Posts Tagged Personality and Social Psychology Review

A Simple Strategy to Let Go of Painful Thoughts and Feelings


English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No one wants to experience pain.  Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, once we’ve encountered pain, it’s natural to want it to end.

But, if you pay attention, you will likely find that there are certain emotionally or mentally painful circumstances that you get caught in.  Maybe it’s the angry thoughts about someone who has hurt you or pessimistic thinking about troubles you have faced.

Each of us has a tendency to get caught in certain types of thinking that prolongs painful emotions.  Instead of enjoying a relaxing evening, we might find ourselves ruminating on something hurtful someone said or rather than solving a difficult problem and moving on, you may find you are again and again drawn to thoughts about how unfair your circumstances are.

Sometimes it seems as if the mind just wants to hold on to these painful thoughts and circumstances.  Even as we try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, we may find ourselves rethinking and reliving painful situations.

Try this:

  • Take a situation that you often find yourself either avoiding and pushing away or painful stuck in.  It may be a situation in which you are ruminating and worried or one that you are fearful of and want to avoid dealing with.
  • When you encounter that situation or thoughts and feelings about that situation, don’t attempt to engage in thinking about it and, at the same time, don’t try to push your thoughts and feelings away.
  • Focus instead on noticing your experience.  You might say to yourself “I’m thinking angry thoughts about that” or “It’s painful to remember my mistake.”  Allow yourself to observe, without judging the situation, your thoughts about the situation or your feelings.

Over time, as you observe your own internal response to this situation, you will find that you no longer need to ruminate about it or push it away.  You will be able to recognize your self-judgments and criticisms of others and let them be.  The pain and the need to attach to it or push it away will pass and you will be able to let it go.

Still having trouble letting go?  In his book, Full Catastrophe LivingJon Kabat-Zinn suggests that when something has a strong hold on your mind, try to direct your attention to what “holding on” feels like.  Become an expert in understanding your own attachment to this worry or problem.  Even when you are struggling to let go, you can become skilled at understanding yourself and the consequences of both holding on and letting go.

You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.

 

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Women Prefer Prestige Over Dominance In Mates


A new study in the journal Personal Relationships reveals that women prefer mates who are recognized by their peers for their skills, abilities, and achievements, while not preferring men who use coercive tactics to subordinate their rivals. Indeed, women found dominance strategies of the latter type to be attractive primarily when men used them in the context of male-male athletic competitions

Jeffrey K. Snyder, Lee A. Kirkpatrick, and H. Clark Barrett conducted three studies with college women at two U.S. universities. Participants evaluated hypothetical potential mates described in written vignettes. The studies were designed to examine the respective effects of men’s dominance and prestige on women’s assessments of men.

Women are sensitive to the context in which men display domineering behaviors when they evaluate men as potential mates. For example, the traits and behaviors that women found attractive in athletic competitions were unattractive to women when men displayed the same traits and behaviors in interpersonal contexts. Notably, when considering prospective partners for long-term relationships, women’s preferences for dominance decrease, and their preferences for prestige increase.

“These findings directly contradict the dating advice of some pop psychologists who advise men to be aggressive in their social interactions. Women most likely avoid dominant men as long-term romantic partners because a dominant man may also be domineering in the household.” the authors conclude.

via Women Prefer Prestige Over Dominance In Mates.

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Women happier in relationships when men feel their pain


Love Hurts (Incubus song)

Love Hurts (Incubus song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The study involved a diverse sample of couples and found that men’s and women’s perceptions of their significant other’s empathy, and their abilities to tell when the other is happy or upset, are linked to relationship satisfaction in distinctive ways, according to the article published online in the Journal of Family Psychology.

“It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man’s investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times. This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict,” said the study’s lead author, Shiri Cohen, PhD, of Harvard Medical School.

Researchers recruited 156 heterosexual couples for the experiment. Of those, 102 came from the Boston area and were younger, urban, ethnically and economically diverse and in a committed but not necessarily married relationship. In an effort to find couples who varied in the ways they resolved conflicts and controlled their emotions, they also looked for couples with a history of domestic violence and/or childhood sexual abuse. The remaining participants, from Bryn Mawr, Pa., were older, suburban and middle-class married couples with strong ties to the community. In all, 71 percent of couples were white, 56 percent were married and their average length of relationship was three-and-a-half years.

Each participant was asked to describe an incident with his or her partner over the past couple of months that was particularly frustrating, disappointing or upsetting. The researchers’ audio recorded the participant making a one- to two-sentence statement summarizing the incident and reaction and then brought the couples together and played each participant’s statements. The couples were told to try to come to a better understanding together of what had happened and were given approximately 10 minutes to discuss it while the researchers videotaped them. Following the discussions, the participants viewed the videotape and simultaneously rated their negative and positive emotions throughout, using an electronic rating device. The device had a knob that moved across an 11-point scale that ranged from “very negative” to “neutral” to “very positive.”

Using these ratings, the researchers selected six 30-second clips from the videotape that had the highest rated negative or positive emotions by each partner. The researchers showed the clips to the participants and had them complete questionnaires about their feelings during each segment as well as their perceptions of their partner’s feelings and effort to understand them during the discussion. They also measured the participants’ overall satisfaction with their relationships and whether each partner considered his or her partner’s efforts to be empathetic.

Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men’s ability to read their female partner’s positive emotions correctly. However, contrary to the researchers’ expectations, women who correctly understood that their partners were upset during the videotaped incident were much more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than if they correctly understood that their partner was happy. Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not. The authors suggest that being empathetic to a partner’s negative emotions may feel threatening to the relationship for men but not for women.

The findings also show that the more men and women try to be empathetic to their partner’s feelings, the happier they are. The authors suggest that this research should encourage couples to better appreciate and communicate one another’s efforts to be empathetic.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

via Women happier in relationships when men feel their pain.

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Heavy Women Have Lower Quality Relationships, But Same Is Not True For Men, Study Finds


The research—conducted jointly by Professor Latner and New Zealand clinical psychologist Dr. Alice D. Boyes addresses body image, weight, romantic relationships, and differences between men and women.

Associations between body mass index (BMI) and relationship quality and other partner/relationship perceptions were investigated in 57 couples in New Zealand. Heavier women had lower quality relationships, which they predicted were more likely to end. They partnered with less desirable men and thought their partners would rate them as less warm/trustworthy.

The male partners of heavier women judged the women’s bodies less positively and men rated heavier women as poorer matches to their ideal partners for attractiveness/vitality. In contrast, men’s BMIs were generally not associated with relationship functioning. These findings point to the potential mechanisms that may contribute to heavier women’s relationship difficulties.

“Prejudice and discrimination are commonly directed at overweight individuals. However, few previous studies have examined whether weight stigma occurs within established romantic relationships. Our results suggest it does,” said Dr. Latner.

via Heavy Women Have Lower Quality

English: A schematic showing the group marriag...

English: A schematic showing the group marriage relationship. The picture illustrates that 4 types of relationships are possible (male-male, male-female, female-male, female-female), between each of the involved persons in the marriage scheme. The dotted lines means that more parties can be added to the scheme. Note:The arrows between the symbols only connects one symbol on each side. I.e. 1 male (or female) symbol with 1 male (or female) symbol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

s, But Same Is Not True For Men, Study Finds.

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New Discoveries About the Anger


English: Emotions associated with anger

English: Emotions associated with anger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New Discoveries About the Experience of Anger

Younger people, those with children and less-educated individuals are more likely to experience anger, according to new UofT research that examines one of the most common negative emotions in society.

Drawing upon national survey data of more than 1,000 Americans aged 18 and older, Professor Scott Schieman from the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto has published new findings about the experience of anger. In a chapter in the forthcoming International Handbook of Anger, to be released in January 2010, Schieman documents the basic social patterns and contexts of anger. His main findings include:

Younger people experience more frequent anger than older adults. This is mainly due to the fact that younger people are more likely to feel time pressures, economic hardship, and interpersonal conflict in the workplace (three core stressors that elevate anger levels);

Feeling rushed for time is the strongest predictor of anger, especially the “low-grade” forms like feeling annoyed;

Having children in the household is associated with angry feelings and behaviour (i.e., yelling) and these patterns are stronger among women compared to men;

Compared to people with fewer years of education, the well-educated are less likely to experience anger, and when they do, they are more likely to act proactively (e.g., trying to change the situation or talking it over);

Individuals who experience more financial strain tend to report higher levels of anger. This relationship is much stronger among women and younger adults.

“The sociological analysis of anger can shed light on the ways that the conditions of society influence emotional inequality,” says Schieman. “Why do some people seem to experience more anger than others? And what does this say about social inequality and its impact in our everyday lives?”

The International Handbook of Anger is edited by Michael Potegal, Gerhard Stemmler and Charles Spielberger.

via New discoveries about the experience of anger.

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You can judge 90 percent of people’s personalities by their shoes, researchers say


English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm ...

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm stiletto heels. Category:Shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actress Charlize Theron‘s high heels at a recent press event. (Michael Sohn/AP)

Researchers at the University of Kansas say that people can accurately judge 90 percent of a stranger’s personality simply by looking at the person’s shoes.

“Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers,” the authors wrote in the new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality. “Shoes serve a practical purpose, and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages. People tend to pay attention to the shoes they and others wear.”

Medical Daily notes that the number of detailed personality traits detected in the study include a person’s general age, their gender, income, political affiliation, and other personality traits, including someone’s emotional stability.

Lead researcher Omri Gillath said the judgments were based on the style, cost, color and condition of someone’s shoes. In the study, 63 University of Kansas students looked at pictures showing 208 different pairs of shoes worn by the study’s participants. Volunteers in the study were photographed in their most commonly worn shoes, and then filled out a personality questionnaire.

So, what do your shoes say about your personality?

Some of the results were expected: People with higher incomes most commonly wore expensive shoes, and flashier footwear was typically worn by extroverts.

However, some of the more specific results are intriguing. For example, “practical and functional” shoes were generally worn by more “agreeable” people, while ankle boots were more closely aligned with “aggressive” personalities.

The strangest of all may be that  those who wore “uncomfortable looking” shoes tend to have “calm” personalities.

“Shoes have great variety of styles, brands, looks, and functions. Because of this variety, shoes can carry individual difference information, but do they? We suggest that the answer is yes,” the study authors wrote.

And if you have several pairs of new shoes or take exceptional care of them, you may suffer from “attachment anxiety,” spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about what other people think of your appearance.

There was even a political calculation in the mix with more liberal types wearing “shabbier and less expensive” shoes.

The researchers noted that some people will choose shoe styles to mask their actual personality traits, but researchers noted that volunteers were also likely to be unaware that their footwear choices were revealing deep insights into their personalities.

via You can judge 90 percent of people’s personalities by their shoes, researchers say | The Sideshow – Yahoo! News.

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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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