Article Description
Pot smokers, schizophrenics may share similar brain changes New findings may have implications for youths with mental disorders.
"Borderline" Provocations: How NOT to Respond Patients who have the traits of borderline personality disorder often are experts at inducing in those closest to them feelings of anxious helplessness, anxious guilt, or overt hostility. If you want to continue to feel that way, here is a list of the best ways to help them help you to do so.read more
Marketing study shows ethnically diverse workforce may improve customer experience Service-oriented businesses that want to succeed with minority customers should consider hiring frontline employees who represent those ethnic groups, particularly when the business caters to Hispanics or Asians, a recent study contends.
Five most effective parenting programs to reduce problem behaviors in teens Researchers evaluated about 20 parenting programs and found five that are especially effective at helping parents and children at all risk levels avoid adolescent behavior problems that affect not only individuals, but entire communities.
Art Elevates the Mind by Increasing Empathy, Critical Thinking and Tolerance Study of school trips to a museum provides evidence that art can elevate the mind.→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
The Rise of the Selfie! Is it the Hallmark of Digital Life? The digital age has ushered in many changes in how we communicate but perhaps the most influential"”and least talked about"”is how images dominate our daily lives, and the conscious and unconscious ways they alter how we react and connect. Witness the selfie...read more
Heavy marijuana users have abnormal brain structure, poor memory Teens who were heavy marijuana users had abnormal changes in their brains related to memory and performed poorly on memory tasks, reports a new study. The brain abnormalities and memory problems were observed in the subjects' early twenties, two years after they stopped smoking marijuana, possibly indicating long-term effects. Memory-related structures in their brains appeared to shrink. The younger drug abuse starts, the more abnormal the brain appeared. The marijuana-related brain abnormalities look similar to schizophrenia-related brain abnormalities.
The True Meaning Of Friendship The Japanese have a term, kenzoku, which translated literally means "family." The connotation suggests a bond between people who've made a similar commitment and who possibly therefore share a similar destiny. It implies the presence of the deepest connection of friendship, of lives lived as comrades from the distant past.read more
Holiday stress calls for an attitude adjustment The holidays can be filled with good stress or bad stress depending on your attitude.
Marijuana Does Not Cause Schizophrenia New study on marijuana use finds little evidence that the drug causes schizophrenia.→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Remembering Sandy Hook Research in ACT shows that social connection and caring requires enough perspective taking and empathy to feel what it is like to be someone else and enough psychological flexibility not to run away when that is hard. Horrific events such as the Sandy Hook disaster challenge us to do this instead of looking away, but the suffering of those who died demands nothing less.read more
19 Reasons Why Willpower Fails You, And What To Do About It Willpower is an essential ingredient in achieving, overcoming, and becoming -- so why does it so often fail us? Here are 19 science-based reasons why will and will alone isn't enough, with suggestions peppered in along the way about what we can do about it.read more
Spanking Children Promotes Antisocial Behaviour and Slows Mental Development 90% of studies on spanking agree that it's bad for children.→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
This column will change your life: don't blame the lazy. It may not be their fault Willpower is something you might have less of thanks to luck or upbringing, not a magic power that lazy people refuse to useAs we stumble again into the season of overindulgence – that sacred time of year when wine, carbs and sofas replace brisk walks for all but the most virtuous – a headline in the (excellent) new online science magazine Nautilus catches my eye: "What If Obesity Is Nobody's Fault?" The article describes new research on mice: a genetic alteration, it appears, can make them obese, despite eating no more than others. "Many of us unfortunately have had an attitude towards obese people [as] having a lack of willpower or self-control," one Harvard researcher is quoted as saying. "It's clearly something beyond that." No doubt. But that headline embodies an assumption that's rarely questioned. Suppose, hypothetically, obesity were solely a matter of willpower: laying off the crisps, exercising and generally bucking your ideas up. What makes us so certain that obesity would be the fault of the obese even then?This sounds like the worst kind of bleeding-heart liberalism, a condition from which I probably suffer (I blame my genes). But it's a real philosophical puzzle, with implications reaching far beyond obesity to laziness in all contexts, from politicians' obsession with "hardworking families" to the way people beat themselves up for not following through on their plans. We don't blame people for most physical limitations (if you broke your leg, it wouldn't be a moral failing to cancel your skydiving trip), nor for many other impediments: it's hardly your fault if you're born into educational or economic disadvantage. Yet almost everyone treats laziness and weakness of will as exceptions. If you can't be bothered to try, you've only yourself to blame. It's a rule some apply most harshly to themselves, mounting epic campaigns of self-chastisement for procrastinating, failing to exercise and so on.But who says it's correct? The philosopher John Rawls is often interpreted as saying it isn't. The fair society, he famously claimed, was the one we'd have constructed if we'd been behind a "veil of ignorance" – without knowing if we'd be born rich or poor, strong or weak, good at maths, or sports, or nothing. "We do not deserve our initial place in the distribution of native endowments, any more than we deserve our initial starting place in society," Rawls wrote. You don't deserve praise for being born sighted rather than blind, or growing up wealthy. Do we really deserve praise for having, or blame for lacking, "the superior character that enables us to make the effort to cultivate our abilities"? Two rival notions of willpower do battle among psychologists these days. One is that it's a learned skill. (You can, for example, teach children distraction techniques to resist temptation.) The other is that it's a depletable resource: if forced to use lots in one domain – resisting impulse purchases because you're poor, say – you'll have less left over elsewhere. Either way, it's something you might have less of thanks to luck or upbringing, not a magic power that lazy people inexplicably refuse to use.None of which means effort should never be rewarded, or that it isn't sometimes strategic to make people – including yourself – feel bad: guilt's a great motivator. But when people fail to act in their own interests, moralising might not be justified. I'd start a movement to campaign for the rights of the lazy and weak-willed, but I suspect I'd have trouble signing people up.oliver.burkeman@theguardian.comFollow Oliver on TwitterPsychologyHealth & wellbeingOliver Burkemantheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Strobe glasses improve hockey players' performance Professional hockey players who trained with special eyewear that only allowed them to see action intermittently showed significant improvement in practice drills, according to a study with the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. The eyewear features lenses that switch between transparent and opaque, producing stroboscopic visual conditions, much like a strobe light in your favorite dance club.
On Buddhism as a Different Kind of "Religion" There has been much debate whether Buddhism is primarily a religion or a philosophy. As religions go, Buddhism is unusually science-friendly ... more so than any of the traditional Abrahamic Big Three. It is more insightful yet as a philosophy, and one that accords remarkably well with science, especially biology.read more
No math gene: Learning mathematics takes practice What makes someone good at math? A love of numbers, perhaps, but a willingness to practice, too. And even if you are good at one specific type of math, you can't trust your innate abilities enough to skip practicing other types if you want to be good.
Recognising the true potential of technology to change behaviour Technology could successfully change behaviours where decades of campaigns and legislation have failedWith the quantified self already walking among us and the internet of things within easy reach, digital technology is creating unprecedented opportunities to encourage, enable and empower more sustainable behaviours.If we are to unlock the power of technology we must be more ambitious than simply digitising analogue strategies or creating another communications channel.The true potential of technology lies in its ability to do things that nothing else can do. In behaviour change terms, the potential to succeed where decades of education programmes, awareness campaigns and product innovation have failed; to make a difference where government policy and legislation has had limited impact.Using behavioural insights, it is possible to highlight the bottlenecks, drop out points and achilles heels of traditional behaviour change efforts "” the reasons why we have failed in the past "” and apply the unique possibilities of technology to these specific challenges.Overcoming our limitationsAs human beings we are fallible to the point of being feeble. As irrational, habit-bound creatures, driven by the need for immediate gratification we are blighted by inherent limitations that make behaviour change hugely challenging. Naturally weak-willed and lacking in self-control, we are rendered docile in the face of the unconscious cognitive processes, social dynamics and external contextual cues that are the true determinants of 'our' behaviour.Luckily, the history of the human race is almost defined by its ability to invent stuff that bolsters its feeble capabilities. That stuff is, of course, what we generically refer to as 'technology'. And in the same way that the internal combustion engine and the light bulb allow us to overcome our relatively feeble powers of motion and perception, so digital technology can be directed to overcoming our relatively feeble powers of reasoning, self-control, motivation, self-awareness and agency"”the factors that make behaviour change so difficult.Herein lies the true potential of technology: not in the laboratory or the workshop, but in an understanding of the behavioural dynamics that define the human condition, both generally and within the context of a specific user-group, market segment or community.Maintaining behaviour change momentumHuman beings are inherently lazy and self-consciously changing our behaviours requires great effort and energy. As such, the initiation of a change effort might be relatively easy to trigger, but the maintenance and consolidation of that change is where the real challenge lies.Technology has immense and unique potential to make an impact in this area. Gamification can make otherwise tedious efforts enjoyable and less cognitively taxing. Social media can amplify social comparison and norming effects or amplify the effectiveness of public commitments.Quantified feedback is a highly effective motivational trigger. Tangible progress serves as positive reinforcement that generates further motivation, supports the maintenance of new behaviours and allows new habits to form.By definition, computers are designed to process large amounts of data and have the capacity to analyse, visualise and communicate that data in highly engaging ways. In combination with goal setting, feedback can be made highly specific and personal and considerably more effective as a result.For example, counting the number of unsmoked cigarettes and comparing that to, for example, a component of the car you will buy with the money you save after quitting for six months is considerably more effective than simply noting the amount of unsmoked cigarettes or even the amount of money saved.The intention/action gapDue to our relatively limited cognitive capacity, our memories are prone to error. In a behaviour change context this can be aggravated by a tendency to accidentally-on-purpose forget things in order to avoid exerting effort. In other circumstances we allow habits to hound good intentions out of conscious awareness and default to routine behaviours.Timely, context-sensitive reminders to, for instance, grab your gym kit as you leave for work or pack the re-usable carrier bags into the car before a shopping trip would help overcome these cognitive slips.Emotion has a central role in human decision-making and behaviour. Unfortunately, our behaviour change intentions tend to be driven by our more rational psychological components and can be very easily subverted by the more powerful, less rational emotional ones.Technology has a huge potential for positive impact in this context as a form of 'self-binding'"”a mechanism that ties you to rational intentions in the face of emotional interference.The concept of self-binding originated in Greek mythology with the story of Odysseus and the Sirens. Knowing in advance that his rationality would be subverted by the siren song, and that he would perish as a result, Odysseus ordered his men to bind him to the ship's mast as a pre-emptive measure.Sailing past the Sirens, his inability to yield to the seductive song triggered a bout of temporary insanity, but the self-bind implemented his rational intentions nonetheless. This is perhaps one of the clearest expositions, and most effective solutions, to the perennial challenge presented by the intention-action gap.Bereft of any emotion, technology can be relied up to echo, remind, reinforce and (in some cases) enforce the intentions that you made when in a fully rational state.In the context of sexual health, where high jinx and alcohol is often the primary cause of unprotected sexual encounters, self-made reminders can be timed to coincide with the time of night that you are most vulnerable to temptation.Lying to ourselvesCognitive dissonance represents one of the more powerful behaviour change mechanisms we have at our disposal. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological tension that results when our behaviour contradicts our opinions, attitudes or values. This tension is highly uncomfortable and only dissolved when one or other of the components changes and harmony between the components is restored.However, as human beings we are highly adept at lying to ourselves and, in particular, twisting our interpretation of reality to fit our attitudes and opinions and therefore avoiding cognitive dissonance.So for instance, light and intermittent smokers diffuse the cognitive dissonance caused by the fact that they smoke - yet consider smoking disgusting - by reframing their behaviour as social smoking.The opportunity here lies in the fact that behaviour tracked by technology, as opposed to experienced subjectively or tracked via self-reported data, is much more difficult for our psychological defence mechanisms to distort. As such, we are left with no choice, but to change our actual behaviour in order to diffuse the tension caused by cognitive dissonance.Join the community of sustainability professionals and experts. Become a GSB member to get more stories like this direct to your inboxSustainable livingBehaviourPsychologySustainabilitytheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
What Causes People to Donate After Disasters? Technology has made it easy for people to give donations following natural disasters. When reports of floods, typhoons, hurricanes, and earthquakes makes news, there are websites available for people to give money. People can even use their phones to donate money by text message. read more
Scientists improve human self-control through electrical brain stimulation If you have ever said or done the wrong thing at the wrong time, you should read this. Neuroscientists have successfully demonstrated a technique to enhance a form of self-control through a novel form of brain stimulation.