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Archive of 2009 PsycEXTRA® Sample Searches Podcasts

December 2009

Give Peace a Chance

During the celebrations that come for many cultures and ethnicities at the end of the year, the ideal of peace often plays an important role. Thus, during the season of peace, it seems like a good time for those who use APA's PsycEXTRA database to take a look at recent content relevant to waging peace.

Limiting a search on peace to conference materials from 2008 through 2010, one would find a number of abstracts and presentations that treat peace both as the absence of conflict and as the presence of a creative alternative to responding to violence. Among them are a series of abstracts, one by D'Andrea, relating to an APA 2009 Convention Symposium on "National Discussion on Race, Justice, Peace," which examined the question of the success of a United Nations' recommendation "to develop intervention strategies globally, regionally, and locally that are aimed at fostering justice and peace among persons and especially those adversely impacted by the complex problem of racism…" (Daniels).

Yet other 2009 conference presentations assessed support for a Department of Peace (De Rivera) and compared the way warrior behavior is rewarded—with medals, promotions, ceremonies, and monuments—with the comparative lack of recognition for those who call for peaceful alternatives (Knox). Knox suggested a Peace Registry to facilitate and support peace activities.

Researchers also can explore the question of achieving peace within the family. Authors Azar, Goslin, and Okado in an APA 2008 Convention presentation looked at the foundations of learning patterns of interpersonal behavior and cultural values that foster either a culture of peace or a learning ground for violence and prejudice and assessed some of the programs designed to foster peaceful solutions.

These and many other materials on psychology's role in creating a peaceful world may be found in PsycEXTRA and our other research databases.

From APA's family to yours, have a happy and peaceful holiday season.

November 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name: Marriage and the Decision to Change or Not Change Your Name

The APA homepage features a "most popular" section that is updated every 24 hours, providing a snapshot of what is currently interesting our visitors. Recently, a link on women's decisions about changing their names when they marry was among the most frequently accessed.

When researchers turn to the PsycEXTRA database for recent information on the issues women grapple with when making the important decision to change or not change their name when they marry, they find a variety of useful resources. For example, in an article titled "Reviving the Discussion of Marital Naming Practices on Female Sense of Self," published in the newsletter The Feminist Psychologist (Cooper, 2009), the author discussed the impact of changing her last name to that of her husband. Although she was initially comfortable with the change, by the end of her first year of marriage she found that for a number of reasons, she had begun to regret the decision and that her choice "led to a confused sense of self," prompting her to revert to her previous surname. 

An article in the magazine gradPSYCH, "'I do' or 'I don't': Name Change 101" (Novotney, 2008)  looks at the issue specifically from the vantage of graduate students, noting that, with the exception of whom they marry, the decision to change one's name may be the toughest question that they must face. Novotney noted that although 81% of American brides opted to take their husband's name in 2006, other options are open to the wife or to the couple.

The issue doesn't affect women alone, and there is also research on the impact name choice may have on the husband in a couple. Andrea Anderson and Tracy Heller addressed the question from the perspective of the relationship between the wives' decision and the husbands' personality characteristics in a conference abstract presented at the APA 2008 Convention in Boston. The authors posited that men who married women who decided to combine or retain their birth names once married would endorse higher self-esteem, more internal marital locus of control, more egalitarian gender role ideology, and smaller income difference with their wives than would men whose wives changed their name to their husband's on marriage.

What is in a name? Apparently, quite a lot.

October 2009

You've Got to Accentuate the Positive: Do People Become Happier as They Grow Older?

The APA landing page features a "most popular" section that is updated every 24 hours, providing a snapshot of what is currently interesting our visitors. Recently, the link reporting we grow happier as we grow older has consistently been among the most popular.

When researchers turn to the PsycEXTRA database for recent information on people's satisfaction at various life stages, they find a variety of resources. Research published in 2008 in both The Atlantic and The New York Times points toward one commonality: Middle age is the least happy time in our lives.

The Atlantic article reported on a 2007 study by Blanchflower and Oswald for the Warwick Economics Research Paper Series that presented evidence on a U-shaped pattern to psychological well-being through life, with the happiest periods at either end.

The New York Times put the issue in starker terms, in a column titled "A Valley of Misery Between Peaks of Joy" (Jones, 2008), positing that the transition to happiness as we age may stem from our coming to terms with dreams from our younger days being unattainable.

Other research available in PsycEXTRA also points to life satisfaction increasing with age. In a 2009 press release titled "Aging in the 21st Century: Psychologists Say Longer Lives Can Still Lead to Happier Golden Years," APA cited research from a symposium given by Stanford University professor Laura Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, which posited that people are living longer because they've changed the way they lived. People have adapted to make adulthood itself longer and healthier.

In an invited address given at the APA Convention, which was reported in the press release, Susan Turk Charles also reported that mental health and emotional happiness improve with age, drawing from a 23-year longitudinal study following three groups of people. Among other variables, research has shown the older adults tend to have greater emotional control and thus less stress than younger adults. In contrast to the younger adults, they were less likely to dwell on the negative and to look for ways to make the best of the time they have left. One thing they learn is to avoid putting themselves in situations likely to make them unhappy.

Even love may become better as we age. In The Washington Post in an article titled "In the End, Love Prevails," (Trafford, 2007) the author reports that studies have found that older partners in marriage tend to be happier with their spouses than are younger partners. As Robert Browning once said, "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be, the last of life for which the first was made."

September 2009

APA's landing page features a "most popular" section that is updated every 24 hours, providing a snapshot of what is currently interesting our visitors. Recently, the link reporting that playtime is disappearing has hit a chord and been among the most viewed.

When researchers turn to the PsycEXTRA database for recent information they can find on children's play, they find a substantial body of research showing it is on the decline. For example, they find a September 2009 Monitor on Psychology article, "Playtime in Peril." The article, by Lea Winerman, noted that children today have 8 hours a week fewer of unstructured play than they had 20 years ago. Time once devoted to play at home and at school is now filled with memorized facts, organized sports, video games, and educational programs, while evidence that young children learn some skills best through active exploratory play is being ignored.

Several leading newspapers have also recently reported on the importance of various aspects of play for young children and on its disappearance. Recess in schools has been all but eliminated in many places, depriving children of both creative play and physical activity.

A March 2009 Washington Post article by Kathleen Horn reported the trend in some elementary schools to remove recess from the school day in favor of extra time to study for tested subjects. The article reported the findings from National Association for Sport and Physical Education's Charlene Burgeson, stressing the importance of recess and play behavior for children.

The New York Times (Parker-Pope, 2009) has also recently reported that recess is a key element in solving problem behaviors. Yet that study of 11,000 third graders revealed that almost a third of the children had 15 minutes or fewer a day of regular recreation, as well as that the children most affected were disproportionately likely to be black, to come from low-income and less educated families, and to live in large cities.

The danger of losing playtime has also been driven home in poster sessions and presentations at conferences and symposia. For example, Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe, lamented in a presentation at the 2008 APA convention that "not knowing how to play creatively and playing electronic games in isolation means that children are losing the traditional lessons of play, which help them make sense of the world and learn how to interact with peers" (reported in the Monitor on Psychology, Munsey, 2008).

August 2009

The American Psychological Association landing page features a "most popular" section that is updated every 24 hours. It provides a helpful snapshot of what is currently interesting our visitors. Recently, several links involving sleep and what happens when we don't get enough of it have appeared on that list.

When researchers turn to the PsycEXTRA database for recent information they can use on the consequences of lost sleep, they find a substantial body of information on how sleep—or the lack of it— affects us.

For example, in a conference paper presented at the 2008 American Psychological Association convention, the authors researched the effects of sleep restriction on speech discrimination tasks with a sample of 24 medical doctors and PhDs. Participants who were restricted by 3 hours per night over the course of a week showed the greatest deficit, which continued even a week after returning to their normal sleep schedules, suggesting that chronic sleep restriction may cause long-term impairment (Roman, Warren, Kheirandish-Gozal, Molfese, & Molfese, 2008).

Charles Samuels (2009) from the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance addressed the importance of sufficient sleep in a National Institute of Justice Journal newsletter, describing it as vital to restoring memory and concentration as well as physical and emotional function, and the article went on to provide guidance on ways to ensure better sleep.

Sleep-loss-related fatigue is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $136 billion per year in health-related lost productivity alone, reported the newsletter the Law Enforcement Bulletin in "Sleep Deprivation: What Does It Mean for Public Safety Officers?" (Vila, 2009). The article also reviewed how sleep deprivation poses particular risks for law enforcement and other specific populations.

The New York Times was but one of several recent sources reporting that too little sleep is a significant factor in increasing risk for obesity in children (e.g., Bakalar, 2008; Klass, 2009).

July 2009

The second annual recognition of the National Child-Centered Divorce Month will take place throughout July across the United States. This topic brings attention to children's emotional needs when parents divorce or separate. Professionals who deal with divorce issues (such as therapists, mediators, and psychologists) join forces to share valuable information on placing children's needs first when making decisions related to divorce.

PsycEXTRA contains in-depth information on children and divorce. In a 2007 Family Psychologist article titled "Dangers and Safeguards in Treating Children and Families Involved With a High-Conflict Divorce," Neil S. Grossman and Barbara F. Okun discussed the psychological pressures children from families involved with high-conflict divorce have developed over the course of treatment. Many high-conflict families have increased levels of anxiety and unprocessed emotions.

The pressures on both family members and the treating professionals are great. In a 2007 APA Monitor on Psychology article titled "Cooperating for Kids' Sake," Amy Cynkar discussed how bitter child custody battles can drain parents' nerves, wallets, and time. Cynkar argued that parental conflict often takes a profound emotional toll on children caught in the middle, leading to increased school dropout rates, behavior problems, and mental health issues.

The author also noted a family-education program sponsored by the American Psychological Association and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The seminar teaches parents how to resolve disputes by focusing on the best interests of their child and propels families into mediation without court intervention.

June 2009

June is National Drive Safe Month, and it raises awareness about the millions of people who are injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States. Inexperience; speeding; driving while distracted, such as when talking or texting on a cell phone; and using alcohol are some of the leading factors that can heighten drivers' risks (National Safety Council, 2009).

PsycEXTRA contains valuable information on American driving behaviors.

In a 2008 American Psychological Association (APA) gradPSYCH article titled "Distracted Driving," Michael Prince summarized two studies performed by David Kidd, a George Mason University cognitive psychology and human factors graduate student. Kidd analyzed how non-driving-related distractions in the visual field can divert a driver's attention from the effects of an individual's behavior and the way that behavior affects his or her ability to react.

In a 2003 APA Monitor on Psychology article titled "Driven to Distraction," Rachel Addison discussed research on the way performing complex mental tasks affected a driver's ability to detect visual targets. According to the research, performing complex mental tasks reduced by as much as 30% drivers' ability to detect visual targets (in this case, flashing lights) and discriminate among them and respond correctly. Addison reported that much of the research analyzes the impact of hands-free telephone use while driving.

May 2009

May is National Mental Health Month, and it raises awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all. Mental Health America's theme for 2009 focuses on "living life well."

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning and may include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. PsycEXTRA contains valuable information on mental health and its effects on the national population.

A 2009 US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) fact sheet titled "Getting Through Tough Economic Times: A SAMHSA Guide"  provides practical advice on how to deal with the effects financial difficulties can have on your physical and mental health. It covers possible health risks, warning signs, stress management, help seeking, suicide warning signs, and other steps one can take to cope with financial difficulties.

Another SAMHSA newsletter article, "Serious Psychological Distress Among Adults Aged 50 or Older: 2005 and 2006," from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports on evidence that older adults with certain mental health disorders are more likely than their younger counterparts to have both higher levels of cognitive and functional impairment and lower rates of use of acute mental health services.

April 2009

April is Autism Awareness Month. During this month, various nationwide initiatives will increase public awareness about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), promote legislative support and fundraising efforts on behalf of autism research. ASDs are disorders that affect a person's behavior, communication, and social abilities. While there is no known cause of—or cure for—autism, it is treatable.

In a 2007 American Psychological Association conference paper titled "Family Functioning and Coping Behaviors in Parents of Children With Autism," Matthew Altiere and Silvia Von proposed and researched five hypotheses, including that (1) mothers of autistic children have higher rates of the family's coping mechanism than do fathers and (2) moderate levels of family cohesion and adaptability are related to higher levels of perceived social support.

Another 2007 Conference Paper titled "Intervention With Children With Autism: Using Video Self-Modeling," by Angeleque Akin-Little et al., discussed the results from an investigation on the efficacy of self-modeling procedures for children with ASD. Because social cognition is a core deficit of ASD, this study focused on increasing social interactions as measured by social engaged time.

PsycEXTRA contains valuable information on ASDs and their effects on children and their families.

March 2009

Let's celebrate women's history during the month of March. Each year International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8th. The 2009 United Nation's theme for this special day is "women and men united to end violence against women and girls."

PsycEXTRA contains valuable information on violence against females. In a 2006 American Psychological Association (APA) Division 52 International Psychology newsletter article titled "Violence Against Women Around the World," Florence L. Denmark presented a brief overview of violence against women by selectively focusing on India, Brazil, and Nigeria. Violence against females is widespread and often takes on different forms in various cultural committees (e.g., killing of baby girls, wife abuse, domestic violence, rape, and female genital mutilation). Such violence is often encouraged, if not enforced, by culture and may be tolerated by governments.

A 2002 monograph from APA Public Interest Directorate's Women's Program titled "School-Based Peer Sexual Harassment Among Adolescents: Does it Really Hurt?" discussed the results from a study that tested a theoretical model of causal relationships between school-based peer sexual harassment and the psychological, physical, and behavioral health outcomes among adolescents. The model identifies multiple points for intervention that increase the response skills of adolescent females at risk for negative outcomes from sexual harassment and offers support for those targeted with sexual harassment.

February 2009

February is American Heart Month. PsycEXTRA contains in depth information on heart health and how it affects the patient. One example is the 2007 conference paper "Psychological Factors in Cardiac Syndrome X in ER Patients" by Marie-Eve Pelland, Guillaume Foldes-Busque, André Marchand, Kim L. Lavoie, Marie-Josée Lessard, Jean Marc Chauny, Élaine Turmel, and Richard Fleet, which was presented at the American Psychological Association's 115th Annual Conference. It provides a detailed look at the psychological diagnosis associated with cardiac syndrome X in patients at a hospital emergency room. The results of the study underline the fact that depression and psychological morbidity was present among a significant number of the participants, with 21% meeting the criteria for the diagnosis.

Another relevant article is "Chest Pain 6 Months After a Heart Attack is Linked to Patient Dissatisfaction" from the newsletter Research Activities, 2008, No 334. It discusses a recent survey of patient satisfaction after treatment from heart attacks. The patients who experienced persistent chest pain 6 months after having heart attacks were more likely to say they were unsatisfied with their care. The article states that the more pervasive the respondents' angina was, the less satisfied they reported they were with their treatment.

January 2009

January marks the historical swearing in of the first African American President in the United States. PsycEXTRA contains great information on the changing history of racial tolerance in American politics. In an article in the Monitor on Psychology (1979) titled "Conversations With Kenneth B. Clark," author Jim Warren talked with Kenneth B. Clark, the former American Psychological Association president, about racial progress and presidential power. The 1954 Brown decision cited the work of Clark in its well- known "footnote 11," bringing social science into the mainstream of the civil rights movement.

Another important article that can be found in PsycEXTRA is "Celebration For Desegregation" by Marylin Marquez in the newsletter Communique (2007). Ms. Marquez discussed a case known as Mendez v. Westminster District, which addressed desegregation in Mexican American communities and provided the legal foundation for Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. The author suggested the importance of the case to contemporary psychologist and the study of social behavioral science.