Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Have you heard of General Paresis? No, it is not a military officer. It was the name given to a mysterious collection of symptoms that were regularly seen among adults (usually but not always older) in Victorian London. It started with forgetfulness and progressed consistently into memory loss, delusions, hallucinations and eventually into seizures and death. What caused it was unknown but the ways that symptoms emerged and progressed was predictable and physicians were able to tell their patients they likely had it and that they had a limited amount of time to get their affairs in order before they would need increasing strong support. Such recognizable collections of symptoms with a predictable prognosis but without a known cause are called syndrome. Once the underlying causes are discovered, hopefully treatment are developed, the syndrome label is dropped, and they are referred to as illnesses or the result of identifiable neural damage. In the case of General Paresis, the underlying cause was found to be a venereal infection: Syphilis. Once treatments were developed and applied much closer to the point of initial infection, General Paresis vanished. As an aside, the realization that an underlying biological agent could produce symptoms of what was more generally referred to as Madness or Insanity was very helpful in slowly starting to shift general views of madness away from beliefs that it was the result of bad blood (genes) or a lack of character and towards the possibility that madness might be a mental illness or disease. An interesting bit of history related to abnormal psychology but a bit dated as we now have a much broader and clearer view of the causes of symptom collections, right? Well, no, not so much. In New Brunswick there have been small number of cases identified involving a collection of symptoms starting with uncharacteristic irritability, depression and anxiety, followed by pain, insomnia, loss of balance and coordination, hallucinations and in some cases Capgras syndrome (the delusional belief that loved ones have been replaced by imposters) and yes, people have died from it. The cause? Currently unknown. The belief is that an as yet unidentified environmental factor may be causally linked to this syndrome (NOT a venereal disease) but what might it be. Figuring THAT out will be an important part of coming up with a treatment and being able to suggest avoidance behavior. One early hypothesis was a version of Creutzfeldt-Jacob (Mad Cow) disease, but that does not seem to be bearing up. There are other hypotheses being investigated along with other syndromes noted historically such as one in Guam after WWII. It is frightening stuff. To find out about how this investigation to shift a syndrome over to an illness read one or two of the articles linked below and stay tuned for updates and the investigation proceeds.

Source: Various Globe and Mail and CBC Articles on Mysterious Brain Disease in New Brunswick (links below).

Date: April 24, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Pixabay

Article Link: or or or

It may seem like situations like this one involving a rare, mysterious syndrome or unidentified brain disease are exceptionally rare given how much we know about the brain and brain-based disorder these days. Well, not to be unsettling, but a great many of the things we refer to as mental illnesses or disorders, are actually still closer to syndromes than illnesses that we would like to believe. Many of the treatment used are symptomatically focused while we continue to dig to try and find the underlying causes. Now, that said, we have a LOT more in the way of effective treatments these days than we used to but we do not have many “cures”. Keep watching, it will be interesting for quite a while yet.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. What is a syndrome?
  2. What is the difference between a syndrome and an illness?
  3. Are the categories described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) syndromes or illnesses? Why?

References (Read Further):

Yanhua, W., Haishan, S., Le, H., Xiaomei, Z., Xinru, C., Ling, L., … & Yuping, N. (2016). Clinical and neuropsychological characteristics of general paresis misdiagnosed as primary psychiatric disease. BMC psychiatry, 16(1), 1-6. Link

Patra, S., & Mishra, A. (2010). General paresis of insane: A rarity or reality?. Industrial psychiatry journal, 19(2), 132. Link

Williams, H. S. (1892). ” Wages of Sin” General Paresis of the Insane. The North American Review, 155(433), 744-753. Link

Giménez-Roldán, S. General paresis in 1880: Jaime Vera and his contribution to neuropsychiatry. Link

Swain, K. (2018). ‘Extraordinarily arduous and fraught with danger’: syphilis, Salvarsan, and general paresis of the insane. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(9), 702-703. Link

Poole, R. (2004). Medical diagnosis of mental illness. T. Ryan, & J. Pritchard. Good Practice in Adult Mental Health, 127-144. Link

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Psychology.

Description: When social psychologists and other psychologists set up laboratory-based study to try and capture some aspects of a real-world situation or experience they are aiming to try and capture its essence or to set up a situation in the lab that contains the phenomenon of interest (they hope) but within a simplified context so that the phenomenon can be seen more clearly. The key in such research design efforts is to convince operationalize the variable or variables of interest – to model them in ways that are simple but seem clearly to involve the central features of that event in the real world. Make sense? Ok, so, this process usually starts with a real-world phenomenon and then drills down to the operationalization which is used in the more controlled laboratory and the researchers hope that as they do so they do not lose the key features of the phenomenon they are interested in studying and they hope that as they explain what they did you agree that their operationalization makes sense. Let’s see if that process works in reverse. Without know what the study is about, which is sometimes they way things are for participants in social psychology experiments, imagine that you are sitting with a social psychologist (or perhaps just in front of a screen designed by a social psychologist) as you have volunteered to be in a study on “social interactions.” It is explained to you that you are in the study situation with another person who is located elsewhere but who is tied in via the same screen you are sitting in front of. It is explained that in this version of the study an amount of money will be “put on the table” and in your part of the experiment you will be shown on screen how much the amount of money is and then the other person will decide how they think the money should be divided between the two of you and the breakdown will be shown on the screen. You then have to decide if you will accept what is being offered as your share of the money. If you accept then you get what was offered to you and the other person gets the rest. If you decline, then neither of you gets any money. Think about how you would behave in this sort of situation? What do you think is being studied? Not sure? How about if it proceeds this way. As you watch the screen the total amount of money available is shown and it is $100, not bad, huh? Shortly after the total appears the other person’s decision appears and it is that you can have $20 and they will have $80, provided you agree. You do not get to do anything but click yes or no. What would you do? What do you think the study is looking at now? Well, if you had a peak at the article title below then perhaps you saw or guessed that the study was intended to be investigating spite. Not simple spite, such as getting the money but then getting to decide how much of an electrical you delver to the “greedy” other in the study but the deeper spite where your refusal of the deal means neither of you gets anything. So, here is a question; what real-world situations involve such actions, involving spite? Think about that for a minute and then have a look through the lined article where the work of a social psychological researcher in this area is described.

Source: ‘Spite’ Looks on the Bright Side of a Dark Feeling, Sarah Lyall, The New York Times.

Date: April 20, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did you come up with any of the real-world examples that were suggested by the researcher? Democrats voting for Trump because Clinton edged our Sanders in the primaries? The positions and voting actions of “Leavers” in Britain’s Brexit decision? And what about people who seem to be reacting to being told what to do by refusing to do something that is actually good for themselves and for others, like mask wearing during a pandemic? Or, perhaps, anyone who might be described as having martyred themselves. The martyrdom notions is perhaps the easiest way to see the line of argumentation the researcher (Simon McCarthy-Jones) is using to argue that spite can sometimes be used for good. This argument is worth some additional reflection. Both spite (“cutting off your nose to spite your face”) and martyrdom (dying or losing to draw attention to a cause that is not widely supported) have negative connotations. Perhaps “taking a principled stand” sometimes is the result of positive spin on acts of spite but I am not sure that feels right to me. I am not sure, what do you think? Maybe more research is needed; we need to know more about the context and though processes surrounding people’s decisions when “money is on the table” if we are to clearly see if there are positive facets to spite.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. What does spite involve?
  2. How effectively does the money-split ultimatum paradigm capture spite? What is missing, if anything, from that operationalization?
  3. From a psychological point of view, how do you think spite, martyrdom, and “taking a principled stand” are related or distinguished?

References (Read Further):

McCarthy-Jones, Simon (2021) Spite: The Upside of Your Dark Side, Basic Books.

Marcus, D. K., Zeigler-Hill, V., Mercer, S. H., & Norris, A. L. (2014). The psychology of spite and the measurement of spitefulness. Psychological assessment, 26(2), 563. Link

Zeigler-Hill, V., Noser, A. E., Roof, C., Vonk, J., & Marcus, D. K. (2015). Spitefulness and moral values. Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 86-90. Link

Garofalo, C., Neumann, C. S., Zeigler-Hill, V., & Meloy, J. R. (2019). Spiteful and contemptuous: A new look at the emotional experiences related to psychopathy. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 10(2), 173. Link

Ewing, D., Zeigler-Hill, V., & Vonk, J. (2016). Spitefulness and deficits in the social–perceptual and social–cognitive components of Theory of Mind. Personality and Individual Differences, 91, 7-13. Link

Ding, Y., Wu, J., Ji, T., Chen, X., & Van Lange, P. A. (2017). The rich are easily offended by unfairness: Wealth triggers spiteful rejection of unfair offers. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 71, 138-144. Link

Kimbrough, E. O., & Reiss, J. P. (2012). Measuring the distribution of spitefulness. PloS one, 7(8), e41812. Link

Gale, J., Binmore, K. G., & Samuelson, L. (1995). Learning to be imperfect: The ultimatum game. Games and economic behavior, 8(1), 56-90. Link

Oosterbeek, H., Sloof, R., & Van De Kuilen, G. (2004). Cultural differences in ultimatum game experiments: Evidence from a meta-analysis. Experimental economics, 7(2), 171-188. Link

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Consciousness, Learning, Motivation-Emotion.

Description: Here is a scientific creativity problem for you. What might it mean to say that, in terms of how their minds are organized and how they engage with the world, that human adults and human small children are basically different species? Puzzle on that for a little bit, drawing upon what you know or what you imagine about infants/preschooler and adults. Once you have your thoughts and hypothetical answers in mind visit the link below and listen to the thoughts on this question of Alison Gopnik, an immensely accomplished developmental researcher and thinker and the author of, among many other things, a book called The Philosophical Baby. I think you will find it fascinating!

Source: Why Adults Lose the ‘Beginners Mind,’ Allison Gopnik and Ezra Klein, The Ezra Klein Show and the New York Times.

Date: April 16, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Ajay kumar Singh from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what did you think? Do you still ‘play’ from time to time (playing on purpose does not really count)? Can you see the adaptive value in a developmental shift from exploring to exploiting and does the Buddhist concept of a ‘Beginner’s Mind’ make sense for adults as well and children? I was also taken with Allison Gopnik discussion of how Octopi adapt to their worlds in one short year of life. If you would like to see how that works, and how having a central brain and a brain in each tentacle can invoke a balance of playing and thinking consider watch the documentary My Octopus Teacher that is nominated for an Oscar this year.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. What does play do for small children?
  2. What can ‘play’ do for adults?
  3. How are the Beginner’s Mind, play, and the distinction between exploring and exploiting related and how does a developmental perspective help answer this question?

References (Read Further):

Gopnik, A. (2020). Childhood as a solution to explore–exploit tensions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 375(1803), 20190502. Link

Ruggeri, A., Walker, C. M., Lombrozo, T., & Gopnik, A. (2021). How to Help Young Children Ask Better Questions?. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 2908. Link

Gopnik, A. (2009). The philosophical baby: What children’s minds tell us about truth, love & the meaning of life. Random House. Article on Issue and Link

Gopnik, A. (2016). The gardener and the carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children. Macmillan. Review

Glausiusz, J. (2016). Child development: A cognitive case for un‑parenting. Nature, 536(7614), 27-28. Link

Soule, J. (2007). Beginner’s mind. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 13(2), 50-55. Link

Younie, L. (2017). Beginner’s mind. London journal of primary care, 9(6), 83-85. Link

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

Description: I am certain that if you heard a scream, you would pay attention to it. However, do you think you would direct different levels of attention to screams of different types? Not sure about what the different types might be? Well, there are, of course, screams of fear or terror but there are also screams of surprise and screams of joy (think lottery wins, seeing old friends, finding a lost kitten). Which type or types of screams do you think we usually process most quickly and efficiently and what might be the evolutionary value in that? Once you have answer, theory and arguments in order read the article linked below to se the rather surprising (to me at least) results of a recent study on this very question.

Source: Joyful screams perceived more strongly than screams of fear or anger, ScienceDaily.

Date: April 13, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Layers from Pixabay

Article Link:

So why might screams of joy be processed so effectively and efficiently in our brains? Wouldn’t it make sense evolutionarily to be primed to process and respond to screams of fear or warning most efficiently? Perhaps the complex nature of human evolution means that there is more to how we respond to screams than simple fight/flight. Think about the implications of a scream of Eureka! That might be rather attention grabbing.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. Which sorts of screams do our brains respond to most effectively or efficiently?
  2. What value might there be in having an efficient brain response to screams other than screams of fear or pain?
  3. How might the scream responses examined in the research presented in the linked article relate to the evolution of our brains?

References (Read Further): Frühholz, S., Dietziker, J., Staib, M., & Trost, W. (2021). Neurocognitive processing efficiency for discriminating human non-alarm rather than alarm scream calls. PLoS biology, 19(4), e3000751. Link

Arnold, K., & Bar-On, D. (2020). Primate pragmatics, expressive behavior, and the evolution of language. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 7(2), 117-130. Link

Fischer, J. (2017). Primate vocal production and the riddle of language evolution. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(1), 72-78. Link

Bryant, G. A. (2020). The evolution of human vocal emotion. Emotion Review, 1754073920930791. Link

Engelberg, J. W., Schwartz, J. W., & Gouzoules, H. (2019). Do human screams permit individual recognition?. PeerJ, 7, e7087. Link

Rakici, S. Y., & Karaman, E. (2019). Colorful screams of silent emotions: A study with oncological patients. Indian journal of palliative care, 25(3), 361. Link

Frühholz, S., Dietziker, J., Staib, M., & Trost, W. (2020). Neurocognitive processing efficiency for non-alarm rather than alarm signaling in human scream calls. bioRxiv. Link


Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: How are your dreams these days? Not so good? Rather frightening? Does it make sense to say that the unsettling nature of your dreams are, in some way or ways, tied to our current Covid circumstances? If that makes sense, what is the mechanism by which our dreams are influenced by our current socially limited Covid reality? What is your theory of dreams? What would your theory suggest you to in order to improve the quality of your dreams these days, or at least to reduce the negative aspects of your dreams? Once you have put your thoughts and hypothesis in order have a read through the article linked below and pay attention to the extent to which it does or does not speak to these questions in ways that satisfy your psychological scientific curiosity.

Source: Dreams during the pandemic driven by anxiety: Psychologist, Adrian McMorris, Global News.

Date: April 11, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Elf-Moondance from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, did the article address the points of your theory and match with your intervention hypotheses? Did it raise any additional questions? There may well be something to the idea that our emotions, particularly our emotions just prior to sleep, influence out dreams. The article is written from a clinical perspective and is offering potentially useful suggestions for people who are experiencing anxiety linked dreams. The article does not provide research linked to the dream theory and intervention suggestions offered. For that, if you are interested, you can check out some of the research articles listed below. I have also put in a couple of links to articles on lucid dreaming or the ability to become aware of the fact that you are dreaming while you are dreaming and to potentially be able to direct your actions in your dreams. Fascinating stuff especially as our opportunities to get out into the world are limited these days.!

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. How might anxiety and other emotions be linked to our dreams?
  2. What does the psychologist quoted in the linked article suggest people do to improve the emotional quality of their dreams these days??
  3. What sorts of things do you think you might try in  relation to your dreams after having read the linked article?

References (Read Further):

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

Vallat, R., & Ruby, P. M. (2019). Is it a good idea to cultivate lucid dreaming?. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2585. Link

Gott, J., Bovy, L., Peters, E., Tzioridou, S., Meo, S., Demirel, Ç., … & Dresler, M. (2021). Virtual reality training of lucid dreaming. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 376(1817), 20190697. Link

de Macêdo, T. C. F., Ferreira, G. H., de Almondes, K. M., Kirov, R., & Mota-Rolim, S. A. (2019). My dream, my rules: can lucid dreaming treat nightmares?. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2618. Link

Mota-Rolim, S. A. (2020). On moving the eyes to flag lucid dreaming. Frontiers in neuroscience, 14. Link

Soffer-Dudek, N. (2020). Are lucid dreams good for Us? Are we asking the right question? A call for caution in lucid dream research. Frontiers in neuroscience, 13, 1423. Link

Denis, D., & Poerio, G. L. (2017). Terror and bliss? Commonalities and distinctions between sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming, and their associations with waking life experiences. Journal of sleep research, 26(1), 38-47. Link

Schredl, M., & Bulkeley, K. (2020). Dreaming and the COVID-19 pandemic: A survey in a US sample. Dreaming, 30(3), 189. Link

Sikka, P., Pesonen, H., & Revonsuo, A. (2018). Peace of mind and anxiety in the waking state are related to the affective content of dreams. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1-13. Link

Eichenlaub, J. B., van Rijn, E., Phelan, M., Ryder, L., Gaskell, M. G., Lewis, P. A., … & Blagrove, M. (2019). The nature of delayed dream incorporation (‘dream‐lag effect’): Personally significant events persist, but not major daily activities or concerns. Journal of sleep research, 28(1), e12697. Link

Samson-Daoust, E., Julien, S. H., Beaulieu-Prévost, D., & Zadra, A. (2019). Predicting the affective tone of everyday dreams: A prospective study of state and trait variables. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-10. Link

Conte, F., Cellini, N., De Rosa, O., Caputo, A., Malloggi, S., Coppola, A., … & Ficca, G. (2020). Relationships between Dream and Previous Wake Emotions Assessed through the Italian Modified Differential Emotions Scale. Brain sciences, 10(10), 690. Link


Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Development of the Self, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: I am sure you know about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or, what used to be called, multiple personality disorder. Is is also quite likely that you owe your understanding of the disorder to popularized accounts in books and films like the three faces of Eve or Sybil. Would it surprise you to read that there is currently something of a debate raging regarding DID with one side arguing that it is underdiagnosed as a disorder and the other arguing that it is largely manufactured by therapists’ hints and suggestions coupled with clients’ desires to please their therapists? A polarized, one might say a multiple personality, debate for sure. Think a bit about what sorts of arguments or data the debate might be turning on and, once you have your thoughts in order read the article linked below which covers something of the history of this debate starting back oner 100 years ago with a couple of early historic cases.

Source: Identity Crisis, 1906. Catherine Offord, The Scientist.

Date: March 1, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the accounts of possible cases of DID do sound more like novels or film plots that clinical case studies. Add in the scores on indicators of suggestibility are strongly related to displays of DID symptoms and things get quite interesting. It is very important to keep in mind when considering this debate that it is far too simple to suggest that some or many individuals might be ‘faking’ their symptoms. If you are able to put that hypothesis aside then the DID debates get quite interesting. Questions regarding the nature if DID relate to questions like what is going on with people who are or appear to be in hypnotic states or what is going on when people use Ouija boards while convinced that despite the fact that their fingers are on the Ouija, they are NOT causing it to move. Fascinating data about the human mind and experience but not quite what we think is going on.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. Is DID or multiple personality disorder real?
  2. What sort of research or experimental design might you use to address the first question above?
  3. What are the alternate theories about DID that are being debated?

References (Read Further):

Brand, B. L., Sar, V., Stavropoulos, P., Krüger, C., Korzekwa, M., Martínez-Taboas, A., & Middleton, W. (2016). Separating Fact from Fiction: An Empirical Examination of Six Myths About Dissociative Identity Disorder. Harvard review of psychiatry. Link

Hanson, Cynthia (1998) Dangerous Therapy: The Story of Patricia Burgus and Multiple Personality Disorder, Chicago Magazine, Link

Neary, Lynn (2011) Real ‘Sybil’ Admits Multiple Personalities Were Fake Link

Nathan, D. (2011). Sybil exposed: The extraordinary story behind the famous multiple personality case. Simon and Schuster. Review Link

Paris, J. (2012). The rise and fall of dissociative identity disorder. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 200(12), 1076-1079. Link

Gillig, P. M. (2009). Dissociative identity disorder: A controversial diagnosis. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 6(3), 24. Link

Loewenstein, R. J. (2007). Dissociative identity disorder: Issues in the iatrogenesis controversy. In E. Vermetten, M. Dorahy, & D. Spiegel (Eds.), Traumatic dissociation: Neurobiology and treatment (p. 275–299). American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. Link

Piper, A., & Merskey, H. (2004). The persistence of folly: A critical examination of dissociative identity disorder. Part I. The excesses of an improbable concept. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(9), 592-600. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Personality, Personality in Aging, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: Whether the year and then some that we have been engaged by the pandemic will result in people’s personalities seeming to have changed once we get to see them and spend time with them face-to-face again is an interesting question. But how about this question. Do you want to be a different sort of person after the pandemic than you were before? Of course, we are wanting to get back to what we did before but are there ways in which we would like to do things differently once our freedom of social engagement and movement returns? Are there parts of your personality you would like to do differently? Is such change possible and if so, how would you go about doing it? Think about this last question for a moment and then have a read through the article linked below to see what research suggests about how you might be able to answer it.

Source: You Can Be a Different Person After the Pandemic, Olga Khazan, The New York Times.

Date: April 6, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Alexandra Haynak from Pixabay

Article Link:

If our personality, as assessed by the factors of the Big 5 model for example, is a summary of our social behavior rather than a manifestation of our base character or our genetic make-up then, perhaps, it IS more open to change than we suspect or believe. For many people, having had to step back from social interaction over this past Covid-infected year has provided a bit of perspective on the questions of “how do I want to be and what do I want to do”? The research reported on in the linked article clearly indicate that significant personality change is very possible and can be enacted by deciding to act differently. Purposefully behaving in ways that you would like to have become part of your behavioral repertoire (your personality), in fact, seem to produce exactly those results. As some say, fake it ‘til you make it, actually works. So, make a plan, work out some scripts and get ready to emerge from isolation ready to work on becoming a different person!

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. How flexible are people’s personality prfiles?
  2. What sorts of things can people do to shift one or more of their personality dimension scores in directions that they want to shift towards?
  3. Given the research on the changeability of personality discussed in the linked article how would you describe the nature and structure of personality in general?

References (Read Further):

Göllner, R., Damian, R. I., Rose, N., Spengler, M., Trautwein, U., Nagengast, B., & Roberts, B. W. (2017). Is doing your homework associated with becoming more conscientious? Journal of Research in Personality, 71, 1-12. Abstract Link

Roberts, B. W., Luo, J., Briley, D. A., Chow, P. I., Su, R., & Hill, P. L. (2017). A systematic review of personality trait change through intervention. Psychological Bulletin, 143(2), 117. Link

Stieger, M., Flückiger, C., Rüegger, D., Kowatsch, T., Roberts, B. W., & Allemand, M. (2021). Changing personality traits with the help of a digital personality change intervention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(8). Link

Hudson, N. W., & Fraley, R. C. (2015). Volitional personality trait change: Can people choose to change their personality traits?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 109(3), 490. Link

Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E., & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological bulletin, 132(1), 1. Link

Allemand, M., & Flückiger, C. (2017). Changing personality traits: Some considerations from psychotherapy process-outcome research for intervention efforts on intentional personality change. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 27(4), 476. Link

Dweck, C. S. (2008). Can personality be changed? The role of beliefs in personality and change. Current directions in psychological science, 17(6), 391-394. Link

Hudson, N. W., Briley, D. A., Chopik, W. J., & Derringer, J. (2019). You have to follow through: Attaining behavioral change goals predicts volitional personality change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(4), 839. Link


Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Development of the Self, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: When have you been happiest in life, at what age? If you are just in your twenties, do you think things will get better or worse in terms of your happiness as you go forward in life? If you could pick, what age would you like to stay at for the rest of your lilfe? What do you think that lifespan developmental research suggests is the happiest or preferred life age? What do you think contributes to this particular finding? Once you have your hypotheses in order, have a read through the linked article to see what research suggests.

Source: At what age are people usually happiest? New research offers surprising clues, Clare Mehta, The Conversation.

Date: April 9, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how close was your prediction to the 36 years of age reported by the ongoing lifespan developmental research? Did it surprise you that the age was not a lot younger? Certainly, the freedoms of childhood are balanced against the lack of knowledge, expertise and experience and the emerging agency of young adulthood is balanced by the stress, anxieties and uncertainties of identity development, planning and world engagement. So, despite the challenges of work-life balance of family and life responsibilities and challenges established adulthood seems like a good place to be. Though, caveats relating to socioeconomic standing and gender and race related stresses do limit the generalizability of this research program it does provide an interesting start to consideration of the question of when we are happiest in life..

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. What factors seem to contribute to the high happiness ratings of established adults?
  2. If you are not there yet (in established adulthood) do you think your experience will be the same as that reported in the research ponce you get there and if not what will be different about you and about the world you will be in?
  3. What should be done to broaden the generalizability of the research reported upon in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Mehta, C. M., Arnett, J. J., Palmer, C. G., & Nelson, L. J. (2020). Established adulthood: A new conception of ages 30 to 45. American Psychologist, 75(4), 431. Link

Videos regarding systemic racism Link

Rogers, Katie (2021) 2.5 Million Women Left the Work Force During the Pandemic. Harris Sees a ‘National Emergency’ The New York Times. Link

Schaefer, Kayleen (2021) But You Are Still So Young: How Thirtysomethings are Redefining Adulthood, Penguin.

Lacey, H. P., Smith, D. M., & Ubel, P. A. (2006). Hope I die before I get old: Mispredicting happiness across the adult lifespan. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(2), 167-182. Link

Chopik, W. J. (2017). Associations among relational values, support, health, and well‐being across the adult lifespan. Personal relationships, 24(2), 408-422. Link

Baird, B. M., Lucas, R. E., & Donnellan, M. B. (2010). Life satisfaction across the lifespan: Findings from two nationally representative panel studies. Social indicators research, 99(2), 183-203. Link

Battersby, A., & Phillips, L. (2016). In the end it all makes sense: Meaning in life at either end of the adult lifespan. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 83(2), 184-204. Link

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Do people who witness acts of aggression or violence against other in their town or cities typically intervene to stop or diffuse the situation? When attacks against Indigenous, Asian, or other identifiable member of minority groups occur as they have recently, how likely is it that you, when hearing of the incidents, wondered why no one intervened? If no one else was present that is one thing but what about when there are others around? If you have taken an introductory psychology course that included a section on social psychology, you have likely heard about the case of Kitty Genovese who was murdered while, it is often told, 38 people heard the attack and did nothing. There has been a great deal of research done looking at this question and it is a good time to take stock of what reality actually involves in this area. So, start with what you think. DO bystanders typically intervene in situations where one person id attacking another or not, and if not why not? Once you have your hypotheses sorted out read the article linked below to see what psychological research, both historical and recent, have to say regarding this matter.

Source: Would You Jump In to Stop an Assault? Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times.

Date: April 3, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, bystanders DO rather consistently intervene when one person is being attacked or when a fight is going on. As well, the main reasons for not intervening are typically related to really not knowing what to do or how to do so relatively safely. Further, re-analysis of the Kitty Genovese case accounts suggest that it was improperly reported and not nearly as clear a case of bystander indifference as it has routinely been presented as being. It is very encouraging to see that research is indicating that things are not as bad as we often think and that there are training programs that can help people to understand how to intervene safely and effectively.  Now we need to get THAT word out a far as the older negative accounts got!

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. What is over and understated in most accounts of circumstances surrounding the Kitty Genovese case?
  2. What effect does the presence of more people have on the likelihood that someone will intervene in a violent altercation?
  3. What step could help further reduce the number of situations where bystanders do not intervene and what could increase safety and efficacy for those that do intervene?

References (Read Further):

Rasenberger, Jim (2004) Kitty, 40 Years Later, The New York Times Link

Rosenthal, A. M. (2015). Thirty-eight witnesses: The Kitty Genovese case. Open Road Media.

Manning, R., Levine, M., & Collins, A. (2007). The Kitty Genovese murder and the social psychology of helping: The parable of the 38 witnesses. American Psychologist, 62(6), 555. Link

Kassin, S. M. (2017). The killing of Kitty Genovese: what else does this case tell us?. Perspectives on psychological science, 12(3), 374-381. Link

Griggs, R. A. (2015). The Kitty Genovese story in introductory psychology textbooks: Fifty years later. Teaching of Psychology, 42(2), 149-152. Link

Philpot, R., Liebst, L. S., Levine, M., Bernasco, W., & Lindegaard, M. R. (2020). Would I be helped? Cross-national CCTV footage shows that intervention is the norm in public conflicts. American Psychologist, 75(1), 66. Link

Mentors in Violence Prevention Link

Berkowitz, A. D. (2009). Response ability: A complete guide to bystander intervention. Beck & Company.

Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: diffusion of responsibility. Journal of personality and social psychology, 8(4p1), 377. Link

DiFranzo, D., Taylor, S. H., Kazerooni, F., Wherry, O. D., & Bazarova, N. N. (2018, April). Upstanding by design: Bystander intervention in cyberbullying. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1-12). Link

Jenkins, L. N., & Nickerson, A. B. (2019). Bystander intervention in bullying: Role of social skills and gender. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 39(2), 141-166. Link

Thornberg, R., Landgren, L., & Wiman, E. (2018). ‘It Depends’: A qualitative study on how adolescent students explain bystander intervention and non-intervention in bullying situations. School psychology international, 39(4), 400-415. Link


Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Group Processes, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, The Self.

Description: Longitudinal research tells us that personality is reasonably stable over time and that when there are changes, as we age, they tend to be positive changes with us becoming somewhat calmer, more self-confident and socially sensitive with age. Sounds just fine, doesn’t it. But what about this past year? As we pass the one-year anniversary of the Covid pandemic driving our social lives south, think back, if you can, and reflect upon whether your personality is the same today as it was a year ago. Is it the same now as it was a year ago? If not think about why that might be and then have a look through the article linked below to see if your hypotheses match those of the author and if you think your personality is exactly the same I do not believe you but think about how other peoples’ personalities may have changed instead.

Source: How Covid Can Change Your Personality, David Brooks, The New York Times.

Date: April 1, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Lucija Rasonja from Pixabay

Article Link:

The linked article is more focused on subjective experience than on personality dimensions, but it does provide some food for reflection. We tend to think of our personality as something that is internally and intrinsically ours. In fact, however, personality is what we extract from our social interactions and while somewhat stable over long-term time it can be quite volatile as we move through different social situations. Further, our personality arises out of our social selves, out of our social interactions and we have had far fewer of those this year and many that we have had have been of a new, not well understood or well calibrated non-face-to-face variety.  If our personality is one of our main tools for social adaptation, then consider this question: How have your adapted over the past year? I suspect that will hold your attention for a bit as you carry out the reflection and as you, perhaps, include your future perspective as well (just HOW are things going to be different later this year? A LOT to think about.

Questions for Discussion:  

  1. In what ways are you the same or different today as compared to who you were 1 year ago?
  2. What sorts of things contributed to those changes do you think?
  3. Like everyone else, you are likely having difficulty even imagining what things will be like is 6 months. How will this affect your personality and what are you planning or looking forward to?

References (Read Further):

Pappas, Stephanie (2017) Personlaity Traits & Personlaity Types: What is Personlaity? Live Science. Link

Roberts, B. W., & DelVecchio, W. F. (2000). The rank-order consistency of personality traits from childhood to old age: a quantitative review of longitudinal studies. Psychological bulletin, 126(1), 3. Link

Kagan, J., Snidman, N., Zentner, M., & Peterson, E. (1999). Infant temperament and anxious symptoms in school age children. Development and psychopathology, 11(2), 209-224. Link

Thompson, R. A., Winer, A. C., & Goodvin, R. (2011). The individual child: Temperament, emotion, self, and personality. In M. H. Bornstein & M. E. Lamb (Eds.), Developmental science: An advanced textbook (p. 427–468). Psychology Press. Link

Damian, R. I., Spengler, M., Sutu, A., & Roberts, B. W. (2019). Sixteen going on sixty-six: A longitudinal study of personality stability and change across 50 years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(3), 674. Link

Zajenkowski, M., Jonason, P. K., Leniarska, M., & Kozakiewicz, Z. (2020). Who complies with the restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19?: Personality and perceptions of the COVID-19 situation. Personality and Individual Differences, 166, 110199. Link

Liu, S., Lithopoulos, A., Zhang, C. Q., Garcia-Barrera, M. A., & Rhodes, R. E. (2021). Personality and perceived stress during COVID-19 pandemic: Testing the mediating role of perceived threat and efficacy. Personality and individual differences, 168, 110351. Link

Sutin, A. R., Luchetti, M., Aschwanden, D., Lee, J. H., Sesker, A. A., Strickhouser, J. E., … & Terracciano, A. (2020). Change in five-factor model personality traits during the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic. PloS one, 15(8), e0237056. Link