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How to Get the Most out of your Brain

1. Make sure you get plenty of exercise: For example, “Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., found that adult mice who ran on an exercise wheel whenever they felt like it gained twice as many new cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory, than mice who sat around all day discussing Lord of the Rings in Internet chat rooms.[1]”

2. Expose yourself to novel experiences: This forms new connections in the brain, and gets underused areas working again. The benefit to you is an active, alert brain.

3. Be curious and ask “why?”: The brain is designed to question and to think. Thus, you build new neural pathways when you search for new solutions.

4. Laugh more: This releases endorphins – the body’s feel good hormones – and shakes up our thinking, and disrupts habitual patterns.

5. Eat more fish: Fish contains essential nutrients that nourish the brain. This is especially important for the young children, and the elderly (as it builds new connections, and staves off dementia.

6. Reduce your consumption of saturated fats: “When researchers at the University of Toronto put rats on a 40-percent-fat diet, the rats lost ground in several areas of mental function, including memory, spatial awareness and rule learning. The problems became worse with a diet high in saturated fats … Also, fat can reduce the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, and it may also slow down the metabolism of glucose, the form of sugar the brain utilizes as food.[2]”     

7. Get plenty of sleep: Sleeping on problems, and on new information, can improve our understanding and assist with retention.

8. Do important tasks when your brain is most awake: Every 90 minutes, we cycle through period of peak and low consciousness. To master key tasks, do them when you’re most alert, and not when you’re drowsy, or about to fall asleep.

9. Develop concentration: We need to learn to focus and to fully concentrate to develop our thinking and increase our brain’s connections. But being constantly distracted interrupts this crucial process.

10. Make time to play: Play encourages us to be more creative in our thinking, to develop better strategies, and think outside the box.


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What are the Different Branches of Psychology?

Abnormal Psychology: This explores psychopathology and abnormal behavior. Examples of disorders covered in this field include depression, OCD, sexual deviation and dissociative disorder.

Biopsychology: This looks at the role the brain and neurotransmitters play in influencing our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It combines neuroscience and the study of basic psychology.

Clinical Psychology: The focus here is the assessment and appropriate treatment of mental illness and abnormal behaviours.

Cognitive Psychology: This branch of psychology focuses attention on perception and mental processes. For example, it looks at how people think about and process experiences and events – their automatic thoughts and core beliefs. Also, how they learn, remember and retrieve information.

Comparative Psychology: This field of psychology studies animal behavior. Comparative psychologists work closely with biologists, ecologists, anthropologists, and geneticists.

Counseling Psychology: Here, the focus is on providing therapeutic interventions for clients who are struggling with some mental, social, emotional or behavioural issue. It also looks at living well, so people reach their maximum potential in life.

Developmental Psychology: This looks at lifespan human development, from the cradle to the grave. It looks at what changes, and what stays the same, or even deteriorates over time. Also, whether growth and change is continuous, or is associated with certain ages and stages. Another area of interest is the interaction of genes and the environment.

Educational Psychology: This focuses attention on learning, remembering, performing and achieving. It includes the effects of individual differences, gifted learners and learning disabilities.

Experimental Psychology: Although all of psychology emphasises the central importance of the scientific method, designing and applying experimental techniques, then analysing and interpreting the results is the main job of experimental psychologists. They work in a wide range of settings, including schools, colleges, universities, research centers, government organisation and private businesses and enterprises.

Forensic Psychology: Psychology and the law intersect in this field. It is where psychologists (clinical psychologists, neurologists, counselling psychologists etc) share their professional expertise in legal or criminal cases.

Health Psychology: This branch of psychology promotes physical, mental and emotional health – including preventative and restorative strategies. It looks at how people deal with stress, and cope with and recover from, illnesses.

Human Factors Psychology: This is an umbrella category that looks at such areas as ergonomics, workplace safety, human error, product design, and the interaction of humans and machines.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology: This applies findings from theoretical psychology to the workplace. Its goal is increasing employee satisfaction, performance, productivity – and matching positions to employees’ strengths. Other areas of interest are group dynamics, and the development of leadership skills.

Social Psychology: This is what many people think of when they hear the word “psychology”. It includes the study of group behaviour, social norms, conformity, prejudice, nonverbal behaviour/ body language, and aggression.

Sports Psychology: This area investigates how to increase and maintain motivation, the factors that contribute to peak performance, and how being active can enhance our lives.

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Did you know?

1. Being too excited or relaxed can interfere with test performance.

2. Getting paid for your hobbies may reduce your overall enjoyment and creativity.

3. After exercising self-control, we’re more likely to make impulse purchases.

4. Some controversial research finds people live longer if they’re slightly overweight.

5. Smiling can make you feel happier and frowning can create negative feelings.

6. Lie detector tests can be fooled by biting your tongue.

7. Our brains have special mirror neurons that help us identify with what others are feeling, and to imitate their actions.

8. People with high emotional intelligence (EI) are often more successful than people with high intelligence (IQ).

Source: Huffman, K. (2010). Psychology in Action.(9th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons, p.408.

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Laughter is Good for your Brain

You’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine, and that holds true for the brain as well as the body. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.

Furthermore, listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity. As psychologist Daniel Goleman notes in his book Emotional Intelligence, “laughter…seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely.”

Looking for ways to bring more laughter in your life? Start with the following:

· Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is to talk about the times when we took ourselves too seriously.

· When you hear laughter, move toward it. Most of the time, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

· Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.

· Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.

· Pay attention to children and copy them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm

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Tips for Enhancing your Ability to Learn and Remember

·         Pay attention. You can’t remember something if you never learned it, and you can’t learn something—that is, encode it into your brain—if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process a piece of information into your memory. If you’re easily distracted, pick a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

·         Involve as many senses as possible. Try to relate information to colors, textures, smells, and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain. Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better.

·         Relate information to what you already know. Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it’s new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.

·         For more complex material, focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Practice explaining the ideas to someone else in your own words.

·         Rehearse information you’ve already learned. Review what you’ve learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter. This “spaced rehearsal” is more effective than cramming, especially for retaining what you’ve learned.

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm

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What Men and Women Want in a Mate

Buss et al (2003[1]) surveyed over 10,000 men and women from 37 different countries to see what they wanted in a mate. The results were surprisingly similar

What HE wants

1.       Mutual attraction – love

2.       Dependable character

3.       Emotional stability and maturity

4.       Pleasing disposition

5.       Good health

6.       Education and intelligence

7.       Sociability

8.       Desire for home and children

9.       Refinement and neatness

10.   Good looks

  What SHE wants

1.       Mutual attraction – love

2.       Dependable character

3.       Emotional stability and maturity

4.       Pleasing disposition

5.       Education and intelligence

6.       Sociability

7.       Good health

8.       Desire for home and children

9.       Ambition and industriousness

10.   Refinement and neatness



[1] Buss, D.M., (2003). The evolution of desire: Strategies of human mating. New York: Basic Books.

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Did you know? (Some findings from psychology)

1.    Being either too excited or too relaxed can stop you performing at your best in a test situation.

2.    Getting paid for your hobbies may actually reduce how much you enjoy those activities – as well as reducing your creativity.

3.    After exercising some self-control we’re actually more likely to impulse buy, binge, or lash out at a person who annoys us.

4.    There is some controversial research which seems to show that people who are slightly overweight live longer.

5.    Choosing to smile can improve our mood, and frowning can make us feel more negative.

6.    We have “mirror neurons” in our brain that helps us to identify others’ feelings, to empathise with them, and copy their emotions.

7.    Emotional intelligence is a better predictor of career success than having high IQ scores.

For more information see: Huffman, K. (2010). Psychology in Action.(9th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons.

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The Power of Appearance

Did you know that:

1.    Many women spend up a third of their income on their appearance.

2.    Attractive people are more popular than average looking or less attractive people.

3.    Attractive student get noticed more by their teachers (They also get more help and attention)

4.    Popular and attractive people get more attention from their employers and from the legal system!

5.    Beautiful people earn more than their average looking peers.

6.    According to the Fed, people who are rated as being “below average” in terms of their appearances earn 9% less than average looking people.

7.    Babies as young as 3 months old show a clear preference for more attractive adult faces.

8.    We can accurately assess beauty in a wide variety of cultures, not just our own. For example, European subjects are able to identify “more beautiful faces” in a sample of Japanese subjects; and Japanese subjects are able to identify more attractive European faces in a sample of Europeans faces.

9.    Scientists have discovered mathematical proportions (in the arrangement of the eyes, nose, mouth and chin) that cause the human brain to assess a face as being beautiful.

10.  A part of the brain called the fusiform enables us to recognize familiar faces. If this is damaged, we can longer recognise people – and we are also unable to discriminate between plain and attractive face.

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Some Facts on Dreams and Dreaming

1.    Most dreams are based on visual images (Except in people who were either born blind, or who lost their sight at an early age). Occasionally, dreams will include sound and touch.

2.    The normal rules of logic do not apply in dreams. For example, the dream may be taking place in one location – then, abruptly, the dreamer is translocated to a completely different place.

3.    Most dreams occur in a house – but this is usually not your own home. The most frequently reported room is the living room. People rarely dream about their work place or school.

4.    The most frequent scenario is the dreamer plus two other people.

5.    Famous people seldom appear in our dreams. The vast majority of people dream about people who are significant to them, especially if there is an ongoing conflict.

6.    Mundane activities (such as brushing your teeth) rarely appear in dreams.

7.    Dreams tend not to be happy events, and the three most common reported emotions are anger, sadness and fear.

8.    Some themes are so common that they are reported the world over. These universal themes include the loss of a tooth, falling or flying, exhibition, arriving late for exams or other important events, and being chased or attacked.

9.    Cross-cultural research indicates that our dreams reflect normal life events in our own country and culture.

10. There appear to be some differences in the content of dreams between the two sexes. Specifically, women are more likely to dream about their children, family or household activities; men are more likely to dream about strangers, violence, sexual activity, achievement, and outdoor events.

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Birth Order and Personality

Psychologists have long speculated about whether birth order influences personality. Research indicates that there are generalities that seem to be true in many families. The findings are based on a family of three, but can be adapted for other combinations, too. In summary:

1. First born children (only children, or children born after a long gap) tend to be independent, stubborn, strong-willed, driven, success oriented, efficient, organized and perfectionists. They make excellent leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs and managers. On the negative side, they tend to more anxious; have unrealistically high standards and expectations; be over achievers; and can be highly discouraged by perceived failures. Famous first born children include: Bill Cosby; Hillary Rodham Clinton; Oprah Winfrey; Winston Churchill; presidents Bush (George W.), Johnson, Carter and Truman; Saddam Hussein; Joseph Stalin; Mussolini; Sylvester Stallone, Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.

2. Second born children tend to be in competition with/ or to feel inadequate in comparison to their older sibling. As a general rule of thumb, middle children are often more problematic and rebellious than their siblings – either because they want to be seen separately from their older sibling or because they would like some of the attention that has now been diverted to their younger sibling(s). However, they also tend to be creative, witty, self-sufficient, adaptable, flexible, have lots of good friendships, and are comfortable in a variety of social situations. Famous second born children include: George Washington; Richard Nixon; Jack Kennedy; George Bush; Damon Hill; Cindy Crawford; Bill Gates; Madonna; Princess Diana; Jamie Lee Curtis and Brittney Spears.

3. Last born children are showered with attention, and are raise by parents who are more laid back than they were with their other children. They tend to be daring, less responsible, even tempered, creative, warm, affectionate, charming, relaxed and happy-go-lucky. Because they have often been over indulged, they can be manipulative in relationships, and expect the world to revolve around them. Many lack the desire to become independent and, usually, they’re not driven or competitive. Famous last born children include: Margaret Thatcher; George Michael; Sir Laurence Olivier; Eddie Murphy; Jim Carrey; Halle Berry and Cameron Diaz.

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Some Facts Related to Beauty

1.    Attractive people earn more money and are offered more promotions than other people.

2.    A symmetrical face is the key feature that sends the message that “this person is healthy”. It is therefore considered to be a sign of beauty.

3.    Highly attractive people tend to associate with other highly attractive people.

4.    Highly attractive people prefer to date people who they think are slightly more beautiful than they are.

5.    Studies show that all people (whether they are attractive or less attractive) judge beauty in the same way. However, average and less attractive people also consider other qualities when they are deciding how beautiful a person is.

6.    We tend to see people with similar facial characteristics to our parents as being attractive individuals.

7.    We think people who look like our family members also share the same personality traits as those people.

8.    Couples often share similar facial characteristics.

9.    Studies show that we tend to think attractive people are honest and helpful individuals, but unattractive ones are rude and unhelpful.

10. Women are more drawn to highly masculine features during the most fertile period of the month.

11. Women judge attractive men as being more likely to be unfaithful, and less attractive men as more likely to be loving and faithful partners.

12. Women tend to prefer a male partner who has small eyes, a large nose and a strong jaw.

13. Men show the highest preference for women who look 24.8 years of age.

14. Their preferred waist to hip ratio is 0.67 to 0.80

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