Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nuggets from Psychology Today's "Essential Reads"

From the many articles on, the editors pick a small percentage as Essential Reads.

From the most recent 325 Essential Reads, I’ve selected short excerpts from 12 that I believe are particularly worthy of your attention. Within some of those, I’ve made minor cuts for space. For all 12, I include the link to the full article.

What Do We Really Know About Mindfulness by multiple authors from Cornell University’s  Bronfenbrenner Center for the Study of Translational Research
The evidence on meditation is flawed; researchers don’t really know how meditation effects the mind and brain. A new sweeping review makes the case that society’s beliefs about mindfulness as a cure-all are misguided. They found the vast majority of evidence available on mindfulness has two main flaws: There is no consistent definition for mindfulness, and researchers don’t have a consistent way to measure the results of mindfulness.

If ADHD Isn’t Real, How Come So Many Children Struggle? by Samuel Veissière
Praise your child on their high levels of energy, remind them of the many situations in which they do well, and encourage them to transfer these strengths to other contexts. Use the child’s interests as an anchor.

Use peer-mentoring to increase pride and confidence. All children like to be helpful and feel like they can be mentors. We are also much better at helping others than helping ourselves. 

Psychology Textbooks Contain Inaccuracies on Intelligence by Alexander Blum, Psychology Today Editorial Staff.

 A new study found that 23 out of 29 textbooks contained “inaccurate statements” and 23 included “logical fallacies” in their content on intelligence...Undergraduates might come away with a false sense that the concept of intelligence is based on arbitrarily chosen tasks.

 “There might be 1,000 genes related to intelligence, each having a tiny effect,” (Richard) Haier says. “That’s a lot of genes to manipulate if you want to change intelligence. But it might be that a couple hundred of those genes affect one brain system in different ways, so you might target that brain system to influence intelligence.”

A Passionate Call for a Commitment to the Truth by Gena Gorlin.

People of all political persuasions seem increasingly willing to uphold their “principles” at any price—including the price of bending or disregarding reality.
Without a commitment to grounding beliefs in what is true, we lack a fundamental motivation to check and validate (and, if need be, abandon or revise) whatever principles we happen to ingest from parents, peers, and professors.

Sit down and make a written inventory of all the feared or suspected truths you tend to avoid. The next step is to examine them honestly and rationally. For each one, ask yourself: Is this actually true?

Better To Have Loved and Lost than Never Loved At All? by Bella De Paulo
If you stay single all your life, are you better or worse off than if you marry but then get divorced or become widowed?...Lifelong single people were typically better off than divorced or widowed people in the kinds of ways that researchers typically measure, such as their happiness and health.

Why Smarter Men Make Better Partners by Susan Krauss Whitbourne
A new study by Jaako Aspara and colleagues (2018), of the Hanken School of Economics (Finland), suggests that when it comes to picking a male partner, the smarter one is the better bet.
The other piece of the puzzle is whether those brighter men find their partners to be scintillating enough to get them through the long haul. Are they able to have intellectually stimulating conversations, particularly after the early flush of romantic attraction passes?

Individual Differences: These 9 basic dimensions differentiate us from one another by Glenn Geher
In addition to the standard Big 5 dimensions of who we are (Extraversion-Introversion, Neuroticism-Emotional Stability, Openness-Closemindness Agreeableness-Disagreeableness, and Conscientiousness-Disorganized), the author identifies four others:

Narcissism-Selflessness.  Someone who is high in narcissism spends a disproportionate amount of time thinking about himself or herself.

Psychopathy-Empathic. Someone high in psychopathy does not feel for others or care much about their welfare..

Machiavellianism-Scrupulous. People high in Machiavellianism will do the right thing by others  only to the extent it benefits themselves.

Slow Life History Strategy Versus Fast Life History Strategy. Someone with a slow life history strategy will take an approach to life that is slow, taking steps to invest much in the future.

Smile, There Is No Hell (Even the Pope Says So) by David Niose
Controversy erupted this week with reports that Pope Francis denied the existence of hell. Quoted by an Italian journalist who is both a friend and frequent interviewer of the pontiff, Francis reportedly said that sinners who die without eternal salvation “are not punished.” Their souls simply disappear. “There is no hell,” he unambiguously declared.”

Five Ways to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage by James J. Sexton
Be a cheerleader for your spouse. You are uniquely positioned to be a voice of support and encouragement. Resist the temptation to compare your spouse to an imaginary ideal you’ve created in your head or what romance films have told you a “perfect” spouse would look and act like. Your partner needs a cheerleader. We all do.

Realize that nobody can do everything. We’ve created an insane notion as a culture that if your spouse isn’t meeting all your needs in every aspect of life, all the time, they’re failing at the job of spouse...A spouse who meets many of your needs much of the time is a massive win.

Too Much Charisma Is Bad for Leadership by Art Markman
People moderate in charisma were judged as more effective leaders than people who were with very low or very high in charisma... Leaders themselves discount the importance of being operational and overestimate the value of charisma.

Seeking Justice or Enhancing a Victimized Identify by Gregg Henriques
When does the group force (regarding male predation become groupthink overshoot? And when does it morph into turning women into hypersensitive victims or become an example of virtue signaling: the thought that every sophisticated person knows society is racist and sexist and to question that at any level is to reveal ignorance or nefarious, defensive motives.

Last and perhaps least, the Psychology Today editors selected two of my articles as Essential Reads. Here are excerpts from one:

Ten Tips for Parents of a Smart Child by Marty Nemko
Do nothing. What, do nothing?! Yes. The good news is that bright and gifted kids left to their own devices usually have the brainpower to come up with activities for themselves that are appropriately difficult and of interest at that time. So don’t over-schedule your child. Allow him or her time to imagine, to create games out of nothing, and yes, to use the computer.

Use (link is external).  It offer a wealth of resources: tips for parents to lesson plans for teachers, advice for counselors, and schools and summer camps specializing in smart kids.

Skip a grade(s?) If your child is significantly more academically advanced than the students in his or her grade, consider asking the principal or counselor about skipping a grade or even more than one. The evidence is clear  that it can be a big plus. Even if the child's social skills aren't advanced, the benefit often outweighs the liability, especially if the receiving teacher is pleased to accept the child and pairs the child with a bright, popular, kind child in that class.

I read an expanded version of this on YouTube.

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