Applying Psychological Science, Benefiting Society

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions, Seeking the Gears of Our Inner Clock, The Real Victims of Victimhood and more- In Case You Missed It– January 8th, 2015

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address how to keep your New Year’s resolutions, seeking the gears of our inner clock, the real victims of victimhood, and more.

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions – Time Magazine

The New Year is a time when many people begin their resolutions, but according to psychologist Art Markman, if you want to succeed with your New Year’s resolutions, you have to start way before New Year’s Eve to get ready. The reason that people fail to accomplish most of their resolutions is that they don’t put in enough effort to allow them to succeed. Some other simple rules to follow to keep your resolutions this year are: Focus on positive goals rather than negative ones, make realistic plans, and make changes to your environment. People really can succeed with their New Year’s resolutions, they just need to plan ahead.

Seeking the Gears of Our Inner Clock– The New York Times

The body’s circadian clock influences our sleeping habits, body temperature, the production of hormones, and our thoughts and feelings. Psychologists have had people take cognitive tests at different times of day in order to measure some of its effects on the brain. Results of these testing have shown that, late morning turns out to be the best time to try doing tasks such as mental arithmetic while later in the afternoon is the time to attempt simpler tasks. Examining the brains of healthy people who had died suddenly, neuroscientist Huda Akil and colleagues found many genes that followed a consistent daily cycle, so consistent she could predict time of death to within an hour. Neuroscientist Colleen A. McClung did a study to examine the patterns of gene expression in the brains of young and old people and discovered genes that became active in daily cycles only in old age. Dr. McClung believes that “It looks like the brain might be trying to compensate by turning on an additional clock.” Switching on this backup clock may be a possible treatment to a range of circadian-related disorders.

The Real Victims of Victimhood – The New York Times

Are we becoming a culture of victimhood? In 2014 a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study concluded that there was a widespread political “motive attribution asymmetry,” in which both sides attributed their own group’s aggressive behavior to love, but the opposite side’s to hatred. Victimhood makes it more difficult to resolve political and social conflicts. Victimhood culture feeds on a mentality that every policy difference is a battle between good (us) and evil (them). Victimhood culture generally claims the right to say who is and is not allowed to speak to protect the sensibilities of its advocates. Leaders in victimhood culture treat people less as individuals and more as aggrieved masses.

APA Exclusive- Self-Esteem Gender Gap More Pronounced in Western Countries

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that self-esteem tended to increase from adolescence to adulthood, and that men at every age tended to have higher levels of self-esteem than women worldwide. When they broke the results down by country, they found that this self-esteem gender gap is more pronounced in Western industrialized countries. What surprised researchers was, despite cultural differences, the general trend across all the countries suggests that gender and age differences in self-esteem are not a Western idiosyncrasy, but can be observed in different cultures across the world. Lead author Wiebke Bleidorn, PhD commented that this finding “refines our understanding of how cultural forces may shape self-esteem, which, when worked out more fully, can help inform self-esteem theory and design interventions to promote or protect self-esteem.”

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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