Psychology in the news

Part of a recurring series showcasing a selection of recent news coverage of issues and developments that matter to professional psychology

February 9, 2012—This article is the second in a recurring series showcasing a selection of recent news coverage of issues that matter to professional psychology.

Building a Bridge to a Lonely Colleague
Source: The New York Times
New studies indicate workplace loneliness can hurt not only the individual but the organization as well. APA member and public education coordinator Nancy S. Molitor, PhD, was quoted in the article about the relationship between the recent economic downturn and workplace loneliness; layoffs often mean the loss of contact with people who were not just colleagues, but friends.

Girl Scouts Launch Leadership Campaign for Girls
Source: USAToday
A study commissioned by the Girl Scouts of the USA found that three in nine girls ages 8 to 17 think that women can rarely become corporate executives, and that women are more burdened by family obligations when trying to pursue a career. Clinical psychologist and APA member Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD, provided expertise on the role media portrayal of women in politics can have on how girls view women and leadership.

Does Technology Affect Happiness?
Source: Bits, The New York Times Business of Technology blog
A study published in the APA journal Developmental Psychology found that girls between the ages of 8 and 12 who report spending more time using technology and multimedia are less happy than those who spend less time in front of an electronic screen. Though little is known about the study participants because information was gathered from an online survey, the research raises important questions about the relationship between time spent online and social development in young girls.

Mysterious Tics in Teen Girls: What Is Mass Psychogenic Illness?
Source: Time Magazine
Fifteen teenagers in New York have been diagnosed with mass psychogenic illness, or conversion disorder, for Tourette’s-like symptoms after no chemical or infectious agent was found. Mass psychogenic illness is thought to be triggered by stress, and the article highlights the connection between stress and the body’s physiology. 

Say Cheese, Carrots! Veggie Photos in Lunch Trays Boost Consumption
Source: The Wall Street Journal Health Blog
A study conducted by University of Minnesota psychologist and APA member Traci Mann found that putting photos of green beans and carrots in the food compartments of school lunch trays increased consumption of those vegetables among elementary school children. The study compared both the increase in vegetables taken and the increase in vegetables eaten, and showed that more carrots and green beans were consumed overall. Though the novelty of the images could wear off, researchers believe getting children to eat even a few bites of vegetables can help them develop a taste for healthy foods over time.