a day of screen time for 2 through 5-year-olds might NOT take into account? Why might the two word descri0ptor ‘screen time’ not fully capture what is or could be involved in preschoolers’ engagement with screens? Once you have your hypothesis sorted out have a read through the article linked below to see what the updated guidelines include and what recent research they are based upon.

Source: Canadian pediatricians ditch toddler screen time limits in new guidance, Health, CTV News.

Date: November 24, 2022

Image by AndrewAngelov from Pixabay

Article Link:

Years ago, I was involved in analyzing data from a large-scale study examining the effects of television viewing time on children, teens and even adults. You can look through a graphic novel story about the study here. It involved gathering longitudinal data (2 years, 1973 and 1975) in three towns. At the start of the study one town (Notel), due to its location, had no television reception but were going to have one channel (the CBC) a few months after the first data collection as a signal-repeater station was installed on a nearby mountain top. Two comparable towns were included in the study, one which already had the CBC as its only station (Unitel) and one which was close to the American border and had several television stations available over the air (Multitel). I will leave you to dig into the graphic novel and to some of the other accounts of the data gathered in that study, but I can tell you that from a developmental perspective, looking at the children in the three towns the findings are best summarized as follows: time spent watching TV is time spend NOT doing other, more developmentally supportive, things. Now that the number of screens and screen linked activities available to children have skyrocketed that summary statement is still partly true, especially when physical activity opportunities are lost to sedentary screen time activities. But, even in the television study we found that the nature of television engagement varied across children. One finding was that the reading rates and relative reading levels of poor readers fell dramatically when television arrived compared to those of strong readers. There was also evidence that strong readers were more selective of what they watched on television, preferring educationally informative programming. Oh, and the seniors’ drop-in Notel closed before the second wave of data collection due to lack of attendance, suggesting that Notel seniors became more socially isolated following the introduction of television.

The linked article discussed the possibility that developmentally positive things could be done in moderation on ‘screens’ but did not provide much in the way of indications as to what such positive things might be. Given the increasingly serious concerns being raised about the role that social media is playing in the lives of older children a LOT more research-based information is needed by parents, teachers, and (in terms of policy and regulation) by legislators at all levels. There are some links below in the References (Further Reading) section that my be a start towards these goals but more is needed, and quickly.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of screen time limits should be placed on very young children (under 2-years-of-age), young children (2- to 5-years-of-age), early elementary and middle school children?
  2. How television and other screens are different and how might those differences influence the setting of developmentally appropriate use limits?
  3. Is it too late to do anything about the extent of screen time by young children and who should take primary responsibility for dealing with issues and concerns in this area?

References (Read Further):

Ponti, M (2022) Screen time and preschool children: Promoting health and development in a digital world, Position Statement, Canadian Pediatric Society. Link  Has a detailed reference list.

Ponti, M., Bélanger, S., Grimes, R., Heard, J., Johnson, M., Moreau, E., … & Williams, R. (2017). Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world. Paediatrics & Child Health. Link

Madigan, S., Racine, N., & Tough, S. (2020). Prevalence of preschoolers meeting vs exceeding screen time guidelines. JAMA pediatrics, 174(1), 93-95. Link

Madigan, S., Browne, D., Racine, N., Mori, C., & Tough, S. (2019). Association between screen time and children’s performance on a developmental screening test. JAMA pediatrics, 173(3), 244-250. Link

Browne, D. T., May, S. S., Colucci, L., Hurst-Della Pietra, P., Christakis, D., Asamoah, T., … & Prime, H. (2021). From screen time to the digital level of analysis: a scoping review of measures for digital media use in children and adolescents. BMJ open, 11(5), e046367. Link

Madigan, S., McArthur, B. A., Anhorn, C., Eirich, R., & Christakis, D. A. (2020). Associations between screen use and child language skills: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA pediatrics, 174(7), 665-675. Link

Straker, L., Zabatiero, J., Danby, S., Thorpe, K., & Edwards, S. (2018). Conflicting guidelines on young children’s screen time and use of digital technology create policy and practice dilemmas. The Journal of pediatrics, 202, 300-303. Link

Friel, C. P., Duran, A. T., Shechter, A., & Diaz, K. M. (2020). US children meeting physical activity, screen time, and sleep guidelines. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 59(4), 513-521. Link

Vanderloo, L. M., Carsley, S., Aglipay, M., Cost, K. T., Maguire, J., & Birken, C. S. (2020). Applying harm reduction principles to address screen time in young children amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 41(5), 335-336. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Families and Peers, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Face your fears! Sounds like a pretty basic piece of advice but for children with deep anxieties over often basic things like eating or being alone offering them such advice does not tend to work. There are therapeutic approaches that can work. Exposure Therapy, based on classical conditioning and linked to the much-discussed work of Watson producing fears in a child named Little Albert can reduce or eliminate such fear linked anxieties in children. Watson, by the way, did not develop exposure therapy and did not, it seems, even treat Little Albert after giving him a fear of furry animals and other furry things. So if exposure therapy works so well why is it not in much much greater use given the alarming jumps in childhood anxiety issues in recent years? Think about why this might be the case and thin about what might be done to make exposure therapy more widely available and then read the article linked below to find out more about the exposure therapy and what is being tried to make it more widely available.

Source: With Anxiety on the Rise, Some Children Try ‘Exposure Therapy’, Virginia Hughes, The New York Times.

Date: November 21, 2022

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Article Link:

It is concerning that one of the most common reasons that effective psychotherapies are not available to children (or anyone) who would benefit from them is cost. Psychotherapy is often a limited benefit of health insurance, if it is covered at all even in Canada where we have socialized health care coverage. This means that many parents cannot afford the treatment their children would very likely benefit from or do so in a timely manner if at all. The approach taken by the psychologists discussed in the linked article involves having trained exposure coaches who work under close supervision by a psychologist provide face-to-face exposure therapy sessions with anxious children. The research data seems to be suggesting that this approach is effective (though not yet published in peer -reviewed journals). As importantly, it seems that at least 2 healthcare insurance companies are prepared to provide access to this sort of exposure therapy as part of their coverage. This idea that new approaches to the delivery of therapies that have been shown by research to be effective when delivered by psychologists or psychiatrists does add another layer of required research but an essential one if we are to demonstrate that more affordable (coverable) versions of psychotherapies Can be made available to children and other who would benefit from them.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Exposure Therapy and what does it involve?
  2. Why has Exposure Therapy been so difficult for parents to access for their children trying to deal with serious anxiety issues?
  3. What other sorts of therapies might be made more broadly accessible in ways like those undertaken in relation to Exposure Therapy?

References (Read Further):

Seligman, L. D., & Ollendick, T. H. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders in youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics, 20(2), 217-238. Link

Walter, H. J., Bukstein, O. G., Abright, A. R., Keable, H., Ramtekkar, U., Ripperger-Suhler, J., & Rockhill, C. (2020). Clinical practice guideline for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 59(10), 1107-1124. Link

CAHMI (2022) The National Survey of Children’s Health Link

Gola, J. A., Beidas, R. S., Antinoro-Burke, D., Kratz, H. E., & Fingerhut, R. (2016). Ethical considerations in exposure therapy with children. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 23(2), 184-193. Link

Whiteside, S. P., Biggs, B. K., Tiede, M. S., Dammann, J. E., Hathaway, J. C., Blasi, M. E., … & Vickers, K. (2019). An online-and mobile-based application to facilitate exposure for childhood anxiety disorders. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 26(3 ), 478-491. Link

Davis, J. P., Palitz, S. A., Norris, L. A., Phillips, K. E., Crane, M. E., & Kendall, P. C. (2020). Exposure therapy for generalized anxiety disorder in children and adolescents. In Exposure Therapy for Children with Anxiety and OCD (pp. 221-243). Academic Press. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: Based on what you know or on what you think is likely to be true name some things adults can or should do to increase their lifespan. I bet things like eating well, regular exercise and moderation in things like alcohol intake are on your list. But what about psychological (cognitive things)? I don’t mean things like not being depressed or anxious but, rather, what is something cognitive that adults can do or work at doing that will increase their life span? Once you have your hypothesis or hypotheses in mind have a read through the article linked below to see what recent research suggests and good things for adults to work towards.

Source: Higher sense of purpose in life may be linked to lower mortality risk, study finds, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: November 15, 2022

Image by sahinsezerdincer from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, are you convinced that working on developing and maintaining a sense of purpose through your adult life might be a good thing? The study discussed in the linked article is a solid one, based on a very large and well-constructed sample. The researchers also looked at related variables so that they could better focus upon the role of purpose in mortality rates. Of course such studies are somewhat correlational and as such are open to questions like: Could it be that people with collections of mortality increasing factors have their sense of purpose eroded in a sort of “what is the point” manner? The longitudinal nature of the larger, ongoing, survey process does mitigate the concerns contained in such questions and, while further research is being done it might be wise to spend a bit of regular time working on your ikigai (use the link to look it up).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things can, or should, adults do that could increase their lifespans?
  2. How might a sense of purpose (in life) be related to mortality/longevity?
  3. What sorts of things might we do to get adults to focus on and work on their sense of purpose?

References (Read Further):

Koichiro Shiba, Laura D. Kubzansky, David R. Williams, Tyler J. VanderWeele, Eric S. Kim. (2022) Purpose in life and 8-year mortality by gender and race/ethnicity among older adults in the U.S. Preventive Medicine, 2022; 164: 107310 Link

Shiba, K., Kubzansky, L. D., Williams, D. R., VanderWeele, T. J., & Kim, E. S. (2021). Associations between purpose in life and mortality by SES. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 61(2), e53-e61. Link

Reker, G. T., Peacock, E. J., & Wong, P. T. (1987). Meaning and purpose in life and well-being: A life-span perspective. Journal of gerontology, 42(1), 44-49. Link

Hill, P. L., & Turiano, N. A. (2014). Purpose in life as a predictor of mortality across adulthood. Psychological science, 25(7), 1482-1486. Link

Boyle, P. A., Barnes, L. L., Buchman, A. S., & Bennett, D. A. (2009). Purpose in life is associated with mortality among community-dwelling older persons. Psychosomatic medicine, 71(5), 574. Link

Miyazaki, J., Shirai, K., Kimura, T., Ikehara, S., Tamakoshi, A., & Iso, H. (2022). Purpose in life (Ikigai) and employment status in relation to cardiovascular mortality: the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study. BMJ open, 12(10), e059725. Link

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


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Disorders of Childhood, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Research Methods.

Description: Way way back when I was a child there was a limited amount of television programming aimed at young children (The Friendly Giant, Mr. Dress-up, but no Sesame Street). That’s sort of programming was aired on weekday mornings (so for preschoolers) and, at least on the CBC, was run without ANY ads. Even in the “early days” of TV there as recognition that ads were not really appropriately directed toward young children who are still working out things like the distinction between fantasy and reality, between make-believe and real life and between what their families can afford or what is “good” for them. Saturday mornings were different, however. Saturday morning was cartoon morning on network television where, for several hours starting at 8 or 9 am (I suspect when parents just wanted some weekend downtime) there was a stream of pure entertainment cartoons (e.g., the Jetsons, the Flintstones, Scooby doo, Underdog, Super Chicken, Magilla Gorilla, Tennessee Tuxedo, Johnny Quest, George of the Jungle, Frankenstein Junior and the Impossibles, Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel to name a few). The exploits of these characters were topics of schoolyard conversation all week. What all of those shows had in common were an intense stream of commercials aimed at the young child viewing audience for things like cereal (Tricks are for Kids, Coocoo for Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Captain Crunch – not a particularly wholesome buffet) and toys (Hot Wheels, Barbie and Ken dolls, G.I. Joe, Lite-Brite, and Easy-Bake Ovens – look them up if they are new to you – all seriously gender stereotyped). Sound like a free-for-all? Well it was sort of, but there was a lot of debate about the appropriateness (the lack thereof) of marketing direct to young children and support for the CBC’s stand t run its child directed programming with no ads (this is still the case today). So, have we passed those old-time concerns? Hardly NOT! You certainly cannot have missed the broad debates currently going on over young children (and children and teens and even adults) and screen time. A lot of the research in this area looks at the impact of screen time on the individual level and the nature and extent of the collective impact upon the current generation of young children is hard to assess (they have not yet grown up into the developmental outcomes yet). So, should we take action? Regulate? Give parents advice? What? And who should advise us? Well, how about a psychologist with a history of work and reflection looking at the actions of big tech and social media companies? Better yet, how about if that psychologist was also a ventriloquist puppeteer who used to regularly hang out in Mr. Rodger’s (the Yoda of children’s programming) neighbourhood?  Have a read through the review of her book linked below to see what she is suggesting (insisting) that we do.

Source: Potential new lead compounds for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, ScienceDaily.

Date: November 15, 2022

Image by twinquinn84 from Pixabay

Article Link:

We have spent a lot of time with a general sense that technology is at least benign and maybe even a positive influence on our lives and those of our children. Is it time to reconsider this? Is it just the case that concerns are only being held by older generation people like me or is there something here that we should consider from a regulatory point of view? Of course this goes beyond psychology but the data to consider as we decide where we stand and what we think we need to do is mostly based on psychological research. Maybe we can wait and see but maybe that is NOT the right thing to do. Something to think about and discuss for sure.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the concerns being raised about the role of big tech and social media in children’s lives and children’s development these days?
  2. How comfortable are you with the idea that things for kids are just different these days compared to the old days (and not even the days as old as I remember)?
  3. What sorts of regulatory steps should be considered in relation to yo0ung children’s experiences with social media and tech devices?

References (Read Further):

Richards, D., Caldwell, P. H., & Go, H. (2015). Impact of social media on the health of children and young people. Journal of paediatrics and child health, 51(12), 1152-1157. Link

Swist, T., Collin, P., McCormack, J., & Third, A. (2015). Social media and the wellbeing of children and young people: A literature review. Link

Madigan, S., Browne, D., Racine, N., Mori, C., & Tough, S. (2019). Association between screen time and children’s performance on a developmental screening test. JAMA pediatrics, 173(3), 244-250. Link

Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2019). Digital screen time limits and young children’s psychological well‐being: Evidence from a population‐based study. Child development, 90(1), e56-e65. Link

Konca, A. S. (2022). Digital technology usage of young children: Screen time and families. Early Childhood Education Journal, 50(7), 1097-1108. Link

Tamana, S. K., Ezeugwu, V., Chikuma, J., Lefebvre, D. L., Azad, M. B., Moraes, T. J., … & Mandhane, P. J. (2019). Screen-time is associated with inattention problems in preschoolers: Results from the CHILD birth cohort study. PloS one, 14(4), e0213995. Link

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

Description: You can probably recall a time when you had a nightmare, a really bad dream that woke you up, was unsettling and that made it hard for you to get back to sleep. I apologize if re-awakening that memory has re-unsettled you, I am sure it will pass and not continue to bother you. However, what if you are being startled awake by nightmares 3 or more times a week? If so, it might help you to know that there is a DSM-5 diagnostic category called Nightmare disorder or Dream Anxiety disorder. Think about what its diagnostic criteria might include. Now, simply having a name or label for something may not help much but at least it provides a name for the condition and holds out hope that there may be something you can do or get help doing that will reduce or eliminate your symptoms (your nightmares). What might a treatment for nightmare disorder involve? From a clinical perspective, a first step would be to investigate to see if there are things going on in the life of the persons having the nightmares that could be causing or contributing to them. If they are in an abusive relationship, if they or a loved one is struggling with a serious illness or condition, if they are living in a high crime or war zone, or if their job or their housing is precarious then helping them to reduce or stop their nightmares will clearly require efforts to address their life situation. Aside from this, what sort of non-drug-based approach to treatment might help? Think about what a treatment for recurrent nightmares might involve and then read the article linked below for an overview of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for nightmare disorder and of a treatment approach that has been shown to be effective (admittedly in a small sample) in reducing or eliminating the incidence of nightmares AND, in some cases, in increasing the frequency of positive dreams.

Source: A new treatment for debilitating nightmares offers sweeter dreams, Jackie Rocheleau, Science News.

Date: October 27, 2022

Image by Mysticsartdesign from Pixabay

Article Link:

The linked article describes the efforts of the researchers to develop, tryout and then set up to more generally prove out an approach to treatment of nightmare disorder. The proposed treatment is based on a basin learning model where a re-worked version of their nightmare plot lines are rehearsed during waking hours and paired with a musical chord. The chord was then played while the participants were asleep with the hypothesis that it would support the more positive dream plot line. A control group was included to ensure that the chord alone (when paired with dream unrelated learning) was not producing positive effects. The results are very encouraging, with the dream plot adjustment group showing a significant reduction or even elimination of their nightmares. The researchers diligently point out that more, larger samples, research is needed to test the generalizability of this small sample study. As importantly, the researchers note that a likely means through which this treatment could be made more widely available through the use of commercially available, wrist worn, sleep trackers like Fitbit is problematic due to the fact that such devices do not identify REM sleep patterns as accurately as do brain-monitoring tools. Still, an encouraging start.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things distinguish nightmare disorder from “plain old” nightmares?
  2. What steps should clinicians take before beginning a psychological treatment approach with people presenting with recurrent nightmares?
  3. Why are generalization studies and the assessment of “home delivery” tool important in the development of treatment approaches like those described in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Schwartz, S., Clerget, A., & Perogamvros, L. (2022). Enhancing imagery rehearsal therapy for nightmares with targeted memory reactivation. Current Biology. Summary

Fleming, K. (2022) Nightmare Disorder DSM-5, 307.47. Link

Standards of Practice Committee, Aurora, R. N., Zak, R. S., Auerbach, S. H., Casey, K. R., Chowdhuri, S., … & Morgenthaler, T. I. (2010). Best practice guide for the treatment of nightmare disorder in adults. Journal of clinical sleep medicine, 6(4), 389-401. Link

Gieselmann, A., Ait Aoudia, M., Carr, M., Germain, A., Gorzka, R., Holzinger, B., … & Pietrowsky, R. (2019). Aetiology and treatment of nightmare disorder: State of the art and future perspectives. Journal of sleep research, 28(4), e12820. Link

Nadorff, M. R., Lambdin, K. K., & Germain, A. (2014). Pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for nightmare disorder. International Review of Psychiatry, 26(2), 225-236. Link

Morgenthaler, T. I., Auerbach, S., Casey, K. R., Kristo, D., Maganti, R., Ramar, K., … & Kartje, R. (2018). Position paper for the treatment of nightmare disorder in adults: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position paper. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 14(6), 1041-1055. Link

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

Description: Over the more than a few years that I have taught introductory psychology classes I think one area where I have consistently struggled involves the neuroscience of brain functioning and its place and role in our understanding of human psychological functioning. This is partly due to my not having had a lot in the way of graduate level training in psychobiology or neuroscience-based study of human brain and mind functioning. It is also due to the fact that the cutting edges of research into the biological/neurological functioning of the human brain, while fascinating, are rather complicated. This means that the first steps in new student understandings of how the brain functions may involve considering what different brain areas or regions “do” before shifting to a deeper understanding of the interconnected and adaptive nature of brain functioning. This is especially true in the parts of an intro course that focus upon approaches for treating mental disorders like depression and anxiety and in particular those therapies that involve the use of substances that act on neuronal functioning like the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors that involve understanding that SSRI’s act by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin and thus making “more of it” available in the serotonin active neural systems like the mood regulation system.  But that is not the whole story as while SSRI’s influence on the amount of serotonin available within the involved synapses takes place soon after the medications are started, it can take 2 to 4 weeks before an effect is seen in the individual’s mood state. So more is going on than just more serotonin levels. Beyond this there are other drugs that are considered for their anti-depressant or anti-anxiety qualities. MDNA or ecstasy acts differently than SSRIs in that they stimulate the general release of serotonin directly within tweaking the re-uptake system. That effect has contributed to the recreational use of ecstasy os a feel-good mood enhancing drug. Now, here is a recent complex neuro-science question. Might synthetic cathinone compounds (MDNA is a one) more effectively treat depression and anxiety than SSRIs? Good question, I think but …. The article linked below talks about a general research neuroscience research program looking at the potential efficacy of synthetic cathinone compounds in the treatment of mental illnesses but here is the thing from my perspective as an introductory psychology instructor. The article linked below (go have a look) essentially describes the research they are doing into synthetic cathinone compounds to about the same level of depth as I have already done here.

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

Date: Feb 3, 2022

Image by geralt from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what if you wanted to know just a little more about how that research is going and what it is suggesting about how synthetic cathinone compounds might treat symptoms of depression and anxiety? Well, why not read the original research article the summary linked below is referring to? Well, be my guest, the reference and a link to the research article itself in below in the Further Reading. I think if you do you will see why I have to do a lot more reading before I am going to be able to speak informatively to my introductory students about the possible use of MDNA in treating depression or anxiety. It IS complicated! I have tried to source a few articles to cite below, with links, that make this line of research a bit more accessible and understandable. Or you can wait a bit and when I have it a bit more figured out I will post on this topic again.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are SSRIs and how do they work?
  2. What are synthetic cathinone compounds and how do they work?
  3. What sorts of things should be considered when potentially effective medicinal treatment for mental disorders also seem to be associated with recreational use interet?

References (Read Further):

Mayer, F. P., Niello, M., Cintulova, D., Sideromenos, S., Maier, J., Li, Y., … & Sitte, H. H. (2022). Serotonin-releasing agents with reduced off-target effects. Molecular Psychiatry, 1-11. Link

Pantoni, M. M., Kim, J. L., Van Alstyne, K. R., & Anagnostaras, S. G. (2022). MDMA and memory, addiction, and depression: dose-effect analysis. Psychopharmacology, 1-15. Link

Patel, R., & Titheradge, D. (2015). MDMA for the treatment of mood disorder: all talk no substance?. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 5(3), 179-188. Link

Gill, H., Gill, B., Chen-Li, D., El-Halabi, S., Rodrigues, N. B., Cha, D. S., … & McIntyre, R. S. (2020). The emerging role of psilocybin and MDMA in the treatment of mental illness. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 20(12), 1263-1273. Link

Davison, D., & Parrott, A. C. (1997). Ecstasy (MDMA) in recreational users: self‐reported psychological and physiological effects. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 12(3), 221-226. Link

Parrott, A. C. (2014). The potential dangers of using MDMA for psychotherapy. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 46(1), 37-43. Link

Bird, C. I., Modlin, N. L., & Rucker, J. J. (2021). Psilocybin and MDMA for the treatment of trauma-related psychopathology. International Review of Psychiatry, 33(3), 229-249. Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Language-Thought, Moral Development, Motivation-Emotion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Do inanimate objects have a gender? Well while your quick answer to this question might be no, of course not, it is worth thinking about the question a bit more deeply. Since ancient times, for example, ships have been referred to as female (as ‘shes’). Why? Well, the word ship comes from the Latin word ‘navis’ which is a feminine word but that just indicates we have been feminizing ships for ages and ages. How about this, ships are vessels that contain and sustain life which sounds like a feminine characteristic, stereotypically speaking. Poetic, perhaps, but why do it at all? Certainly this seeming simple question has been attached to historical and ongoing concerns over the broad stereotypes associated with a binary definition of gender as either male or female and all that has been associated with such binary stereotypes. Jumping up closer to current times why is it that virtual assistant technologies (e.g., Alexa, Siri and ‘Google’) were all initially shipped with females’ voices and what is added to this question when we appreciate that such devices do not seen nearly as inanimate as most other inanimate objects? Rather than dismissing such questions a gender-politics overreach consider how this is yet another problematic feature of our tendency to process information about the entire world is stereotypic terms and adding or attributing binary gender concepts to things all along the way. So, think about what some of the psychological and sociological issues may be associated with calling our virtual assistants Alexa instead of Alex or of even giving them names at all and then have a read through the article linked below to learn more about these questions and about possible areas for research and debate.

Source: New psychology research finds people feel more attached to gendered technology, Laura Staloch, PsyPost.

Date: November 12, 2022

Image by mcmurryjulie from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what were your take-aways from the research descriptions provided in the linked article? It is not surprising that people who generalize their technology as female tend to think and ‘talk’ (write) about them using more attachment terms and phrases as relational things are generally stereotypically seen as feminine. But are there broader implications here than might first appear to be the case? Are gender stereotypes (and perhaps even prejudices) reified by anthropomorphically genderizing our technologies? Perhaps that is a question we should be asking ourselves rather than our Google Nest Minis (“I am happy to serve”) or other virtual assistant technologies.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do we typically refer to ships as female?
  2. What are some gender stereotype issues related to the typical release of virtual assistant devices with female ‘voices”?
  3. What should we consider and what might we do to address issues associated with our tendencies to anthropomorphize and genderize our technologies and devices?

References (Read Further):

Martin, A. E., & Mason, M. F. (2023). Hey Siri, I love you: People feel more attached to gendered technology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 104, 104402. Abstract

Bray, F. (2007). Gender and technology. Annu. Rev. Anthropol., 36, 37-53. Link

Waytz, A., Heafner, J., & Epley, N. (2014). The mind in the machine: Anthropomorphism increases trust in an autonomous vehicle. Journal of experimental social psychology, 52, 113-117. Link

Burkett, C. (2017). I call Alexa to the stand: The privacy implications of Anthropomorphizing virtual Assistants accompanying smart-home technology. Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L., 20, 1181. Link

Waytz, A., Cacioppo, J., & Epley, N. (2010). Who sees human? The stability and importance of individual differences in anthropomorphism. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(3), 219-232. Link

Ha, Q. A., Chen, J. V., Uy, H. U., & Capistrano, E. P. (2021). Exploring the privacy concerns in using intelligent virtual assistants under perspectives of information sensitivity and anthropomorphism. International journal of human–computer interaction, 37(6), 512-527. Link

Zheng, J. F., & Jarvenpaa, S. (2021). Thinking Technology as Human: Affordances, Technology Features, and Egocentric Biases in Technology Anthropomorphism. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 22(5), 1429-1453. Link

Lim, W. M., Kumar, S., Verma, S., & Chaturvedi, R. (2022). Alexa, what do we know about conversational commerce? Insights from a systematic literature review. Psychology & Marketing, 39(6), 1129-1155. Link

Tassiello, V., Tillotson, J. S., & Rome, A. S. (2021). “Alexa, order me a pizza!”: The mediating role of psychological power in the consumer–voice assistant interaction. Psychology & Marketing, 38(7), 1069-1080. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Memory, Neuroscience, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Once in a while I find that a memory from an earlier point in my life will pop up. Sometimes it is just a passing thing with no obvious connection to my current experience. Sometimes it is clear to me that something I am doing right now reminded me of a previous time when I experienced something similar (e.g., heard a song, saw a view, tasted a particular food, etc.). Sometimes, however, the recollection is tightly tied up with a feeling or set of feelings. For example, once I may have a recollection of an experience I had in a high school French class. I was rather bored a lot in high school and my attention tended to wander, particularly in classes that I was not interested in, like French class. In that particular class we were taking a test in which the teacher was reading questions out loud, and we were writing our individual answers down for him to grade later. My mind must have wandered because after the teacher read one of the questions I put my hand up and when he called on me asking what I wanted I recited my answer to the question out loud (it was an easy question, and my answer was right). The teacher was obviously surprised and said something like, “well I am sure your classmates thank you for that Mike.” I was horribly embarrassed and even today that member sort of makes me shiver. So here is the research question; whay can the sudden recollection of such (distant) past experiences cause bring back the same feelings of shame and embarrassment that we experienced at the time even though we are now, so far (and safely) removed from the original events? Read the article linked below to find out what memory research has to suggest about this.

Source: do I remember embarrassing things I’ve said and dome in the past and feel ashamed all over again? David John Halliford, The Conversation

Date: November 9, 2022

Image by mintchipdesigns from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what have I done with these occasional recollections of a previous embarrassing moment in my life? Well, without realizing exactly what I was doing I have reconsolidated my memory of that event by changing its narrative context. Instead of it being an example of my not fitting in and doing stupid things in high school 9I did not really like high school much at all) I have reworked the memory context using the fact that I was very bored in that class and spent most of my time there thinking of other things. In this new context my doing what I did is more understandable and less embarrassing (and it is rather surprising that was the only instance of that sort of behavior from that class that I can recall. So, now, that memory is just a curiosity, and it no rekindles any feeling of shame or embarrassment for me. If you are dealing with issues of rumination over memories of past event it is worth trying to figure out how you can recontextualize the events involved and thus reconsolidate your memory of the event so that they it no longer has the same negative emotional impact on you. Certainly worth a try and I suspect you may find you have more control over your memories of past experiences than you might think.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do you have some examples of memories that pop up for you from time to time that bring with them feelings of shame or embarrassment?
  2. What do usually do when those sorts of memories arise for you?
  3. What might people with such memories do to help themselves stop ruminating about those past event and, even better, stop experiencing the negative emotions associated with those memories?

References (Read Further):

Berntsen, Dorthe, Søren Risløv Staugaard, and Louise Maria Torp Sørensen. “Why am I remembering this now? Predicting the occurrence of involuntary (spontaneous) episodic memories.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 142.2 (2013): 426. Link

Kumar, A. A. (2021). Semantic memory: A review of methods, models, and current challenges. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 28(1), 40-80. Link

Berntsen, D. (2021). Involuntary autobiographical memories and their relation to other forms of spontaneous thoughts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 376(1817), 20190693. Link

Watkins, E. R., & Roberts, H. (2020). Reflecting on rumination: Consequences, causes, mechanisms and treatment of rumination. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 127, 103573. Link

Elsey, J. W., Van Ast, V. A., & Kindt, M. (2018). Human memory reconsolidation: A guiding framework and critical review of the evidence. Psychological bulletin, 144(8), 797. Link

Pinquart, M., & Forstmeier, S. (2012). Effects of reminiscence interventions on psychosocial outcomes: A meta-analysis. Aging & mental health, 16(5), 541-558. Link

Querstret, D., & Cropley, M. (2013). Assessing treatments used to reduce rumination and/or worry: A systematic review. Clinical psychology review, 33(8), 996-1009. Link

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, mental illness, Neuroscience, Physical Illness, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Research Methods in CP, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: I know it would not surprise you to hear that there is a correlation between Covid-19 and depression. I mean, the financial, social and physical disruptions associated with the pandemic impacted everyone’s mood and wellbeing even if they did not contract the virus. All of that would be even more true for those who contracted the virus and so we are not surprised to hear that there is a correlation between Covid and depression. But what if that is NOT what I am referring to? What about the hypothesis that a feature of some Covid infections are impacts of brain functioning that could contribute to the onset of depression? Is that news to you? We are finding out more and more about the complex and alarming ways in which Covid acts within the human body. Have a read through the article linked below to find out about some of the recent science on possible brain-based Covid impacts.

Source: Covid Depression is Real. Here’s What You Need to Know. Knvul Sheilkh, The New York Times.

Date: November 12, 2022

Image by GDJ from Pixabay

Article Link:

Inflammation due to immune system hyper-functioning, brain and possible gut level Covid effects were all note in the article as possible pathways along which Covid infection could elevate levels of depression. The article also points out that being more seriously ill with Covid adds psychological, social and situational stresses to the individuals affected. What is still needed in this area is focused research that either examines the direct, psychobiological impacts experiences by some with Covid infections that at least somewhat controls for the more stressful life situation indirect contributions of Covid infection to depressive symptoms and diagnosed disorder Of course, both pathways contribute to our overall experience but sorting them out a bit can help us to better understand what is going on and, hopefully, to more effectively provide psychotherapeutic support and medical assistance to those with short and long Covid. .

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that Covid infections are correlated with depression?
  2. Why is it so difficult to sort out biological from physical (neurological) causes of depression?
  3. How might know more about the physical links between Covid and depression help us better help those deal with their own correlations between these two things?

References (Read Further):

World Health Organization (2022) COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. Link

Perlis, R. H., Ognyanova, K., Santillana, M., Baum, M. A., Lazer, D., Druckman, J., & Della Volpe, J. (2021). Association of acute symptoms of COVID-19 and symptoms of depression in adults. JAMA network open, 4(3), e213223-e213223. Link

Xie, Y., Xu, E., & Al-Aly, Z. (2022). Risks of mental health outcomes in people with covid-19: cohort study. bmj, 376. Link

Galland, L. (2014). The gut microbiome and the brain. Journal of medicinal food, 17(12), 1261-1272. Link

Ghannoum, M. A., Ford, M., Bonomo, R. A., Gamal, A., & McCormick, T. S. (2021). A microbiome-driven approach to combating depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Nutrition, 576. Link

Sivan, M., Rayner, C., & Delaney, B. (2021). Fresh evidence of the scale and scope of long covid. bmj, 373. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Some of the most challenging parts of the tasks involved in career planning involve uncertainties and unknowns. Many of these simply involve things we do noy know yet like which organizations will be hiring, what will they want to know about us and which of our skills and experiences we should highlight in our applications and inquiries. However, some of the uncertainties and unknowns involve possible future outcomes such as will I find a career direction that works for me, will I find a job to get started, and will I succeed or fail at what I try to take on or get into? These sorts of uncertainties are more daunting partly because we (human beings) seem basically inclined to calibrate our fears of failure differently than our hopes for success. Think about what this might mean for how you approach your career planning enterprise for the first time or later on as you plan possible career shifts and changes and then read the article linked below for some suggestions about how to make those processes less daunting and likely more successful and fulfilling.

Source: Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknown, Chris Smith, Inside Higher Education.

Date: October 31, 2022

Image by Reinhardi from Pixabay

Article Link:

The article was originally aimed at doctoral and post-doctoral students but the suggestions it offers are potentially useful to anyone who is looking beyond just trying to find “a job” and is, instead thinking more in terms of getting a career established. Not clearly stated in the article is an important difference between the two types of uncertainties I noted above. If your most deeply felt uncertainties are focused upon possible future outcomes and, in particular, on possible future failures then you will move yourself forward more comfortably and more effectively if you translate those sorts of uncertainties into things you do not know yet. In addition, it will help a lot if you think more in terms of what you can do NOW to expand your knowledge, experience, and awareness of possibilities and how to use those to move yourself forward. Of course failure is a possibility, but if fear of failure stops your search for personal options and possibilities then you have failed before you even got started. Try out some of the investigative tools suggested in the article. I know you will find them useful for career planning and development and, along the way, you will likely find they are also useful tools for other areas of life planning as well. So, step back from fear of failure and shift uncertainties into curiosities and you will find yourself moving forward.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. When you think about your future, what sorts of things are you uncertain about or afraid of?
  2. What is the difference between things you do not know yet and what you do not know about future outcomes (successes and failures)?
  3. Which of the suggestions for career planning mentioned in the article have you already tried and/or which ones are you going to try (and how did or will you apply them)?

References (Read Further):

Van Wart, A., O’brien, T. C., Varvayanis, S., Alder, J., Greenier, J., Layton, R. L., … & Brady, A. E. (2020). Applying experiential learning to career development training for biomedical graduate students and postdocs: Perspectives on program development and design. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 19(3), es7. Link

Dizikes, Peter (2022) The power of weak ties in gaining new employment, MIT News. Link

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (2013). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. In Handbook of the fundamentals of financial decision making: Part I (pp. 99-127). Link

Intersect Jon Simulations (An amazing online planning and development resource) Link

Smith, Chris (2022) Cultivate Serendipity by Getting Involved in 2022, Inside Higher Education Link

I have posted a number of times on the experience of and coping with uncertainty and linked to a number of articles on those topics as well. This link will take you to a search od ‘Uncertainty’ on my Weekly Psychology Updates blog.