Posted by & filed under Intelligence, Language Development, Language-Thought, Neuroscience, Personality, Research Methods.

Description: A typical approach to talking about the brain taken in introductory psychology courses involves looking at the consequences of lesions or stroke damage (not the same things) in specific areas of the brain. Lesions in areas of the hypothalamus seem to be related to increases of decreases in appetite in rats, for example. But are those sorts of findings indicative of how the brain, as a whole, works? Well, consider this. Two people can have lesions or stroke damage in the same areas of their brains and yet only one of those persons’ behavior or functioning is impacted by the damage. How can that be is functions or processes are specifically located in the brain? How about the broader theory that creativity is located in the right hemisphere of our brains while rational thinking is located in the right side of our brains? You have certainly heard that before somewhere. If this is so how can we account for math teachers or logics instructors who consistently come up with very creative, engaging examples of the concepts they are trying to teach? What about artists who are remarkably articulate in speaking of their work and its connections to our world and current events? What if, while being a pretty good place to start studying how the brain works, the function in location approach is far too simple? What sorts of new approach might help us to make sense of the broad range of individual difference in brain structure and function? Any thoughts? Have a read through the article linked below to see what a great many neuroscientists are telling us we should be moving towards in our understanding of brain function.

Source: New view of the brain: It’s all in the connections, Science News, ScienceDirect.

Date: November 3, 2022

Image by CDJ from Pixabay

Article Link:

Did the example of language and communication help you to see what the neuroscientists are suggesting? It is worth noting that we, as a species, DO seem to have a built-in drive to learn and use spoken communication, but that drive is not as closely linked to reading and writing which are ways of capturing and sharing communication more broadly. Think about what you need to pay attention to and coordinate if you are to have a successful and hopefully non-confrontational conversation with someone else about current or local events. You need to process what they are saying, what they do or might mean, how that is influenced or is revealing of their emotional state (especially if that is changing), how you are feeling, what you are thinking about (both in terms of immediate conversational meaning and about what might be involved at deeper levels of meaning) and whether you are making the sorts of sense you want to make in what you are saying. All of that is NOT a one or two brain area task. It involves ongoing dynamic connections among several areas of your brain AND it involves the monitoring of how that is all going. If brain functioning is more about connections across/between brain areas THAT would be a potentially more productive starting point for investigating individual differences in brain structure and functioning. I for one and interested in hearing or reading more about this approach, how about you?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the approach to brain functioning that focusses upon the role that specific brain regions play in aspects of our general functioning?
  2. What would a connections approach to investigating brain functioning do or make possible for us?
  3. How does a brain focused account of how we engage in conversation lead us to a possible approach to better understanding individual differences in brain structure and function (especially following lesion or stroke damage)?

References (Read Further):

De Schotten, M.T. & Forkel, S.J. (2022) The emergent properties of the connected brain. Science, 378 (6619) Abstract

Sporns, O., & Betzel, R. F. (2016). Modular brain networks. Annual review of psychology, 67, 613. Link

Padmanabhan, J. L., Cooke, D., Joutsa, J., Siddiqi, S. H., Ferguson, M., Darby, R. R., … & Fox, M. D. (2019). A human depression circuit derived from focal brain lesions. Biological psychiatry, 86(10), 749-758. Link

Cole, M. W., Pathak, S., & Schneider, W. (2010). Identifying the brain’s most globally connected regions. Neuroimage, 49(4), 3132-3148. Link

Fox, M. D. (2018). Mapping symptoms to brain networks with the human connectome. New England Journal of Medicine, 379(23), 2237-2245. Link

Fleming, S. M., Weil, R. S., Nagy, Z., Dolan, R. J., & Rees, G. (2010). Relating introspective accuracy to individual differences in brain structure. Science, 329(5998), 1541-1543. Link

Banissy, M. J., Kanai, R., Walsh, V., & Rees, G. (2012). Inter-individual differences in empathy are reflected in human brain structure. Neuroimage, 62(3), 2034-2039. Link

Beaty, R. E., Seli, P., & Schacter, D. L. (2019). Network neuroscience of creative cognition: mapping cognitive mechanisms and individual differences in the creative brain. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 27, 22-30. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, Successful Aging, The Self.

Description: Oh lighten up a bit! That likely does not sound like a helpful thing for you to say to a friend who has been telling you about how stressed and depressed they have been feeling lately. Really, it is not, but what role might humor or seeing humorous parts of even the dark aspects of the world around us and our experiences in it have on our overall long-term wellbeing? It is not that humor fixes dark things but think about what a little bit of humor might do for how we are responding to the stress and anxieties we are feeling. Think about how “lightening up a bit” might help us cope and then have a read through the article linked below that explores research into this very question.

Source: When Everything id Heavy, a Touch of Humor Can Help, Carolyn Todd, The New York Times.

Date: November 1, 2022

Image by jungminleee from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the article is NOT saying that we should not take anything seriously. Rather, it is pointing out that both the short- and longer-term impacts of stress upon us can be reduced if we cultivate an ability to see humor in at least some of what occurs to and around us. While it is talked of a mindset (remember or try to do more of something) it might be better though of as a bodyset with the idea being that when we are experiencing stress and anxiety we can lighten the impact of the physiological stress processes in our brain and body by introducing some levity along the way. Worth a try and certainly not a bitter medicine for stress and adversity.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some differences between levity and humor?
  2. Why might taking things less seriously (using more levity) be good for us even in dark times?
  3. Why does levity help us, physiologically speaking?

References (Read Further):

Oliveira, R., & Arriaga, P. (2022). A systematic review of the effects of laughter on blood pressure and heart rate variability. HUMOR. Link

Crawford, S. A., & Caltabiano, N. J. (2011). Promoting emotional well-being through the use of humour. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(3), 237-252. Link

Hall, J. A. (2017). Humor in romantic relationships: A meta‐analysis. Personal Relationships, 24(2), 306-322. Link

Bartzik, M., Bentrup, A., Hill, S., Bley, M., von Hirschhausen, E., Krause, G., … & Peifer, C. (2021). Care for joy: evaluation of a humor intervention and its effects on stress, flow experience, work enjoyment, and meaningfulness of work. Frontiers in Public Health, 9. Link

Ruch, W. F., Hofmann, J., Rusch, S., & Stolz, H. (2018). Training the sense of humor with the 7 Humor Habits Program and satisfaction with life. Humor, 31(2), 287-309. Link

Martin, R. A. (2008). Humor and health. The primer of humor research, 479-522. Link

Marziali, E., McDonald, L., & Donahue, P. (2008). The role of coping humor in the physical and mental health of older adults. Aging and Mental Health, 12(6), 713-718. Link

Edwards, K. R., & Martin, R. A. (2010). Humor creation ability and mental health: Are funny people more psychologically healthy?. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 6(3), 196-212. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Sensation-Perception.

Description: Do you believe that it is, or might be, possible to communicate with the departed? It is around Halloween after all. I bet you know about and may have actually tried one of the supposed “technologies” for communicating with the spirit world, a Ouija board. If you believe that things like Ouija boards do what they are sometimes thought to make possible then you may not need to read any further and you can just move on to your preparations for whatever spirit communication experiences you have planned for this Halloween. But, perhaps you are more of a sceptic and believe that spirit communication is not possible and that there is no scientific evidence that you are aware of that things like Ouija boards and those who use them do what they are purported to be able to do. Perhaps you say you are a scientific skeptic who “knows” that it cannot be true that people are actually communicating with the spirits of departed humans using Ouija boards. Now, while I tend to agree with this sentiment, consider this. Many people using Ouija boards do not believe that they are “faking it,” so what is going on, are they deluded or otherwise crazy? As a psychologist and long-time psychology instructor I try to explain psychological interest in phenomena like this in this way. There are a LOT of things out there, like Ouija board experiences or like Clever Hans the horse who seemed to be able to do math and spell, that are presented as involving some things we have trouble believing and which may or may not be directly scientifically testable. For example, how would we find a “spirit that would help us in scientifically determining who can and cannot communicate with them and how? That said, when we see people who seem to be using Ouija boards and who honestly swear that it is not them who are making it move, despite their fingers (and those of someone else) touching the Ouija, something is going on and while we may not be able to scientifically test the ‘spirits are causing it to move’ hypothesis (belief) we CAN investigate what else might be going on. That possible something else could be VERY interesting even if it does not involve ‘real’ spirits. So, think for a moment about what sorts of things that ‘something else’ might be and then read the article linked below that also does just that.

Source: Ouija boards: Three factors that might explain why they appear to work for some, Megan Kennedy, The Conversation.

Date: October 28, 2022

Image by Hocus-Phocus from Pixabay

Article Link:

It was years ago when I was a teenager, some friends of mine and I tried out a Ouija board. I was some years away from finding and studying Psychology but even so I was curious as to what was going on. None of us had any particular dead people we wanted to connect with so, instead, we asked the board controlling ‘spirit’ if it could do something to demonstrate that it was among or with us. As we asked the question I had my index fingers resting lightly on the Ouija as did one of my friends. The Ouija had seemed to slide across the board without our having initiated any movement using our fingers (we both swore later) and answered yes or no questions like, “Are you in the spirit world?” “Do you know about our world?” and “Are we and not you making the Ouija to move?” with the answers being Yes, Yes and No. We them came up with what we thought would be a critical test. We asked, “can you make something in this room move to prove that you are here?” The answer was YES. So, we placed a glass of water beside the board then we said, “OK then, knock over the glass of water!” There was a few moments of silence and no movement of the Ouija and then it pivoted slightly so that it pointy end was aiming at the glass of water and we held our breathes and then the Ouija moved across the board and, quite ineffectually, bumped the water glass several times with its pointed end. Certainly NOT the spirit world proof we were hoping for (or worrying might appear). We abandoned our search for the spirit world at that point. However, over the years I have gone back to that memory a number of times as I roamed around in psychology and kept coming back to the question of how two people could place their fingers on a Ouija, have it move, and both people could “know’ that they had nothing to do with the movement. The data or the Ouija I was touching trying to physically tip the glass over kept bringing me back to the hypothesis that it was my friend and/or I that were acting in that situation. Phrases like ‘plausible deniability of agency’ have occurred to me. Research into what is going on in hypnosis contains something of this idea that people can do things and then deny, even to themselves, that they did them. What all this and the research discussed in the linked article suggest is that we should not stop thinking scientifically when something seems untestable (like communicating with spirits). In fact, if we start thinking hard in such situations we may run across some truly amazing things, they just may not be spirits (or ESP, or…).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do you think is going on when people use a Ouija board?
  2. What are some alternative (other than spirit contacts) possible explanations for what moves Ouijas on Ouija boards?
  3. What are some other examples of experiences or phenomena, like Ouija boards, that could/should invite further close scientific examination?

References (Read Further):

Knoblich, G., Butterfill, S., & Sebanz, N. (2011). Psychological research on joint action: theory and data. Psychology of learning and motivation, 54, 59-101. Link or have a look at this Link on Ideomotor Theory

Emerging from the Mystical: Rethinking Muscle Response Testing as an Ideomotor Effect. Link

Haggard, P., & Chambon, V. (2012). Sense of agency. Current biology, 22(10), R390-R392. Link

Haggard, P. (2017). Sense of agency in the human brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 18(4), 196-207. Link

Dienes, Z., Lush, P., Semmens-Wheeler, R., Parkinson, J., Scott, R., & Naish, P. (2016). Hypnosis as self-deception; Meditation as self-insight. Hypnosis and Meditation: Toward an integrative science of conscious planes, 107-128. Link

Mele, A. R. (1997). Real self-deception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 20(1), 91-102. Link

Wegner, D. M. (2004). Précis of the illusion of conscious will. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27(5), 649-659. Link

Blackmore, S. (2001). State of the art–The psychology of consciousness. The Psychologist, 14, 522-525. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Psychological Health, Sensation-Perception, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: OK, as we approach the date (November 6, 2022) when provinces and states in North America that switched to daylight saving time in the spring switch BACK to standard time consider these pop-quiz questions. If we HAD to pick one time (daylight saving or standard) and make it our permanent time, which would be better for us? Which transition (add an hour or lose and hour) is harder on us? DO these changes have any impact on us in general? Why can’t we just change the clocks and get on with our lives (why is it hard for us)?  We do not spend much time thinking about the fact that our bodies do a great many things day-to-day at times and in ways that are tied to our circadian rhythms. We tend to see ourselves as largely cognitive beings that can think about an immediately adjust to new circumstances. However, think about the last few time changes if you live in an area that makes the change to and from standard to daylight saving times each year. The adjustment is not as simple as just enjoying and extra hour of sleep in the fall when you gain an hour and starting your day with an extra cup of coffee in spring when you lose and hour. If you pay attention you can see that the effects of the time changes are with you thought several days at least and THAT is because your body adapts its circadian rhythm slowly. Importantly, there is more going on that just a few days of sluggishness. Thinking about our circadian rhythms and the impacts of time change can also show us that the typical plan, in the next year or so, to go to and to stay at daylight saving time which gives us the extra evening hours of sun and light in the summer when, especially those of us in northern climates, want as many hours of lighted, warm down-time as we can get. A potentially significant problem with this approach, most serious in northern places like Canada, is that this would mean that the winter sun rises later and later, and this effect is even MORE pronounced closer the western edges of each time zone. For example the sunrise in Lloydminster, Alberta on Jan 1st is 8:30 AM (standard time) and in Jasper, Alberta on the same day it is just after 9 AM. If we permanently shift to daylight saving time this would mean sunrises at 10 AM and 9:30 AM respectively in these two communities. So what? Well, our circadian rhythms are calibrated by sunlight (and can be tweaked by light therapy) and the hour later arrival of the winter sun each morning will make it much more difficult for many people, and especially for junior high school students, to get going physically and cognitively each day. Think about that and then have a read through the linked article that talks about some things folks can do to cope with the “fall back” time change and then think so more about what sort of change we should consider making to our year-round time (if any).

Source: How to Fall Back Without Missing Beat, Holly Burns. The New York Times.

Date: October 26, 2022

Image by BirgitKeil from Pixabay

Article Link:

Oh, yes, there was not much in the article about the larger impacts of fixing ourselves to daylight saving time year-round. You can read more about that in some of the article listed and linked in the Further Reading section below. That said, did you come away from the article with a deeper appreciation of the depth of influence out circadian systems have on our physical and psychological functioning? There is a lot of research out there on the impact of time change on our circadian rhythms and related functioning that is important to consider as we move towards decisions about staying on a fixed time. Which should it be?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things are influenced by our circadian rhythms?
  2. What are some of the effects of daylight-saving related time changes?
  3. If we are to stay permanently on standard or daylight-saving time, which should we pick and why?

References (Read Further):

Monmouth University Polling Institute (2022) Few Americans Like Resetting Clocks. Link

Rishi, M. A., Ahmed, O., Barrantes Perez, J. H., Berneking, M., Dombrowsky, J., Flynn-Evans, E. E., … & Gurubhagavatula, I. (2020). Daylight saving time: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. Journal of clinical sleep medicine, 16(10), 1781-1784. Link

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

Roenneberg, T., Winnebeck, E. C., & Klerman, E. B. (2019). Daylight saving time and artificial time zones–a battle between biological and social times. Frontiers in Physiology, 944. Link

Sládek, M., Kudrnáčová Röschová, M., Adámková, V., Hamplová, D., & Sumová, A. (2020). Chronotype assessment via a large scale socio-demographic survey favours yearlong Standard time over Daylight Saving Time in central Europe. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-18. Link

Barnes, C. M., & Wagner, D. T. (2009). Changing to daylight saving time cuts into sleep and increases workplace injuries. Journal of applied psychology, 94(5), 1305. Link

Ferguson, S. A., Preusser, D. F., Lund, A. K., Zador, P. L., & Ulmer, R. G. (1995). Daylight saving time and motor vehicle crashes: the reduction in pedestrian and vehicle occupant fatalities. American Journal of Public Health, 85(1), 92-95. Link

e Cruz, M. M., Miyazawa, M., Manfredini, R., Cardinali, D., Madrid, J. A., Reiter, R., … & Acuña-Castroviejo, D. (2019). Impact of Daylight Saving Time on circadian timing system: An expert statement. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 60, 1-3. Link

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

Description: Can you list your basic senses? Of course, right? There is sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. The term ‘sixth sense’ is typically reserved for things that seem mysterious and perhaps even a bit magical like getting a feeling that something bad or good is about to happen or that someone is following you or that a choice you are considering making is not a good one. While some people believe strongly one or more of these sixth senses they are clearly not as readily available to us as our basic 5 senses and, given their purported natures, are hard to scientifically assess. Such research challenges are discussed in other posts, but what if we all have a sixth sense that we are more or less aware of and from which we would all benefit with more awareness? Does interoception (not introspection) sound familiar? One example involves how aware you are of your heartbeat (and not just when watching a horror film). What if practicing that simple type of awareness could affect levels of anxiety and depression? Find out more about it and it potential in terms of general adaptation and in terms of new approaches to therapy by reading the article linked below.

Source: Interoception: the hidden sense that shapes wellbeing, David Robson, Science, The Observer.

Date: October 30, 2022

Image by kalyanayhaluwo from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, are you keen to find out more about and to start working on your sixth sense of interception? It does seem t correlate with some tings that have already been shown to be helpful in ways that were not fully explained by the activities themselves such as the especially positive role of weight training in general fitness regimes. As well, the possibility that interoception might provide some new therapeutic approaches to deal with depression and anxiety among other issues is very intriguing. Watch or (look for) further research into this sixth sense and maybe the previous candidates for a sixth sense will have to be content being referred to as seventh or eighth senses in future.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is interoception?
  2. What are some ways that information we might gain by focusing our interoception abilities provide us with benefits in terms of wellness and adaptation?
  3. How might a better understanding of interoception add to our repertoire of effective therapies for anxiety, depression and other issues?

References (Read Further):

Furman, M. (2021). Special Issue on Interoception. Trends in Neurosciences, 44(1), 1-2. Link

Gellman, M. D. (Ed.). (2020). Somentic Marker Hypothesis, In Encyclopedia of behavioral medicine. Cham: Springer International Publishing. Link

Garfinkel, S. N., Seth, A. K., Barrett, A. B., Suzuki, K., & Critchley, H. D. (2015). Knowing your own heart: distinguishing interoceptive accuracy from interoceptive awareness. Biological psychology, 104, 65-74. Link

Quadt, L., Critchley, H. D., & Garfinkel, S. N. (2018). The neurobiology of interoception in health and disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1428(1), 112-128. Link

Slotta, T., Witthoeft, M., Gerlach, A. L., & Pohl, A. (2021). The interplay of interoceptive accuracy, facets of interoceptive sensibility, and trait anxiety: a network analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 183, 111133. Summary

Quadt, L., Garfinkel, S. N., Mulcahy, J. S., Larsson, D. E., Silva, M., Jones, A. M., … & Critchley, H. D. (2021). Interoceptive training to target anxiety in autistic adults (ADIE): a single-center, superiority randomized controlled trial. EClinicalMedicine, 39, 101042. Link

Adams, K. L., Edwards, A., Peart, C., Ellett, L., Mendes, I., Bird, G., & Murphy, J. (2022). The association between anxiety and cardiac interoceptive accuracy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 104754. Link

Chen, W. G., Schloesser, D., Arensdorf, A. M., Simmons, J. M., Cui, C., Valentino, R., … & Langevin, H. M. (2021). The emerging science of interoception: sensing, integrating, interpreting, and regulating signals within the self. Trends in neurosciences, 44(1), 3-16. Link

Quigley, K. S., Kanoski, S., Grill, W. M., Barrett, L. F., & Tsakiris, M. (2021). Functions of interoception: from energy regulation to experience of the self. Trends in neurosciences, 44(1), 29-38. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Health Psychology, Consciousness, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Memory, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Intervention, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: It is quite common for people to come out of an introductory psychology course with the general belief that most of Freud’s theory is no longer considered visible or appropriate in accounting for human experience and behavior. At the same time, some concepts that were given theoretic life by Freud are now viewed as part of general knowledge. Denial is one such concept. This Freudian defense mechanism is now commonly deployed in conversations about friends or relatives who are not accepting problems others clearly see that they have such a addictions, financial failures or relationship challenges. This is not to say that we need to revitalize Freudian theory but rather that it may help us move some concepts forward positively if we examine the parts of some concepts or clinical intervention strategies that have come to be viewed as being based on ‘Freudian’ general knowledge. How we think people deal or do not deal well with thoughts regarding past traumatic events is one such example. How does this sound: memories of disturbing events or experiences actively float about in our unconscious minds and take any and every opportunity to pop into consciousness and haunt and preoccupy us. Fits the old Freudian mold of how the unconscious works doesn’t it? More recent research seems to support this view. If you were told NOT to think about white bears for one hour how successful do you think you would be? Very likely not very successful. That result fits with the general notion of traumatic memories being active below the surface of consciousness. How about an alternative theoretic approach based on the possibility that we can actively forget things that we no longer wish to remember? Seems counter to the standard view of traumatic memories doesn’t it? If active forgetting is possible might it lead to new approaches to clinical treatment of those struggling with traumatic memories? Thinks about what that might involve and then have a read through the article linked below for a very readable account of this possibility.

Source: How to Stop Unwanted Thoughts, Ingrid Wickelgren, Scientific American

Date: October 19, 2022

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, active forgetting might turn out to be a very useful concept and lead to useful approaches to therapy. The idea that the rumination over particular problematic or anxiety producing thoughts in depression and anxiety might be clinically manipulatable and lead to reductions in the overall symptomology of anxiety and depression is very interesting. As well, the shift away from the ‘do not think of white bears’ approach to the think/no think approach offers a potential very useful change of approach and theoretic/clinical perspective on the possible treatment of unwanted troubling thoughts. It will be very interesting to see where this link in enquiry takes us!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the ‘white bear’ memory research paradigm involve?
  2. How is the think/no think memory research paradigm different than the ‘white bear’ memory research paradigm?
  3. What are some potential clinical treatment applications of the think/no think memory theory and research paradigm?

References (Read Further):

Wegner, D. M., Schneider, D. J., Carter, S. R., & White, T. L. (1987). Paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Journal of personality and social psychology, 53(1), 5. Link

Wegner, D. M., Schneider, D. J., Knutson, B., & McMahon, S. R. (1991). Polluting the stream of consciousness: The effect of thought suppression on the mind’s environment. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 15(2), 141-152. Link

Wegner, D. M., & Gold, D. B. (1995). Fanning old flames: emotional and cognitive effects of suppressing thoughts of a past relationship. Journal of personality and social psychology, 68(5), 782. Link

Anderson, M. C., & Hulbert, J. C. (2021). Active forgetting: Adaptation of memory by prefrontal control. Annual Review of Psychology. Link

Paz-Alonso, P. M., Ghetti, S., Matlen, B. J., Anderson, M. C., & Bunge, S. A. (2009). Memory suppression is an active process that improves over childhood. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 24. Link

Levy, B. J., & Anderson, M. C. (2008). Individual differences in the suppression of unwanted memories: The executive deficit hypothesis. Acta psychologica, 127(3), 623-635. Link

Hulbert, J. C., Henson, R. N., & Anderson, M. C. (2016). Inducing amnesia through systemic suppression. Nature Communications, 7(1), 1-9. Link

Apšvalka, D., Ferreira, C. S., Schmitz, T. W., Rowe, J. B., & Anderson, M. C. (2022). Dynamic targeting enables domain-general inhibitory control over action and thought by the prefrontal cortex. Nature communications, 13(1), 1-21. Link

Hertel, P. T., & Gerstle, M. (2003). Depressive deficits in forgetting. Psychological Science, 14(6), 573-578. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Research Methods.

Description: For years when teaching in introductory psychology classes on the topic of depression I would mention that some research had suggested that depressed individuals might have a more realistic view of their place and situation in the world. In other words, that to NOT be depressed meant that you might be a little bit delusional about how much agency or influence you had in the world around you. The work arose from withing a learned helplessness theoretic perspective on depression that suggested that the onset of depression could be linked ti consistent/persistent experiences suggesting that one had no control over or ability to predict events within their immediate world. The findings and related suggestions about depression took a rather deep place within discussions about depression. In the original study participants were divided into depressed and a non-depressed groups based on their self-reported symptoms and then were asked to spend some time trying to turn on and off a light using a switch that did not work all the time. At the end of their trials, they were asked what proportion of their “switch on” attempts were successful, or not. The main finding was that the depressed group were more realistic about how successful or unsuccessful their light switching efforts were. A recent study set out to try and replicate this original study and claimed to have failed to do so. Think about why that might have been (what might they have done differently) and about the implications of their results if it was a genuine failure of replication and then have a read through the article linked below that discusses this work.

Source: Sadder but Wiser? Maybe Not, Ellen Barry, The New York Times.

Date: October 18, 2022

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Article Link:

You may have been aware of the general efforts being made within psychology to try and replicate many of the “classic” studies that have guided theory and practice over the years, and you may be aware of the many instances where the efforts at replication seemed to fail. Looking back to the original 1979 study and its impact on theories and interventions related to depression is seems clear that there have really not been any consistent efforts to figure out how to make depressed individuals more delusional about their situations in the world. Instead, Cognitive Behavior Therapy and its efforts to help depressed individuals move to more realistically adaptive ways of thinking about and acting within their worlds has become a data-backed standard theoretic approach to treatment for depression. Efforts at replication need to continue as do all efforts to check and expand and refine out psychological knowledge.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What was it that the original found regarding “depressed” individuals’ views of their place and possible impacts upon their worlds?
  2. Was the attempt to replicate the original study a success, a failure, or something else?
  3. What do attempts to replicate earlier research do for the knowledge and theory base of psychology?

References (Read Further):

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

Dev, A. S., Moore, D. A., Johnson, S. L., & Garrett, K. T. (2022). Sadder≠ Wiser: Depressive Realism Is Not Robust to Replication. Collabra: Psychology, 8(1), 38529. Link

Moore, M. T., & Fresco, D. M. (2012). Depressive realism: A meta-analytic review. Clinical psychology review, 32(6), 496-509. Link

Open Science Collaboration. (2015). Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. Science, 349(6251), aac4716. Link

Allan, L. G., Siegel, S., & Hannah, S. (2007). The sad truth about depressive realism. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(3), 482-495. Link

Miller, W. R., & Seligman, M. E. (1975). Depression and learned helplessness in man. Journal of abnormal psychology, 84(3), 228. Link

Prihadi, K., Hui, Y. L., Chua, M., & Chang, C. K. (2019). Cyber-Victimization and Perceived Depression: Serial Mediation of Self-Esteem and Learned-Helplessness. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, 8(4), 563-574. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, General Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Personality, Social Psychology.

Description: How much of your personality is genetically determined? Does that sound like a reasonable question? Some version of that question is a part of how most people and most introductory psychology students think about things like personality (and maybe things like intelligence) when they encounter them in their first-year classes. Given this, would it surprise you to hear that essential NO personality psychologists think those sorts of statement make any sense or have any empirical support? What might it mean to say; Yes, genetics plays a role in your personality BUT it does NOT determine any aspect of your personality? Think about that for a minute and then read the article linked below for a useful, thoughtful account of how such questions ARE thought about by personality theorists and researchers.

Source: Why Your Personality Is Not Genetically Hardwired, René Mõttus, Psychology Today.

Date: October 19, 2022

Image by RyanMcGuire from Pixabay

Article Link:

I think one of the most difficult concepts to get one’s head around when you first start looking at and thinking about the idea of heritability is that the behavior being observed ( in childhood, adolescence, adulthood or whenever) can really NEVER be seen or said to be caused by the genes that those displaying the behavior were born with. In other words, ALL behavior is the result of interactions, (complex interactions) between the body (genetics) and the environment (social, physical, psychological) factors that influence it. The article author talks about how patterns that are pointed to as genetically based similarities are only observable in large groups (data sets) and then only in general terms. What this means is that we should really be much more reserved in how we refer to the “genetic” factors in volved in socially hyper-complex theoretic concepts like personality or intelligence or social behavior in general.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are there genetic foundations to personality?
  2. What things (neurons, physical characteristics etc.) contribute to the ways that our personalities are displayed?
  3. What does it mean to say that your personality is genetically influenced?

References (Read Further):

Vukasović, T., & Bratko, D. (2015). Heritability of personality: A meta-analysis of behavior genetic studies. Psychological bulletin, 141(4), 769. Link

Krueger, R. F., South, S., Johnson, W., & Iacono, W. (2008). The heritability of personality is not always 50%: Gene‐environment interactions and correlations between personality and parenting. Journal of personality, 76(6), 1485-1522. Link

Krueger, R. F., Markon, K. E., & Bouchard Jr, T. J. (2003). The extended genotype: The heritability of personality accounts for the heritability of recalled family environments in twins reared apart. Journal of Personality, 71(5), 809-833. Link

Power, R. A., & Pluess, M. (2015). Heritability estimates of the Big Five personality traits based on common genetic variants. Translational psychiatry, 5(7), e604-e604. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Depression, Development of the Self, Emerging Adulthood, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: It has been theorized that the ancient historic wholesale movements of people out of Africa, into Europe and over land bridges to North America were initiated not by group elders but by adolescents who decided that their futures were better pursued in places other than where they were. The thought is that others followed, and humankind moved around on the plant. If adolescents look towards and, perhaps move towards, their and our futures what are we to make of the current state of adolescents in North America and world-wide? There has been a 54% increase in adolescent suicides between 2007 and 2020. Something is going on and it may well be much harder for adolescents these days to see where they might go. Research has been, and needs to continue, looking at the contributions of social media, smart phones and the pandemic to this current state of adolescent wellbeing affairs but what else should we be looking at? Consider that question for a moment and then read the article linked below, written by a clinical psychologist who works with adolescents to see what he suggests.

Source: Teenagers Are Telling Us That Something Is Wrong With America, Jamieson Webster, The New York Times.

Date: October 11, 2022

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Article Link:

Adolescence and identity development in particular is generally considered to involve serious consideration of the future (of one’s own future). Instead of focusing on what is wrong with the adolescent and emerging adult individuals who currently seem to be struggling with this life transition moment it may be productive to also consider the currently available views of the future they are considering. It may be that adolescence is more challenging these days because the future is, at least, more complicated than it was even in the recent past.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How has the adolescent suicide rate changes over the past 14 years?
  2. What sorts of factors (socio-historical factors) may be making adolescent developmental transitions more challenging these days?
  3. Beyond individual therapy, what other sorts of interventions might be worth considering in order to help current adolescents developmentally navigate into their futures?

References (Read Further):

Kay, A. (2018). Erikson online: Identity and pseudospeciation in the internet age. Identity, 18(4), 264-273. Link

Schachter, E. P. (2005). Erikson meets the postmodern: Can classic identity theory rise to the challenge?. Identity, 5(2), 137-160. Link

Crocetti, E. (2017). Identity formation in adolescence: The dynamic of forming and consolidating identity commitments. Child Development Perspectives, 11(2), 145-150. Link

Cha, C. B., Franz, P. J., M. Guzmán, E., Glenn, C. R., Kleiman, E. M., & Nock, M. K. (2018). Annual Research Review: Suicide among youth–epidemiology,(potential) etiology, and treatment. Journal of Child Psychology and psychiatry, 59(4), 460-482. Link

Sedgwick, R., Epstein, S., Dutta, R., & Ougrin, D. (2019). Social media, internet use and suicide attempts in adolescents. Current opinion in psychiatry, 32(6), 534. Link

Luby, J., & Kertz, S. (2019). Increasing suicide rates in early adolescent girls in the United States and the equalization of sex disparity in suicide: the need to investigate the role of social media. JAMA network open, 2(5), e193916-e193916. Link



Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Emerging Adulthood, Group Processes, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Did you hear about the two men who were caught trying to cheat t win a fishing tournament by stuffing their catch with lead weights? How many other examples of people cheating at sports, at chess, financially, have you run across recently? Is there more of it going on these days or are we just noticing more of it because we are getting better at paying attention? Now THAT is a research question. But before diving into what we would need to put into a study to address that question let us consider some related questions. Evolutionarily, our species has developed some pretty good skill at noticing when a member of our group is cheating either by stealing outright or buy not doing their share of the work that keeps out group alive or by taking more than their share of available local resources. Trust of those within our small life groups is one of a small number of ethical principles by which we seem to organize our social interactions. So, instead of just asking is individuals are cheating more these days perhaps consider the social contexts of such behaviors. Have they shifted in recent years or decades? And If so how have they influenced individual behavior and if there IS more cheating going on these days, how might we fix that?

Source: Cheating may be human, but changes in society are leading people to cut more corners, David Callahan, The Globe and Mail.

Date: October 15, 2022

Image by tswedensky from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, people cheat to win, to improve their social status, to get money, or simply because they believe they can get away with it. The “carrots” have gotten bigger, and the “sticks” have gotten smaller. Pathways to success, even to moderate success, seem to be harder to find and harder to follow and there seem not to be many people or forces regulating social behavior. Are the fixes individual (catching and punishing cheaters) or are they economic and social (leveling playing fields and access to positive outcomes)? Treating it as an either-or sort of problem or sort of fix will likely not do much. We need a more systemic or complex approach.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are people cheating more these days than in previous years or decades?
  2. In our early evolutionary days what sorts of social forces converged to regulate social/ethical behaviors (like cheating)?
  3. How might we address the increase in rates (incidences) of cheating these days?

References (Read Further):

Callahan, D. (2007). The cheating culture: Why more Americans are doing wrong to get ahead. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Link

Graham, J., Haidt, J., Koleva, S., Motyl, M., Iyer, R., Wojcik, S. P., & Ditto, P. H. (2013). Moral foundations theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 47, pp. 55-130). Academic Press. Link

Haidt, J., Graham, J., & Joseph, C. (2009). Above and below left–right: Ideological narratives and moral foundations. Psychological Inquiry, 20(2-3), 110-119. Link

Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2010). Beyond beliefs: Religions bind individuals into moral communities. Personality and social psychology review, 14(1), 140-150. Link

Koleva, S. P., Graham, J., Iyer, R., Ditto, P. H., & Haidt, J. (2012). Tracing the threads: How five moral concerns (especially Purity) help explain culture war attitudes. Journal of research in personality, 46(2), 184-194. Link

Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2008). Can a general deontic logic capture the facts of human moral reasoning? How the mind interprets social exchange rules and detects cheaters. Moral psychology, 1, 53-119. Link

Gigerenzer, G., & Hug, K. (1992). Domain-specific reasoning: Social contracts, cheating, and perspective change. Cognition, 43(2), 127-171. Link