Five Celebrities Who Authored Psychological Studies

Did you know that some of Hollywood’s popular celebrities majored in psychology? From athletes to actors to musicians, many have backgrounds in the study of the mind. Some of these include producer Jerry Bruckheimer, horror writer Wes Craven, singer Gloria Estefan, and comedian Jon Stewart. Others have even more lofty accomplishments to add to their resume—they have authored psychological studies.

  1. Lisa Kudrow – Lisa is known for her quirky roles as Phoebe Buffay on Friends and as Ursula on Mad About You. Lisa is the daughter of neurologist Lee N. Kudrow, who specialized in the treatment of migraine headaches, which both he and Lisa have suffered from. Lisa wrote an article with her dad, along with two others, regarding the relationship between handedness and headaches. They studied two groups of those suffering headaches and found that they did not differ significantly from each other or from the expected 10% frequency of left-handedness in males and females. Ironically, Lisa went on to star in a TV series called Web Therapy, where she plays an unorthodox psychologist.
  2. Colin Firth – Colin is an actor known for The King’s Speech and Love Actually. Because of his appearance on a BBC radio show, he authored a study that appeared in Current Biology about the neurological roots of political affiliations. Neuroscientists scanned the brains of politicians from the UK’s Conservative and Labour parties, Alan Duncan and Stephen Pound because Firth wanted to determine whether they had differences in their political leanings. Scientist Geraint Rees continued this research and found that liberal and conservative attitudes were associated with thicker parts of the brain. Researchers concluded that political leanings could be predicted with 72% accuracy by evaluating brain structure.
  3. Natalie Portman – Natalie is an actress known for V for Vendetta and Star Wars: Return of the Sith. Natalie majored in psychology while she was at Harvard, under the name Natalie Hershlag. She studied the neuroscience of child development and conducted a study with several prominent psychologists, investigating the link between frontal lobe development and visual knowledge in infants. They used various fMRI scans to determine which brain areas correspond to object permanence. The researchers discovered that frontal lobes kicked in when children develop the knowledge that hidden objects still exist. The study also demonstrated that near-infrared spectroscopy could be used to successfully study the brain development of very young children.
  4. Tim Duncan – Tim is a retired professional basketball player who played with the San Antonio Spurs for almost 20 years. He is a five-time NBA champion and a 15-time NBA All-Star. When he was an undergraduate at Wake Forest University, he and his professor, psychologist Mark Leary, coauthored a chapter in a book called Aversive Interpersonal Behaviors. It evaluated reactions to narcissistic behaviors. Duncan and Leary concluded that one or more of the following produces and maintains egotism: a sincere, but usually mistaken, belief that one is better than others; an attempt to create a positive impression on others; and a concerted effort to defend against deep-seated feelings of inferiority.
  5. John T. Teller – John is one half of the popular comedic magician duo Penn & Teller. They have appeared on numerous television shows, conducted many world tours, and written three New York Times best sellers. In 2008, John authored an article that appeared in Nature Reviews Neuroscience called “Attention and Awareness in Stage Magic: Turning Tricks Into Research Regarding How Magicians Can Contribute to the Study of Human Attention and Awareness.” The study indicated that “by studying magicians and their techniques, neuroscientists can learn powerful methods to manipulate attention and awareness in the laboratory. Such methods could be exploited to directly study the behavioural and neural basis of consciousness itself, for instance, through the use of brain imaging and other neural recording techniques.”
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Observe, pinpoint, intervene:
An interview with DBR Connect authors

The concept of direct behavior rating (DBR) began in the late 1960s with school psychologist Calvin Edlund. He posited a program whereby teachers first explained to students what acceptable behavior was and then rated them at the end of each lesson. Unlike rating scale assessments, which ask teachers and parents to recall a child’s behavior during a 30-day period or so, direct behavior rating relies on real-time observation.

 DBR combines the strength of a rating scale and the benefit of direct observation. Using this system, teachers can not only identify specific behaviors in real time, but they can also rate those behaviors. 

 From this idea, DBR Connect was created. PAR recently spoke with DBR Connect coauthors Sandra M. Chafouleaus, PhD, and T. Chris Riley-Tillman, PhD, to learn more about how this product can help students and teachers to succeed.

Q: Direct behavior rating has been around for quite some time. Historically, what changes have taken place to get us to where we are today?

Drs. Chafouleas and Riley-Tillman: Yes, direct behavior ratings were developed from daily behavior report cards, home–school notes, and other tools that educators and parents have used for decades as a way to communicate information about child behavior. We took that rich history of use and worked to standardize the instrumentation and procedures. This allowed for comprehensive evaluation of the psychometric evidence for use in screening and progress monitoring purposes. DBR Connect is the result of all of that research and development, overall supporting that DBR Connect can provide data that are reliable, valid, and sensitive to change. 

Q: How does DBR tie into positive behavioral support and/or multitiered models of delivery of services?

Multitiered models of service delivery and positive behavioral support are founded in prevention—that is, early identification and remediation of difficulties. These frameworks require use of ongoing data to inform decisions about continuing, modifying, or terminating supports, and DBR Connect functions as an ideal prevention-oriented method for progress monitoring assessment.

 Q: You have described DBR Connect as a hybrid tool. What do you mean by that?

DBR Connect offers strengths of both traditional rating scales and systematic direct observation. That is, like systematic direct observation, a predefined observation period is selected with repeated assessment to allow for comparison of data across assessment periods, required in progress monitoring. The instrumentation and procedures are highly efficient like rating scales because only a brief rating of the defined targets is needed to record data. 

Q: You mention in your book that one of the roles of DBR is communication. Can you talk a bit about that?

Yes, DBR has a rich history in use for communication purposes, whether teacher–teacher, teacher–parent, teacher–student, or parent–student. It is easy to understand at all levels and provides a simple format for discussing behavior expectations. 

 Q: What guided your decision to focus on the three core behavioral competencies that you chose for DBR Connect?

Our research started with a broad review of the literature on school-based behavior expectations in schools—including consideration of indicators of student success and those areas most concerning to educators. We narrowed the literature to items that could be defined both in broad and narrow terms, and then conducted a series of research studies to identify those target behaviors that resulted in the strongest evidence for use. In the end, the core school-based behavioral competencies—that is, those behaviors that every student should display in order to fully access instruction and participate in the school environment—are academically engaged, disruptive, and respectful. That said, we also acknowledge that some situations may call for additional targets; thus, we maintain the flexibility by supporting use for any behavior of relevance to a particular context. 

 Q: Who is the target audience for DBR Connect?

Teachers are the primary users of DBR Connect, meaning they serve as the primary raters and producers of data summaries for decision making. However, all educators (e.g., administrators, school psychologists) can benefit from data reports to inform decision making, and there may be some situations in which other users may serve as appropriate raters (e.g., monitoring of behavior progress during counseling sessions). Remember, an important strength of a DBR data stream is the capacity to share with students and parents to communicate information about behavior.

 

 For more information on DBR Connect or to take a tour, visit http://www.mydbrconnect.com/.

 

 

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PAR’s Concussion Apps are for Parents, Coaches, Trainers, and More!

CONC_APPYouth concussions are a hot topic in the news, especially in light of recent developments in a class-action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

To help athletes, parents, coaches, trainers, and more, PAR offers two concussion apps. The Concussion Recognition & Response™ (CRR) app helps coaches and parents recognize whether an individual is exhibiting and/or reporting signs of a concussion. In fewer than 5 minutes, a parent or coach can complete a checklist of signs and symptoms to help determine whether to seek medical attention. The app allows users to record pertinent information regarding the child with a suspected concussion, allowing them to easily share that information with health-care providers. Post-injury, it guides parents through follow-up treatment.

The CRR app was developed by concussion experts Gerard A. Gioia and Jason Mihalik and has received accolades from former NFL quarterback Steve Young.

“As a former NFL player, national spokesperson for the Positive Coaching Alliance, and someone who has personally experienced the significant effects of a concussion, I believe every parent of a young athlete and coaches should be fully aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion in a young athlete,” Young said. “This app should be a necessary part of every comprehensive youth concussion management and awareness program.”

The Concussion Assessment & Response™: Sport Version (CARE) app is a tool for athletic trainers, team physicians, and other qualified health care professionals to assess the likelihood of a concussion and respond quickly and appropriately.

The CRR app is available free of charge. The CARE app costs just $4.99. Both apps are available for download through the Apple® App StoreSM and Google Play for use on your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod® Touch, Android™ device, or tablet!

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High-Intensity Running as a Vehicle of Escape

Here’s more reason to stick with your New Year’s resolution to exercise more: Increased cognitive performance is associated with exercise. According to Karen Postal, an instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, exercise has a positive effect on the brain, allowing people to think clearly and solve problems. However, not everyone wants to think about serious issues while exercising; instead, they want to escape their problems for a while. Postal states the best way to accomplish this is through high-intensity workouts: “When you have high exertion—meaning you are running flat-out in a race—you’re not going to be able to solve problems or think as well as when you are engaged in moderate exercise.” Dr. Miriam Nokia seems to agree, stating that high-intensity interval training is more stressful than moderate running.

Daydreaming is often seen as a negative trait, the opposite of being efficient and completing important tasks. However, Jerome L. Singer coined a term called positive constructive daydreaming, which refers to daydreaming that plays a constructive role in our lives. According to his research, daydreaming, imagination, and fantasy are essential to a healthy mental state. He attributes daydreaming to enhanced social skills, relief from boredom, and increased pleasure. Josie Glausiusz stated in an article in Psychology Today, “In one of those scientific switchbacks, daydreaming now appears to be a vital function of the psyche—a cauldron of creativity and an arena for rehearsing social skills. It may even be the backbone of our consciousness. Maybe what we all need is more time to let our minds meander.”

Runner Melissa Dahl admits to increasing her running intensity to allow time for her mind to meander. And according to statistics at Running USA, other runners are also showing a preference for fast running as opposed to moderate running. Some runners run because they need exercise, some run because they want to experience the euphoria called runner’s high, and others run to get away from it all. So those who want to let their minds roam free have only to strap on a pair of shoes and fly like the wind.

What kind of runner are you? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave your comments below.

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PAR Pays It Forward

PAR has announced the recipient of its third-annual program to benefit worthy charities.

“PAR has been incredibly fortunate as a company,” stated R. Bob Smith III, PhD, Chairman and CEO. “Rather than sending our Customers an end-of-year gift, a few years ago, we decided to make a charitable contribution on behalf of our Customers to organizations chosen by those we serve. This is the third year we have done so, each year selecting a new charity to honor.”

In November, PAR mailed an end-of-year communication to select Customers, thanking them for their business and asking them to choose their favorite organization from a list as a way to acknowledge the important work they do throughout the year. Most PAR Customers are involved in psychological assessment, educational assessment, or mental health work. Now that results have been tallied, PAR is proud to announce that on behalf of its Customers, a $5,000 donation will be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

“We are so inspired by the work our Customers do, and NAMI inspires them,” said Smith. “It is an honor to be able to pay it forward.”

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