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

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

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

Date: Feb 18, 2022

Image by AbsolutVision from Pixabay

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: Feb 3, 2022

Image by PICNIC-Foto-Soest from Pixabay

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Families and Peers, Human Development, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Regardless of what you thought of the events surrounding the so-called Freedom Convoy in Canada’s capital of Ottawa over the past 3 weeks it was very clear that there are quite a few people who do not trust that the government is giving them the right information and advice or doing the right thing with regards to vaccine mandates and social distancing regulations in what we hope are the ending days of the COVID pandemic. Putting aside the issues associated with people getting their “news” from focused, interested sites what might be the issue with some people’s lack of trust of the information being provided by health specialists, given that the information is, understandably, changing as we gather more extensive and better data about COVID and the impacts of social distancing, masks and vaccination. I will give you a hint; there might be some very useful stuff we can learn about this by looking at research with 4-yea-olds. Think about this (and no this is NOT intended as a shot at Freedom Convoy participants) and then read the article linked below for a look at what child development research has to tell us about epistemic trust (terms defined in the article).

Source: Trust comes when you admit what you don’t know – lessons from child development research, Tanya Kushnir, David Sobel, and Mark Sabbagh, The Conversation.

Date: Feb 15, 2022

Image by finelightarts from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the research on epistemic certainty among preschoolers seems to suggest that they pick up information more quickly and trust what they are being told more deeply when the ‘tellers’ acknowledge when they are uncertain about what it is they are reporting upon. How does that fit in with your recollections of the ways that COVID-related information was shared with us by health authorities over the past 2 years? Epistemology or, more specifically, epistemic assumptions (part of the focus of my doctoral dissertation many decades ago) play a powerful role in how people approach information and in the attitudes and opinions they hold of those who provide them with information (and with scientific results especially). If we believe that there are right and wrong answers to every possible question, we might care to ask then we might think differently about the people offering research-based information than if we believe that some situations or circumstances are complex and certain information might be a ways off or not even in the card at all. Maybe we need to try and approach our informational demands and those who try and address those demands a bit more like 4-year-olds whole learning about and understanding of the world and their trust in those who [provide them with information about it all benefits when the tellers admit uncertainty.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some things that you hope to see in and hear from public health scientists as they talk with you (us) about COVID-related stuff?
  2. What sorts of thoughts come to mind for you when a scientist expresses uncertainty about what research findings suggest about how we should behave or what we should do?
  3. What sorts of things might we do to better engage with individuals or groups who are rather firm in their beliefs about some aspect or situation in the world and distrustful of anyone who tries to use science to help them reconsider their positions?

References (Read Further):

Pulford, B. D., Colman, A. M., Buabang, E. K., & Krockow, E. M. (2018). The persuasive power of knowledge: Testing the confidence heuristic. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(10), 1431. Link

Fleerackers, A., Riedlinger, M., Moorhead, L., Ahmed, R., & Alperin, J. P. (2021). Communicating scientific uncertainty in an age of COVID-19: an investigation into the use of preprints by digital media outlets. Health Communication, 1-13. Link

Pew Research Center (2022) Increasing Public Criticism, Confusion Over COVID-19 Response in U.S. Link

Mangardich, H., & Sabbagh, M. A. (2018). Children remember words from ignorant speakers but do not attach meaning: evidence from event‐related potentials. Developmental science, 21(2), e12544. Link

McLoughlin, N., Finiasz, Z., Sobel, D. M., & Corriveau, K. H. (2021). Children’s developing capacity to calibrate the verbal testimony of others with observed evidence when inferring causal relations. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 210, 105183. Link

Kushnir, T., & Koenig, M. A. (2017). What I don’t know won’t hurt you: The relation between professed ignorance and later knowledge claims. Developmental psychology, 53(5), 826. Link

Kelp, N. C., Witt, J. K., & Sivakumar, G. (2021). To Vaccinate or Not? The Role Played by Uncertainty Communication on Public Understanding and Behavior Regarding COVID-19. Science Communication, 10755470211063628. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I suspect you probably know quite a bit about stress, about how it feels, about what it does to your ability to manage, to work, to focus, or to relax. You likely know that you have limits relating to how much stress you can manage before you cannot keep functioning well. But did you also know that we (all of us) are actually not ‘built’ for the sorts of stress we are living with these days. I am not just referring to the times of COVID. As a species we have evolved to cope consistently and effectively with stress and stressors that are rather intense AND very short term. Think of encountering a bear while out gathering berries for your family. The stress of that will be intense AND short term… over rather quickly one way or another. If we manage to sneak away from or other wise evade the bear we can calm down, have a good story to tell around the fire that night and the insight that we should avoid that bear infested area (and we can tell others so they too can avoid that stress in future. These days, while you can still, in theory, run into a bear the stressors we typically contend with are less intense than a bear encounter (most of the time) BUT they are much more drawn out in time. You cannot run away a mortgage, an ailing relative, or other adult responsibilities. As a consequence, our stresses these days are chronic rather than acute and the bear fleeing, fight-flight, stress physiology we evolved does not serve us as well in dealing with today’s stressors. We spend are living with moderate levels of stress for very long periods of time. According to pioneering stress researcher Hans Selye, our stress response physiology starts out in alarm mode (think of a bear encounter) but then settles down a bit into a resistance phase which we maintain for days, weeks or even months until our system starts to breakdown, and we enter an exhaustion phase. This is sometimes referred to as burnout where our abilities to manage in spite of our stress levels starts to falter. What does burnout look like or feel like? It is important that we know these things so that we know that we need to make changes… take steps to reduce our stress levels, if we are to thrive. How would you know that you were starting to burn out? What signs or symptoms could you look for and think about responding to? Not sure? Then read the article linked below for some useful research-based information about what burnout is, how it presents itself to us and about what we can do about it.

Source: Your Body Knows You’re Burned Out, Melinda Wenner Moyer, The New York Times.

Date: Feb 15, 2022

Image by KELLEPICS from Pixabay

Article Link:

Yes, we could decide we are going to tough out our stresses. We could take the position that only those who bear down and muscle through their stresses succeed. However, burnout is not so much a thing as it is the consequence of not noting and dealing with our stresses and our reactions to them or of getting assistance in doing so, not just from friends or therapists but from those with we work with and work for as addressing signs of burnout could require some significant change in our lives and in our work and other contexts. So, pay attention and talk about the steps that might help so you can reduce the likelihood of your experiencing serious signs or consequences of stress-related burnout.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are stresses different “these days” as compared to the hunting and gathering eras of our ancient ancestors?
  2. What are some of the consequences of the stresses we contend with in our lives these days given the evolutionary forces that shaped the stress response systems we possess?
  3. Is burnout an individual issue? What else could or should be seen to be at play and what sorts of things can we do to reduce the potential consequences of burnout?

References (Read Further):


/Lead (2021) Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19’s Impact and 3 Strategies to Curb It Link

World Health Organization (2019) Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases Link

Hirotsu, C., Tufik, S., & Andersen, M. L. (2015). Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Science, 8(3), 143-152. Link

Yau, Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2013). Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva endocrinologica, 38(3), 255. Link

Koutsimani, P., Montgomery, A., & Georganta, K. (2019). The relationship between burnout, depression, and anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 284. Link

Shanafelt, T. D., Oreskovich, M. R., & Dyrbye, L. N. (2012). Avoiding burnout: the personal health habits and wellness practices of US surgeons. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 56(3), 875-876. Link

Selye, H. (1950). Stress and the general adaptation syndrome. British medical journal, 1(4667), 1383. Link


Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, General Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence, Personality, Research Methods, Social Influence, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Want to find out about yourself? You can take a personality test. But before you do, consider whether you will be able to trust the results. Are the accurate? Stable? Predictive of how you will behave in future? How would you go about answering those questions? Well, you could just throw caution to the winds and take the test and believe the results but that is not what psychologists who work with the psychometric qualities of tests and measurements would have you do. So, perhaps, before you take the test it would be a good idea to read the article linked below for a science based explanation about just how trustworthy personality tests are.

Source: Can Your Trust Personality Tests? Rene Mottus, Psychology Today

Date: Feb 19, 2022

Image by RyanMcGuire from Pixabay

Article Link:

I think the most important point from the linked article is that the accuracy of personality tests as it is understood by the psychologists who developed and use them is not the same as the concept of accuracy discussed say by physicists using lasers to measure things accurately down to the level of microns. It is important to understand that personality tests are basically general markers of social behavioral tendencies and, given the complexity of social experiences, personality indicators understandably wiggle around a bit. This is not a bad thing it is just part of the reality of human experience. So, as the article’s author suggests, it is a good idea to reflect on what it is you are hoping that the results of a personality test will tell you and about how you might make sense of the data you receive. Second opinions are good too, but best thought of not as a search for a better answer but more as opportunities to gain a broad perspective on what it is you are trying to understand about yourself and your social world.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How accurately do personality tests assess peoples’ personalities?
  2. What other sources of data, beyond your own responses to a personality test might be worth acquiring if you are interested in your personality?
  3. Rather than thinking of your personality as the particular (fixed) way that you interact with the social world what if you paid more attention to how flexible you are in your acting in the social world? DO you act the same ways in all situations? If not how able are you to shift and change your approach based on the social situations you find yourself in? How hard is that to do? How does it work out for you? (Have a look at one or two of the Read Further links below).

References (Read Further):

Mõttus, R. (2022). What does a correlation say about me? A tutorial on translating correlational research findings to their implications for individual people. Link

Hayes, N., & Joseph, S. (2003). Big 5 correlates of three measures of subjective well-being. Personality and Individual differences, 34(4), 723-727. Link

Fleeson, W., & Jayawickreme, E. (2015). Whole trait theory. Journal of research in personality, 56, 82-92. Link

Schmukle, S. C., Back, M. D., & Egloff, B. (2008). Validity of the five-factor model for the implicit self-concept of personality. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 24(4), 263-272. Link

Paulhus, D. L., & Martin, C. L. (1988). Functional flexibility: A new conception of interpersonal flexibility. Journal of personality and social psychology, 55(1), 88. Link

Paulhus, D. L., & Martin, C. L. (1987). The structure of personality capabilities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(2), 354. Link

Pincus, A. L., Lukowitsky, M. R., & Wright, A. G. (2010). The interpersonal nexus of personality and psychopathology. In T. Millon, R. F. Krueger, & E. Simonsen (Eds.), Contemporary directions in psychopathology: Scientific foundations of the DSM-V and ICD-11 (pp. 523–552). The Guilford Press. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Research Methods, Sensation-Perception, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: What does the science say? We have heard or used that question a LOT in these COVID days (years). It is a good question… an important question and one that is much better grounded than questions like; what do I think or what do I wish or what do I want to believe or what do I need to be true? We DO know from psychological research into cognitive biases that personal experience or related anecdotes can powerfully influence our beliefs, even in situations where there IS science that would show us a best bet depiction of what is likely true. This is called the availability heuristic.  Now thinks about tis statement. I got the first COVID vaccination and I had a really bad reaction to it, my arm hurt for 5 days, I felt nauseous, stiff and sore and could not really do anything but sleep for 4 days. I think the shots are dangerous and I am not going to get anymore. Or, my friend got COVID and other than a runny nose had no other symptoms, … its not that bad and the shots cause problems so I am not getting anymore. We KNOW (yes, we do, don’t we?) that COVID vaccinations reduce the likelihood of infection and drastically reduce the likelihood of hospitalization or death if COVID is contracted after vaccination. Despite this large-scale health research some anti-vaxers and vaccine hesitant people seem to stick with their personal (available/vivid) experience. Is there OTHER research they might benefit from seeing? Well, have you heard of nocebos? Yes? If so how might they be at play in the “vaccination can be bad for you” belief? If not, well, either way, read the article linked below for a report on some science you likely have not been aware of (but should be!).

Source: COVID-19 vaccines: 76% of reported side effect may be due to ‘nocebo’ effect, Robby Berman, Medical News Today.

Date: January 25, 2022

Image by ds_30 from Pixabay

Article Link:

You likely have heard previously about placebos. Placebos or inactive (no active ingredient) versions of pills or shots are administered to part of the sample in a trial with the rest of those in the trial getting the shot or medication being investigated. Why? Well, because it has been consistently shown that getting what you think is a medication or treatment can have positive effects.  Good medications are those that produce effects that are not just better than nothing but that are better than a placebo. Nocebos have similar effect but in the opposite direction. Due to this, the central finding of this research into nocebos, that 76% of the adverse experiences people had following a COVID vaccination are attributable to nocebo effects, is the most important. It suggests that a huge proportion of the experiences that get drawn into individuals’ decision-making about vaccination experiences are not caused by the vaccines used. Of course, now that we have this scientific data, the real challenge is to figure out how to make vaccine hesitant and anti-vaxers not only aware of it but to get them to use it to push aside their availability heuristic-based decisions. Now THERE is a place where more research IS needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the availability heuristic and how might it be playing out in the decisions of anti-vaxers and the vaccine hesitant?
  2. What is a nocebo and how might its effects be involved in vaccination hesitancy?
  3. How might we utilize this research on nocebos to reduce vaccination hesitancey?

References (Read Further):

Sever, P. (2022). Nocebo affects after COVID-19 vaccination. The Lancet Regional Health–Europe, 12. Link

Haas, J. W., Bender, F. L., Ballou, S., Kelley, J. M., Wilhelm, M., Miller, F. G., … & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2022). Frequency of Adverse Events in the Placebo Arms of COVID-19 Vaccine Trials: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA network open, 5(1), e2143955-e2143955. Link

Colloca, L., & Miller, F. G. (2011). The nocebo effect and its relevance for clinical practice. Psychosomatic medicine, 73(7), 598. Link

Enck, P., Benedetti, F., & Schedlowski, M. (2008). New insights into the placebo and nocebo responses. Neuron, 59(2), 195-206. Link

Colloca, L., & Barsky, A. J. (2020). Placebo and nocebo effects. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(6), 554-561. Link

Colloca, L., & Finniss, D. (2012). Nocebo effects, patient-clinician communication, and therapeutic outcomes. Jama, 307(6), 567-568. Link

Amanzio, M., Howick, J., Bartoli, M., Cipriani, G. E., & Kong, J. (2020). How do nocebo phenomena provide a theoretical framework for the COVID-19 pandemic?. Frontiers in psychology, 2805. Link

Daniali, H., & Flaten, M. A. (2021). Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms without the disease: The role of nocebo in reporting of symptoms. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 14034948211018385. Link

Pachur, T., Hertwig, R., & Steinmann, F. (2012). How do people judge risks: availability heuristic, affect heuristic, or both?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 18(3), 314. Link


Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Persuasion, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress Coping - Health, Substance-Related Disorders.

Description: Think about how you would answer this question. Why do we arrest people found in possession of personal use amounts of addictive drugs and often send them to jail? Is it because we think that the threat of arrest will be a deterrent to becoming addicted? How is that working out for us? What if we stopped doing that? Do not dismiss the idea too quickly. It does not mean that we should stop doing anything at all to try and stop people from becoming addicted to illicit drugs or to help them stop using those drugs if they are addicted to them now. What sorts of things would need to be included in an approach to dealing with addictions that did not include incarceration for personal use amounts possession? Think about that for a moment and then read the article linked below that talks about Oregon’s recent experiences with just such an approach.

Source: Treating Addiction as a Crime Doesn’t Work. What Oregon Is Doing Just Might. Maia Szalavitz, The New York Times.

Date: January 26, 2022

Image by RenoBeranger from Pixabay

Article Link:

We have come to understand a LOT in recent years about the role that stigma plays in making it difficult for people dealing with, or who have dealt with, mental illness to manage positively in the social world. One of the big suggestions in the linked article is that similar issues are at play in relation to addiction. It might be seen to boil down to the question of whether addiction arises from an array of complex personal, social, and circumstantial issues or whether it arises from one or more fundamental character flaws or due to a lack of will power. Despite this often being treated as political issue and alternatives like the one being tried in Oregon did start as a ballot initiative, research can illuminate alternative possibilities and demonstrate their efficacy or the lack there of. Such work is now underway in Oregon and has been ongoing since 2000 in Portugal. We need to look closely at the results and, as we do, we need to look closely at our assumptions as different approaches to addiction (other than jail) might be preferrable AND more effective.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that stigma might be associated with drug addiction and drug use?
  2. What are some of the consequences of using incarceration as an approach to reducing drug use?
  3. What are some of the ways that Oregon’s approach to addiction is different than that taken in most other jurisdictions and how have things gone in Portugal over the past 11 years?

References (Read Further):

Ximene, R. Ê. G. O., Oliveira, M. J., & Lameira, C. (2021). 20 years of Portuguese drug policy-developments, challenges and the quest for human rights. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 16(1), 1-11. Link

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). Ending discrimination against people with mental and substance use disorders: The evidence for stigma change. National Academies Press. Link (use guest download option)

Henkel, D. (2011). Unemployment and substance use: a review of the literature (1990-2010). Current drug abuse reviews, 4(1), 4-27. Link

Trusts, P. C. (2018). More imprisonment does not reduce state drug problems. PEW Charitable Trusts. Link

Netherland, J., Kral, A. H., Ompad, D. C., Davis, C. S., Bluthenthal, R. N., Dasgupta, N., … & Wheelock, H. (2022). Principles and Metrics for Evaluating Oregon’s Innovative Drug Decriminalization Measure. Journal of Urban Health, 1-4. Link

MacQuarrie, A. L., & Brunelle, C. (2022). Emerging Attitudes Regarding Decriminalization: Predictors of Pro-Drug Decriminalization Attitudes in Canada. Journal of Drug Issues, 52(1), 114-127. Link

Kleinman, R. A., & Morris, N. P. (2021). Rethinking the Criminalization of Personal Substance Use and Possession. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 1-3. Link


Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience.

Description: Imagine that a couple you know is having relationship difficulties that have been going on for a while. Imagine farther that you think that one if the things contributing to their difficulties is that seem to be having problems talking to one another about things that matter to them in their relationship (e.g., having children, how parts of their relationships make them each feel). You like your friends and would really like to see them doing better but you do not feel able to step in and engage with them about their relationship’s issues. Given this what sorts of thing or things might you suggest or hint that they might try? Taking time away together? Trying couple therapy? Drinking more (or less)? How about talking MDMA (the currently illegal drug ecstasy) together? Not on the top of your list or on your list at all? Well, think about it, hypothetically and about what it could involve and then read the article linked below which looks at this very question.

Source: Can MDMA Save a Marriage? Christina Caron

Date: Feb 8, 2022

Image by Conmongt from Pixabay

Article Link:

I am not advocating the use of illegal substances and I would not be advocating for the unsupervised/supported use of MDMA or other substances even if they were decriminalized, prescribable or legal. That said, there has been quite a bit of interest and research recently into the therapeutic use of some substances. Cannabis is legal in many jurisdictions now and psilocybin (magic mushrooms) are in some as well. MDMA has been shown to positively impact symptoms of PTSD (as has cannabis). Of course, regulation is needed as is supervision/support for use and much more research is needed but….. ?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might MDMA actually be of assistance to troubled couples?
  2. What sorts of practical, legal and ethical issues are currently at play in considering the therapeutic use of MDMA by troubled couples?
  3. What sorts of research is needed in these areas and how should its results be utilized in the development of possible policy and practice involving the therapeutic use of such substances (by who under what circumstances)?

References (Read Further):

Mitchell, J. M., Bogenschutz, M., Lilienstein, A., Harrison, C., Kleiman, S., Parker-Guilbert, K., … & Doblin, R. (2021). MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study. Nature Medicine, 27(6), 1025-1033. Link

NIDA (2020) MNDA (Ecstasy/Molly) Drug Facts National Institute on Drug Abuse Link

Hysek, C. M., Schmid, Y., Simmler, L. D., Domes, G., Heinrichs, M., Eisenegger, C., … & Liechti, M. E. (2014). MDMA enhances emotional empathy and prosocial behavior. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 9(11), 1645-1652. Link

Greer, G., & Tolbert, R. (1986). Subjective reports of the effects of MDMA in a clinical setting. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 18(4), 319-327. Link

Verkes, R. J., Gijsman, H. J., Pieters, M. S., Schoemaker, R. C., de Visser, S., Kuijpers, M., … & Cohen, A. F. (2001). Cognitive performance and serotonergic function in users of ecstasy. Psychopharmacology, 153(2), 196-202. Link

Monson, C. M., Wagner, A. C., Mithoefer, A. T., Liebman, R. E., Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., … & Mithoefer, M. C. (2020). MDMA-facilitated cognitive-behavioural conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: an uncontrolled trial. European journal of psychotraumatology, 11(1), 1840123. Link

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Attitude Formation Change, General Psychology, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: I do not know if you have been tracking it but my friends and family in and around Ottawa have drawn my attention to the protest/occupation on central Ottawa by the Truckers’ Convoy. The group is comprised of people opposed to the recent vaccination requirements for cross border passage by truckers and demanding an end to all COVID related restrictions, from masks to vaccination requirements across the country. Leaving aside the complex array of claims, counter claims, positions and beliefs (not to mention air horns, car horns and clogged streets) it is clear that there is a LOT of blaming going on in and around the protest/occupation. Can the social psychology of how we think about, ascribe, and react to blame provide us with any insight into the obviously deep feelings being expressed on all side of this issue? Of course, we are all tired, beaten down, and massively inconvenienced (threatened) by 2 years of COVID. What sorts of things do you think the social psychology of blaming might tell us about, and might help us deal with the massively divisive amount of finger pointing currently going on, not just in Ottawa but around Canada and around d the world in relation to the COVID pandemic? Once you have given this some thought, have a read through the linked article to see what recent research on COVID-related blame has to add and suggest.  

Source: How the psychology of blame can explain COVID-19 responses: new research, Ayoub Bouguettaya and Victoria Team, The Conversation.

Date: January 31, 2022

Image by johnhain from Pixabay     

Article Link:   

I think that one of the biggest challenges related to dealing with the entire COVID-related impact array is the us/them/we test it has placed upon us all. We have all been affected by the pandemic, whether or not we have contracted COVID (yet) or not. When such things happen, we look for causes, we look for mitigation and/or avoidance strategies and we look to assign blame. At a point in history where, in the western world, we have focused more and more intently on individual concerns and responsibilities we seem to find particular difficulty in dealing adaptively with the “we are all in this together” defining aspect of the pandemic. We need to seek and find a more social perspective or at least to remind ourselves of the many social strands that are vital to who we are and how we get along in the world. So, a little social psychology of blame and less of the fundamental attribution error (look it up) could be exactly what we need!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How many blame vectors (ways in which some people are blaming other people for the things that are really bothering them) can you see happening (or that happened) on the ground in Ottawa and in the discussions, claims and counter claims that have spun out of the event?
  2. What does the psychology of blame (i.e., the path model of blame) add to your thinking about current “wish-the-pandemic-was-gone” events?
  3. What can be learned through research and consideration of various international differences of approach to COVID management about blame in relation to this (and future) pandemics that could be applied now or added into our future planning in order to reduce the heat of the blame-game currently under way?

References (Read Further):

Bouguettaya, A., Walsh, C. E., & Team, V. (2022). Social and Cognitive Psychology Theories in Understanding COVID-19 as the Pandemic of Blame. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 672395. Link

Malle, B. F., Guglielmo, S., & Monroe, A. E. (2014). A theory of blame. Psychological Inquiry, 25(2), 147-186. Link

Porumbescu GA, Moynihan D, Anastasopoulos J, Olsen AL. (2020) Motivated Reasoning and Blame: Responses to Performance Framing and Outgroup Triggers during COVID-19. arXiv; Link

Friedman, Uri (2020) New Zealand’s Prome Miniters May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet. The Atlantic. Link

Walker, D., & Vul, E. (2021). Blame the Player and the Game. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (Vol. 43, No. 43). Link

Genschow, O., & Vehlow, B. (2021). Free to blame? Belief in free will is related to victim blaming. Consciousness and cognition, 88, 103074. Link

Williams, S. N., Armitage, C. J., Tampe, T., & Dienes, K. A. (2021). Public perceptions of non-adherence to pandemic protection measures by self and others: A study of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. PloS one, 16(10), e0258781. Link

Perkins, K. M., Munguia, N., Ellenbecker, M., Moure-Eraso, R., & Velazquez, L. (2021). COVID-19 pandemic lessons to facilitate future engagement in the global climate crisis. Journal of Cleaner Production, 290, 125178. Link

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Consider this shift over recent historical time (time that I have lived through so far). Time was that one of the most common bits of advice offered regarding how to live a more effective life or at least how to work more efficiently and profitably was to learn how to multi-task or to do more than one task at a time (think of juggling). Now if your search for self-help advice online aimed at improving your wellbeing and general life happiness the most common suggestion you will find will either speak directly of your need to become more mindful or a related suggestion involving some aspects of mindfulness, focus or attention. While psychology has been right there at the forefront of both of these self help tides it has not, as a research discipline (outside of parts of lifespan developmental psychology) spent a lot of time or invested a lot of research energy looking at why there has been such a swing in the cutting edges of the self-help industry in such a relatively short amount of historical time. Knowing something of this larger socio-historical context would help us decide if we actually need to be working on changing some aspect of our own functioning or whether, instead, we ought to be punish for (demanding) changes in how we are being treated (manipulated) as consumers. Reflect for a minute on your thoughts regarding what might be involved in this socio-historical shift in what is seem as optimal in the self-help industry and then read the article linked below which reviews two books on this very topic. Oh, and while you are reading the article think a bit about how (e.g., usefully, dismissively… ?) the author of the article refers to the research that each of the book authors talk about in their respective books.

Source: Why Can’t We Pay Attention Anymore? Cathy O’Neil, The New York Times.

Date: February 3, 2022

Image by geralt from Pixabay     

Article Link:  

So, what do you think? Do you need to dive into the current self-help focus on mindfulness or do you need to start thinking about what sorts of social action get started on? I agree with the author of the review article that we need to wait and see how the current “younger generation” will manage their negotiation of the technology and social media driven anxiety storm that they have been said to be living with. Along the way, though we also ought to pay some attention to what we may need to look at adjusting or changing or throwing out of our current AI manipulated socio-historical context. Hard but necessary things to reflect upon.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the older self-help advice about multi-tasking different than the more current self-help advice about mindfulness?
  2. What are some of the issues that arise from the common self-help focus on what you or other individuals need to do to improve your wellbeing and life-efficacy?
  3. While recent concerns over the roles of AI in our lives and in the challenges to wellbeing we are facing seems to be a brand-new type of issue (i.e., maybe the Matrix is sort of real) how might we view it or take it on if it is just a current example of the sorts of outside forces that (e.g., business models and practices) that are thriving around us (and on us)?

References (Read Further):

Taddeo, M., & Floridi, L. (2018). How AI can be a force for good. Science, 361(6404), 751-752. Link

Calvo, R. A., Peters, D., Vold, K., & Ryan, R. M. (2020). Supporting human autonomy in AI systems: A framework for ethical enquiry. In Ethics of Digital Well-Being (pp. 31-54). Springer, Cham. Link

Feijóo, C., Kwon, Y., Bauer, J. M., Bohlin, E., Howell, B., Jain, R., … & Xia, J. (2020). Harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to increase wellbeing for all: The case for a new technology diplomacy. Telecommunications Policy, 44(6), 101988. Link

Ungar, M. (2012). Social ecologies and their contribution to resilience. In The social ecology of resilience (pp. 13-31). Springer, New York, NY. Link

Ungar, M. (2018). Systemic resilience. Ecology and Society, 23(4). Link

Ungar, M., Ghazinour, M., & Richter, J. (2013). Annual research review: What is resilience within the social ecology of human development?. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 54(4), 348-366. Link