Saturday, February 28, 2015

In 5 Year Study, Long-Term Psychotherapy Found Superior to Short-Term Psychotherapy in Producing Personality Changes

In the Journal of Affective Disorders, Researchers Olavi Lindforsa, Paul Knekta, Erkki Heinonena, Tommi Härkänena, and Esa Virtalaa (2015) conducted a randomized trial comparing short- and long-term psychotherapies and their impact on personality functioning (n = 326). All therapy groups showed improved functioning. While short-term therapy at first was more effective in improving self-concept, producing decreases in immature defense style, and reducing interpersonal problems, long-term therapy had the advantage in producing greater changes to self-concept and, in the long-run, outperformed short-term therapy across measures.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boring but important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation.

In Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, David S. Yeager and colleagues report: 
"Many important learning tasks feel uninteresting and tedious to learners. This research proposed that promoting a prosocial, self-transcendent purpose could improve academic self-regulation on such tasks. This proposal was supported in 4 studies with over 2,000 adolescents and young adults. Study 1 documented a correlation between a self-transcendent purpose for learning and self-reported trait measures of academic self-regulation. Those with more of a purpose for learning also persisted longer on a boring task rather than giving in to a tempting alternative and, many months later, were less likely to drop out of college. Study 2 addressed causality. It showed that a brief, one-time psychological intervention promoting a self-transcendent purpose for learning could improve high school science and math grade point average (GPA) over several months. Studies 3 and 4 were short-term experiments that explored possible mechanisms. They showed that the self-transcendent purpose manipulation could increase deeper learning behavior on tedious test review materials (Study 3), and sustain self-regulation over the course of an increasingly boring task (Study 4). More self-oriented motives for learning—such as the desire to have an interesting or enjoyable career—did not, on their own, consistently produce these benefits (Studies 1 and 4)."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mindfulness at the Heart of Existential-Phenomenology and Humanistic Psychology: A Century of Contemplation and Elaboration

In The Humanistic Psychologist researchers Andrew J. Felder, Halle M. Atena, Julie A. Neudeck, Jennifer Shiomi-Chenc, and Brent Dean Robbins report:
"The mindfulness ‘foundations’ of existential-phenomenology appeared at the turn of the 20th century. Humanistic psychology's affinity with phenomenology emerged in the latter half of the mid-20th century. Yet the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) third wave mindfulness literature does not appear to have turned toward full collaborative acknowledgment of its neighboring precursors. A revised history of Western mindfulness-based work and psychology is thus provided. Parallels among phenomenological-humanistic psychology (PHP), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are also discussed. Specifically, non-judgmental observation and description, validation, acceptance, intuition, doing and being, bodily mindfulness, letting be, and meaning-making are reviewed. Herefrom, the CBT third wave is invited into generative intra-disciplinary dialogue with PHP."

Pathways From Personality to Happiness: Sense of Uniqueness as a Mediator

In Journal of Humanistic Psychology, researchers Selda Koydemir, Ömer Faruk Şimşek, and Melikşah Demir report:
"Personal sense of uniqueness, a major construct in humanistic psychology, has been recently shown to be a robust correlate of happiness. Yet the antecedents of this experience are not known. To address this limitation, we focused on extraversion and openness to experience, the two traits referred to as plasticity in higher-order framework of personality, as predictors of uniqueness and happiness. In light of theory and past empirical research, we proposed that the two traits representing plasticity would promote a sense of uniqueness, which in turn influence happiness. This model was tested in a college sample (N = 370) by relying on structural equation modeling. Results showed that uniqueness mediated the associations of extraversion and openness to experience with happiness. This model was supported when the effects of neuroticism, a marker of vulnerability to psychopathology, on uniqueness was taken into account. The implications of the findings for future research were addressed and sense of uniqueness as an element of a good life was highlighted."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Relationship Between Materialism and Personal Well-Being: A Meta-Analysis

In the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, researchers Helga Dittmar, Rod Bond, Megan Hurst, and Tim Kassar (2014) report:
"This meta-analysis investigates the relationship between individuals’ materialistic orientation and their personal well-being. Theoretical approaches in psychology agree that prioritizing money and associated aims is negatively associated with individuals’ well-being but differ in their implications for whether this is invariably the case. To address these and other questions, we examined 753 effect sizes from 259 independent samples. Materialism was associated with significantly lower well-being for the most widely used, multifaceted measures (materialist values and beliefs, r = −.19, ρ = −.24; relative importance of materialist goals, r = −.16, ρ = −.21), more than for measures assessing emphasis on money alone (rs = −.08 to −.11, ρs = −.09 to −.14). The relationship also depended on type of well-being outcome, with largest effects for risky health and consumer behaviors and for negative self-appraisals (rs = −.28 to −.44, ρs = −.32 to −.53) and weakest effects for life satisfaction and negative affect (rs = −.13 to −.15, ρs = −.17 to −.18). Moderator analyses revealed that the strength of the effect depended on certain demographic factors (gender and age), on value context (study/work environments that support materialistic values and cultures that emphasize affective autonomy), and on cultural economic indicators (economic growth and wealth differentials). Mediation analyses suggested that the negative link may be explained by poor psychological need satisfaction. We discuss implications for the measurement of materialist values and the need for theoretical and empirical advances to explore underlying processes, which likely will require more experimental, longitudinal, and developmental research."

Psychological Growth in Aging Vietnam Veterans: Redefining Shame and Betrayal

In a new article published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Lynne McCormack and Stephen Joseph report: 
"This study offers alternative interpretations of war-related distress embedded within the social and political context of the Vietnam War. Subjective interpretations from aging Vietnam veterans were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. A central theme—Moral authenticity: Overcoming the betrayal and shame of war—overarched five subordinate themes. Four subordinate themes encapsulated layers of war-related betrayal associated with shame. Shame was likely to be described as either (a) internal/sense of personal failure, with no acts of rage; or (b) external/reckless or threatening acts of others, engendering rage. A fifth theme, reparation with self, reflected humility, gratitude, and empathy, currently undefined domains of the growth construct."

Emotional Distress and Diagnosis: Word on the Street

Lois Holzman reports:
“Once you have that label it doesn’t stay at the clinic. You carry it with you for a long time.”
“We need to encourage people to speak more public [sic] about the topic of mental illness and alternatives to medication and treatment.”
“When I finally got labeled ‘depressed,’ I was relieved. It helped me deal with all the people who were saying, ‘Get over it already!’”
“It’s important to see how tied in diagnosing is to Big Pharma.”

These are some of the things people say when given the opportunity to talk about their experiences with and opinions about mental health and diagnosis...

Read more at the New Existentialist blog:

Brent Robbins: Materialism and the Joyless Life

Past President of SHP (Division 32) talks about joy and mindfulness at the Leadership Pittsburgh conference.