Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Disorders of Childhood, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders.

Description: On April 23, 2018, Alex Minassian drove a rented truck into a group of pedestrians on Yonge Street in Toronto killing 10 of them and injuring even more. After his arrest Mr. Minassian admitted the actions with which he was charged. His lawyers are arguing that he should be found Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) for his actions. Mr. Minassian is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and his lawyers are arguing that while he is aware of others and of his own actions, he was not capable of taking the perspectives of others necessary for him to understand the social/moral impacts of his actions. Think about what you know or what you believe regarding the criteria used in (Canadian) courts to come to decisions of criminal responsibility and while you are at it, think about what might have been by the term moral insanity (it is an historical term). Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the linked article below for a look at these questions in relation to the Alex Minassian case.

Source: The question of whether the Toronto van attack suspect is criminally responsible for murder will be a matter of hearts and minds, Catherine L. Evans, Opinion, The Globe and Mail

Date: December 19, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the challenge of deciding what NCR might, could, or should involve goes way, way back. Before “modern” Psychology and Psychiatry it was generally believed that those who were “mad” or crazy, defined by being psychotic, delusional, hallucinating, or disconnected from reality could be viewed as NCR and detained for public safety but not found criminally responsible for their actions. Then along came what would eventually be called psychopathy where a person could know precisely what they were doing while doing terrible things and feeling no guilt, empathy or remorse for the effects of their actions on others. This was moral insanity and it provides what courts, journalists and jurists referred to as the “revolting paradox,” in which the more extreme and odious the actions of the accused the more likely they were possessed of such a moral insanity. Today indications of psychopathy, supported by things like the Hare Psychopathy Scale, are most often taken as indicators of a need for harsher sentences in order to protect the public. In this domain, what is new about the Minassian case is that it is being argued in relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which is a very broad diagnostic category (thus the word spectrum) that is not but very rarely associated with court cases relating to planned behaviours that are admitted but perhaps understood (or rather NOT understood) as we might typically expect by the perpetrator(s). The newness of this case means it is unclear how it will resolve, and it also means that regardless of how it does so, issues of stigma, standing, disability and diversity are at issue as well. It will be important to follow how this comes out and where we go from there.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is NCR and how is it defined or determined?
  2. How is the defense in the Minassian case talking about ASD and its possible implications for their case?
  3. What are some of the broader impacts that this case could have beyond the legal issues associated with NCR?

References (Read Further):

Ellard, J. (1988). The history and present status of moral insanity. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 22(4), 383-389. Link

Jones, D. W. (2017). Moral insanity and psychological disorder: the hybrid roots of psychiatry. History of Psychiatry, 28(3), 263-279. Link

O’Sullivan, O. P. (2018). Autism spectrum disorder and criminal responsibility: historical perspectives, clinical challenges and broader considerations within the criminal justice system. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 35(4), 333-339. Link

Gerry, F., & Cooper, P. (2017). Effective participation of vulnerable accused persons: Case management, court adaptation and rethinking criminal responsibility. Journal of Judicial Administration, 26(4), 265-274. Link

Berryessa, C. Defendants with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Criminal Court: A Judges’ Toolkit. Available at SSRN. Link

Chaplin, E., McCarthy, J., Spain, D., Tolchard, B., Hardy, S., Marshall-Tate, K., & Forrester, A. (2018). Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability in the criminal justice system: a systematic review. Link

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: As we isolate and socially distance (more or less) out way into the holiday season it is a good time to think about others. Yes, that might involve giving something to your local food bank (good idea!), but what about the sort of “thinking of others” that is behind the pleas from health officials and scientists for us to more consistently wear masks, socially distance, and avoid out of bubble social gatherings? We, in parts of North America, are NOT doing those things very well. We could respond by saying something like, well some people are and some people are not and we should speak more harshly to those that are not, but, THAT hasn’t really been so effective has it? So, what to do? See if you can think of some ways we might do better at getting more people to do tings that are good for themselves AND good for others and then read through the article linked below to see what researchers who focus directly on this question have to suggest.

Source: we Know How to Curb the Pandemic. How Do We Make People Listen? Kim Tingley, Studies Show, The New York Times.

Date: December 10, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by André Santana from Pixabay

Article Link:

It is fascinating (I think) to see that perhaps pointing out the danger and potential consequences of social gatherings might actually support the idea that many people are having social gatherings in ways that do not reinforce a social norm of no social gatherings! Simply indicating that the desired behavior IS a social norm already (it is what others are doing) produces MORE adherence with health recommendations. Those sorts of nudges have proved to be very powerful in increasing positive behavior, like re-using one’s hotel towels, and in reducing harmful behavior, such as the levels of binge drinking among first year university students.  So, as the author if the linked article suggests, perhaps it is time to listen to Behavioral Science, at least in terms of how Health scientists and officials might best be talking to us about mask wearing, social distancing and social bubbling.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might some people ignore the recommendations of health scientists and officials in relation to Covid social protocols?
  2. How might “what others are doing” be a useful and important addition to Covid social behavior health messaging?
  3. How do social norms enter into this discussion and why might they be important?

References (Read Further):

Lazer, D. et al., (2020) The COVID States Project: A 50-State COVID-19 Survey Report #26: Trajectory of COVID-19 Related Behaviors Link

Goldstein, N. J., Cialdini, R. B., & Griskevicius, V. (2008). A room with a viewpoint: Using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. Journal of consumer Research, 35(3), 472-482. Link

Nakayachi, K., Ozaki, T., Shibata, Y., & Yokoi, R. (2020). Why do Japanese people use masks against COVID-19, even though masks are unlikely to offer protection from infection? Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1918. Link

Cialdini, R. B., Reno, R. R., & Kallgren, C. A. (1990). A focus theory of normative conduct: recycling the concept of norms to reduce littering in public places. Journal of personality and social psychology, 58(6), 1015. Link

Cialdini, R. (2020) Advice for Reducing Undersirable COVID-19 Behaviors, Link

Bicchieri, C., Fatas, E., Aldama, A., Casas, A., Deshpande, I., Lauro, M., … & Wen, R. (2020). In Science we (should) trust: expectations and compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Link

Yoeli, E., Hoffman, M., Rand, D. G., & Nowak, M. A. (2013). Powering up with indirect reciprocity in a large-scale field experiment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(Supplement 2), 10424-10429. Link

Pollock, N. C., McCabe, G. A., Southard, A. C., & Zeigler-Hill, V. (2016). Pathological personality traits and emotion regulation difficulties. Personality and Individual Differences, 95, 168-177. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, mental illness, Personality, Personality Disorders, Personality Disorders, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: You may not know, off the top of your head, what the diagnostic criteria are for the 10 Personality Disorder (PD) types split over three clusters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). Given the word “personality” in their category title, you might expect that they would be defined by the patterns they reflect on a series of personality dimensions, likely maladaptive ones given that it refers to “disordered” personalities. Within the DSM-5 however, each PD is defined categorically by a set of diagnostic criteria which leads to decisions about whether individuals do or no not have a PD, with no dimensionality about it. But what if, as the title of the linked article suggests, it was the case that responses to just 3 questions correlated with between .5 and .7 with PD determinations using inventories with many, many more items? This sort of approach and finding arises out of the sort of dimensional approach to PD’s I mentioned above. What might a set of 7 core PD traits involve? Think about that and then have a look though the linked article that describes a recent study into precisely that question.

Source: 3 Simple Questions Screen for Common Personality Disorders, Grant Hilary Brenner, Experimentations, Psychology Today.

Date: December 20, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Article Link:

A dimensional approach to PD’s could provide a much richer description of the PD domain. In fact, the committee considering revisions to the PD section of the DSM-4 gave serious consideration to such a dimensional approach. Ultimately they backed away from it slightly due to pressure from Clinical Psychologists who work with PD who argued that they were not yet prepared to adapt their practices to such a new direction. The dimensional approach is coming though and will a shift to it will likely be finalized with the next edition of the DSM. The three questions, when reformatted using what the author refers to as compassionate candor are: 1. Am I too sensitive to rejection? 2. It is hard for me to take instructions from people who have authority over me. 3. Do I argue with people too much?  It is possible to see that the questions do not lead to a simple “I am or am not disordered” statement but, rather suggests a number are areas of dimensions where one might benefits from some personal development work. It’s the new future of PD’s!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does the DSM-5 define personality disorders?
  2. Why might a dimensional approach to PD’s be more effective?
  3. What are some of the dimensions of PD and what sorts of things might people be helped to do that will improve their pattern of PD dimensional behaviors?

References (Read Further):

APA (2018) What are Personality Disorders? Link

Pilkonis, P. A., Johnston, K. L., & Dodds, N. E. (2020). Validation of the Three-Item Screener for Personality Disorders From the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP-3). Journal of Personality Disorders, 1-14. Abstract Link

Youngson, R. (2014). Re-inspiring compassionate caring: the reawakening purpose workshop. Journal of Compassionate Health Care, 1(1), 1. Link

Brenner, G. (2020) 7 Core Pathological Personality Traits, Neighborhood Psychiatry, Psychology Today. Link

McCabe, G. A., & Widiger, T. A. (2020). Discriminant validity of the alternative model of personality disorder. Psychological Assessment, 32(12), 1158. Abstract Link

Zeigler-Hill, V., & Hobbs, K. A. (2017). The darker aspects of motivation: Pathological personality traits and the fundamental social motives. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 36(2), 87-107. Link

Góngora, V. C., & Castro Solano, A. (2017). Pathological personality traits (DSM-5), risk factors, and mental health. Sage Open, 7(3), 2158244017725129. Link


Posted by & filed under Clinical Psychology, Emerging Adulthood, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Think back to one year ago, call that point in time up and try and remember what you thought about everything then. OK a big ask but one year ago would you have even thought about the possibility of accessing therapy services by phone or via video chat (I would bet you had not yet even heard of Zoom)? How about now? On the therapist side of things there was some resistance to phone or video conferencing therapy mainly as some insurance providers would not cover it or would only provide a lower amount than for face-to-face therapy. While some issues ARE treated more effectively in face-to-face sessions (think about social phobias, for example) the current Covid related higher levels of need for psychotherapeutic support along with the also Covid related need for very limited face-to-face engagements has made teletherapy one of the many Covid BIG jumping things. Would you feel comfortable meeting “virtually” with a therapist? What other issues would be part of your thinking about this (e.g., therapy from home yes but with your family members possibly withing earshot, maybe no).  Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the linked article or browse some of the Further Reading linked articles for a look at where teletherapy is at these (Covid) days.

Source: Why Your Shrink Wasn`t Offering Virtual Therapy Until Now, Olga Khazan, Health, The Atlantic.

Date: December 13, 2020

Photo Credit: Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

Article Link:

Interest in and the availability of versions of teletherapy are rapidly growing. There is even a link on the Further Reading to a Consumer Reports style overview of “The 10 Best Online Therapy Programs of 2020.” It seems clear that this a new thing that will certainly hang around post-Covid. Luckily the Canadian and American Psychological Associations and the various provincial and state Psychologist regulatory colleges have been working for a number of years on broadening the scope of their ethical standards and guidelines so as to include teletherapy. So, while there are still going to be issues of client comfort (whether it works FOR YOU) it looks like teletherapy is going to be here to stay as a treatment option.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is teletherapy?
  2. What are some potential ethical issues with teletherapy and how might they be addressed?
  3. What are some of the larger possible implications and outcomes of what is shaping up to be a significant increase in the availability and use of teletherapy?

References (Read Further):

Best Online Therapy Programs of 2020 Link

Canadian Teletherapy Regulations Link

Owings-Fonner, Nicole (2018) Research Roundup: Telehealth and the practice of psychology, APA. Link

Varker, T., Brand, R. M., Ward, J., Terhaag, S., & Phelps, A. (2019). Efficacy of synchronous telepsychology interventions for people with anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and adjustment disorder: A rapid evidence assessment. Psychological services, 16(4), 621. Link

Wilson, F. A., Rampa, S., Trout, K. E., & Stimpson, J. P. (2017). Telehealth delivery of mental health services: an analysis of private insurance claims data in the United States. Psychiatric Services, 68(12), 1303-1306. Link

Canadian Psychological Asscoaition (2020) Providing Psychological Services via Electronic Media: Interim Ethical Guidelines for Psychologists Providing Psychological Services Via Electronic Media Link

Reed, G. M., McLaughlin, C. J., & Milholland, K. (2000). Ten interdisciplinary principles for professional practice in telehealth: Implications for psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 31(2), 170. Link

Dart, E. H., Whipple, H. M., Pasqua, J. L., & Furlow, C. M. (2016). Legal, regulatory, and ethical issues in telehealth technology. In Computer-assisted and web-based innovations in psychology, special education, and health (pp. 339-363). Academic Press. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Families and Peers, Group Processes, Moral Development, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: What is the difference between shame and guilt (and what do they have to do with Covid-19)? Well, we could dive deeply into philosophy to try and sort that out but let’s start with how shame and guilt are viewed within Psychology. With roots in Psychodynamic (Freudian) theory, shame is the earlier arising feeling developmentally speaking. Very young children experience shame when they realize they have done something that has been noticed by parents and which has deeply disappointed them (e.g., “shame on you for doing that which is not what we do, not how we behave, you have lets us down). Shame requires public observation and social disappointment and, at least an implied threat to the continuity of the shamee’s relationship with the shamer(s) (e.g., “You are not one of us!”) The moral sanction is external, social. Guilt, on the other hand is later arriving, developmentally speaking. Once the local (family) social standards have been understood and internalized guilt can arise when an individual feels they have fallen short of the standards they believe they share. The shortfall can involve letting others down, or not trying hard or not behaving appropriately and the transgression in experienced as guilt, as feeling bad. So, what does this have to do with Covid? Well, a few minutes searching on Your Tube will yield a great many videos showing individuals being shamed for not wearing or for refusing to wear masks while shopping or otherwise testing recent social distancing norms. Given the above brief discussion of the difference between shame and guilt how effective do you think shaming is in shaping social behavior like mask wearing or in people’s decisions about whether to visit with friends and family over the coming holiday period? Once you have a few thoughts lined up have read through the linked article and see what it suggests.

Source: Pandemic Fatigue, Meet Pandemic Anger, Spencer Bokat-Lindell, Opinion, The New York Times.

Date: December 8, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, are things clearer now or muddier? It is important, when reflecting on shame and guilt to remember that while we might think of them as individual feelings or emotions, they are actually deeply social. Shame and guilt have to do with our ongoing connections to those around us and not just to people we are related to or know well. We might, for example, yell “you should be ashamed” at a stranger who drives too fast through a playground zone and come close to a child (even one that is not ours). Think about the phrase “We are all in this together” which has been used a LOT by many, many people, health officials, politicians, and others as part of lager statements about the need to people to take responsibility for social distancing and mask wearing, for the sake of the rest of us if not for themselves. Add to this that shaming actions and statements on social media can have nuclear firepower and it is even more important that we figure out how to engage with rather than just socially sanction those we see as behaving in problematic ways. The simple concept that masks are worn for others rather than for oneself reflects this basic level of social connection that ani-maskers seem to ignoring. So, shame on them for that but really, is shaming them the best way to get them to join us or to realize that they ARE already one of us? Challenging (and interesting) times indeed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are shame and guilt different developmentally?
  2. How are shame and guilt playing out in relation to issues of commitment to or enforcement of social distancing rules or guidelines in relation to the Covid pandemic?
  3. What might be some effective strategies for increasing compliance with social distancing and mask wearing and, eventually, accepting vaccination?

References (Read Further):

Dearing, R. L., Stuewig, J., & Tangney, J. P. (2005). On the importance of distinguishing shame from guilt: Relations to problematic alcohol and drug use. Addictive behaviors, 30(7), 1392-1404. Link

Markus, Julia (2020) Quarantine Fatigue id Real, The Atlantic, May 11. Link

Srinivasan, A. (2018). The aptness of anger. Journal of Political Philosophy, 26(2), 123-144. Link

Parker, S., & Thomas, R. (2009). Psychological differences in shame vs. guilt: Implications for mental health counselors. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 31(3), 213-224. Link

Tangney, J. P., Wagner, P. E., Hill-Barlow, D., Marschall, D. E., & Gramzow, R. (1996). Relation of shame and guilt to constructive versus destructive responses to anger across the lifespan. Journal of personality and social psychology, 70(4), 797. Link

Muris, P., & Meesters, C. (2014). Small or big in the eyes of the other: On the developmental psychopathology of self-conscious emotions as shame, guilt, and pride. Clinical child and family psychology review, 17(1), 19-40. Link

Mills, R. S. (2005). Taking stock of the developmental literature on shame. Developmental review, 25(1), 26-63. Link

Stuewig, J., & Tangney, J. P. (2007). Shame and guilt in antisocial and risky behaviors. The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research, 371-388. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: How much video/online gaming do you do? Would it surprise you to hear that over half of North American adults and many more children do this regularly? Would it surprise you to hear that people are doing more of this during these times of Covid-19 than ever before? Do you think we should worry about this? Well, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association seriously considered adding a gaming disorder to its most recent edition (2013) and while they did not do this this time it was noted as an area that needed to be closely watched and towards which more research should be directed. The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Disease in its eleventh revision (ICD-11, 2019) added a gaming disorder. Among other things the debate about gaming disorders turns on whether such things might or should be included into general definitions of addiction. If you look at the publication dates of the two diagnostic compendiums noted about you can see the direction in which this debate is moving and, as with many, many things in these times of Covid-19, mental health concerns over video gaming are jumping up quickly. Think about what the signs and symptoms, the diagnostic criteria, of a gaming disorder might involve (e.g., what sorts of behaviors over what periods of time) and then have a look at the linked article to see how they are laid in the ICD-11 and considered by the DSM.

Source: How Much is Too Much? When Video Gaming Becomes a Disorder, Dalanna Burris, Mind Matters from Menninger, Psychology Today.

Date: December 9, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, do the diagnostic criteria make sense? If it did not occur to you while you were reading through the linked article, have another look at the suggestions for those who are concerned that they may have a problem with their gaming and think about the ways in which they are likely affected by the current pandemic conditions that we are all living with. Add to this the fact that accessing professional assistance is more challenging these days as well. Perhaps we need to look at the think about a tele-health model for therapy with clinical Psychologists. Like we need anything else to wonder or worry about these days.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does a gaming disorder make sense to you?
  2. What might account for the different decisions regarding gaming disorders by the ICD-11 and the DSM-5?
  3. What suggestions might you offer to parents or to gaming adults in relation to gaming disorder possibilities?

References (Read Further):

Parents Together Foundation (2020) Survey shows parents alarmed as kids’ screen time skyrockets during COVID-19 Crisis Link

Online Gamers Anonymous Link

Petry, N. M., & O’Brien, C. P. (2013). Internet gaming disorder and the DSM‐5. Link

Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., & Murayama, K. (2017). Internet gaming disorder: Investigating the clinical relevance of a new phenomenon. American Journal of Psychiatry, 174(3), 230-236. Link

Petry, N. M., Rehbein, F., Gentile, D. A., Lemmens, J. S., Rumpf, H. J., Mößle, T., … & Auriacombe, M. (2014). An international consensus for assessing internet gaming disorder using the new DSM‐5 approach. Addiction, 109(9), 1399-1406. Link

Griffiths, M. D., Van Rooij, A. J., Kardefelt-Winther, D., Starcevic, V., Király, O., Pallesen, S., … & King, D. L. (2016). Working towards an international consensus on criteria for assessing Internet gaming disorder: A critical commentary on Petry et al.(2014). Addiction (Abingdon, England), 111(1), 167. Link

King, D. L., Delfabbro, P. H., Potenza, M. N., Demetrovics, Z., Billieux, J., & Brand, M. (2018). Internet gaming disorder should qualify as a mental disorder. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 52(7), 615-617. Link

Pontes, H. M., Schivinski, B., Sindermann, C., Li, M., Becker, B., Zhou, M., & Montag, C. (2019). Measurement and conceptualization of Gaming Disorder according to the World Health Organization framework: The development of the Gaming Disorder Test. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1-21. Link


Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Motivation-Emotion, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: As we head into December (2020) with pandemic numbers spiking and Christmas approaching why is it that some (many?) people are being less vigilant about social distancing and some are even getting angry about increasing restrictions. It is not like this is new. Things are much worse now than they were back in March and April and yet you would not predict that from the behavior, testiness or even surliness of some folks. Perhaps you have heard the term caution fatigue. What might that involved and how might it apply to what we are seeing and hearing these days from folks in relation to current pleas for continued and increased distancing and isolation as we hang on for the arrival and administration of vaccines? Think about what caution fatigue might involve from a Psychological point of view and about what sorts of things might help and then read the article linked below to see what a clinical research psychologist and psychological research suggests.

Source: COVID-19 caution fatigue: Why it happens, and 3 ways to prevent it, David Dozois, The Conversation.

Date: December 2, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Lindsay_Jayne from Pixabay

Article Link:

So how did your hypotheses fare? There are several ways to approach and understand caution fatigue. The exhaustion that follows a long stretch within the resistance phase of the stress reaction or fight/flight activation is one route. The long period of time practicing vigilance can also reduce vigilance driven by fear. The lack of social contact that is not just missing one’s friends but that involves a very basic social contact deficit that is a core part of who we are may also be a factor. As well, while there are a great many somewhat stressful or anxiety provoking things we do over long periods of time (think of paying a mortgage, raising children, caring for and worrying about older relatives, funding and keeping a job) that we simply start to stop addressing because they are making us tired, we are showing caution fatigue in relation to Covid-19 even though it seems like its end may be in sight (after things get worse for a little bit). Instead of just saying hang in there, the linked article suggests some things we CAN do that WILL make a difference, so think about it, make a plan and share it with others (in safe socially distanced ways)… a good seasonal thing to do.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is caution fatigue?
  2. How is caution fatigue related to the exhaustion or burnout phase of long-term exposure to stress/anxiety??
  3. What are the psychological foundations of each of the things to do suggested in the linked article and which one or two of them can you put into your own practice right now?

References (Read Further):

Dozois, D. J. (2020). Anxiety and depression in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national survey. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne. Link and Follow up

Echo Pandemic Link

Piotrowski, Andrea (2020) Be on guard against “caution fatigue” Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Link

Carpenter, J. K., Andrews, L. A., Witcraft, S. M., Powers, M. B., Smits, J. A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta‐analysis of randomized placebo‐controlled trials. Depression and anxiety, 35(6), 502-514. Link

Craske, M. G., Treanor, M., Conway, C. C., Zbozinek, T., & Vervliet, B. (2014). Maximizing exposure therapy: An inhibitory learning approach. Behaviour research and therapy, 58, 10-23.


Three months after COVID-19 pandemic declared, Canadians express ‘fatigue’, are social distancing less, Angus Reid Institute Link

Dozois, D. J. (2018). Not the years in your life, but the life in your years: Lessons from Canadian psychology on living fully. Canadian Psychology/psychologie canadienne, 59(2), 107. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: You have very likely seen, heard or read a multitude of things lately about the state of stress and anxiety these days in general and about YOUR state of stress and anxiety as we head into the Covid winter before the vaccine spring that we hope will be coming along. However, putting stress and anxiety aside for a moment, how is your focus or your attention these days? Have you heard the phrase lockdown brain fog? Are you able to keep your mind on task or does it seem to be wandering more than usual? If so, why might that be? Also, if your mind does seem to be wandering a bit, is that a good or a bad thing? Once you have focused on these questions for a bit (come on… FOCUS!), have a look through the article linked below to see what a Psychological researcher has to suggest about these things.

Source: Our minds may be wandering more during the pandemic – and this can be a good thing, Jennifer Windt, The Conversation and The Independent.

Date: December 6, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Article Link: or with a lot of ads at

So, did you even think that making sense of where our mental focus is at these days could involve a consideration of dreaming? Well, it IS the same brain after all. Knowing a bit about our typical sleep patterns, particularly in relation to REM sleep and what may happen when we sleep a bit more than usual for a while or when anxiety and stress (so yes, they are still in the picture here) lead to rumination can explain why we seem to be dreaming more these days. The good news is that there do seem to be some potential advantages to a b it of mind wandering or daydreaming as they involve an openness to thoughts and ideas in the same ways that lead to and support creativity. So, perhaps we can out aside some of our concerns and anxieties and, at least a little bit, enjoy some mind wandering generated creative thinking.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might we (seem to) be dreaming more during this time of pandemic restrictions?
  2. How might mind wandering and daydreaming (and even pain old night dreaming) be related to creativity?
  3. What are some ways in which you might take advantage of Covid related reductions in mental focus over the next few weeks?

References (Read Further):

Boykoff, N., Moieni, M., & Subramanian, S. K. (2009). Confronting chemobrain: an in-depth look at survivors’ reports of impact on work, social networks, and health care response. Journal of cancer survivorship, 3(4), 223. Link

Neilson, Tore (2020) The Covid-19 Pandemic is Changing Our Dreams, Scientific American, Link

Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2015). The science of mind wandering: empirically navigating the stream of consciousness. Annual review of psychology, 66, 487-518. Link

Wegner, D. M. (1997). Why the mind wanders. Scientific approaches to consciousness, 295-315. Link

Baird, B., Mota-Rolim, S. A., & Dresler, M. (2019). The cognitive neuroscience of lucid dreaming. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 100, 305-323. Link

Wright, K. P., Linton, S. K., Withrow, D., Casiraghi, L., Lanza, S. M., de la Iglesia, H., … & Depner, C. M. (2020). Sleep in University Students Prior to and During COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders. Current Biology. Link

Christoff, K., Irving, Z. C., Fox, K. C., Spreng, R. N., & Andrews-Hanna, J. R. (2016). Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17(11), 718-731. Link

Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2016). Mind wandering minimizes mind numbing: Reducing semantic-satiation effects through absorptive lapses of attention. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 23(4), 1273-1279. Link

Revonsuo, A., Tuominen, J., & Valli, K. (2015). The avatars in the machine: Dreaming as a simulation of social reality. Open MIND. Frankfurt am Main: MIND Group. Link


Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: I bet, or hope, that you are doing most of your holiday shopping online this year. I also bet that most of what come to mind if you are asked to think about things that retailers do to nudge you to by more involve “real” bricks and mortar stores such as small quantities of “door crasher bargains,” eye-catching merchandise displays near sale items etc. But what about online? Make a list (real or just mental) of several things that online retailers do to entice you to buy more and to buy more quickly and more often. Once you have your list take a look through the article linked below to see some (perhaps other) suggestions of things to be on watch for as you click-shop this month.

Source: The tactics retailers use to make us spend more – and how they harm the vulnerable, Ruth Bushi, The Guardian.

Date: December 5, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, are you safe or are you in big trouble when it comes to online shopping? While some things mat appear to be simply informative they may actually (also or only) be nudges to buy. For example have you seen a note, usually in red under an item you are viewing that says Only 3 Left! Informative yes but also a scarcity nudge. And what about reviews? Yes they can be informative but they can also provide social proof that the item you are considering has been purchased by others, perhaps MANY others and so it must be OK. Default choices and framing tactics mat be harder to see but it should be clear that there is a LOT being done to get you to click on purchase as quickly and as often as possible. If you missed it go back and read what the article said about Friction and then think about ways in which you can add some friction to your online shopping trips… it will save you money!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things do online retailers (sites) do to increase the likelihood you will buy, buy more and buy more often?
  2. How are online buy nudges different than in real store nudges?
  3. What are some ways in which you could build some friction into your own online shopping experiences and why would doing so be a good idea?

References (Read Further):

Humphreys, A., & Latour, K. A. (2013). Framing the game: Assessing the impact of cultural representations on consumer perceptions of legitimacy. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(4), 773-795. Link

Jurafsky, D., Chahuneau, V., Routledge, B. R., & Smith, N. A. (2014). Narrative framing of consumer sentiment in online restaurant reviews. First Monday. Link

Amblee, N., & Bui, T. (2011). Harnessing the influence of social proof in online shopping: The effect of electronic word of mouth on sales of digital microproducts. International journal of electronic commerce, 16(2), 91-114. Link

Naeem, M. (2020). Do social media platforms develop consumer panic buying during the fear of Covid-19 pandemic. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 58, 102226. Link

Trudel, R. (2019). Sustainable consumer behavior. Consumer psychology review, 2(1), 85-96. Link

Hamilton, R., Thompson, D., Bone, S., Chaplin, L. N., Griskevicius, V., Goldsmith, K., … & Piff, P. (2019). The effects of scarcity on consumer decision journeys. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47(3), 532-550. Link

Goldsmith, K., Griskevicius, V., & Hamilton, R. (2020). Scarcity and Consumer Decision Making: Is Scarcity a Mindset, a Threat, a Reference Point, or a Journey?. Link

Huang, H., Liu, S. Q., Kandampully, J., & Bujisic, M. (2020). Consumer responses to scarcity appeals in online booking. Annals of Tourism Research, 80, 102800. Link

Lissitsa, S., & Kol, O. (2016). Generation X vs. Generation Y–A decade of online shopping. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 31, 304-312. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Consciousness, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: How are you sleeping these (Covid surging again) days? It will likely not surprise you to hear that more people are having trouble sleeping or are having weird dreams or both these days. The direct and indirect stresses and anxieties of the Covid-19 pandemic and the related uncertainties are definitely making it harder to be properly “rested.” However, rather than trying to ignore the impact of current events on our sleep, a good first step towards alleviating sleep issues and actually getting proper rest is to look directly and clearly at the problem. So, before you read the article linked below consider these two questions. First, pre-Covid, what percentage of adults responding to sleep surveys indicate they were having issues with their sleep and what did that percentage increase to in a large study conducted recently in the midst of the current Covid-19 pandemic? Second, a tougher question; What to groups are sleeping better during-Covid than they were sleeping pre-Covid and why is that?

Source: Night of the insomniacs: How COVID has turned us into a country of non-sleepers, Elizabeth Renzetti, Opinion, The Globe and Mail

Date: November 28, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Stephanie Ghesquier from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did the jump from 36% to 50% who are experiencing sleep issues pre- to during-Covid surprise you? Was the sleep influencing combinations of light deprivation, stress, anxiety, disruptions of routines, smart phone and other screen uses, lack of exercise, and use of drugs or alcohol all things you pondered as possibly involved in current maladaptive sleep patterns? And who could have predicted that scaring dreams could involve accidental hugging! Lastly, be honest, did you think of teens and high owls as the two groups that have benefited from not having to get up as early as their social schedules used to demand pre-Covid? Now that you have a clear picture of the issues that are combining to mess up your sleep these (Covid) days what are you going to try and do about it? There are some links below in the Further Reading section on Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia if you need so help.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How have people’s sleep patterns been effected by the Covid pandemic?
  2. What are the factors, associated with our experience of the Covid-19 pandemic that are impacting our sleep patterns?
  3. How has your sleep been lately? If not so good, what sorts of things are you now going to try in order to make your sleep, better (more refreshing) and if you are not going to do anything why not (maybe you are too sleep deprived to think clearly)?

References (Read Further):

Pesonen, A. K., Lipsanen, J., Halonen, R., Elovainio, M., Sandman, N., Mäkelä, J. M., … & Kuula, L. (2020). Pandemic dreams: network analysis of dream content during the COVID-19 lockdown. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2569. Link

Robillard, R., Dion, K., Pennestri, M. H., Solomonova, E., Lee, E., Saad, M., … & Daros, A. R. (2020). Profiles of sleep changes during the COVID‐19 pandemic: Demographic, behavioural and psychological factors. Journal of sleep research, e13231. Link to Abstract

van Straten, A., van der Zweerde, T., Kleiboer, A., Cuijpers, P., Morin, C. M., & Lancee, J. (2018). Cognitive and behavioral therapies in the treatment of insomnia: a meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 38, 3-16. Link

Belleville, G., Cousineau, H., Levrier, K., & St-Pierre-Delorme, M. È. (2011). Meta-analytic review of the impact of cognitive-behavior therapy for insomnia on concomitant anxiety. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(4), 638-652. Link

Pillai, V., Anderson, J. R., Cheng, P., Bazan, L., Bostock, S., Espie, C. A., … & Drake, C. L. (2015). The anxiolytic effects of cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia: preliminary results from a web-delivered protocol. Journal of sleep medicine and disorders, 2(2). Link

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