Miss Psychobabble: Cognitive Economy - Why Automatic is Pragmatic

Admit it, you schemed through and scrolled down first to get a glimpse of this article. We all have the ability of simplified and (often times) automatic thinking.  In Psychology, this tendency is called cognitive economy.

"The tendency for cognitive processes to minimize processing effort and resources" (Colman, 2014).  
It assumes that when we categorize our brains we try to make them informative with as little expenditure of mental energy as possible.
We make an average of 226.7 decisions everyday in food alone (Wansink & Sobal, 2007).  Yes, that’s a lot and we are not even aware of some of them!  We make hundreds of decisions every day but is it beneficial to cut it down?

A good example unveils the reason behind “Why does Mark Zuckerberg wear the same grey t-shirt every day?”  It has been bugging some people for many years.  See for yourself.

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community."
Einstein did it, Steve Jobs did it and now Mark Zuckerberg is doing it.  The idea behind this is that as we develop a relative level of expertise and automatic thinking, it allows us to not only behave quickly and efficiently but also to focus our mental energy to purposeful activities.
Sometimes, I don’t even remember if I brushed my teeth but I’m confident that I did because I do it everyday.  I do it out of hygiene but mostly out of habit.  To mindlessly brush our teeth conserves our cognitive energy for other meaningful activities (such as your work presentation) during the day.
William James, American philosopher and psychologist even argued that "only by rendering many aspects of daily life automatic and habitual, can we free our minds to advance to interesting fields of action" (Lamoreaux, 2013).


The art of mindlessness can be a beautiful thing, being able to free your mind to habitual feasts, gives room for creativity imagination and innovation.  This trait of mindlessness and giving into daily rituals have been prevalent in the lives of other creative and genius minds across culture and time.

According to Mason Currey (2013), there were 6 significant similarities that emerged among most of creative minds such as Marcel Proust, Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, Patricia Highsmith, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, William James and the list goes on.  These are namely:

  1. Be a morning person
  2. Embrace your day job
  3. Take lots of walks
  4. Stick to a schedule
  5. Practice strategic substance abuse
  6. Learn to work anywhere.

As you can see, an automatic mind, in some cases can be shown to be more pragmatic!  After freeing up our minds with the unnecessary, it is then up to us to function, create, and innovate.

Colman, A. (2014). Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. Retrieved on November 12, 2014 from http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199534067.001.0001/acref-9780199534067-e-1605
Currey, M. (2013). Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Retrieved on November 12, 2014 from http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Rituals-How-Artists-Work/dp/0307273601
Lamoreaux, S. (2013). Do You Need a Daily Ritual for Creativity? Retrieved on November 12, 2014 from http://www.business2community.com/strategy/need-daily-ritual-creativity-0644940#4E5JSsOVI3Krt2yq.99
Wansink, B. & Sobal, J. (2007). Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook. Environment and Behavior 39, 1, 106-123

Mastering APA style 1: Formatting and Referencing

Image from http://www.apastyle.org/
Is it possible to master the APA (American Psychological Association) style?  Yes; however, it takes time and patience.  Even myself, with more than 10 years of using APA style in my studies and now at work, do check the above manual once in a while.

Hopefully this series of "Mastering APA style" will help you understand how to do APA style, and maybe master it in your future career!

Let's start from the very beginning:
In APA style, basically for beginners, there are two main parts to take note of: a) Formatting, and b) Referencing.  Students usually do either essays or reports.  Formatting is the style of which a paper is presented to your lecturer, marker, or the reader.  Referencing is the style of bibliography of how the references are presented at the end of the paper, and how authors are cited within the paper.

Formatting mainly consists of: (typical rule)
  • Margins (1 inch all around)
  • Running head and page number (on headers portion of page)
  • line spacing (double line)
  • font size and type (size 12 Times New Roman)
  • headings (differentiated by the different levels of headings)
  • numbers and percentages (see below)

Source: http://blog.efpsa.org/2015/01/12/most-frequent-apa-mistakes-at-a-glance/
Referencing consists of:
  • In-text citations
  • Reference list 
I would usually recommend to visit this Purdue OWL website on help for citations and referencing methods.  I will also cover them in future posts.

Note to students:  As APA style is the easiest to check in a paper, some lecturers might actually assess it first before reading the rest of your paper.  It would be good to make sure that the APA style in your paper is 100% correct before your submission.

Miss Psychobabble: How to Improve Your Sleep to Save Your Career

Most people sleep less than recommended and are under-performing at work because they think that they are getting enough sleep.  A good night's sleep is not just about the quantity of hours but also the quality (i.e. whether is interrupted or smooth).  Quality sleep won't grant you immunity from stress or illnesses; but sleeping for 8 hours can have a positive impact on your health and your ability to successfully manage your daily challenges at work.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/6749663099 (Image Credits: epSos .de via Flickr)
According to Bradberry (in a Forbes article), pulling an all-nighter may be productive in the short-term but skipping sleep to work can be detrimental to your ability to focus, mood, and higher-level of brain functions for the days to come.  Furthermore, research showed that sleep deprivation could have the same effect on your body as physical stress or illness, causing you to overproduce white blood cells as if you are fighting an infection.

This is why, it is very important to give your body the restorative rest it deserves.  Here are 4 ways to improve your sleep:

1. Create a Conductive Sleeping Environment
Make sure that your bedroom is relaxing and welcoming by removing unnecessary distractions like the television.  Keep the room temperature cool and use curtains to block light.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/planetchopstick/497736998 (Image Credits: planetchopstick via Flickr)
2. Avoid Indulging in LED Lights
Aside from the television, avoid using hand phones and tablets before going to sleep.  This is because LED lights can suppress melatonin levels.  The hormone melatonin plays a role in your natural sleep cycle.

3. Avoid Drinking Caffeine
Caffeine is a strong stimulant that may interfere with sleep by increasing your adrenaline production and blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain.

4. Create a Sleeping Routine
Learn how much sleep you really need and stick with it.  At least 6 to 8 hours of sleep is ideal for teens and adults.  You may also develop calming rituals such as taking a warm bath or listening to relaxing music.

Hope you have a wonderful rest!

Psychology Happenings in Singapore 2014 (and 2015 too!!)

This is a list of the psychology-related events that were held in 2014.  Make sure you stay tuned to the Conferences and Events page and the Facebook Page to keep yourself updated about the latest events and happenings!!!  The below events are written in chronological order.

February:  3rd Annual International Conference on Cognitive and Behavioural Psychology
This is an annual conference that is held in Singapore.  The accepted papers are available here.  For the 2015 event, the early bird registration ends on 29 December 2014, so better register now!

March:  NTUxSIM Psychology Societies Spring Talks 2014
Held at NTU, this is the first collaboration between NTU and SIM Psychology societies conducting a talk together.  It was a one-day event, featuring a talk on Emotional Intelligence (by Jeffrey Williams) and a Career talk (by Dr Joy Low and Steven Tan).  Photos are available from the SIM Psychology Society Facebook Page!

March:  SPS Annual General Meeting
The 2014 Singapore Psychological Society Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held at Rendezvous Grand Hotel, with two pre-AGM talks.
Topic: - "Is positive psychology too "positive" for Asians? International and local evidence for behavioral vaccines" by Dr Albert K. Liau
Topic: -"How can we learn from errors and mistakes - A contribution to applied psychology" by Prof. Michael Frese

April:  Brain-Based Therapy workshop by Dr John Arden
This workshop is organised by Singapore Psychological Society and aims to train participants in the use of brain-based psychotherapy to enhance outcomes with a variety of client populations.  This was a very rare event with such a prestigious and highly regarded trainer happening in Singapore!  Hope this happens more in Singapore!

May:  2014 Asian Congress of Applied Psychology (ACAP2014)
This conference was organised by Asia Pacific International Academy (APIA), a subsidiary of Aventis School of Management.  Being the first time it is being organised, it holds good prospects for an event that could be held annually.

September:  Well-Being in Singapore - Current Developments and Implications
This event was organised by the School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) at SIM University.  This biannual series serves as an opportunity for an open exchange on well-being with academics and practitioners from the fields of psychology, sociology, communication and related social sciences, with a bigger aim to help develop policies and practices that improve the well-being of all in Singapore.

October:  SIM PsychWeek
This was a successful week of talks from different fields of psychology, organised by the SIM Psychology Society.  I believe those who attended the talks benefited a lot from them!!  Hope this could be a successful tradition and event held in SIM every year!!

October:  Singapore Mental Health Conference (SMHC) 2014
Theme: “Mental Health and Resilience – It Takes a Whole Community”.
This was the second time this conference was held, with the aim to promote discussion to create a holistic care model to better support persons suffering from mental health problems and their caregivers.  This year, SMHC 2014 is held in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, which falls on 10 October.

November:  Is that a Psychologist in your Pocket? The Use of Smartphone Apps and Web Based Applications in Psychology
A full day workshop by Dr Michael Carr-Gregg organised by United World College Southeast Asia (UWCSEA).  Please see link for more details.

December:  20th APECA Biennial Conference-Workshop
Held in National Institute of Education, Singapore.

TMC Academy talks:
February: Ms Clare Yeo - "The role of the psychologist: How to thrive in the 21th century" Poster with Photos
September: Choo KahYing - "Recovering from Manic Depression - An uplifiting story" (Photos)
October:  Dr Julia Lam - Forensic Psychology talk  (organised with Singapore Psychological Society)

Events in 2015:
January:  2015 International Conference on Society, Psychology and Education (ICSPE)
February:  Asia-Pacific Symposium on Motivational Interviewing
February:  4th Annual International Conference on Cognitive and Behavioural Psychology (CBP 2015)
March:  5th ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) Congress
March:  2015 International Conference on Management and Behavioral Sciences (ICMBS 2015)
May:  2015 Asian Congress of Applied Psychology (ACAP)
October:  Regional Congress of the World Federation for Mental Health

Do make sure you stay tuned to the Conferences and Events page and the Facebook Page to keep yourself updated about the latest events and happenings!!!

Top 10 and Bottom 10 of 2014 Posts

It's almost the end of the year of 2014.  I have decided to collate the results for 2014.  This has been a really busy year for me.  After overloading myself with teaching assignments (more than I can handle) for the first quarter, I took up a full-time teaching position since April 2014.  This keep me really busy every month, which I nearly could not fulfill my promises of coming up with 2 posts a month.
To date, there is a total of 31 posts, including 5 invited posts, 4 from Miss Psychobabble and 1 about neurotransmitters by Dr V.  With a total pageview count of more than 54,700 for the whole year, this worked out to be more than 4560 pageviews per month!! Thank you everyone!! 

Let's have a look at the top 10 and bottom 10 posts of 2014.  The rankings are based on the total views on each of the respective posts, from the dates they are posted till today (24th December 2014).

Top 10 posts of 2014:
  1. Updated: Comparison of Bachelor Degree programs in Singapore
  2. Pathway for Singapore Psychology Education
  3. Statistics Made Easy 3: Relationships or Differences?
  4. Stereotypes vs Reality: Psychology Major
  5. Why the internship/volunteering plan did not work
  6. SGPsychStud's reflections: Getting a psychological-related career in Singapore
  7. 2014 Update: Academic requirements for local psychology degrees
  8. The Mysterious Neurotransmitters
  9. What we need NOW in Singapore psychological education and training system
  10. Psychological Burnout: How does it feel like?
Bottom 10 posts of 2014:  (1 being most viewed and 10 being the least viewed)
  1. Miss Psychobabble: Positive Psychology - How to Live a Healthier and Happier Life
  2. Accreditation of programs and Registration of psychologists
  3. SGPsychStud's Guide to Exploring SG Psych Stuff
  4. SGPsychStud's Reflections: Experiencing Loss
  5. Miss Psychobabble: Busting the Myths of Counseling
  6. Miss Psychobabble: Facebook Addiction - When logging out is the hardest thing to do
  7. Jack of all trades or Master of one?
  8. The scientist-practitioner model: What it is, the importance and its issues
  9. Fear and Hope in Life
  10. Statistics Made Easy 4: Types of Data
Similar to last year, most readers of my blog are interested in posts pertaining to psychological education and training in Singapore.  The most interesting thing was that the Number 1 post (Updated: Comparison of Bachelor Degree programs in Singapore with over 1400 views) was viewed more than three times of the Number 2 post (Pathway for Singapore Psychology Education with over 400 views).  I hope that these posts have truly helped students who are planning to study psychology or currently studying psychology now.
Despite the bottom 10 in their current position, I believe this is because they are all the most recent posts, with 9 of them posted in the last three months.  Time will make up the difference.  How do I know?  Look at the bottom post (Statistics Made Easy 4) and the Number 3 post (Statistics Made Easy 3).  They are on the same topic of statistics and highly related, hence I believe the numbers will increase with time.
Be sure to read the Bottom 10 posts as well, as some of them are really good and will also help in your psychological journey!!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance!!!  Happy Holidays!!!