Mind Matters: Psychology Is everywhere

There is no dearth of topics where research in psychology doesn’t have relevant input. I recently unearthed the December 2016, issue of the American Psychological Association Monitor from my pile of journals and discovered the following “print-bites” of knowledge.

Here are a few. According to a study in Health Psychology, researchers found that tweens and teens handle stress better in families where there is parental warmth. Keep that in mind when your adolescent stresses you out!

Other researchers in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior report that aggressive people may be identified by their stride. On a personality test that measures aggression, it was found that high scorers also had exaggerated body rotational movement as they walked. This may be, the researchers note, “the first empirical evidence that personality traits can be reflected in gait.”

Research reported in the journal, Health Psychology, found that children with low self-control may be more prone to become smokers as adults, independent of factors such as “socioeconomic background, cognitive ability, psychological distress, gender, and parental smoking.”

Ever wonder about language and its connection to sound? Research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that “many of the world’s languages use similar sound to describe some objects and concepts. … for example, the words for ‘nose’ are likely to include the sounds ‘neh’ or ‘oo’… .” What comes to mind for me is the word ‘mama’ because the ‘ma’ or ‘m’ sound seems so universal.

Psychologists even do research for the U.S. Forest Service. Dr. Patricia Winter, for example, addresses the interaction of environmental issues with people. Presently, she is part of a team that examines community wellbeing and risk in Los Angeles as temperatures increase due to climate change. The question they raise and want to answer is how neighborhood parks contribute to community wellbeing. Studying those California city parks and how the people use them, the researchers discovered both an upside and a downside:

“The good news is that the parks are well used. … The concerning news is that … the communities with the greatest needs — the people from the most vulnerable areas who visited their neighborhood parks — were at greatest risk. In … disadvantaged communities. … ozone level exposure was much higher. … [with] these findings, the discussion takes on an environmental justice component — we need to look at the fact that the people most at risk for being exposed to elevated ozone are also those that tend to have other elevated risk factors.”

The data collected about park use and ozone levels gives guidance on what would be helpful to change. Dr. Winter notes planting the proper trees and other vegetation can give a cooling effect and help “remove pollution, including ozone, from the air.” She also says educating the community about ozone and pollution is necessary too, letting people know that there is usually less ozone in the mornings so that is a better time for “vigorous outdoor activities.”

Psychology touches every part of life — how we walk, how we speak, how we behave, and how our environment affects us and how we affect it. More knowledge gives us more opportunity to make wise choices about ourselves and the world we inhabit.

Information cited here is found in Monitor on Psychology, December 2016:

“Research In Brief,” compiled by Lea Winerman, and “Four Questions for Patricia Winter,” by Sara Martin.

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Belmont, Massachusetts. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or (610)388-2888. Past columns are posted to www.drgajdos.com. See book.quietwisdom-loudtimes.com for information about her book,“Quiet Wisdom in Loud Times: The Rise of the Wounded Feminine.”

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to editor@chaddsfordlive.com

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About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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