Eminent Psychologists of the Modern Era

An Incomplete List of Eminent Psychologists of the Modern Era

Ed Diener, University of Virginia, University of Utah, and The Gallup Organization, Washington, DC

Shigehiro Oishi, University of Virginia

JungYeun Park, University of Illinois

In the present paper, we analyzed citation impact, textbook citations, and major scientific awards to identify eminent psychologists of modern era (Post-World War II). Identifying these individuals serves educational, administrative, and scholarly purposes. Readers can more readily identify the psychologists who have made the most impact on the profession, as well as the type of contributions that receive recognition. In addition, young researchers can learn what is required if they want to achieve eminence. Finally, our analysis helps pinpoint imbalances in need of change, for example gender and ethnic disparities.

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STUDY ALERT: Life-Span Changes of the Human Brain White Matter: Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and Volumetry

Life-Span Changes of the Human Brain White Matter: Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and Volumetry

Lars T. Westlye1, Kristine B. Walhovd1, Anders M. Dale2,3,4, Atle Bjørnerud5,6,7, Paulina Due-Tønnessen6, Andreas Engvig1, Ha ̊ kon Grydeland1, Christian K. Tamnes1, Ylva Østby1 and Anders M. Fjell1

Magnetic resonance imaging volumetry studies report inverted U- patterns with increasing white-matter (WM) volume into middle age suggesting protracted WM maturation compared with the cortical gray matter. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is sensitive to degree and direction of water permeability in biological tissues, providing in vivo indices of WM microstructure. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to delineate age trajectories of WM volume and DTI indices in 430 healthy subjects ranging 8–85 years of age. We used automated regional brain volume segmentation and tract-based statistics of fractional anisotropy, mean, and radial diffusivity as markers of WM integrity. Nonparametric regressions were used to fit the age trajectories and to estimate the timing of maximum development and deterioration in aging. Although the volumetric data supported protracted growth into the sixth decade, DTI indices plateaued early in the fourth decade across all tested regions and then declined slowly into late adulthood followed by an accelerating decrease in senescence. Tractwise and voxel-based analyses yielded regional differences in development and aging but did not provide ample evidence in support of a simple last-in-first- out hypothesis of life-span changes.

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STUDY ALERT: An Evolutionary Life History Framework for Psychopathology

An Evolutionary Life History Framework for Psychopathology 

Marco Del Giudice

Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico

In this article, I outline a general framework for the evolutionary analysis of mental disorders based on the concepts of life history theory. I synthesize and extend a large body of work showing that individual differences in life history strategy set the stage for the development of psychopathology. My analysis centers on the novel distinction between fast spectrum and slow spectrum disorders. I describe four main causal pathways from life history strategies to psychopathology, argue that psychopathology can arise at both ends of the fast–slow continuum of life history variation, and provide heuristic criteria for classifying disorders as fast or slow spectrum pathologies. I then apply the fast–slow distinction to a diverse sample of common mental disorders: externalizing disorders, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, eating disorders, and depression. The framework integrates previously disconnected models of psychopathology within a common frame of reference and has far-reaching implications for the classification of mental disorders.


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Narcissism vs. Self-Esteem: Does Self-Love or Self-Hate Lead to Violence?

Threatened Egotism, Narcissism, Self-Esteem, and Direct and Displaced Aggression: Does Self-Love or Self-Hate Lead to Violence? 

Brad J. Bushman Roy F. Baumeister 

It has been widely asserted that low self-esteem causes violence, but laboratory evidence is lacking, and some contrary observations have characterized aggressors as having favorable self-opinions. In 2 studies, both simple self-esteem and narcissism were measured, and then individual participants were given an opportunity to aggress against someone who had insulted them or praised them or against an innocent third person. Self-esteem proved irrelevant to aggression. The combination of narcissism and insult led to exceptionally high levels of aggression toward the source of the insult. Neither form of self-regard affected displaced aggression, which was low in general. These findings contradict the popular view that low self-esteem causes aggression and point instead toward threat- ened egotism as an important cause.



STUDY ALERT: Differences in cognitive abilities among primates are concentrated on G

Differences in cognitive abilities among primates are concentrated on G: Phenotypic and phylogenetic comparisons with two meta-analytical databases 

Heitor B.F. Fernandes, Michael A. Woodley, Jan te Nijenhuis

General intelligence has been shown to exist within and among species of mammals and birds. An important question concerns whether it is the principal source of differences in cognitive abilities between species, as is the case with comparisons involving many human populations. Using meta-analytic databases of ethological observations of cognitive abilities involving 69 primate species, we found that cognitive abilities that load more strongly on a common factor (which is here termed G, in line with the terminology developed in previous literature to describe aggregated measures of general intelligence) are associated with significantly bigger interspecies differences and bigger interspecies variance. Additionally, two novel evolutionary predictions were made: more G-loaded abilities would present (1) weaker phylogenetic signals, indicating less phylogenetic conservativeness, and (2) faster rates of trait evolution, as it was hypothesized that G has been subjected to stronger selection pressures than narrower, more domain-specific abilities. These predictions were corroborated with phylogenetic comparative methods, with stronger effects among catarrhines (apes and Old World monkeys) than within the entire primate order. These data strongly suggest that G is the principal locus of selection in the macroevolution of primate intelligence. Implications for the understanding of population differences in cognitive abilities among human populations and for the theory of massive modularity applied to intelligence are discussed.

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The Tears of a Clown: Understanding Comedy Writers

What are comedy writers like? Stylistically, professional humorists and other funny individuals span a variety of flavors of humor. There is some evidence that they are more creative and verbally intelligent and adept at self-monitoring. Those who tell jokes for money tend to have had to overcome adversities in life and seem to use humor as a coping mechanism.

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Robin Williams’ Comedic Genius Was Not a Result of Mental Illness, But His Suicide Was

Of course, the media is writing a lot today about the link between mental illness and creativity in light of Robin Williams’ suicide.

Here’s the thing: Williams’ comedic genius was a result of many factors, including his compassion, playfulness, divergent thinking, imagination, intelligence, affective repertoire, and unique life experiences.

In contrast, his suicide was strongly influenced by his mental illness.

This romanticism of mental illness needs to stop. The media needs to offer accurate views of what it’s like to have a real debilitating mental illness and make a call for more funding to support those who are suffering instead of focusing on cutesy connections to genius that are not even supported in the scientific literature.


The Real Link Between Mental Illness and Creativity

The Tears of a Clown: Understanding Comedy Writers

Being Suicidal: What it feels like to want to kill yourself

US Suicide Helpline: 1-800-273-8255 UK: 08457 90 90 90 

STUDY ALERT: Sex differences in the relationship between white matter connectivity and creativity

Sex differences in the relationship between white matter connectivity and creativity 

Sephira G. Ryman, Martijn P. van den Heuvel, Ronald A. Yeo, Arvind Caprihan, Jessica Carrasco, Andrei A. Vakhtin, Ranee A. Flores, Christopher Wertz, Rex E. Jung 

Creative cognition emerges from a complex network of interacting brain regions. This study investigated the relationship between the structural organization of the human brain and aspects of creative cognition tapped by divergent thinking tasks. Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) was used to obtain fiber tracts from 83 segmented cortical regions. This information was represented as a network and metrics of connectivity organization, includ- ing connectivity strength, clustering and communication efficiency were computed, and their relationship to individual levels of creativity was examined. Permutation testing identified significant sex differences in the relationship between global connectivity and creativity as measured by divergent thinking tests. Females demonstrated significant inverse relationships between global connectivity and creative cognition, whereas there were no significant relationships observed in males. Node specific analyses revealed inverse relationships across measures of connectivity, efficiency, clustering and creative cognition in widespread regions in females. Our findings suggest that females involve more regions of the brain in processing to produce novel ideas to solutions, per- haps at the expense of efficiency (greater path lengths). Males, in contrast, exhibited few, relatively weak positive relationships across these measures. Extending recent observations of sex differences in connectome structure, our findings of sexually dimorphic relationships suggest a unique topological organization of connectivity underlying the generation of novel ideas in males and females.

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