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Who cares? What's the point?
32 minutes | Nov 19, 2018
Can meditation help us to do good?
Many people think that meditation can not only have an impact on stress and illness, but can also improve prosociality. But meditation and prosociality are multi-dimensional constructs: so what exactly are we talking about here? Listen to my conversation with Dr Ute Kreplin at the School of Psychology, Massey University in New Zealand as we talk about her research examining this link, and how the way stadies are carried out can affect the sorts of results they report and how we need to be careful about how we interpret them.Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-20299-z And here is the abstract for context:Many individuals believe that meditation has the capacity to not only alleviate mental-illness but to improve prosociality. This article systematically reviewed and meta-analysed the effects of meditation interventions on prosociality in randomized controlled trials of healthy adults. Five types of social behaviours were identified: compassion, empathy, aggression, connectedness and prejudice. Although we found a moderate increase in prosociality following meditation, further analysis indicated that this effect was qualified by two factors: type of prosociality and methodological quality. Meditation interventions had an effect on compassion and empathy, but not on aggression, connectedness or prejudice. We further found that compassion levels only increased under two conditions: when the teacher in the meditation intervention was a co-author in the published study; and when the study employed a passive (waiting list) control group but not an active one. Contrary to popular beliefs that meditation will lead to prosocial changes, the results of this meta-analysis showed that the effects of meditation on prosociality were qualified by the type of prosociality and methodological quality of the study. We conclude by highlighting a number of biases and theoretical problems that need addressing to improve quality of research in this area. I hope you enjoyed this show. If you dis enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
37 minutes | Nov 19, 2018
How the sting of rejection shapes the pleasure of revenge
What is revenge? How can we understand this dark emotion? The sayings, ‘revenge is sweet’ and that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’ are revealing.Listen to my conversation with David Chester, Assistant Professor at the Psychology Department of Virginia Commonwealth University, as I talk with him about his programme of research over the past few years looking at dimensions of revenge and how we relate to this complex emotion. We also touch upon the idea of social pain and loneliness, how one of the worst forms of pain for a human is to be ignored, and how films often depict time slowing down when it portrays violence - believe me, its and interesting and wide-ranging conversation!Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:https://davidchester.weebly.com/uploads/5/4/1/5/54152559/2016-52939-001.pdfAnd here is the abstract for context:How does emotion explain the relationship between social rejection and aggression? Rejection reliably damages mood, leaving individuals motivated to repair their negatively valenced affective state. Retaliatory aggression is often a pleasant experience. Rejected individuals may then harness revenge's associated positive affect to repair their mood. Across 6 studies (total N = 1,516), we tested the prediction that the rejection-aggression link is motivated by expected and actual mood repair. Further, we predicted that this mood repair would occur through the positive affect of retaliatory aggression. Supporting these predictions, naturally occurring (Studies 1 and 2) and experimentally manipulated (Studies 3 and 4) motives to repair mood via aggression moderated the rejection-aggression link. These effects were mediated by sadistic impulses toward finding aggression pleasant (Studies 2 and 4). Suggesting the occurrence of actual mood repair, rejected participants' affective states were equivalent to their accepted counterparts after an act of aggression (Studies 5 and 6). This mood repair occurred through a dynamic interplay between preaggression affect and aggression itself, and was driven by increases in positive affect (Studies 5 and 6). Together, these findings suggest that the rejection-aggression link is driven, in part, by the desire to return to affective homeostasis. Additionally, these findings implicate aggression's rewarding nature as an incentive for rejected individuals' violent tendencies. I hope you enjoyed this show. If you dis enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
41 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Mental health research: Male footballers, LGB Youth, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy psychoeducation
Welcome to this special conference edition of Who cares? What's the point? In January 2018, I traveled to Cardiff in Wales, UK for two days to participate in the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology Annual Conference. When I was there, I was fortunate enough to talk with three researchers about the fascinating work they were doing. So, this show has not one, but three interviews and research topics.First, you'll hear me talking with Dr Susan Wood on male professional footballers and their experiences of mental health difficulties and help-seeking. Second, I speak with Dr Katherine Rimes about the psychosocial factors associated with suicide attempts, ideation and future risk in lesbian, gay and bisexual youth. And finally, I speak with Jessica Cartwright on her evaluation of a transdiagnostic acceptance and commitment therapy psychoeducation intervention (also know as ACT) in a community setting. For this edition, I have attached the abstracts as JPEG files as there wasn't an electronic version available. You can find the details of the study and the institutional affiliations of the researchers there.This podcast edition was produced with the support of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the British Psychological Society. A big thank you goes out to them. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
40 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
How do you choose a mental health app for your smartphone?
At some times in our lives, we might want to get support with our mental health and wellbeing. Perhaps we are struggling with a particular issue, or maybe we want to be proactive and take steps to make sure we are adopting healthy practices to keep us on top of things. This days, we have our smartphones with us almost all the time, and this is a natural place for many people to turn to for support or inspiration. But how do you go about choosing a mental health or wellbeing app? And do you know if it is a good one or not?Listen to my conversation with David Bakker, a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at Monash University in Australia. We talk about his recent research reviewing mental health apps, and some evidence-based recommendations for future app development. Finally, we talk about his involvement in developing some if these apps as part of a team that is working to improve the choices for people using these apps, and the clinicians who might be working with them.Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4795320/And here is the abstract for context:BackgroundThe number of mental health apps (MHapps) developed and now available to smartphone users has increased in recent years. MHapps and other technology-based solutions have the potential to play an important part in the future of mental health care; however, there is no single guide for the development of evidence-based MHapps. Many currently available MHapps lack features that would greatly improve their functionality, or include features that are not optimized. Furthermore, MHapp developers rarely conduct or publish trial-based experimental validation of their apps. Indeed, a previous systematic review revealed a complete lack of trial-based evidence for many of the hundreds of MHapps available.ObjectiveTo guide future MHapp development, a set of clear, practical, evidence-based recommendations is presented for MHapp developers to create better, more rigorous apps.MethodsA literature review was conducted, scrutinizing research across diverse fields, including mental health interventions, preventative health, mobile health, and mobile app design.ResultsSixteen recommendations were formulated. Evidence for each recommendation is discussed, and guidance on how these recommendations might be integrated into the overall design of an MHapp is offered. Each recommendation is rated on the basis of the strength of associated evidence. It is important to design an MHapp using a behavioral plan and interactive framework that encourages the user to engage with the app; thus, it may not be possible to incorporate all 16 recommendations into a single MHapp.ConclusionsRandomized controlled trials are required to validate future MHapps and the principles upon which they are designed, and to further investigate the recommendations presented in this review. Effective MHapps are required to help prevent mental health problems and to ease the burden on health systemsI hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. I had a try of MoodMission - it certainly looks interesting. You can find out more and try it too here: http://moodmission.com/If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
33 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
What's behind the rising tide of anger on the internet?
Recent local and world events seem to have triggered, or perhaps have reflected and amplified increasingly polarised views. These views can be expressed online in ways that come across as angry and appear seemingly everywhere - so much so that many websites have turned off their channels for community participation because they have become too difficult to manage.Against the background of verbal attacks becoming all too frequent online, join me as I talk with Ryan Martin, Psychology Chairperson and Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in the USA as we talk about his paper exploring the ways that anger is expressed and experienced on the internet, and our conversation about how this might apply to social media and our emotional development and processing.Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/cyber.2012.0130And here is the abstract for context:Despite evidence that anger is routinely expressed over the Internet via weblogs, social networking Web sites, and other venues, no published research has explored the way in which anger is experienced and expressed online. Consequently, we know very little about how anger is experienced in such settings. Two studies were conducted to explore how people experience and express their anger on a particular type of Web site, known as a rant-site. Study 1 surveyed rant-site visitors to better understand the perceived value of the Web sites and found that while they become relaxed immediately after posting, they also experience more anger than most and express their anger in maladaptive ways. Study 2 explored the emotional impact of reading and writing rants and found that for most participants, reading and writing rants were associated with negative shifts in mood.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
27 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Home alone: Why people believe others' social lives are richer than their own
People usually tend to over-estimate their own capabilities and qualities compared to others. For examples, people tend to believe they are more intelligent, trustworthy, moral and happier than others, as well as making better leaders, and drivers. However, when it comes to thinking about our social lives, what little we know seems to indicate that we think other people have more rich, vibrant and satisfying social lives than we do ourselves.Join me as I talk with Sebastian Deri - postgraduate researcher at Cornell University in the USA - as we talk about his paper about a series of 11 experiments designed to explore how we compare our social lives to others and where our pessimistic bias might come from.Here is the link to the abstract of the paper we talk about in this week's show:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29189037Although decades of research show that people tend to see themselves in the best possible light, we present evidence that people have a surprisingly grim outlook on their social lives. In 11 studies (N = 3,293; including 3 preregistered), we find that most people think that others lead richer and more active social lives than they do themselves. We show that this bias holds across multiple populations (college students, MTurk respondents, shoppers at a local mall, and participants from a large, income-stratified online panel), correlates strongly with well-being, and is particularly acute for social activities (e.g., the number of parties one attends or proximity to the "inner circle" of one's social sphere). We argue that this pessimistic bias stems from the fact that trendsetters and socialites come most easily to mind as a standard of comparison and show that reducing the availability of extremely social people eliminates this bias. We conclude by discussing implications for research on social comparison and self-enhancement.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
38 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Do teachers believe in "neuromyths" just as much as everyone else?
There are some commonly held misconceptions in the general public about how the brain works and how it affects how we learn - these are often called "neuromyths." We know that the general public can fall prey to these much of the time, but what about our educators? And if teachers believe in these neuromyths, what does it mean for how they teach, or how schools allocate their resources? And can we protect against falling for these neuromyths by better training? Join me as I talk with Kelly Macdonald - doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Houston, and Asst Professor Dr Lauren McGrath at the University of Denver - both in the USA - as we talk about their paper exploring belief in neuromyths by educators and the general public, and how we can change things.Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5554523/Here is the abstract for some context:Neuromyths are misconceptions about brain research and its application to education and learning. Previous research has shown that these myths may be quite pervasive among educators, but less is known about how these rates compare to the general public or to individuals who have more exposure to neuroscience. This study is the first to use a large sample from the United States to compare the prevalence and predictors of neuromyths among educators, the general public, and individuals with high neuroscience exposure. Neuromyth survey responses and demographics were gathered via an online survey hosted at TestMyBrain.org. We compared performance among the three groups of interest: educators (N = 598), high neuroscience exposure (N = 234), and the general public (N = 3,045) and analyzed predictors of individual differences in neuromyths performance. In an exploratory factor analysis, we found that a core group of 7 “classic” neuromyths factored together (items related to learning styles, dyslexia, the Mozart effect, the impact of sugar on attention, right-brain/left-brain learners, and using 10% of the brain). The general public endorsed the greatest number of neuromyths (M = 68%), with significantly fewer endorsed by educators (M = 56%), and still fewer endorsed by the high neuroscience exposure group (M = 46%). The two most commonly endorsed neuromyths across all groups were related to learning styles and dyslexia. More accurate performance on neuromyths was predicted by age (being younger), education (having a graduate degree), exposure to neuroscience courses, and exposure to peer-reviewed science. These findings suggest that training in education and neuroscience can help reduce but does not eliminate belief in neuromyths. We discuss the possible underlying roots of the most prevalent neuromyths and implications for classroom practice. These empirical results can be useful for developing comprehensive training modules for educators that target general misconceptions about the brain and learning.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
39 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
The number of photos we take has increased hugely. How does this change our experience of life?
For many of you listening to this podcast, taking photos of things and people in our lives has become much more common, as well as documenting our experiences of life. Understanding how the act of taking photos may get in the way of or increase our pleasure in these activities seems like an important topic for research. Implicitly, we may hear the message that we should stop taking so many photos and just be in the moment and enjoy our experiences without trying to record everything. But is this true? Does photography - especially using our smartphones - get in the way? Join me as I talk with Asst Prof Alixandra Barasch, based in the Stern Business School, New York University, USA. Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-pspa0000055.pdfHere is the abstract for some context:Experiences are vital to the lives and well-being of people; hence, understanding the factors that amplify or dampen enjoyment of experiences is important. One such factor is photo-taking, which has gone unexamined by prior research even as it has become ubiquitous. We identify engagement as a relevant process that influences whether photo-taking will increase or decrease enjoyment. Across three field and six lab experiments, we find that taking photos enhances enjoyment of positive experiences across a range of contexts and methodologies. This occurs when photo-taking increases engagement with the experience, which is less likely when the experience itself is already highly engaging, or when photo-taking interferes with the experience. As further evidence of an engagement-based process, we show that photo-taking directs greater visual attention to aspects of the experience likely to be photographed. Lastly, we also find that this greater engagement due to photo-taking results in worse evaluations of negative experiences.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. Its good to be back after my break. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
29 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
The language of ageism, and how we use it against ourselves
There has been a lot of recent attention on gender pay equity, the re-emergence of racism in western societies, and how youth mental health has been an increasing concern in recent years. However, the way we talk about older people, and indeed, how older people view and talk about themselves is also revealing of deeper attitudes and biases.Join me as I talk with Assoc Prof Dr Tracey Gendron, based in the Department of Gerontology in the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University, USA. Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/56/6/997/2952876/The-Language-of-Ageism-Why-We-Need-to-Use-WordsHere is the abstract for some context:Purpose:Language carries and conveys meaning which feeds assumptions and judgments that can lead to the development of stereotypes and discrimination. As a result, this study closely examined the specific language that is used to communicate attitudes and perceptions of aging and older adults.Design and Methods:We conducted a qualitative study of a twitter assignment for 236 students participating in a senior mentoring program. Three hundred fifty-four tweets were qualitatively analyzed to explore language-based age discrimination using a thematic analytic approach.Results:Twelve percent of the tweets (n = 43) were found to contain discriminatory language. Thematic analysis of the biased tweets identified 8 broad themes describing language-based age discrimination: assumptions and judgments, older people as different, uncharacteristic characteristics, old as negative, young as positive, infantilization, internalized ageism, and internalized microaggression.Implications:The language of ageism is rooted in both explicit actions and implicit attitudes which make it highly complex and difficult to identify. Continued examination of linguistic encoding is needed in order to recognize and rectify language-based age discrimination.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. Its good to be back after my break. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
32 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Regulations of love: How to feel better when relationships end
Most people will experience a relationship break up. They can be hard to get over. One way to manage this is to try to actively decrease the feelings of love you have for your ex-partner? But does this work? Do people believe they can control their feelings of love in this way? Can you actually do this? Join me as I talk with Asst Prof Dr Sandra Langeslag, based at the Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri - St Louis. We talk about how she tested three strategies for regulating love feelings after a break-up and how successful they were, using brain activity and self-report data as her measures.Here is the link to the full paper we talk about in this week's show:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319412724_Down-Regulation_of_Love_Feelings_After_a_Romantic_Break-Up_Self-Report_and_Electrophysiological_DataHere is the abstract for some context:Because remaining love feelings for an ex-partner are negatively associated with recovery from a romantic break-up, it may be helpful to decrease those love feelings. Love regulation is the use of behavioral or cognitive strategies to change the intensity of current feelings of romantic love. This study evaluated three regulation strategies: (1) negative reappraisal of the ex-partner, (2) reappraisal of love feelings, and (3) distraction. It was tested how these regulation strategies change love feelings for the ex-partner, valence of affect, and motivated attention for the ex-partner. Participants who were upset about a romantic break-up performed these regulation strategies before passively viewing a picture of their ex-partner, during which their electroencephalogram was recorded. Negative reappraisal decreased love feelings and made participants feel more unpleasant. Love reappraisal did not change how in love or pleasant/unpleasant participants felt. Distraction did not change love feelings but made participants feel more pleasant. This suggests that in the context of a romantic break-up, negative reappraisal is an effective love down-regulation strategy, whereas distraction is an effective positive emotion up-regulation strategy. Furthermore, all three strategies decreased motivated attention for the ex-partner, as indicated by a reduced amplitude of the late positive potential. This reduced motivated attention for the ex-partner could make it easier to deal with encounters of (reminders of) the ex-partner. Love regulation is a promising phenomenon with important everyday life and clinical implications.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. Its good to be back after my break. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
41 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
4 in 5 people experience a mental health disorder by midlife. What do we know about those who don't?
You might be familiar with the often quoted statistic that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 people experience mental health difficulties. What you might not be aware of is that is the answer if people are answering about what they are experiencing at that particular point in time. Long-term studies following the same people over time show that more than 4 out of 5 people (actually 87%) have experienced a mental health disorder by the time they reach age 38. This radically changes our understanding, meaning that mental health disorders are far more widely experienced than previously thought. In this show, I talk with Jonathan Schaefer at the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University in the USA, and his work looking at the data generated by New Zealand's Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and that research team. We talk about the idea of enduring mental health: that is, what is it about the 13% of people that defines those that do not experience a mental health disorder by age 38, and what this might mean for 'social investment' approaches and universal mental health care provision, amongst a range of other topics. Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5304549/pdf/abn_126_2_212.pdfHere is the abstract for some context:We review epidemiological evidence indicating that most people will develop a diagnosable mental disorder, suggesting that only a minority experience enduring mental health. This minority has received little empirical study, leaving the prevalence and predictors of enduring mental health unknown. We turn to the population-representative Dunedin cohort, followed from birth to midlife, to compare people never-diagnosed with mental disorder (N 171; 17% prevalence) to those diagnosed at 1–2 study waves, the cohort mode (N 409). Surprisingly, compared to this modal group, never-diagnosed Study members were not born into unusually well-to-do families, nor did their enduring mental health follow markedly sound physical health, or unusually high intelligence. Instead, they tended to have an advantageous temperament/personality style, and negligible family history of mental disorder. As adults, they report superior educational and occupational attainment, greater life satisfaction, and higher-quality relationships. Our findings draw attention to “enduring mental health” as a revealing psychological phenotype and suggest it deserves further study.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
35 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Can the news media play a key role in triggering psychological reactions to terrorism?
In July 2011, Anders Breivik killed 77 adults and children in a bombing in Oslo and a subsequent shooting on a nearby island where the Norwegian Labor Party's youth organisation was having their summer camp. I talk with Dr Bertel Hansen of the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark about the impact of that event in Norway on the incidence of trauma- and stressor-related disorders in the neighbouring country of Denmark, and discuss this with respect to of the impact on that same population of the 9/11 attacks. We discuss the impacts of geographical proximity, cultural similarity, and the possible influence of the news media on the incidence of disorders following terrorist attacks.Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Abstract/publishahead/Increased_incidence_rate_of_trauma__and.98821.aspxHere is the abstract for some context:BACKGROUND: On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik killed 77 adults and children in Norway. Having recently documented increases in the incidence of trauma- and stressor-related disorders in Denmark after the 9/11 attacks, we hypothesized that the Breivik attacks-due to their geographical proximity-would be followed by even larger increases in Denmark.METHODS: Using population-based data from the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register (1995-2012), we conducted an intervention analysis of the change in the incidence of trauma- and stressor-related disorders following the Breivik attacks.RESULTS: The incidence rate increased by 16% over the following 11/2 years after the Breivik attacks, corresponding to 2,736 additional cases. In comparison, 9/11 was followed by a 4% increase. We also present evidence of a subsequent surge in incidence stimulated by media attention.CONCLUSION: This study bolsters previous findings on extra-national consequences of terrorism and indicates that geographical proximity and media coverage may exacerbate effects.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
35 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Scared behind the wheel: How driving anxiety may influence our health and wellbeing
Learning to drive has been a rite of passage in many societies for decades. For many, it is a central part of their everyday lives, especially if they live in rural areas, or where other alternatives aren't as practical or appealing. But what happens if we become anxious about driving? How might that shape our lives and wellbeing?In this show I speak with Dr Joanne Taylor, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University in New Zealand. Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-psychogeriatrics/article/scared-behind-the-wheel-what-impact-does-driving-anxiety-have-on-the-health-and-wellbeing-of-young-older-adults/5E7E4F725B7AD0BB94178DE36E442C54Here is the abstract for some context:Driving anxiety can range from driving reluctance to driving phobia, and 20% of young older adults experience mild driving anxiety, whereas 6% report moderate to severe driving anxiety. However, we do not know what impact driving anxiety has on health and well-being, especially among older drivers. This is problematic because there is a growing proportion of older adult drivers and a potential for driving anxiety to result in premature driving cessation that can impact on health and mortality. The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of driving anxiety on young older adults’ health and well-being.Data were taken from a longitudinal study of health and aging that included 2,473 young older adults aged 55–70 years. The outcome measures were mental and physical health (SF-12) and quality of life (WHOQOL-8).Hierarchical multiple regression analyses demonstrated that driving anxiety was associated with poorer mental health, physical health, and quality of life, over and above the effect of socio-demographic variables. Sex moderated the effect of driving anxiety on mental health and quality of life in that, as driving anxiety increased, men and women were more likely to have lower mental health and quality of life, but women were more likely to have higher scores compared to men.Further research is needed to investigate whether driving anxiety contributes to premature driving cessation. If so, self-regulation of driving and treating driving anxiety could be important in preventing or reducing the declines in health and quality of life associated with driving cessation for older adults affected by driving anxiety.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
43 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Creating consciousness: Our brain's top-down, bottom-up framework for making sense of the world around & within us
Consciousness is a curious and complex phenomenon. There are many ideas about what consciousness means and how it comes about, but I came across a compelling and relatively simple argument when I attended TEDFest this year - where the TED2017 conference was livestreamed for TEDx conference organisers from around the world, all convened in New York.In this show I speak with Dr Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex in the UK. He is also Co-Director at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. We talk about how the brain tries to make sense of the world outside, but also integrates information coming from inside the body to help us perceive the world and our place in relation to it. We talk about the origin of emotions, mindfulness, mental illness and possible applications for the framework he proposes. Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show - the full paper is available here:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661313002118Here are the Highlights for some context:A new view of emotion as active inference on the causes of interoceptive signals.Extension of appraisal emotion theories to a contemporary inferential framework.A unified predictive model of emotion and experience of body ownership.Interpretation of neuropsychiatric conditions as disordered interoceptive inference.How predictive integration of interoceptive and exteroceptive signals affects self.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. We will remain on a fortnightly schedule until at least October 2017, but I still hope you'll enjoy the interviews we will regularly be publishing hereIf you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
30 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
The surprising upsides of worrying
Worrying can be described as the process of unpleasant thoughts that keep coming back and cause us to be anxious or distressed. Although it's certainly true that worrying is often seen as a problem, there is increasing evidence that it can also be seen in positive ways too. In this show I speak with Associate Professor Kate Sweeny from the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside in the USA. Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spc3.12311/full Here is the abstract for some context:Worry is an aversive emotional experience that arises alongside repetitive unpleasant thoughts about the future. In this paper, we argue that although extreme levels of worry are associated with depressed mood, poor physical health, and even mental illness, worry has an upside. We focus on two empirically supported benefits of worry: its motivational benefits and its benefit as an emotional buffer. Regarding motivation, worry illuminates the importance of taking action to prevent an undesirable outcome and keeps the situation at the front of one's mind to ensure that appropriate action is taken. It also triggers efforts to mitigate the consequences of bad news, motivates productive behavior that in turn reduces worry, and enhances the effectiveness of goal-directed action by prompting people to focus on obstacles that might derail best-laid plans. Worry can also serve as an emotional buffer by providing a desirable contrast to subsequent affective reactions, particularly for people who are prone to high levels of worry.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. We will remain on a fortnightly schedule until at least October 2017, but I still hope you'll enjoy the interviews we will regularly be publishing hereIf you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
32 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
If we write our name on an object, will we recycle it or trash it?
If you drink coffee and buy that in a shop, the barista might call out your name - which may be written on your disposable cup - when it's ready. Does the fact that your name is written on the cup have an influence on whether you choose to recycle it or not? Even if they spelled your name wrong?Everyday, we make decisions about whether to keep or dispose of objects that we have purchased or obtained. Often, the decision can boil down to whether we recycle or trash the object in question. In this show I speak with Associate Professor Remi Trudel from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University in the USA to find out more about how our identity links to the products we might buy, but also how this may influence the decision about how we dispose of that item.Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article/43/2/246/2572264/The-Recycled-Self-Consumers-Disposal-Decisions-ofHere is the abstract for some context:It has been known for some time that consumers’ identities influence purchasing decisions and people form strong identity connections, or “links,” with products and brands. However, research has yet to determine whether identity-linked products are differentially treated at disposal in comparison to products that are not identity linked. Across seven studies, the current research shows that when an everyday product (e.g., paper, cups, aluminum cans) is linked to a consumer’s identity, it is less likely to be trashed and more likely to be recycled. Further, the tendency to recycle an identity-linked product increases with the strength and positivity of the connection between the consumer and product (or brand). Finally, the disposal behavior can be explained by consumers’ motivation to avoid trashing a product that is linked to the self because it is viewed as an identity threat. In sum, consumers will be more likely to recycle (rather than trash) a product if the product is linked to a consumer’s identity. This occurs because placing an identity-linked product in the trash is symbolically similar to trashing a part of the self, a situation consumers are motivated to avoid.I hope you enjoyed this fortnight's show. We will remain on a fortnightly schedule until at least October 2017, but I still hope you'll enjoy the interviews we will regularly be publishing hereIf you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
29 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
1747 people talk about their experience taking antidepressants
About 1 in 9 adult New Zealanders receive a prescription for antidepressants each year. Although we think they are generally helpful for people, we know surprisingly little about what it might be like to take them. This week I speak with Associate Professor Dr Kerry Gibson from the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand to find out more.Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-016-0844-3Here is the abstract for some context:BackgroundWhile mental health professionals have focused on concerns about whether antidepressants work on a neurochemical level it is important to understand the meaning this medication holds in the lives of people who use it. This study explores diversity in the experience of antidepressant users.MethodsOne thousand seven hundred forty-seven New Zealand antidepressant users responded to an open-ended question about their experience of antidepressants. This was analysed using content and thematic analysis.ResultsThere was considerable diversity in participants’ responses including positive (54 %), negative (16 %) and mixed (28 %) experiences with antidepressants. Those with positive experiences saw antidepressants as a necessary treatment for a ‘disease’, a life saver, a way of meeting social obligations, dealing with difficult circumstances or a stepping stone to further help. Negative themes described antidepressants as being ineffective, having unbearable side effects, undermining emotional authenticity, masking real problems and reducing the experience of control. Mixed experience themes showed how participants weighed up the unpleasant side effects against the benefits, felt calmer but less like themselves, struggled to find the one or dosage and felt stuck with continuing on antidepressants when they wished to stop.ConclusionsMental health professions need to recognize that antidepressants are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.As I say in the show, the podcast is moving from a weekly schedule to a fortnightly schedule until the end of September 2017 (at least). If you've any thoughts about this, do please get in touch!If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
36 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Do we fear death less after a near-death experience?
'Near-death experiences' come up often in films and novels - the idea of a 'white light' or experiencing meeting loved ones from years before. But are there common aspects to these experiences? And what sorts of consequences might they have once you have them? This week I speak with Dr Natasha Tassell-Matamua, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University, New Zealand to find out more.Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13576275.2015.1043252Here is the abstract for some context:According to terror management theory, fear of death is one of the most profound of human anxieties. Yet, the near-death experience (NDE) and its associated pattern of after-effects represent an intriguing exception to this theory. Studies indicate the loss of the fear of death is an instantaneous and pervasive after-effect of NDEs. Some theorists propose this elimination of death fear could be related to the sense of disembodiment felt during the NDE. In this article, we expand on previous theories by suggesting the combination of four specific elements of the NDE directly influence the loss of the fear of death, including: the sense of disembodiment, positive emotional content, meeting and greeting with deceased others and spiritual beings and exposure to a bright otherworldly light. We conclude by making suggestions for future research endeavours in this area, and their potential beneficial implications for health service delivery, particularly in end-of-life care.Apologies for the sound quality in parts of the show. Natasha was kind enough to be interviewed when on parental leave, so you can hear some of the joys of normal life in the background - but we manage to keep the conversation on track. If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
33 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
We know that divorce and health are linked - but how exactly does this link work?
It is pretty well established that the experience of marital; separation and divorce is a risk for a range of poor health outcomes, even many years after the event. But how are these events linked? Although the association is established, the pathway between the two is not well understood. In this episode, I talk with Professor David Sbarra, in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona in the USA, where he is also the Director of Clinical Training in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. In this conversation, we focus on David's work looking close relationships and health.Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week's show:https://arizona.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/divorce-and-health-good-data-in-need-of-better-theoryHere is the abstract for some context:A very large literature links the experiences of marital separation and divorce to risk for a range of poor distal health outcomes, including early death. What is far less clear, however, is the mechanistic pathways that convey this risk. Several plausible mechanisms are identified in the literature, and the central thesis of this paper is that the empirical study of divorce and health will benefit enormously from a renewed reliance on theory to dictate how these mechanisms of action may unfold over time. This review emphasizes the roles of attachment and social baseline theories in making specific mechanistic predictions and highlights the ways in which these perspectives can contribute new empirical knowledge on risk and resilience following marital dissolution.If you'd like further information after you've listened to the show, you can find David's ebook here: Love, Loss, and the Space Between: https://goo.gl/t9H7LUIf you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
41 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
How climate change affects us mentally and socially, whether you believe in it or not
When you think about climate change- psychology and mental health may not be the first thing that you think of. However, the two are very much connected. As well as possible mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression, psychological responses to climate change such as fatalism, fear, helplessness and resignation are growing. These responses might be keeping us from addressing the core causes of and developing solutions for our changing climates and the consequences of this, as well as building and supporting psychological resiliency. Join me as I discuss this with one of the authors of a new report from the American Psychological Association; Susan Clayton, Professor of Psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio, USA.Here is the link to the report we talk about in this week's show:http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-health-climate.pdfHere is the press release for some context:WASHINGTON — When people think about climate change, they probably think first about its effects on the environment, and possibly on their physical health. But climate change also takes a significant toll on mental health, according to a new report released by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica entitled "Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance (PDF, 1.24MB)."Climate change-induced severe weather and other natural disasters have the most immediate effects on mental health in the form of the trauma and shock due to personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to or loss of personal property or even the loss of livelihood, according to the report. Terror, anger, shock and other intense negative emotions that can dominate people’s initial response may eventually subside, only to be replaced by post-traumatic stress disorder.As an example of the impacts natural disasters can have, among a sample of people living in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, suicide and suicidal ideation more than doubled, 1 in 6 people met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD and 49 percent developed an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression, said the report.The impacts of climate on mental health are not relegated to disasters alone. There are also significant mental health impacts from longer-term climate change. Changes in climate affect agriculture, infrastructure and livability, which in turn affect occupations and quality of life and can force people to migrate. These effects may lead to loss of personal and professional identity, loss of social support structures, loss of a sense of control and autonomy and other mental health impacts such as feelings of helplessness, fear and fatalism. High levels of stress and anxiety are also linked to physical health effects, such as a weakened immune system. Worry about actual or potential impacts of climate change can lead to stress that can build over time and eventually lead to stress-related problems, such as substance abuse, anxiety disorders and depression, according to research reviewed in the report. Climate change is likewise having mental health impacts at the community level. Both acute and long-term changes have been shown to elevate hostility and interpersonal and intergroup aggression, and contribute to the loss of social identity and cohesion, said the report. Certain disadvantaged communities, such as indigenous communities, children and communities dependent on the natural environment can experience disproportionate mental health impacts.The key to combating the potential negative psychological effects of climate change, according to the report, is building resilience. It includes a section dedicated to offering guidance to aid professionals in supporting and promoting the mental health of individuals and communities and helping them build psychological resilience. One recommendation is to guide people to support and maintain their social networks. “Individuals’ personal capacity to withstand trauma is increased when they are connected to their networks off- and online,” said the report. “Researchers have found that higher levels of social support during and in the aftermath of a disaster are associated with lower rates of psychological distress.”The report also emphasized that adopting environmentally friendly policies and lifestyle choices can have a positive effect on mental health. For example, choosing to bike or walk to work has been associated with decreased stress levels. If walking or biking to work is impractical or unsafe, use of public transportation has been associated with an increase in community cohesion and a reduction in symptoms of depression and stress, according to the report. Also, increased accessibility to parks and other green spaces could benefit mental health as spending more time in nature has been shown to lower stress levels and reduce stress-related illness, regardless of socioeconomic status, age or gender.The report, which was produced in collaboration with psychologists Susan Clayton, PhD, of the College of Wooster, and Christie Manning, PhD, of Macalester College, is an update to "Beyond Storms and Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change," a report released by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica in 2014. A seminal work on the relationship between climate change and psychology, "Beyond Storms and Droughts" was cited in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s scientific assessment, "The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States." This 2017 update builds on the findings of the first report with new research, expanded emphasis on inequity, deeper guidance for individuals and communities and stories from professionals who are studying and supporting mental health in a changing climate.If you do enjoy this episode, and would like to support the show, you can do that in a few ways:You can leave a review and rating on iTunes - that really helps others to find the show.You can follow the show on Twitter @wcwtp or me @sarb
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