PAR author Lisa Firestone will be presenting two continuing education workshops in Boston, Massachusetts in December.

The workshops are sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and highlight the topics of suicide treatment and prevention and working with high conflict couples.

“The War Within: Working with Suicidal Individuals” will be held December 6, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This course focuses on giving more extensive training to practitioners in the treatment of suicidal clients.

“Transforming War Between Intimates: Working with High Conflict Couples” will be held December 7, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Focusing on Gottman’s research on the predictors of longevity in a relationship, this course will discuss styles of relating and how couples can challenge behaviors that interfere with closeness and longevity.

For more information or to register, click on the course descriptions above.
We have all heard the adage that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But maybe gossip has gotten a bad rap. According to new research, gossip at work can be seen as a virtue.

Shimul Melwani of the University of North Carolina has researched the consequences of gossip in the workplace. If an individual gossips about someone on his or her team, the research contends that that person is viewed as being less trustworthy. However, an individual who gossips about someone on another team can be seen as someone who is building trust, promoting cooperation, and creating a social glue for their own team. The gossipers themselves, though, experience higher levels of positive emotions than those who abstain, and also report higher levels of energy and motivation, but lower levels of self-esteem.

Researcher Matthew Feinberg has even found a way that gossip makes people better off. Researchers gave participants $10, and they were told they could share as much as they want to another player. That player’s amount would be tripled, and then that player would be able to share as much as he wanted with the participant. Most people gave the entire $10 to the other player, so he would have $30. Instead of sharing this amount, that player decided to keep all $30, leaving the participant with nothing. The participant was then told that now the nefarious player is going to play this game with another person. The participants were told they have the opportunity to pass this new person a note – and 96% of participants chose to use the note as a way to gossip, writing that the player is selfish, not likely to share, out for his own interests, and more.

Once they had gossiped, participants’ heart rates dropped (most increased once they realized they had been treated unfairly). Furthermore, the more the individual valued fairness, the more likely they were to participate in this form of gossip, called prosocial gossip. In fact, in another of Feinberg’s studies, 76% of participants were willing to pay their own money just for the opportunity to gossip in an attempt to create an even playing field for others! Researchers believe that prosocial gossip may have a valuable purpose – making the community more aware of an individual’s reputation and keeping individuals from behaving in selfish and dishonest ways in order to keep their reputation intact.

Do you think gossip helps or hurts in the workplace? What is the role of gossip where you work?

 
A new exhibit called “The Changing Face of What is Normal: Mental Health” opened recently at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. A world-renowned science museum, the Exploratorium features a new gallery that focuses on human behavior. The mental health exhibit is designed to explore the ways society defines, perceives, and responds to those whose behavior is considered “abnormal.” Visitors are encouraged to consider that normality is a fluid concept with a range of definitions that change depending on contexts such as time and place.

The Exploratorium Web site describes three elements that make up the exhibit:

  • Artifacts from the suitcases and trunks of 14 patients who were confined at the Willard Psychiatric Center, a New York mental institution that was decommissioned in 1995. The personal items provide insight into the lives of residents before they were institutionalized.

  • A display tracing the evolution of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a guide used by psychiatric professionals to diagnose and treat cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disorders. This part of the exhibit also includes videotaped interviews with clinicians and clients speaking about their experiences and commenting on the difficulty of categorizing human behavior.

  • An interactive installation called “Restraint,” which explores the ways psychiatric patients have been restrained over time. Visitors can view, experience, and comment on various types of restraints, including the ways societies and cultures constrain everyday behavior and the ways we must often restrain our own impulses.


“The Changing Face of What Is Normal: Mental Health” will be on display at the Exploratorium until spring 2014. Have you seen it? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!
Have you ever marveled at a coworker’s unprofessional remarks, cringe-worthy pictures, or embarrassing comments made on social media sites? New research delves into how employees manage boundaries on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, revealing how these behaviors effect the way they are viewed by professional contacts.

Researchers Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, Nancy Rothbard, and Justin Berg believe there are two key factors that govern an individual’s social media choices—whether they are integrators or segmentors and whether they are aiming to impress or express.

Integrators intend to create connections between their professional and personal lives, blending the two spheres. Segmentors, however, prefer to keep these roles separate. On social media, this may mean using privacy controls, keeping LinkedIn connections for professional contacts and Facebook for personal friends, or simply making their profile unsearchable.

Impressers see social media as way to build a reputation and a base of followers, sharing positive information such as achievements or articles that make them look intelligent. Impressers avoid controversial posts and are careful to share information that paints them in a flattering light. Expressers, however, see social media as a way to be viewed more accurately by others, sharing experiences (both good and bad), writing about unpopular opinions, and posting pictures and articles that may not appeal to everyone on their friend list.

Bringing both boundary preferences and image motives together, the researchers were able to gain insight into how others may view and respect you. For example, an integrator with a high motivation to express may sacrifice respect from colleagues as they gain a reputation for revealing too much or sharing inappropriate information. However, keeping too much private or not accepting a friend request from a coworker is also regarded negatively by those at work. The researchers believe that mirroring the tailored nature of offline relationships may be a wise choice for professional relationships, though this may be the most time consuming way to manage social media profiles.

To read more, visit the Academy of Management Review.
Halloween is coming! Children and adults alike are carving pumpkins, dressing in costumes, and getting ready for an exciting evening of trick-or-treating. For those suffering with mental health issues, however, this can be an especially difficult time of year as they are reminded of the heavy stigma associated with their illness. A drive through your city or a stroll down the aisles of your local department store is all it takes to confirm that offensive stereotypes are alive and well when it comes to the mentally ill. Billboards and advertisements depicting “Haunted Asylum” or “Psychopath Sanctuary” attractions are hard to miss. “Mental Patient” costumes, complete with straightjackets, perpetuate the stereotypes further.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an advocacy group that is fighting these stereotypes and pressuring businesses to remove offensive attractions and costumes. “NAMI loves Halloween as much as anyone else,” says Bob Corolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations, in a recent blog. “But would anyone sponsor a haunted attraction based on a cancer ward? How about a veterans’ hospital with ghosts who died from suicide while being treated for posttraumatic stress disorder?”

NAMI encourages its members to help raise awareness about the problem in their own communities. Corolla says that the first step is to personally contact sponsors of “insane asylum” attractions or stores that carry offensive costumes. In some cases, small changes to the attraction or its marketing can make a big difference. Further steps include enlisting others to make calls and write emails of protest. Local television stations and newspapers can be educated about the problem—and many are willing to cover a protest as a news event.

Will it make any difference? In response to protests from mental health advocates, the U.K. superstore Asda (a Wal-Mart company) and major grocery chain Tesco were persuaded to remove offensive costumes from their shelves. Both stores apologized for their insensitivity; Asda called it “a completely unacceptable error” and has donated £25,000 to the U.K. mental health charity Mind.

Corolla cautions that you should be prepared for a backlash when people feel that you are criticizing their fun. But even then, you may be more effective than you know. “Even if it seems that too many people disagree with your position,” he says, “you win simply by raising awareness.”

Visit the NAMI Web site to learn more about what you can do to fight the stigma against mental illness.
New research out of the National University of Singapore may explain why your food tastes the way it does, and why that flavor may have nothing to do with your taste buds. After a series of experiments, researchers have concluded that people correlate love with sweetness and romance may help people perceive food to be sweeter, as well.

In one experiment, participants were asked to communicate how emotions related to different tastes. For example, would jealousy taste sweet, spicy, bitter, or sour? In a second experiment, participants were asked to write down two different answers to the open-ended question of “If love were a taste, what would it be?” A third group was asked to write about either romantic love, romantic jealousy, or (a control) about landmarks in Singapore before eating and rating the taste of sweet and sour candy and bittersweet chocolate. Finally, a fourth group was asked to write about either love, jealousy, or happiness before taste-testing a “new product,” which was actually a simple glass of distilled water.

People who wrote about love rated their samples as sweeter, whether they were sampling the chocolate, candy, or water. Those in the jealousy groups didn’t report their samples as tasting more bitter or sour compared to the control group.

Researchers believe this can be attributed to the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region that anticipates reward and is activated by romantic love and the taste of sugar. Thus, the brain may associate love and sweetness, even when there is no actual external sweetness.

For more on this study, see the journal Emotion.
A remarkable transformation is taking place in nursing homes around the country as elderly patients are reconnecting with life through music. The brainchild of social worker Dan Cohen, a program called Music & Memory has created personalized iPod playlists for residents of elder care facilities, many of whom have Alzheimer's type dementia. The results have been truly life changing for patients as they are “reawakened” by the music of their youth.

Cohen is now working with renowned neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks (author of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) on a documentary about Cohen’s program and the elderly patients who are responding so positively. In a clip from this documentary, a man reacts to hearing music from his past:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyZQf0p73QM

 

“Our approach is simple, elegant and effective,” says Cohen on his Music & Memory Web site. “We train elder care professionals how to set up personalized music playlists, delivered on iPods and other digital devices, for those in their care. These musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring residents and clients back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize and stay present.”

What do you think? Has music helped your clients with dementia to access memories and engage more positively in daily life? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!
Here at PAR, we are delighted by the positive response to our new Self-Directed Search®, 5th Edition. One of the most widely used career interest inventories in the world, the SDS® has been revised to meet the needs of today’s clients.

To help spread the word about the new SDS® 5th Edition, we created a humorous video about college planning—or rather, what happens when there isn’t a plan! This video is making its way around the Internet as students, parents, teachers, and counselors are sharing the message that students need reliable tools to help them explore careers and find their future.

So take a moment to enjoy this short video, and if you like it, please share it through e-mail or your favorite social medium.

Introducing the (ahem!) four-year plan…

 
PAR is proud of our ongoing relationship with United Way. During mid-September, employees took part in our annual fundraising campaign. For more than 20 years, 100% of staff members have participated in our annual United Way drive, and this year was no different. We exceeded our fundraising goal, resulting in $120,135.12 being donated to United Way to help continue its mission of helping others in our community.

Want to learn more about how you can help United Way in your community? Visit www.unitedway.org.

It goes without saying that typical game-day snacks are not the healthiest fare. But a recent study suggests that football fans who root for a losing team are more likely to eat unhealthful, high-calorie foods—even the day after the game. On the flip side, fans of a winning team are likely to make better food choices than they normally do. “Backing a losing team isn’t just bad for your pride,” says National Public Radio’s science correspondent Shankar Vedantam in a recent broadcast called Diet of Defeat. “It’s bad for your waistline.”

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, was conducted by marketing researchers at the international business school INSEAD. Authors Yann Cornil and Pierre Chandon explain, “Using archival and experimental data, we showed that vicarious defeats experienced by fans when their favorite football team loses lead them to consume less healthy food. On the Mondays following a Sunday National Football League (NFL) game, saturated-fat and food-calorie intake increase significantly in cities with losing teams, decrease in cities with winning teams, and remain at their usual levels in comparable cities without an NFL team or with an NFL team that did not play.” The study also shows that these effects were greater in cities with the most committed fans, when the opponents were more evenly matched, and when the defeats were narrow.

In the NPR story, Vedantam suggests that the most interesting part of this research might not be the effects of defeats, but the effect that victories seem to have on fans. “Winning seems to make people think long-term—they look forward to the next match, for example,” he says. “The satisfaction of winning increases the capacity of people to withstand difficult choices—to pick the salad over the fries.”

What do you think? Do the wins and losses of your favorite team affect your eating habits? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!