Mind Matters: Psychological tidbits

How are you at reading the emotions of others or assessing your own personality? These are among the topics briefly covered in a recent (April 2019) publication of Monitor On Psychology.

When researchers asked participants in a study to note the “happiness levels of both black and non-black people photographed with either ‘real’ smiles (which involve movement of muscles at the corner of the eyes) or ‘fake’ (mouth only) smiles,” it was found that non-black participants were able to discern fake from real smiles among white faces, but not among photos of blacks. However, black participants could distinguish real from fake smiles in both blacks and whites.

Impulsivity and lack of maturity of the adolescent brain have been discussed in past columns. Perhaps not so surprising, then, that research also finds that youths who plead guilty for crimes in order to get reduced sentences don’t necessarily understand how that may affect their future. When researchers interviewed young people and adults who had pleaded guilty to a felony, only 71 percent of the youths, while 94 percent of the adults, realized there would be a criminal record. Also, young people don’t consider the consequences of those actions on future employment.

Another study of adolescents found that, in countries where corporal punishment, such as spanking, was banned, teenagers were less likely to be violent with one another. “On average, the countries with full bans [both at home and at school] had 31 percent less fighting among males and 58 percent less fighting among females than countries with no bans.” This result confirms the adage, “Violence begets violence.”

While the scientific community concurs that vaccinations do not cause autism, some scientific research does link air pollution to autism. Reported in Pediatrics, a study in Vancouver of over 132,000 children found that they had a slightly higher (and statistically significant) likelihood of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder if their mothers had been exposed to the highest levels of the pollutant nitric oxide compared to children with mothers that had been least-exposed.

It has been said, “Never trust a man with principles, for sooner or later, he will sacrifice you to them.” This view has its support in research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. An experiment was done with “284 participants who identified as politically moderate rated their agreement with five moral values (care, fairness, sanctity, loyalty, and authority) and then read short descriptions of five different men: a gay man, a man with AIDS, an African-American man, an obese man and a white man.” Those participants who prioritized sanctity — “rules of moral purity — held more negative attitudes towards the gay man and the man with AIDS” than towards the other individuals presented to them. Furthermore, these participants considered the gay man and the man with AIDS to have “less rational minds.” In a further study, participants who held to sanctity believed in “discriminating public policies towards transgender persons.”

Ending on a positive note, research finds that people actually do have a realistic assessment of their own personalities. In other words, most of us, other than narcissistic, grandiose types, are realistic about ourselves.

Would the realistic assessment of ourselves help us to know our limitations when confronted with spurious information about others?



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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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