Archive for June 13th, 2012

Flowers still best way to a woman’s heart


Flowers still best way to a woman’s heart

ANI Jun 12, 2012, 12.08PM IST

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Women|Woman’ heart|Tom Buchanan|heart|Flowers|cake

(Flowers still best way to…)

A bouquet of flowers can indeed have a powerful impact on romance, scientists have found.

Psychologists have discovered that the presence of flowers make women significantly more receptive to men’s advances, even when the flowers are in the background rather than presented as a gift, the Telegraph reported.

The findings prove that flowers can play a major role on making love blossom, suggesting that the Bard was right all along.

A team of psychologists from the University of South Brittany in France found that young women shopping on their own are far more likely to give their phone number to a handsome young man who approaches them if they are stopped outside a flower shop, rather than a cake shop or woman’s shoe shop.

The university recruited five young men who had been previously judged as being attractive by a group of women.

These men were then told to approach young women between the age of 18 and 25 in the street to try to get their phone numbers. Each man was told to say their name, tell the woman that she was very pretty and ask for her phone number so that they could later go for a drink.

Of the 600 women approached, around a quarter – or 144 – agreed to give their number if they were asked for it outside a flower shop.

This compares to just one in seven – or 90 – outside a bakery, and one in ten outside a shoe shop.

The researchers said that the experiment shows that the site of flowers makes people more open to romance.

“Flowers reflect our emotions and moods. They often convey feelings of compassion, regret, merriment or even romance. The results confirm the effect of exposure to flowers on receptivity to romantic request,” the research found.

Dr Tom Buchanan, an expert in psychology at the University of Westminster, said that the sight of a certain object can lead people to behave in certain ways, even if they do not realise it.

He said that because flowers are associated with romance, people often start thinking, speaking or behaving in a romantic way when they see them.

“These findings are consistent with the phenomenon known as automatic or behavioural priming. That is where ‘cues’ – or triggers – in your environment can lead you to behave in ways that are consistent with that environment.

“So the presence of the flower shop, which is associated with romance, could have primed people to behave in a way that is more receptive to the researcher’s advances,” Dr Buchanan said.

The findings were published in The Journal of Social Psychology.

via Flowers still best way to a woman’s heart – Times Of India.

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Minor Stressful Events Can Cause Major Emotional Reactions


Minor Stressful Events Can Cause Major Emotional Reactions | Psych Central News

Minor Stressful Events Can Cause Major Emotional Reactions
By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 13, 2012
New research suggests that our response to stress may at times be overexaggerated because of the evolutionary development of the brain linking emotional responses to perceptions of stress.

As a result, mildly stressful situations can affect our perceptions in the same way as life-threatening ones.

In the study, researchers studied the effects of money loss — a stressful event for most everyone. Money loss, real or perceived, can cause significant outcomes as financial loss can lead to irrational behavior.

Researchers determined that the stress inflicted by a financial loss can alter our sense of reality, interfering with a true grasp of the situation.

The findings, found in the Journal of Neuroscience, may also have implications for our understanding of the neurological mechanisms underlying post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the study, researchers trained subjects using a classical conditioning method on situations involving money.

Subjects were asked to listen to a series of tones composed of three different notes. After hearing one note, they were told they had earned a certain sum; after a second note, they were informed that they had lost some of their money; and a third note was followed by the message that their bankroll would remain the same.

Researchers discovered subjects improved their ability to distinguish the musical notes when a note was tied to a gain, or at least to no loss. But when they heard the “lose money” note, they actually got worse at telling one note from the other.

As part of the study, researchers used functional MRI (fMRI) scans to observe brain areas involved in the learning task. Investigators discovered the amygdala, an area of the brain known to be associated with emotions, was strongly involved during the learning process.

Researchers also noted activity in another area in the front of the brain, which functions to moderate or lessen the emotional response. Subjects who exhibited stronger activity in this area showed less of a drop in their abilities to distinguish between tones.

Neuroscientist and chief investigator Rony Paz, Ph.D., said the research demonstrates the evolutionary aspects of the brain in response to stress.

Our brain has been trained to blur certain inputs – if the best response to the growl of a lion is to run quickly, it would be counterproductive to distinguish between different pitches of growl. Any similar sound should make us flee without thinking, Paz said.

“Unfortunately, that same blurring mechanism can be activated today in stress-inducing situations that are not life-threatening – like losing money – and this can harm us.”

An overreaction to stress may be quite serious. For instance, it may be involved in post-traumatic stress disorder. If sufferers are unable to distinguish between a stimulus that should cause a panic response and similar, but non-threatening, stimuli, they may experience strong emotional reactions in inappropriate situations.

This perceptional blurring may even expand over time to encompass a larger range of stimuli detrimentally expanding the stress response.

According to Paz, future research in planned to investigate this possibility in future research.

Source: Weizmann Institute

Stressed out man photo by shutterstock.

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Video: About Psychodynamic Psychotherapy


Video: About Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
By JOHN M. GROHOL, PSYD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Joseph Burgo, one of our bloggers here at Psych Central, has recently inaugurated a new series of videos about psychodynamic psychotherapy, aimed at people who may be considering treatment and don’t know quite what to expect from this particular type of therapy.

His first video deals with the intake or initial consultation, focusing on the anxieties felt by both client and therapist as they embark upon a new relationship with a total stranger. His next video will focus on the types of issues that come up during the first few sessions; in future, he plans to cover other issues such as: the emergence of the transference, vacation breaks, the role of humor, therapist errors, etc.

These videos will appear on his YouTube channel and Dr. Burgo will announce each new one via his Therapy Case Notes blog. Even if you’re already familiar with psychodynamic psychotherapy, his thoughts about first sessions apply to all types of treatment and may be of interest:

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6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently


6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently

6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently
By YOURTANGO EXPERTS

This guest article from YourTango was written by Richard Drobnick.

Men and women are different in many ways. They see the world through completely different perspectives. The key to understanding their differences is in the way that men and women communicate.

Here are six important communication differences that you should be aware of, to help improve your communications with your partner and make them smoother and more effective.

1. Why Talk?

He believes communication should have a clear purpose. Behind every conversation is a problem that needs solving or a point that needs to be made. Communication is used to get to the root of the dilemma as efficiently as possible.

She uses communication to discover how she is feeling and what it is she wants to say. She sees conversation as an act of sharing and an opportunity to increase intimacy with her partner. Through sharing, she releases negative feelings and solidifies her bond with the man she loves.

2. How Much Should You Say?

He prioritizes productivity and efficiency in his daily life, and conversation is no exception. When he tells a story he has already sorted through the muck in his own head, and shares only those details that he deems essential to the point of the story. He might wonder, “Why do women need to talk as much as they do?” Often he will interrupt a woman once he has heard enough to offer a solution.

She uses communication to explore and organize her thoughts — to discover the point of the story. She may not know what information is necessary or excessive until the words come spilling out. But a woman isn’t necessarily searching for a solution when she initiates a conversation. She’s looking for someone to listen and understand what she’s feeling.

3. What Does It Mean To Listen?

He is conditioned to listen actively. When a woman initiates conversation he assumes she is seeking his advice or assistance. He engages with the woman, filtering everything she’s saying through the lens of, “What can we actually do about this?” Learning to listen patiently — not just passively — doesn’t come easily to him.

She sees conversation as a productive end in and of itself. If she feels sufficiently heard or understood she may not need to take further action to resolve a problem or “make things better.” The fact that she has been listened to assuages her anxieties and dulls the pangs of negative feelings. Sharing with someone who understands and loves her heals her from the inside and equips her with the emotional tools necessary to handle the trials and tribulations of the outside world.

4. When She Is Feeling Down …

He will want to tackle her problems head on, like a fireman. He feels impatient to put the fire out as quickly as possible. For him, the quickest way to put the fire out is by giving solutions. Because he wants so badly to provide for his spouse, he may take her mood personally and defend himself. He might hear things literally, not realizing that when his spouse is upset she will use words as tools to explore and express difficult emotions.

By using words as tools to explore and express her difficult emotions when she is upset, she is able to process her negative emotions and let them go. She values support and nurture, and is most fulfilled by sharing, cooperation and community. When he shows interest in her by asking caring questions or expressing heartfelt concerns she feels loved and cared for. He is fulfilling her first primary love need.

5. When He Is Feeling Down …

He will often withdraw into his “cave” (becoming quiet and withdrawn) when he’s upset or stressed. A man’s “cave time” is like a short vacation: he reduces stress by forgetting about his problems and focusing on other things like watching television, reading the newspaper, or playing video games.

He might avoid communication with his spouse during times of duress. If she persists with nurturing questions or criticism, he withdraws even further, fearing that his partner doesn’t trust him to take care of business on his own. However, with her support and understanding, a man will return and be more emotionally available, caring, and loving.

She might interpret her spouse’s silence as a sign that she is failing him or that she’s losing him. She instinctively tries to nurture him through his problems by asking an abundance of caring questions. Or she may react defensively out of fear that her own need for healthy open communication is not being respected within the relationship.

Ultimately, she can do more for him by appreciating his space, which shows him that she trusts him to work out the problem on his own. Trusting is one of the greatest gifts she has to offer him. In the meantime she should do something nurturing for herself, so she won’t resent him when he emerges from his “cave time.”

6. Communication Breaks Down When …

He feels like he’s being told what to do. The most important thing to a man is doing a good job. When his competence is questioned he’ll not only feel hurt, but he’ll throw up a wall of resistance, and communication begins to breakdown. He thrives in an environment where he’s the expert. Rather than being told, “You should do X” he is likely to respond better to, “What do you think of X?” The trick to improving him is to resist telling him what to do.

She hears from her spouse that her problems aren’t as real and pressing as they seem in that very moment. Her spouse may mistakenly think he’s being helpful in providing “reality checks” like: “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill” or “You’re getting overly emotional about it.” To her it feels like he is attempting to minimize her feelings or talk her out of having them.

Men and women desire to satisfy their partners, but they may miss the mark because it is truly difficult to understand and accept our partner’s different ways of communication. Men and women need education on these differences to help their relationships, so they do not end up in a frustrated state of resentment and feel stuck.

If a couple is feeling stuck, I suggest they read or listen to couples self-help books together. If the couple still feels stuck, then they should always seek professional counseling and get back on the road to better understanding and communication.

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Learning Works Best When You Rest


Learning Works Best When You Rest | Psych Central News

Learning Works Best When You Rest
By JANICE WOOD Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 25, 2012
A new study shows that sleeping soon after learning new material is best for recall.

Notre Dame psychologist Jessica Payne and colleagues studied 207 students who habitually slept for at least six hours each night. Participants were randomly assigned to study declarative, semantically related or unrelated word pairs at 9 a.m. or 9 p.m., and returned for testing 30 minutes, 12 hours or 24 hours later.

Declarative memory refers to the ability to consciously remember facts and events. It can be broken down into memory for events — known as episodic memory — and semantic memory, which is memory for facts about the world.

People routinely use both types of memory every day, such as recalling where we parked or learning how a colleague prefers to be addressed, Payne said.

At the 12-hour retest, memory was superior following a night of sleep compared to a day of wakefulness, she said.

However, this performance difference was a result of a pronounced deterioration in memory for unrelated word pairs, she said, noting there was no difference for related word pairs. At the 24-hour retest, with all subjects having received both a full night of sleep and a full day of wakefulness, memories were superior when sleep occurred shortly after learning, rather than following a full day of wakefulness.

“Our study confirms that sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory,” she said. “What’s novel about this study is that we tried to shine light on sleep’s influence on both types of declarative memory by studying semantically unrelated and related word pairs.”

“Since we found that sleeping soon after learning benefited both types of memory, this means that it would be a good thing to rehearse any information you need to remember just prior to going to bed,” she continued. “In some sense, you may be ‘telling’ the sleeping brain what to consolidate.”

Titled “Memory for Semantically Related and Unrelated Declarative Information: The Benefit of Sleep, the Cost of Wake,” the study was published March 22 in PLOS One.

Source: University of Notre Dame

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Number of Friendships Linked to Brain Size


Number of Friendships Linked to Brain Size | Psych Central News

Number of Friendships Linked to Brain Size
By TRACI PEDERSEN Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 26, 2012
If you have a lot of friends, then you most likely have a bigger orbital prefrontal cortex — a brain region found just above the eyes — according to a new study, part of the British Academy Centenary “Lucy to Language” project.

The research shows that in order to maintain several friendships (not acquaintances), it is necessary to use what social scientists refer to as “mentalizing” or “mind-reading” — the capacity to understand what another person is thinking.  This skill is crucial in handling a complex social world, including the ability to hold a conversation.

This study is the first to suggest that proficiency in these skills is linked to the size of key regions of the brain, particularly the frontal lobe.

“Perhaps the most important finding of our study is that we have been able to show that the relationship between brain size and social network size is mediated by mentalizing skills.

“What this tells us is that the size of your brain determines your social skills, and it is these that allow you have many friends,” said psychologist Dr. Joanne Powell from the University of Liverpool.

For the study, researchers used an MRI to scan the brains of 40 volunteers in order to measure the size of the prefrontal cortex, the region used in high-level thinking. Participants were then asked to list everyone they had had social (as opposed to professional) contact with over the previous seven days. They also took a test to determine their competency in mentalizing.

‘We found that individuals who had more friends did better on mentalizing tasks and had more neural volume in the orbital frontal cortex, the part of the forebrain immediately above the eyes,” said Robin Dunbar, Ph.D.,  of the University of Oxford and the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology.

“Understanding this link between an individual’s brain size and the number of friends they have helps us understand the mechanisms that have led to humans developing bigger brains than other primate species. The frontal lobes of the brain, in particular, have enlarged dramatically in humans over the last half-million years.”

“All the volunteers in this sample were postgraduate students of broadly similar ages with potentially similar opportunities for social activities. Of course, the amount of spare time for socializing, geography, personality and gender all influence friendship size, but we also know that at least some of these factors, notably gender, also correlate with mentalizing skills.

“Our study finds there is a link between the ability to read how other people think and social network size,” added Dunbar.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Source:  University of Oxford

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Sad Movies Make Many People Happy


Sad Movies Make Many People Happy | Psych Central News

Sad Movies Make Many People Happy
By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 28, 2012
New research helps explains why many people enjoy watching tragic movies or plays. Apparently, the emotional connection evoked by such stories helped viewers better appreciate their own close relationships, which in turn boosted their life happiness.

Thus, the paradox is that what seems like a negative experience — watching a sad story — can make people happier by bringing attention to some positive aspects in their own lives.

Tragic stories often focus on themes of eternal love, and this leads viewers to think about their loved ones and count their blessings,” said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

Researchers found movies that cause a viewer to think about their own situation and relationships are powerful.

Investigators found that the more an individual thought about their loved ones during the movie — in this case, the 2007 film “Atonement,” based on the award-winning novel by Ian McEwan — the greater the increase in their happiness.

However, viewers who had self-centered thoughts concerning the movie — such as “My life isn’t as bad as the characters in this movie” — did not see an increase in their happiness.

Knobloch-Westerwick said this study is one of the first to take a scientific approach to explaining why people enjoy fictional tragedies that make them sad.

“Philosophers have considered this question over the millennia, but there hasn’t been much scientific attention to the question,” she said.

Researchers studied 361 college students who viewed an abridged version of  “Atonement,” which involves two lovers who are separated and die as war casualties. Before and after viewing the movie, the respondents were asked several questions which measured how happy they were with their life.

They were also asked before, after and three times during the movie to rate how much they were feeling various emotions, including sadness.

After the movie, participants rated how much they enjoyed the movie and wrote about how the movie had led them to reflect on themselves, their goals, their relationships and life in general.

What people wrote about as a result of seeing the movie was a key in understanding why people enjoy viewing fictional tragedies, Knobloch-Westerwick said. People who experienced a greater increase in sadness while watching the movie were more likely to write about real people with whom they had close relationships, she said.

This in turn, increased participants’ life happiness after viewing, which was then related to more enjoyment of the movie.

“People seem to use tragedies as a way to reflect on the important relationships in their own life, to count their blessings,” she said. “That can help explain why tragedies are so popular with audiences, despite the sadness they induce.”

Surprisingly, the perception that movies may make people feel more happiness because they compare themselves to the characters portrayed and feel good that their own lives are not as bad — was not the case.

People whose thoughts after the movie were about themselves — rather than about their close relationships — did not experience an increase in life happiness.

“Tragedies don’t boost life happiness by making viewers think more about themselves. They appeal to people because they help them to appreciate their own relationships more,” she said.

But why would people have to get sad by watching a tragedy to feel grateful about relationships in their own lives? Knobloch-Westerwick said this fits with research in psychology that suggests negative moods make people more thoughtful.

Positive emotions are generally a signal that everything is fine, you don’t have to worry, you don’t have to think about issues in your life,” she said.

“But negative emotions, like sadness, make you think more critically about your situation. So seeing a tragic movie about star-crossed lovers may make you sad, but that will cause you to think more about your own close relationships and appreciate them more.”

Research has also shown that relationships are generally the major source of happiness in our lives, so it is no surprise that thinking about your loved ones would make you happier, she said.

“Tragedies bring to mind close relationships, which makes us happy.”

Source: Ohio State University

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