|Could Playing Immoral Video Games Promote Good Behaviour in The Real World?
||Could violent video games make you a more caring person, at least initially?Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Advertisement:→ A new PSYCHOMETRIC TEST on WHAT BEAUTY MEANS TO YOU is at http://CitiesBeautiful.org
Related articles:Why Being In a Group Causes Some to Forget Their Morals
Memory is Not Like a Video Camera: Rather The Present Can Be Spliced into the Past
6 Purely Psychological Effects of Washing Your Hands
Making Music Dramatically Improves Young Children’s Behaviour
3 Minutes of Tetris Reduces Cravings for Drink, Cigarettes and Food
|How Facebook’s Squishy Ethics Got Them Into Trouble
||Ah, how quickly folks backpedal when they’re caught doing something a little less than transparent. And perhaps something a little bit… squishy, ethics-wise. That’s what Facebook “data scientist” Adam D.I. Kramer was doing on Sunday, when he posted a status update to his own Facebook page trying to explain why...
|The less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age, new study suggests
||Researchers have found evidence that the less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age. These findings, relevant in the context of a rapidly ageing society, pave the way for future work on sleep loss and its contribution to cognitive decline, including dementia.
|Monkeys Make The Same Bad Gambling Decisions That Humans Do
Humans have a remarkable ability to see patterns where none exist. In the hot-hand phenomenon we perceive streaks of wins or losses where the data, in truth, are random. New research shows that monkeys are subject to the same bias, which might suggest that the bias is evolutionarily adaptive, and maybe even rational....
|Yes, Psychotherapy is the Answer
||Psychotherapy is a rewarding and effective practice that encompasses the depth and reach of human nature. It effectively heals psychiatric symptoms, the struggles of human character, and allows for the recovery of authenticity and the capacity to love. Dispensing drugs is destructive and ineffective. If we let psychotherap die, then we will have to invent it all over again
|How to Spot a Narcissist
||A lot of people assume narcissists are easy to spot, that they talk obsessively about themselves, for example, or never seem to care what you have to say. Those are the obvious narcissists. This post is about the charming narcissists who can fly under the radar until you feel like...
|Best of Our Blogs: July 1, 2014
||Right now what are your greatest concerns? Is it the stack of unpaid bills to your left? Are you worried about the unknown, the future, your career, your loved ones, your health or the health of your relationships? Youth gives us the privilege of rushing past our days. I often...
|Three Ways for Schools to Help Kids Cultivate Kindness
||Schools try many approaches to encourage students to be kind and helpful, from rewarding them for good behavior, to implementing service-learning programs, to directly teaching them social and emotional skills. But sometimes the most powerful learning happens when students are encouraged to discover something for themselves—especially when what they’re “learning” is already a natural part of who they are as human beings. And according to science, altruism is a natural part of us all.
Kindness starts young
Many studies have demonstrated that children as young as 14 months have innate altruistic tendencies, well before socialization can have a major influence on their development.
For example, researchers Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello found that in a variety of situations in which an adult experimenter was ostensibly having trouble performing a task, 18-month-old infants readily helped. In one scenario, an experimenter who was hanging towels on a clothesline dropped a clothespin and appeared to have trouble reaching for it. In an even more challenging scenario, the experimenter was unsuccessfully trying to get a spoon by squeezing his hand through a tiny hole in a box; unprompted, the children not only helped, but also showed the adult a more effective approach of lifting a flap on the side of the box.
In speculating why such young children had the impulse to help, Warneken noted that they did so even if no parent was present, and, thus, couldn’t have been responding to unconscious parental cues. For instance, children still helped when doing so required them to disengage from playing with a toy or to climb over obstacles. “Children are thus motivated to help another person,” writes Warneken, “even if it involves opportunity costs or effort to do so.”
Science has also shown that young children receive a boost in positive emotions when giving away something of their own to another. For example, in one study toddlers were introduced to a puppet that liked treats. Each child was given eight treats for him/herself and then watched the experimenter give a treat to the puppet. After being asked, children gave one of their own treats to the puppet. Next, the experimenter found a treat and asked the child to give it to the puppet. Researchers found that while the children’s happiness levels increased when they shared a “found” treat, happiness levels were even higher when the children sacrificed their own treat.
While these experiments show that kindness and its resultant joy are innate from a very young age, this quality/experience still needs to be cultivated as children enter environments where incentives that support these aspects aren’t always in place. Thus, it is incumbent upon schools to create environments in which these qualities can flourish.A case study in giving
In 2006, a group of 8th graders at Pitt River Middle School in British Columbia got a first-hand lesson in the joy that kindness brings—a lesson that quickly spread throughout the rest of their school.
After attending a workshop led by social-emotional learning expert Kim Schonert-Reichl, teacher Kiren Chand excitedly shared with her students what she had learned: science has shown that being kind to others makes us happy. Struck by this simple key to happiness, the students were inspired to test the science for themselves.
They started by anonymously performing a single act of kindness for each class. But once the students saw how grateful and happy their kind acts made other people feel, they decided to keep going. Hence, the Breakfast Club was born.
Over the next few months, the Breakfast Club performed anonymous acts of kindness for staff and students throughout the school. For example, each teacher received a personalized thank you note in his or her mailbox, as well as giftcards that the students persuaded the local Starbucks to donate. Inspired by this initial success, the students solicited other local businesses and received such an overwhelming response that they were able to prepare a Christmas gift bag for every staff member and student in the school.
As a result, the climate of the school began to improve. Staff and students reported feeling happier, more included, and more appreciated. And the kindness became contagious; other classes paired up to leave anonymous surprises for each other. At the end of the school year, the Breakfast Club issued a challenge: If the student body collected 1,300 food items for the local food bank, the Club members would reveal their identities. The challenge was met.
The ultimate mission of the Breakfast Club was for everyone in the school to feel the way they did when being kind to others—exactly what science suggested they would—an inner joy. “As students started helping others out and giving gifts anonymously,” wrote one student who was not in the Club, “they found out that when you are kind to others, you feel warm and happy inside.”
What schools can do to cultivate kindness
Both research and experience offer some key insights for schools that would like to develop students’ innate kindness:
1. Hold the rewards.
Schools don’t need to reward kind behavior; the reward occurs naturally through the warm feeling that comes from helping another person. People who witness others doing unexpected kind acts often get a similar warm and uplifting feeling—what psychologist and researcher Jonathan Haidt calls elevation. Haidt’s research shows that across cultures, human beings are moved and inspired when they see others acting with courage or compassion, and this elevation makes them more likely to want to help others and become better people. As one student wrote to the Breakfast Club, “You are starting to rub off on people so they can make other people happy.”
Yet rewarding children for kind actions has become commonplace in our schools—for example, in programs such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. These kinds of rewards go against everything researchers know about developing altruistic tendencies in children. Perhaps the most convincing argument comes from a study in which scientists found that 20-month-old children who were offered a reward for helping behavior were less likely to help again than those who hadn’t received a reward.
Instead of offering rewards for good behavior, teachers and school administrators should model kindness toward students and one another. If students see the adults behaving compassionately and if they understand that they are responsible for doing their part to create a kind and helpful school community, they will be intrinsically motivated to act on their natural proclivity for altruism.
2. A gentle nudge will do.
It doesn’t take much to bring out students’ inherent kindness. Simply hearing about the science of kindness motivated the Breakfast Club students to try it for themselves. But research suggests that it can be even easier than that.
In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, 18-month-old infants were shown photos, each featuring one of four backgrounds: blocks, two dolls facing each other, a single doll, or two dolls facing away from each other. The study revealed that the background of the photo decisively influenced behavior: The toddlers who saw the dolls facing each other were three times more likely to spontaneously help a person in need than were the toddlers who saw the other background images. All it took was a gentle reminder of our human connectedness to prompt these toddlers to reach out and help someone.
Such reminders are easy for schools to do: Hang posters that show kind, helpful behavior; greet students by name as they enter the classroom; use a warm tone of voice with students; write an encouraging word on an assignment; start the day with a positive quote; share stories of kindness. Teachers and school leaders could add to this list ad infinitum.
3. Express gratitude.
Saying “thank you” to someone who has done something kind for you is not the same as rewarding that person. Instead, it’s an affirmation that we have received a gift. According to gratitude expert Robert Emmons, gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion. “Mainly,” he writes, “because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”
The staff at Pitt River Middle School expressed their gratitude to the anonymous Breakfast Club through a letter to the editor in the local newspaper that read in part,
You are showing that the true reward is not in being identified as a gift giver, but in the action of giving. That is the greatest gift of all. What the Breakfast Club has given the Pitt River staff will not be lost or forgotten by us.
Schools that implement practices fostering gratitude receive a myriad of benefits. Research by Jeffrey Froh & Giacomo Bono indicates that gratitude increases students’ positive emotions and optimism, decreases their negative emotions and physical symptoms, and makes them feel more connected and satisfied with school and with life in general. Gratitude also makes teachers feel more satisfied and accomplished and less emotionally exhausted.
Fortunately, gratitude is one of the easiest things to encourage in schools . Here are a few ideas:
Hang gratitude bulletin boards in the school hallways and in the staff room on which people can write what they’re grateful for.
Start or end class time or staff meetings with everyone stating one thing for which they’re grateful.
Have students keep gratitude journals.
Create a classroom gratitude book to send home with a different student each week. Ask each student’s family to add a page of pictures and descriptions of what they’re grateful for.
Lighting the Torch
“A student is not a container you have to fill, but a torch you have to light up.”
This oft-quoted saying from Albert Einstein beautifully expresses what the students of Pitt River Middle School experienced through the Breakfast Club. Rather than being coerced into kindness by the promise of rewards, they discovered of their own volition what was already inside them: the joy that arises from making the world a better place. Scientific research has shown us that the spark of kindness resides in everyone, and that even small actions can fan that spark into a flame. I encourage you to put this idea to the test in your school.
This article originally appeared in Educational Leadership, Summer 2014 edition.
|Sexting and sex go hand in hand for middle schoolers
||A new study finds middle schoolers who reported receiving a sext were six times more likely to report being sexually active.
|Teen drivers safer when parents improve teaching skills
||Study shows teens whose parents were given instructional tools on how to teach driving to their kids were less likely to fail a rigorous on-road driving assessment.
|The Positive Six Campaign DBSA +6
||The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), the Positive Six Campaign (DBSA +6) I’m happy to report that I have a cartoon in the the JULY Positive Six Campaign, this month’s goal is: The Challenge: ‘Don’t Sweat It’ “Feeling the heat inside and out this summer? Enhance your cool and...
|When a Pet Dies: Helping Your Young Child Grieve
||When your child’s pet dies, it can be a stressful and confusing time. He or she may not behave in a way that seems normal or natural, or their sadness may seem to linger for an extended period of time. For many kids, the death of a beloved pet can bring...
|The Evolutionary Impulse of Depression: An Interview with Jonathan
||It doesn’t appear that there is a single person on this planet who is not affected by depression in some way. You’ve either experienced it directly or you have a family member or friend who has been caught in the throws of it. One in 10 adults report depression and...
|Key brain region responds to subjective perception in study of individual neuron activity
||When evaluating another person’s emotions – happy, sad, angry, afraid – humans take cues from facial expressions. Neurons in a part of the brain called the amygdala “fire” in response to the visual stimulation as information is processed by the retina, the amygdala and a network of interconnected brain structures. Some of these regions respond just to the actual features of the face, whereas others respond to how things appear to the viewer, but it is unknown where in the brain this difference arises.
|True Detective & The Search For Meaning
||**spoilers ahead** One of the highest-acclaimed TV shows of 2014 was HBO’s True Detective, starring Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart and Matthew Mcconaughey as Rust Cohle. The show centers on the interrogation of the two detectives regarding a macabre murder case they investigated together several years ago. We come to...
|Cocaine addiction: Phase-specific biology and treatment?
||Current pharmacotherapies for addiction follow the dictum “one size fits all”. Medications are prescribed in the same way for all patients, regardless of whether they have just started experimenting with a drug or have an established drug habit. Even more troubling, there are no FDA-approved pharmacotherapies for some addictions, such as compulsive cocaine use. Perhaps [...]The post Cocaine addiction: Phase-specific biology and treatment? appeared first on PsyPost.
|How social media invades the workplace
||Every day, more than one billion people worldwide use social media. This habit has also invaded the workplace, as some research reports that four out of five employees now use social media for private purpose during work time. New research from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen (UiB) shows that managers are [...]The post How social media invades the workplace appeared first on PsyPost.
|Potential drug target for PTSD prevention
||Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have identified a drug that appears to make memories of fearsome events less durable in mice. The finding may accelerate the development of treatments for preventing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The drug, called osanetant, targets a distinct group of brain cells in a region of the [...]The post Potential drug target for PTSD prevention appeared first on PsyPost.
|People are oblivious to how they come across to counterparts and colleagues
||Jill Abramson was recently ousted from her position as the executive editor of The New York Times for being, among other things, too “pushy.” But did Abramson—who has also been described by the media as “polarizing” and “brusque”—know during the course of her tenure that others viewed her as being overly assertive? A new study from the [...]The post People are oblivious to how they come across to counterparts and colleagues appeared first on PsyPost.
|Young teens who receive sexts are 6 times more likely to report having had sex
||A study from USC researchers provides new understanding of the relationship between “sexting” and sexual behavior in early adolescence, contributing to an ongoing national conversation about whether sexually explicit text messaging is a risk behavior or just a technologically-enabled extension of normal teenage flirtation. The latest research, published in the July 2014 issue of the [...]The post Young teens who receive sexts are 6 times more likely to report having had sex appeared first on PsyPost.