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Summary and Comments – Optimism Is Universal

Optimism Is Universal: Exploring the Presence and Benefits of Optimism in a Representative Sample of the World

by Gallagher, M. W., Lopez, S. J., & Pressman, S. D. (2013)

(Journal of Personality, 81(5). 429-440.  DOI: 10.1111/jopy.12026)

 

Background & Research

Recent theories of and studies on optimism tend to agree that optimism is an adaptive psychological resource and provides overall benefits for individuals, rather than being a damaging delusion as was earlier thought by some philosophers and psychologists. While there are some indications that defensive pessimism may be adaptive and optimism maladaptive in some very specific circumstances, overall, numerous studies and meta-analyses have shown higher levels of optimism to be linked to improved psychological health, in particular subjective well-being, as well as subjective, and to a lesser extent objective, physical health.

However, as with so much psychological research, optimism and its effects have mainly been studied in industrialized, relatively wealthy nations. Are the results obtained in such studies then generalizable to the entire world? Is optimism a) widely present and b) adaptive in other parts of the world, where, e.g., economic outlooks may be more dire and life expectancy and other Quality of Life indicators are lower? Continue Reading…

Summary and Comments – Is personality modulated by language?

Is personality modulated by language?

by Veltkamp, G. M., Recio, G., Jacobs, A. M., & Conrad, M. (2012)

(International Journal of Bilingualism, 17(4). 496-504. DOI: 10.1177/1367006912438894)

Background & Research

The complex relationships between language and culture, as well as thought and personality, have been the subject of great interest and research since at least the 19th century, for psychologists, linguists, philosophers and even romantic/nationalist thinkers. Linguistic relativity, for instance, was a particularly hot topic in the first half of the 20th century. As regards more recent psychological research, there are indications that different languages carry different emotional tones, in that people fluent in several languages behave and feel in different ways when speaking one language as compared to another. There is also evidence that language learning on the whole is closely tied to the internalization of cultural norms and values that appear to be inherently present in the language. It has been said that culture provides different formulaic ways for expressing thoughts and feelings, and if this is the case, language is the most likely process for this to occur through.

For multilingual individuals, researchers have suggested that by learning new languages, individuals simultaneously gain access to new cultural meaning systems, and can then switch between different culturally appropriate behaviors. If that is the case, might expressed dimensions of personality also change when using another language? Continue Reading…

Summary and Comments – Mindfulness interventions for psychosis: A meta-analysis

Mindfulness interventions for psychosis: A meta-analysis

by Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Gaudiano, B.A., & Paquin, K. (2013)

(Schizophrenia Research, 150(1). 176–184. )

Background & Research

Among the so-called Third Wave of cognitive-behavioural therapies, mindfulness-based approaches have garnered great interest in recent years, within clinical psychology as well as among the more general public. Definitions of “mindfulness” vary, but it is generally understood to refer to non-judgmental and non-reactive awareness, observation and acceptance of all inner experiences, the centering of attention and experience to the here and now, and in most cases, cultivating an attitude of kindness or (loving) compassion. In terms of interventions based on mindfulness, their unifying goal is to learn to willingly embrace and accept present experiences in the moment, both pleasant and unpleasant, without avoiding, suppressing or clinging on to them.

As regards psychosis, developing mindfulness skills could be helpful for alleviating the distress and suffering related to psychotic symptoms, instead of attempting to control them. Individuals might be able to change their ways of responding and ascribing meaning to the symptoms as they appear, regarding them as transient experiences that do not define one as a person or necessarily reflect reality. The symptoms or sensations are likely to remain unpleasant, but by promoting acceptance of them and their transient nature, individuals may reclaim power over themselves better than by attempting to fight, correct or counteract the symptoms.  Continue Reading…