Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Personality, Personality in Aging, Research Methods.

Description: What can dogs tell us about the nature and extent of changes in the human personality with age? Well, I bet I know what you are thinking: People are like their dogs so if we observe people’s dogs through time, we will see signs of how their owner’s personalities may be changing with age. A very sensible research proposal but think about this. What if researchers decided to use dogs as a model for humans in their studies of personality changes with age the same way other researchers use specially bred mice to study Parkinson’s disease or certain forms of cancer? Certainly, the fact that dogs do not live as long as humans means that life-cycle changes in personality can be studied in dogs over a shorter period of time that the same study would take with humans. But how would you measure personality in dogs who, as human friendly as many of them are, will not respond to personality inventory questions? Additionally, what would the main hypotheses be that might be the focus of such research (assuming the assessment problem is solved)? Gather your thoughts in relation to these questions and then read the article linked below to see how researchers at the Clever Dog Lab at the University of Vienna organized their research into these questions.

Source: What Dogs Can Teach You About Your Own Personality, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today.

Date: January 5, 2021

Photo Credit: Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

Article Link:

I must admit that my initial reaction to this study was “what…?” (But he study was published in Nature!) That said, I found the researchers’ system for assessing dog intelligence quite impressive and the resulting 5 factor model of dog (well border collie at least) personality quite compelling. As well, I thought the focus on sorting out the extent to which there are general personality changes in aging dogs as opposed to individual differences in both dog personality profile and changes with age was well constructed and potentially useful. The researchers noted important caveats or limitations on their results such as generalizability beyond Border Collies, their applicability across species and their appropriately ethical limitations given the exclusion of fearfulness and aggressiveness, despite these being important considerations in relation to groups like aggressive offenders and domestic violence perpetrators.  The specific findings about what did or did not change were quite interesting as well. So, dogs as a model for studying personality changes with age? Why not!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did the researchers assess dog personality and how might that methods work if applied to humans?
  2. What were the dimensions of dog personality the researchers identified?
  3. How were personality changes in dogs over age associated with aging and individual differences and what might the results suggest about how we should approach the question of personality change with age in dogs AND in humans?

References (Read Further):

Turcsán, B., Wallis, L., Berczik, J., Range, F., Kubinyi, E., & Virányi, Z. (2020). Individual and group level personality change across the lifespan in dogs. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-12. Link

Szücs, A., Szanto, K., Aubry, J. M., & Dombrovski, A. Y. (2018). Personality and suicidal behavior in old age: a systematic literature review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 128. Link

Cruitt, P. J., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2018). Age-related outcomes associated with personality pathology in later life. Current opinion in psychology, 21, 89-93. Link

Graham, E. K., Rutsohn, J. P., Turiano, N. A., Bendayan, R., Batterham, P. J., Gerstorf, D., … & Mroczek, D. K. (2017). Personality predicts mortality risk: An integrative data analysis of 15 international longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 70, 174-186. Link

Park, J., & Hess, T. M. (2020). The effects of personality and aging attitudes on well-being in different life domains. Aging & mental health, 24(12), 2063-2072. Link

Costa Jr, P. T., McCrae, R. R., & Löckenhoff, C. E. (2019). Personality across the life span. Annual review of psychology, 70, 423-448. Link

Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: I will not say Happy New Year. That seems a bit trite and unreflective this year. How about Wishing you a Happier and Free-er New year as 2021 unfolds? You may also be thinking that what with all the pandemic driven hopes for things just getting less worse and for our progress towards broader vaccination speeding up past its starting crawl that perhaps this is not a good New Year to make personal resolutions. But in that, you may be wrong. Think for a moment about all of the external sources in your pre-Covid life that organized and guided your actions and your choices. From having to get up and get to work or school by a particular time deciding which restaurant to go to or order from in order to eat. Ok, well maybe those examples are not broadly shared, but think about how much structure has vanished from your day-to-day life during the more locked down portions of the past year and perhaps you can see why it might be good for you to set a few (one or two) goals of your own, for the New Year. Think about the new current situation in relation to life structure and goals and then have a read through the linked article for a few nudges to think about it some more.

Source: Set a new year’s resolution. When every day feels the same, having a goal to work towards will make a difference, Dave McGinn, The Globe and Mail.

Date: January 2, 2021

Photo Credit: Image by USA-Reiseblogger from Pixabay

Article Link:

One additional thing to reflect upon is how our experiences over that past year have opened an opportunity for us to see more clearly how the world looks to those emerging adults (18 to 25- to 29-year-olds) who are trying to set and implement movement towards career and life goals. The significantly higher levels of anxiety, stress and related perfectionism displayed by emerging adults in recent years is not a reflection of weakness on their part but, rather, a reflection of an ongoing seismic shift in social organizational structure into individual responsibilities. What used to be mapped out in career pathways and socially defied options and opportunities is the world are shifting into what some refer to as YOYO economics. Meaning You are On Your Own. Now, if you have some time to reflect, dig into that a bit deeper to see how things were different pre-Covid and how they may be even more different now and think about what that means about the importance of personal goals. They may be the only way forward; that or we need to figure out how to move towards a more WITT social and economic system. That WILL be a challenge … just look at the less than perfect social actions over the past year associated with please to consider that We are In This Together (WITT).

Questions for Reflection or Discussion:

  1. Most resolutions are abandoned by February. How might that be shifted by you making a commitment to a personal goal (or two) this year?
  2. Why might goal setting be more important NOW than at previous New Years?
  3. A YOYO perspective might seem to fit well with a lot of Psychology with its individual focus but if there is (I think there is) more to Psychology than individual psychology what else should we be looking at?

References (Read Further):

Eisenberg, N. (2014). Is our focus becoming overly narrow?. APS Observer, 27(7). Link

Vosylis, R., & Erentaitė, R. (2020). Linking family financial socialization with its proximal and distal outcomes: Which socialization dimensions matter most for emerging adults’ financial identity, financial behaviors, and financial anxiety?. Emerging Adulthood, 8(6), 464-475. Link

Arnett, J. J. (2007). Suffering, selfish, slackers? Myths and reality about emerging adults. Journal of youth and adolescence, 36(1), 23-29. Link

Germani, A., Buratta, L., Delvecchio, E., Gizzi, G., & Mazzeschi, C. (2020). Anxiety severity, perceived risk of COVID-19 and individual functioning in emerging adults facing the pandemic. Frontiers in psychology, 11. Link

Barry, C. M., Nelson, L. J., & Christofferson, J. L. (2013). Asocial and afraid: An examination of shyness and anxiety in emerging adulthood. Journal of Family Studies, 19(1), 2-18. Link

Dwivedi, A., & Rastogi, R. (2017). Proactive coping, time perspective and life satisfaction: A study on emerging adulthood. Journal of Health Management, 19(2), 264-274. Link

Wood, D., Crapnell, T., Lau, L., Bennett, A., Lotstein, D., Ferris, M., & Kuo, A. (2018). Emerging adulthood as a critical stage in the life course. In Handbook of life course health development (pp. 123-143). Springer, Cham. Link


Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Back in August (2020), I uploaded a summary post describing the range of posts I had made since March of 2020 on the Psychology of Covid 19. I have reposted that summary below but thought it would be a good idea to first provide an update on what I have posted regarding the Psychology of Covid-19 since August of 2020.

Image Credit: Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

I used a number of categories to organize the last summary and will sort more recent posts into those same categories below followed by an “everything else” category for topics that do not fit into that previous system.

How do we Think About a Pandemic?

Psychology of Covid-19: COVID Messaging – Time for Behavioral Science

Psychology of Covid-19: Cultural Variation in Reactions to Social Restrictions

The Psychology of Covid-19: Psychological Reactions to the Pandemic

Psychology of Covid-19: Lies, Damn Lies, and Pandemic Lies


Direct and Indirect Stress, Anxiety, and Uncertainty


Psychology of Covid-19: Loneliness Epidemic

Psychology of Covid-19 and Sleep: Get What You Need


Psychology of Covid-19: Pandemic Fatigue Meet Pandemic Anger

Psychology of Covid-19: What is Caution Fatigue and Do You Have It?

Psychology of Covid-19: Is Your Mind Wandering More?

            Psychology of Covid-19 – Effects of Social Isolation

Focus on Broad Aspects of Uncertainty

Psychology of Covid-19: A Jump in Gaming Addiction Issues?

The Psychology of Covid-19: Uncertainty about Uncertainty Itself

Developmental Issues

Psychology of Covid-19: Masks and Emotions – The Kids May Be All Right!

Psychology of Covid-19: Stunting Children’s Social Growth?

Coping and Other Topics

Psychology of Covid: Embrace Winter!

The Psychology of Covid-19: Challenges in Diagnosing and Treating OCD

The Psychology of Covid-19: Your Behavioral-Immune System

The Psychology of Covid 19: Unselfish Self Care

Psychology of Covid-19: Dogs versus Cats?

The Psychology of Covid-19: Wellbeing of Introverts and Extroverts

The better we understand the many levels and ways that our experience with the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged us and shifted (hopefully temporarily) how we interact with one another the more effectively we will cope with the dark times we must still work through and the challenges we will encounter once the pandemic abates.

My original summary post is below:

Wiley Weekly Psychology Updates is a blog maintained for Wiley Publishers by me (Mike Boyes) in relation to the topical contents of nine Psychology textbooks aimed at different content areas within Canadian Psychology courses and covering Introductory Psychology, Child, Adolescent and Life Span Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Health Psychology.

The blog focusses on Psychological stories and research that arise in the news through a wide array for formal and online media sources. I post three times each week on stories, topics and recently published research that may be of interest to, or of personal use by, students participating courses in any of the areas of Psychology noted above. As one of the authors on Psychology Around Us, I am committed to the core focusses of that book including making sure that students can see the relevance of Psychology to their current and future lives, that they can understand how links can be seen and explored across Psychology’s subdisciplines and in so doing become more useful in reflecting upon and making sense of their experiences and the world around them. Each post is cross-sorted according to the topic sections it links to across the nine textbooks noted above. As well, each post is key word tagged so that students, instructors or anyone can search Psychology topics that interest them and find things to pique their curiosity within the over 600 postings on the site.

Each post contains an introduction to the issues raised or addressed by an article or research paper and suggests some things the potential reader might want to consider in order to optimize their experience in reading the article or paper. A link to the article or paper is then provided. Following the article link some closing observations are offered followed by three questions that could be used by individuals to focus their reflection on the article, by classes or groups to get a discussion of the article and its points and issues started or as possible starting places for a student paper or an instructor lecture segment relating to the article’s topic area. There are links to a number of relevant Psychology research articles provided at the bottom of each post for those who would like to dig more deeply into the topic.

I (Mike Boyes) am a Developmental Psychologist with 35 years of experience teaching Introductory and Child, Adolescent and Life Span Developmental Psychology. I have conducted, and continue to conduct, research into Identity Development and issues involved in positive (or not so positive) student transitions to Post-Secondary life and through and beyond college or university educational experiences into adult life.

With that as background I want to tell you about what I have been doing lately on the Wiley Weekly Psychology Updates site. Since early March I have been posting almost exclusively in a general topic area I have called The Psychology of Covid-19. As of today there are 38 posts in this topic area and you can see them all by searching “Covid-19” using the search bar at the top of the opining page of the Wiley Weekly Psychology Updates site ( ). Whether you are a student taking a Psychology course, an instructor teaching a Psychology course, or anyone interested in what Psychology might be able to tell us about our experiences related to Life the in the Time of Covid-19 (or in what the Time of Covid-19 might suggest to us about our Psychology), The Psychology of Covid-19 looks at some areas where Psychology can help us to make sense out of and perhaps to cope effectively with our personal, social and societal experiences over the past 6 to 7 months.

The purpose of this post is to point out what seem to me to have been a number of recurrent issues or themes in our individual and general responses to Life in the Time of Covid-19 that that might be illuminated effectively with a few Psychology links or which might, as they have played out, provide good examples of Psychology in action within us and in the world around us.

Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay

How do we Think about a Pandemic?

We know from research in cognitive psychology that thinking is only logical and rational at the best of times and sometimes not even then. Our thinking is rife with biases and expectations based on past experience and those sorts of things can get in the way when we try to come to terms with a “100 year” event like a pandemic. For example, we do not do a good job thinking clearly about and making decision in relation to risk data and our thing about risks associated with Covid-19 has proven to be no exception:

The Psychology of Risk Assessment: The Case of the Coronavirus

Especially in the early going we tended to be overfocussed on the numbers (rates of infection, illness and death) without a context in which to make sense of those numbers and without a means to link those number back to our personal experience:

Psychology of COVID 19 Part 3: Statistical Overfocus

The Psychology of Covid-19: Of Masks, Math, and Bias


Direct and Indirect Stress, Anxiety, and Uncertainty

The pandemic has given rise to many, many things that are stressful and that raised our anxiety levels. Many of the stress related effects have arisen from direct/obvious concerns to do with personal health, the health of friend and relatives, personal and societal losses of employment and income, the disruption of school and work and the deep loss of any sort of work/life balance we may have managed prior to Covid-19. What is harder to see are the indirect, less obvious ways, in which Covid-19 has added to our levels of stress and anxiety. These include having to spend much more time with family and house-mates than we were used to, it involved NOT being in direct face-to-face contact with extended families, friends, and co-workers  and it involved innumerable ways in which we were required to get on with life while doing many things differently such as attending classes and meetings via Zoom, wearing masks when shopping, watching for direction arrows in stores, and most impactfully, dealing with significant jumps in uncertainty about how to do previously basic stuff, about what is going to happen next, about what even the short term let alone the medium and long-term futures are going to be like for us, for our families and for our communities, our country and the world. How can we cope and how will we adapt and cope going forward? Here are some sorted links to posts in these areas:


Direct Covid-Related Stress and Anxiety

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 1: Some Psychological Facts

Psychology of COVID-19 Part 2: Coming to Terms with Anxiety

Psychology and Covid-19: Stress and Disorder (Depression)

Psychology and Covid-19: The Big Psychological Picture

The Psychology of Covid-19: Anxieties and Uncertainties, What You Can DO About Them

Psychology and Covid-19: A Mental Health Check-up

Psychology and Covid-19: Isolation Insights from Solitary Confinement

Psychology and Covid-19: Self-Care is Vital

Psychology of COVID-19 — Coping Tune-up

Psychology and Covid-19: How is This Changing Us Psychologically?

Psychology and Covid-19: Stress and Change

Psychology and Covid-19: There IS a Manual for This!

The Psychology of Covid-19: Wellbeing of Introverts and Extroverts

Indirect Covid-Related Stress and Anxiety

Psychology and Covid-19: The Loss of Touch

Psychology and Covid-19: What is the Deal with Masks?

Psychology and Covid-19: Social Norms – Lost but not Stupid

Psychology and Covid-19: When We Did Not Know We Had the Rugs That Were Yanked

The Psychology of Covid-19: Depression or Boredom?

Psychology of COVID-19 SES – We Have Functional Prosopagnosia

Psychology of COVID-19 – Reading Masked Faces: The Eyes

Psychology of Covid-19 – Effects of Social Isolation

Focus on the Broad Impacts of Uncertainty

The broad uncertainties associated with shifts in the social norms that we have assumed and acted under since childhood and the uncertainties associated with the foggy and unpredictable nature of the future are a huge parts of the category of Indirect Covid-related Stresses and Anxieties. It is potentially very instructive to note that the uncertainties we are all facing right now  actually provide us with an opportunity to see, experience and reflect upon a key feature of the Identity struggles of many emerging adults (18 to 25-year-olds) these days – our students. While there are a large number of factors contributing to the increases we have seen in levels of anxiety and stress among emerging adults over the past 5 to 10 years, such as social media and smart phone use, drops in face-to-face contact, overprotective parenting etc. another large contributor to this sub-population anxiety bump is the increasing pace and breadth of changes in the social landscape and in possible career paths and job markets. Covid-19 has given us all a change to glimpse what emerging adults are having to content with wholesale in the process of forming up their personal identities, mapping out their ways forward and getting engaged in that process.  Uncertainty is a bigger deal that we have previously noted.

Psychology and Covid-19: Mind Control and Identity Development Opportunities

Psychology and Covid-19: Uncertainty is Certain

Psychology and Covid-19: The Toll of Uncertainty

Psychology of COVID-19 — Looking Forward from Here

Psychology and Covid-19: Resilience is a Crucial Part of Going Forward

The Psychology of Covid-19: Uncertainty about Uncertainty Itself


Zoom Is Not New Anymore

Many of us had to jump onto a steep learning curve in March and figure out how to use Zoom to do facsimiles of what we were doing before Copvid-19 such as teach, meet with students or colleagues or to have a beer with some friends. While business told us that virtual meetings via videoconferencing could work as well as face-to-face meetings AND could save commuting time and bring more diverse teams together than before. The problem with Zoom that contributes to our Indirect levels of stress and anxiety is that it is NOT face-to-face social engagement or at least Zoom does not work well in faithfully transmitting the sorts of social cues that social and developmental psychology tells us we learned about as children and practiced into adulthood in order to be able to do well in face-to-face interactions. Things like social norms of eye-contact, body language, pause length, side-conversations, turn taking, many of which can be managed in business settings with a clear pre-meeting org-chart and a detailed meeting agenda are not managed well in new or less formal group sessions. Zoom is NOT normal (yet or perhaps ever). As a consequence, many of us began to talk about things like Zoom fatigue. Agencies and institutions that rely on meeting new people and building trust and engagement in group settings (from parenting programs to university courses) are not finding that Zoom or related videoconferencing platforms work for them the way good old face-to-face engagements did. Meeting outdoors is a short-term option but winter is coming and Covid is not going away and so our indirect stress and anxiety levels increase.

We can address uncertainties and shortfalls in engagement if we can name them and share them and work together to come up with work arounds. The fall is going to be interesting indeed.

Psychology and Covid-19: Now We Be Zoomers

Psychology and Covid-19: Zoom Fatigue

Psychology and Covid-19: More Zoom Fatigue

Psychology and Covid-19: Good, Online Meetings

Developmental Issues: Children and Covid-19

My own interests in developmental Psychology had me keeping an eye open for pieces that spoke to the impacts the situation was having on children. Here are a few links to posts in that area:

Psychology and Covid-19: Talking to Kids

Psychology and Covid-19: Young Teen Resets

The Psychology of Covid-19: Impacts on SES and Children

The Psychology of Covid-19: Schooling and Cognitive Health

Other stuff

Beyond the thematic areas noted above there were a few areas that were more stand alone but still, in my estimation, with considering:

Research Design, Ethics, and the Future

Psychology and Covid-19: Research Ethics and Vaccine DevelopmentPsychology and Covid-19: Breaking Psychological Research and Advice

Psychology and Covid-19: It is a HUGE Psychology Experiment

And last, but not least, what did people dream about while in locked down social isolation?

Psychology and Covid-19: Pandemic Dreaming?

Suicide Prevention

Psychology of COVID-19– Suicide Prevention

Are there other areas of Covid-19 related impact you would like to see addressed from a Psychological perspective? If so use the comment function on this site (below) or send me an email ([email protected])  and I will see what I can find.

Mike Boyes, PhD


Posted by & filed under Families and Peers, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Social Psychology.

Description: Here is a rather disturbing thing to think about in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is very possible that once we get it under control we will then have to pivot quickly to deal with a number of related “pandemics” involving things like mental illness, anxiety, stress, un (or under) employment, debt, and domestic violence. Historically, our actions towards addressing and reducing domestic violence got a huge push from calls for action made by those working in shelters for those trying to escape situations of spousal abuse who, among other things pointed out that women sometimes returned to abusive homes and spouses because they lacked means and opportunities to take alternative actions (and children may have been involved). Now, over the past year, Covid-19 related social realities have greatly reduced means and opportunities for individuals in abusive relationships once again and the result? Well, think about it and then read the article linked below to see what the U.N. is sayhing about this important issue.

Source: U.N. Report Puts Spotlight on ‘Shocking’ Views About Domestic Abuse, Kaia Hubbard, US News and World Reports.

Date: January 2, 2021

Photo Credit: Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

Article Link:

The U.N. tells us this is a global issue but that does not mean it is happening only in other places. It is happening everywhere. While we may see post-Covid advantages such as more flexibility in working at home versus office, video-conferencing, and online shopping there are many areas that will require a LOT of post Covid work. Domestic violence is one of those areas that should not be lost in the face of other important concerns related to anxiety, stress and general wellbeing. This is going to be a challenging year even after we get past Covid.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might there be reason to be concerned about rates of Domestic Violence through the Covid-19 pandemic?
  2. What sorts of things might be helpful during these times of social insolation in continuing not address issues of Domestic Violence?
  3. What sorts of things should we be doing NOW in order to reduce the impact of the array of post-Covid epidemics we may be facing?

References (Read Further):

United Nations (2020) Human Development Report 2019, Link

Bradbury‐Jones, C., & Isham, L. (2020). The pandemic paradox: The consequences of COVID‐19 on domestic violence. Journal of clinical nursing. Link

Kofman, Y. B., & Garfin, D. R. (2020). Home is not always a haven: The domestic violence crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Link

Sharma, A., & Borah, S. B. (2020). Covid-19 and domestic violence: an indirect path to social and economic crisis. Journal of family violence, 1-7. Link

Buttell, F., & Ferreira, R. J. (2020). The hidden disaster of COVID-19: Intimate partner violence. Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, 12(S1), S197. Link

Cullen, W., Gulati, G., & Kelly, B. D. (2020). Mental health in the Covid-19 pandemic. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 113(5), 311-312. Link

Mann, F. D., Krueger, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2020). Personal economic anxiety in response to COVID-19. Personality and Individual Differences, 167, 110233. Link

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Depression, Health Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Disorders, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: How long could you live without air? How long without food? How long without companionship (social contact with someone you know)? Minutes, days, months? As we head in to what may be the worst weeks of Covid-19 impacts and lockdowns that stand between us and vaccine driven relief (and winter here in the Northern hemisphere) it is a good idea (perhaps an essential idea) to think a bit about loneliness and companionship or the loss of close connections with the people we know and care about. Think for a minute about how big a deal this is or could be for many and think too about what we might do about it. Does any social contact help or is it important that the contact be with particular people or linked to particular kinds of relationships? Once you have your thoughts/hypotheses in order have a read through the linked article that talks about what Psychological research has to say on these matters.

Source: Combatting an Epidemic of Loneliness, Emily Sohn, The New York Times.

Date: December 18, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by iXimus from Pixabay

Article Link:

Given how long the pandemic has been affecting our social connection options it is rather amazing that things are not worse. It is certainly NOT the case that most of us can do without social contact, clearly it is as deeply wired important to us as food. It is also matters who that contact is with. A simple fix such as Jimmy Kimmel’s Ten Hours of People Touching on YouTube may be better than a video of a Christmas fire when it comes to assuaging loneliness, but the research seems to clearly indicate that it is contact with people we care about that matters. The social media savvy of younger generations may be an aspect of resilience against loneliness though perhaps only if it used to stay connected with those with home one already has a close relationship (some research suggests that lonely people spend MORE time on social media – a correlational puzzle). There is a lot one can draw upon in the linked article as, like a LOT of our pandemic related experiences, it is build within aspects of our social and cognitive functioning and experience to which we do not typically pay much if any conscious attention. So, reflect on what the article passes along and on how it could be applied to your own experience and come up with a plan or two. We are almost through the pandemic, but this last bit will certainly challenge our challenged social resources so connect with friends and resolve to be resilient!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How long can a typical person survive without contact with close others (companionship)?
  2. How are loneliness and hunger related?
  3. Zoom, social media and other forms of virtual contact CAN provide fixes for loneliness but what sorts of things should we thin k about or try to do with these tools to ensure they contribute to resilience rather than to more loneliness?

References (Read Further):

Tomova, L., Wang, K., Thompson, T., Matthews, G., Takahashi, A., Tye, K., & Saxe, R. (2020). The need to connect: Acute social isolation causes neural craving responses similar to hunger. bioRxiv. Link

Riters, L. V., Kelm-Nelson, C. A., & Spool, J. A. (2019). Why do birds flock? A role for opioids in the reinforcement of gregarious social interactions. Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 421. Link

Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS medicine, 7(7), e1000316. Link

Smith, T. W., Ruiz, J. M., & Uchino, B. N. (2004). Mental activation of supportive ties, hostility, and cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stress in young men and women. Health Psychology, 23(5), 476. Link

Tarr, B., Launay, J., & Dunbar, R. I. (2014). Music and social bonding:“self-other” merging and neurohormonal mechanisms. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 1096. Link

American Psychological Association (2020) Stress in America 2020 Survey Signals a Growing National Mental Health Crisis. Link

Nowland, R., Necka, E. A., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2018). Loneliness and social internet use: pathways to reconnection in a digital world?. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(1), 70-87. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Social Perception, The Self.

Description: We are all wearing masks these days (or should be). I have posted previously about research suggesting that adults experience functional prosopagnosia (the lack of the ability to recognize people when one see’s them) when others are wearing masks covering their mouth and nose. A related, important question concerns how children manage socially when those around them wear masks. Specifically, we humans relay rather heavily on an ability to read other’s emotions by noticing their facial expressions and THAT will likely be more difficult with masks. What would your hypothesis be? To what extent, if at all, would the wearing of masks by those with whom they are interacting affect the ability of 7- to 13-year-old children to read the emotions of those they are seeing? Once you have your hypothesis (wager) in mind have a read through the linked article to see what research has to say on this question.

Source: Covering faces around kids won’t mask emotions, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: December 23, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Please support me! Thank you! from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, while mask wearing degrades the social information flow regarding emotions others are experiencing, the “middle-aged” children (7- to 13-years-old) still did better than chance at correctly reading emotion in mask wearing others. There is more to the flow of social information than the lower half of the face. As well, from a developmental perspective, if pre-teens can beat chance when they have only had developmentally recent experience with emotional reading of others wearing masks (since March/April 2020) then perhaps younger children’s emotional reading skills are not imperilled by recent events, at least to the extent that was raised early in the pandemic. Maybe the kids are all right, at least as far and the early steps in the development of emotional intelligence are concerned!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might masks make it more difficult to read others’ emotions?
  2. Which emotions are harder, or easier, to read when others are wearing masks and why?
  3. Now, mask wearing DOES reduce emotional reading accuracy by around 50%. Given this what sorts of things might teacher, parents and other do to ensure that children still develop this important social/emotional skill?

References (Read Further):

Ashley L. Ruba, Seth D. Pollak. Children’s emotion inferences from masked faces: Implications for social interactions during COVID-19. PLOS ONE, 2020; 15 (12): e0243708 DOI: Link

Carbon, C. C. (2020). Wearing face masks strongly confuses counterparts in reading emotions. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2526. Link

Barrick, E., Thornton, M. A., & Tamir, D. (2020). Mask exposure during COVID-19 changes emotional face processing. Link

Ekman, P., & Oster, H. (1979). Facial expressions of emotion. Annual review of psychology, 30(1), 527-554. Link

Ekman, P. (1999). Facial expressions. Handbook of cognition and emotion, 16(301), e320. Link

Russell, B. S., Hutchison, M., Tambling, R., Tomkunas, A. J., & Horton, A. L. (2020). Initial challenges of caregiving during COVID-19: Caregiver burden, mental health, and the parent–child relationship. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 51(5), 671-682. Link

Hashikawa, A. N., Sells, J. M., DeJonge, P. M., Alkon, A., Martin, E. T., & Shope, T. R. (2020). Child Care in the Time of Coronavirus Disease-19: A Period of Challenge and Opportunity. The Journal of Pediatrics, 225, 239-245. Link


Posted by & filed under Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Language-Thought, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Ok, at the risk of incurring your anger for not having passed these secrets along sooner (it is Christmas Eve as I write this), did you know that there is Psychological research into what makes something a good or at least better present and the differences between what gift givers think is the answer the question of what others will want or like and what gift receivers think. Yes, there IS a difference. So, reflect on any data you acquired this year by giving and receiving gifts and watching or at speculating upon others’ reactions (and reflecting on your own) and then answer these questions. What are the two goals of gift giving and what variables move one closer to or further away from achieving those goals? OK, got it all figured out? Well read the article linked below and see if your responses match what Psychology Research tells us (and then make some mental adjustments for your next gift giving opportunity)!

Source: The secret psychology of gift giving, The Big Smoke, TBS Newsbot.

Date: December 24, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, how did you do coming up with the two goals; the recipient’s happiness and strengthen ing your relationship with the recipient? Did the “when to ask them what they want” conundrum make sense? A definite relationship challenge there! It is particularly important top pay attention to the research finding that people tend to NOT be as good at discerning what their gift recipient will like. This is a problematic bias or self-reflective shortfall as it leans we act on things we KNOW that may not be as true as we think. Thoughtfulness is NOT just thinking about it; it is thinking about it is a non-biased manner, something we humans do not do very well much of the time. The research reported reflects this very clearly where recipients preferred (viewed as MORE thoughtful) wedding gifts that were ON their registry list compared to off-list gifts folks gave them thinking they were being MORE thoughtful. Write that down as a future use rule! How about cash? Nope, never (gift cards barely)! The two biggest take-aways from the research? Give experiences over stuff and quality time best of all. Now, do your post-gift-giving season audit and make plans to ace do better or at least as well, next time!

SO, as of December 24, 2020 Have as Happy a Holiday Season as possible (all things considered) and May 2021 become happier and brighter as it unfolds.

Stay safe!

Mike Boyes

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are there any other goals for gift giving that might be worth doing some research into beyond making recipients happier and strengthen ing our relationships with them?
  2. What are some ways to achieve the gift goals without actually spending money (or stealing)?
  3. Why might it be that experiences surpass material stuff as gifts in the minds of recipients?

References (Read Further):

Gino, F., & Flynn, F. J. (2011). Give them what they want: The benefits of explicitness in gift exchange. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(5), 915-922. Link

Chan, C., & Mogilner, C. (2017). Experiential gifts foster stronger social relationships than material gifts. Journal of Consumer research, 43(6), 913-931. Link

Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2002). What makes for a merry Christmas?. Journal of happiness studies, 3(4), 313-329. Link

Galak, J., Givi, J., & Williams, E. F. (2016). Why certain gifts are great to give but not to get: A framework for understanding errors in gift giving. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25(6), 380-385. Link

Kizilcec, R. F., Bakshy, E., Eckles, D., & Burke, M. (2018, April). Social influence and reciprocity in online gift giving. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-11). Link

Hyun, N. K., Park, Y., & Park, S. W. (2016). Narcissism and gift giving: Not every gift is for others. Personality and Individual Differences, 96, 47-51. Link

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

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

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

Date: December 19, 2020

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

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date: December 10, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by André Santana from Pixabay

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Date: December 20, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Article Link:

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

Questions for Discussion:

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

References (Read Further):

APA (2018) What are Personality Disorders? Link

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

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

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

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

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

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