Archives for Research
Drs. Francesca Gino and Dan Ariely (the latter is an author of several fascinating social psychology books) recently published a highly creative article on the potential dark side of creativity. Obviously, creativity is a highly valued ability, especially in today’s rapidly evolving, complex world. Creative products sell better and creative companies thrive in competitive environments. Who could argue about the value of creativity? Certainly not Apple and probably not most of its customers. But Drs. Gino and Ariely questioned whether creativity always leads to good outcomes. Specifically, they proposed that creativity may actually lead to greater dishonesty and cheating because creativity helps people justify and rationalize their unethical choices and behaviors. In other words, a creative mind can more easily search for inventive ways to engage in dishonest behavior yet maintain a positive, moral view of one’s self.
It’s report card time here in New Mexico and I am getting lots of phone calls from parents who have recently had parent teacher conferences. By far, the biggest referral I get is for kids who are suspected of having attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD). Almost 20 years ago, I began collecting material for my dissertation which was about the relationship between ADHD, empathy, and perspective taking (the ability to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings). At that time, I was curious to learn more about a disorder that appeared to be increasing within the population. The majority of researchers believed that ADHD was, in most cases, related to genes or a problem during the pregnancy or birth.
A colleague of mine (Dr. David Antonuccio) recently co-authored an article that he believes will be received with enthusiasm similar to that sparked by an army of fire ants at a picnic. In other words, he expects a lot of opposition and push back. But what would a serious academic like Dr. Antonuccio write that could evoke such a response?
We just returned from Seattle where just about every corner has a coffee shop. I read that Seattle has 226 cloudy days a year. I’m pretty sure that the gray skies of Seattle require lots of perking up, thus lots of caffeine. Our hotel room had unusually excellent coffee and a French press. It was so good that of course, we had to find the same brand of coffee for ourselves and bring some home. It probably won’t taste as good in New Mexico, with 310 sunny days a year, as it did in Seattle. However, with coffee on my mind, it was interesting to read the results of a recent study described today in the New York Times. This involves more than 50,000 nurses who were asked to provide detailed tracking of diet, exercise, physical health, and mental health. Among many of the variables being monitored, the amount of caffeine consumed and mood were tracked.
John Tierney (New York Times columnist) has teamed up with Roy Baumeister, Ph.D. (social psychologist) to write a book about willpower, decision making, and self-control entitled “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.” He summarized some of the book’s major points in a recent column. I can’t wait to read the entire book. We have commented in previous blogs about the fact that the highly related issues of self-control, the ability to delay gratification and tolerate frustration, and what’s often called “willpower” constitute a set of the most critical skills people need to acquire. Kids who gain such control become more successful adults; they achieve more; they earn more, and they report greater happiness and satisfaction with life.
Yesterday, I read an article in the Albuquerque Journal about what seemed to be a terrific program for the prevention of bullying. The program is called “The Way of the Snail” and focuses on building self-esteem, confidence, “love of self,” and self-control. The program uses a variety of techniques for accomplishing these goals such as looking in the mirror and proclaiming that one sees a beautiful person and learning to hold one’s arms out as long as possible (presumably to teach self-control). Frankly, I see articles like this one rather often. Schools across the country frequently buy into spiffy sounding curriculums with lofty, noble sounding goals much like investors having a feeding frenzy over the latest hot stock IPO. And what in the world could be wrong with jumping in on new programs designed to help kids to overcome problems and plow through obstacles?
When I was a little kid in elementary school, my father used to take me to the impressive main branch of The Detroit Public Library to look up material for school assignments. He wouldn’t allow an encyclopedia in the house because it wasn’t a primary source. That was just the way it was at my house. Another fond memory from childhood is riding my bike about two miles (without a helmet or a parent) to the local library during the summer months and filling my bike basket with books to read during the week. No one at my house paid too much attention when I read late into the night with a bright flash light under the sheet providing just enough light to read. Our grandkids won’t ever do those things.
Many of the articles we all enjoy on Psych Central are reports on the latest psychological research. Chuck and I spend many hours keeping up to date daily by belonging to a comprehensive listserve run by fellow psychologist Ken Pope. He sends out news and opinions from a wide variety of sources. One article that he sent out last week from the June issues of Science was quite fascinating. The article brought up a concern that many of us are vaguely aware of but don’t really spend too much time thinking about. The problem is simply who are the people being studied in all of those psychological research studies? How do the studies recruit and retain people to participate in the research? And are the conclusions that the studies make generalizable to the rest of the world?
Our colleague, Ken Pope passes along articles of interest to a large list of professionals. One of the articles he recently sent was titled “Psychological intervention provides enduring health benefits for women with breast cancer.” The article was quite interesting and contained findings, that if replicated, could be extremely important and promising to women diagnosed with breast cancer. The authors indicated that women receiving psychological intervention for stress reduction reported reduced stress and improvements in emotional distress as compared to those who did not receive the intervention.
Chuck and I give talks to community groups or organizations like NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). It’s one way we like to give back to the community. Just last week, we gave a talk on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). After describing the many different symptoms of OCD, we asked the audience, a group very familiar with mental health treatment, the following question. “How many of you have heard of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) as a treatment for OCD?” In the entire audience, only two people raised their hand. You’d almost think that ERP was a new miraculous treatment that just hit the scene. Every time we encounter a sea of blank faces (which is frequently), we are astonished. Why are we surprised? Because Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) has been shown repeatedly to be a highly effective treatment for OCD. And it’s been around for about 40 years. So, why do so few in the public know about this treatment that consistently decreases symptoms and sometimes even cures such a debilitating condition?