Disclaimer: I try to ensure accurate reports of study results, names, dates, etc., and use a combination of verbatim notes, presenter materials, Power Point data summaries, and direct follow-ups with presenters. If I have inadvertently mis-stated any information (names, dates, numbers, etc.) I would be grateful for any corrections and will be sure to update/correct any articles I present pertaining to these presentations.
Hi, and greetings from Orlando!
Asynchronously live from the 120th Annual APA Convention of the American Psychological Association, this year meeting in Orlando, Florida.
As usual, the sessions I attend and report on are representative of my own areas of interest, primarily clinical psychology, psychotherapy, online/computer-facilitated mental health tools and resources, and some of the keynote/plenary sessions on the big trends and issues of general psychology. My goal "here" is to share some of this with those who are interested in psychology, both broad and some of the areas which at least fascinate a few of us, and for those who cannot be here to witness first-hand. My usual disclaimer: I do my best to be accurate, asking follow-up questions, taking extensive notes, and taking photos of elaborate charts and graphs to tease out and present in summary form, often after these asynchronously live reports which I will edit and revise as needed afterwards, and turn into more polished articles.
FWIW... Orlando is sunny and warm (or hot), not so humid thus far, with afternoon rain showers predicted. And now, some highlights of the 2012 APA Convention.
Transmedia Storytelling-Creating Engagement and Meaning in Organizations, Education, and Practice
The room was surprisingly full so early into the convention (even before the opening ceremony), with many well-known media and social psychologists in attendance. Dr. Rutledge began by noting how this is much more of a 'fun' topic than many psychology presentations - with their focus on pathology, and things like depression, anxiety, and so forth. In addition, research shows that the best time to engage a tired audience is not too early, not too late, so it's all good.
Dr. Rutledge introduced the panel and proceeded to paint a picture of just how prevalent and vital the power of story-telling is, and how effective the use of 'transmedia story-telling' can be, in particular. Done properly, developing a story can be a boon to a brand, such as Nike has done with the narrative of a Greek Goddess and "on to victory" storyline. By actively engaging an audience and turning them into engaged participants, organizations, products, celebrities, and institutions can do more than 'advertising'; they can offer "an invitation to inspiration".
Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D.
Story-telling is not new, Dr. Rutledge explained, but the tools we have today can facilitate entirely new ways of telling - and participating in - stories. After all, "We live in in a participatory culture", increasingly so. Morever, "storytelling is all about psychology".
So what is it - transmedia storytelling? First, some context.
Dr. Rutledge shared some statistics which [along with the Pew studies and research as reported by Larry Rosen, e.g.; see Poke Me] reveals the way in which people now access media. For example, among those under 25, research has found that 25% watch TV online. 1/4 use YouTube, and 53% of Facebook users use that platform's games (e.g., Farmville). Sixty-nine percent 'multi-task' as they use media, for example watching television and going online to get the back story.
In 2011, there were 10 BILLION 'apps' in use.
Mass media models have changed from one speaker uni-directionally 'broadcasting' to a wide audience, to a model of many sharing with many: 'The Network Model'.
"It's a whole new world.... [We are] changing our fundamental notions [and] expectations about time and space."
An illustration of a using multi-media and story telling well: "A story that unfolds across several platforms. Users can join the story at any point." Each story is self-complete, and users are motivated to participate in the story. This may assist in "branding", as the product and participant become "co-adventurers on a journey". [In discussion later Dr. Rutledge responded to a question about the Harry Potter effort to bring characters from film to web, amusement park and toys, etc. She noted that the web page was an early big effort, but ultimately it failed to engage.]
For an effort at storytelling to succeed it must be persuasive, and must establish an audience connection. It must be engaging on many levels: the sensory, executive and intuitive levels.
Aside from persuasion and audience connection, a third factor is financial interest.
In promoting anything, the power of branding is not a new concept. Even with religion, if you think about it - there is the Bible (text media) plus Nativity Scenes, and varied media used to tell the story.
[Think politics as well, as we are increasingly deluged with images, narratives and buzz words across various media.]
Dr. Rutledge went back even further, historically, noting that persuasion campaigns often take the form of the Greek 3-Act Structure: A protagonist, conflict and resolution. What is introduced today is the interactivity. You can actually influence the story's resolution, and thus you "have skin in the game" and you're invested in it. One classic example has been the success of 'Matrix' in going from film to animation and to other varied media.
Or, consider a 'case study of The 3 Little Pigs'. Today's version? Pig 1 has a blog, and here you can get his back story, how he's no longer living near the others, and so on. Pig #2 is on Twitter. He's gotten quite knowledgeable about various building materials now. Pig 3? He's a famous chef now, with a cookbook, and a Facebook page with millions of fans.
Every story needs an anchor. Meaning. What's the headline? What's the tease? Example (on screen image). "Will Barbie Take Ken Back?" . For anyone who missed it, the famous couple broke up in 2006, apparently. [Source: Foursquare. A billboard shows Ken announcing 'Barbie, You're the only doll for me!'] So Mattel has launched a campaign to help persuade Barbie to take Ken back. An anchor. (Or hook.)
Tom's Shoes is another great example, this one based on real life, but also engaging across several media. The owner worked his way to donating a million shoes to those without, by matching sales with donations. He promoted a "Day without Shoes" and really showed passion, and then "he puts shoes on kids - and makes *you* part of a solution... that's the power of TransMedia done well."
Case Study: Jay Z. He has portrayed pages of his book on cars, on a swimming pool bottom, and other unlikely spots, and created a mystery game where followers could win autographed photos by following his 'clues'. As a result, he quickly had 1/2 million people following him on Facebook alone. "He's more than an act now."
Non-profits are all about a story. Business too. Education as well (which Dr. Hogg will be addressing next). As time was running out, a quick summary and overview:
What we are seeing is a 360 degree view, with engagement at multiple levels, across a wider audience. Key factors are 1) emotional engagement - with a core story and clear protagonist; 2) cognitive engagement, with various media pieces which provide gaps, mysteries, narrative space; and 3) social engagement. Remember, "technology is only a tool" and "respect your audience". You're producing this experience for them, not you.
Jerri Lynn Hogg, Ph.D.
The next speaker, Dr. Jerri Lynn Hogg, picked up on the reference to use of transmedia in education, which is where she focuses. So how can transmedia storytelling be applied for educational applications? A timeline was presented, beginning with the fact that in 1983 the first 'distance education' was undertaken. In 2010 more than 6 million people took online courses. These are now offered "cross platform, cross media".
The idea that a lecture takes place outside of a single place where students assemble can introduce new opportunities (in addition to access) such as homework which involves submitting a video, or a reaction to a slide presentation. People are now not only more acclimated to digital applications, but our everyday lives often now include "multiple devices in front of us".
Dr. Hogg gave an example of an assignment she gave to students, which involved finding a 'weak link' or spot on a Wikipedia page, and to 'fill in the blank'. This led to much discussion on a discussion board among students, which in itself was interesting. Also, sometimes students' proposed contributions were rejected by Wikipedia.
With little time remaining, Dr. Hogg noted how the DIY - Do it Yourself - movement has been a boon to education. Collective, public education as well. She mentioned Cowbird - "a public library of human experience" where one can contribute to the collective story. Or stories can be contributed to via games, such as the 'I Heart Robot' project demonstrated. In this scenario a robot's home is L.A. but its spaceship crashes in Montreal. How to get robot home? Class discussion centered on things like the distance, the language barrier, E.T....
And then younger students may have been introduced to the power of the story of Flat Stanley. (The I Heart Robot was described as sort of a 'Flat Stanley on steroids'.) A project in Florida involved 600 students, age 13-17, where the focus was on news media stories...
And with time running out now, the final presenter is introduced.
Keely Kolmes, Psy.D.
Dr. Kolmes spoke now on the clinical applications of TransMedia story telling, as she learned from Dr. Rutledge. Dr. Kolmes is a therapist who has been leading recent discussions about privacy, consent, and boundary issues in the context of this very public social media age. She has focused on the clinical aspects of "brand development" - what story does your brand tell? When your public brand is an extension of yourself, not only is your name involved, but "your reputation, your voice, what you stand for". And, not least, what is your "likeability"?
Speaking of the power of story-telling and the importance of brand, in the clinical practice of psychotherapy it is not uncommon that either a client or therapist seeks or is shown information which adds to the 'story' of the other. Dr. Kolmes shared some of her own research, including a study of 332 clients who were [active] on the Internet where 70% of reported going online to seek *personal* information about their therapist.
Where do they look? Mostly Google (78%), Facebook (42%), Linked-In (17%), and blogs (10%). Sixty percent seek family information, and 54.7% looked for age or birthday. [Kolmes & Taube, 2011]
Then too, stories get told *about* therapists, and health professionals find themselves rated (as do teachers) and occasionally find something untrue and/or unhelpful. What to do? This has been a recent dilemma and discussion point for some psychologists, along with other aspects of boundaries, limits, etc., in addition to caring for our own "brand".
Things like 'status updates' can be revealing; it's easy too to see who is paying attention, to what.
Other new experiences follow. Does this happen to you? A client may hand their therapist a phone and ask you to read an e-mail exchange which s/he finds upsetting. Some have brought printouts to sessions. At the same time, some therapists may value the opportunity to work out what exactly is the issue and "to see if it's really worth the upset". [Here I see a lot of CBT value if there is distortion, but also an argument for a therapist knowing how text-only can be misinterpreted, for example. Knowing the 'new media'.]
So a client hands you the phone or a printout [and I've had teens want to show me their blogs during a session, which similarly may be helpful]. And then, what if a client sends you YouTube clips? To what extent can clients use different media to explore a fuller potential? There is 2nd Life, Augmented and Virtual Reality, exposure therapies, use of avatars...
Some other dynamics and questions - but again, time was expiring, so a last bit of reflection, quickly, on some questions ripe to explore:
Is there a difference between seeking versus just stumbling upon, stories? How does accessing content change our perception? What is the effect of not identifying our visit?
And how do our policies encourage or discourage the use of these stories, clinically?
I'm just back from APA's opening ceremony. American Psychological Association President, Dr. Suzanne Bennett Johnson, discussed her focus for this year - highlighting the importance of behavioral healthcare, research from psychology, education, medicine, public health ...
We have a problem. We all need to be working on it.
We see from the data: Child obesity. Diabetes. Scientists, educators, providers, all seek to apply what we observe and study, and find behavioral and/or systemic ways to induce a more healthy population.
[See the report on Zimbardo,on TED and about TED- link below. He describes the difference within 'evil', between the bad apple, bad barrels, & bad-barrel-makers. Apropos.]
The 2012 APA awards for lifetime contributions to psychology both went to scholars with long records in research and outreach relating to what is now by any measure an 'epidemic' - obesity - and its health and mental health consequences.
Acting to address the epidemic of obesity in children has been a cornerstone of APA President Dr. Suzanne Bennett Johnson's presidential focus - and what might work to turn around this 'epidemic'. She described to us a large-scale study showing success with both an online (automated) journaling and feedback program and a face-to-face education/treatment program. The 'treatment' is behavioral, and sustained by mindfulness and lifestyle, but the result is improved health. For thousands, behavior and education and lifestyle programs way out-performed medication (alone) for weight loss and prevention of diabetes over 10 years forward. Dr. Kelly D. Brownheil (Yale) wrote a best-selling book taking on the food companies and portraying them as enablers. He spoke on some of the highlights. Dr. Rena Wing addressed some important policy issues which impact on who can or cannot deliver preventive services.
There was a discussion segment as well. One of the onstage panel noted that Bloomberg's soft-drink war seems but a reaction to the soft drink companies' insistence on 'an environment of supersized'. Things such as 'portion control', after all, are effective. There is certainly a need for tools to help reverse the trend towards epidemic rates of obesity and diabetes. Dr. Brownheil made the additional point that one should accord people 'respect' rather than blaming them. In the print news this morning I read (USA Today) about the 'epidemic of obesity'. It's real. Now we're asking why. And what can be done?
This year's opening session was hosted by the 2012 APA President, Suzanne Bennett Johnson, Ph.D.
Dr. Bennett Johnson welcomed the audience to sunny Florida (where she lives) and hoped we are enjoying our "warm" reception. (Florida can be mighty toasty in August.) She outlined her Presidential priorities and convention tracks, beginning with child obesity.
APA's CEO, Dr. Norm Anderson, was introduced and he too welcomed the gathering, saying he loves these annual conventions as they always provide an 'energizing and uplifting experience'. He described several APA initiatives, among them launching a variety of digital collections and apps. (This year, however, he did not have his 3-D avatar with him.) Dr. Anderson said he is particularly looking forward to a series of 'how-to' master sessions, on how to publish,
how to do research, and 'how to do a killer TED presentation'.
A film was shown [and is now available on the APA website], basically the 'story' (to borrow that term) of APA's recent initiatives. Dr. Bennett Johnson highlighted the particular concern she shares with others about 'ending the obesity epidemic' - in addition to furthering treatment of depressive disorders. The statistics on obesity in America are, bluntly, shocking. Two thirds of Americans are overweight, and 1/3 are obese. Psychologists - experts in human behavior - surely must play a role in finding solutions, including "engaging the next generation of psychologists".
She underscored how psychology itself, in order to stay vital, needs to attract and embrace a new generation.
Dr. Bennett Johnson listed several technologically enhanced offerings, including several 'apps', and 4 new journals which launched this year - one being the Journal of Popular Media, which has had some great articles on social media. Communities. Advocacy for research funding (from DHS, VA, NSF) in areas of suicide prevention and PTSD treatments continues. Another main goal would be further development of evidence-based practice guidelines.
Meanwhile, online: the APA's Online Psychology Lab accrued 1 million page views in 2011. "The public loves psychology", she said, but doesn't always know about psychological science. In 2011 numerous video podcasts were produced, including Dr. Norm Anderson speaking on "This is Psychology". And there have been public service initiatives, like "Give an Hour". APA page listings returned for searches on "psychology" are #1 (or near) on Google, and they had 23 million website visitors last year.
And now here we are, the 120th annual APA convention. More than 1/4 of US children are overweight or obese. It's the 2nd leading cause of death in the U.S., right behind smoking. Unless we turn the trend around, life expectancy for our children will be less than ours. One-third of boys, 40 percent of girls are on track to develop diabetes. Severe obesity has skyrocketed. From 1986-2000 the rate has quadrupled.
The two award recipients for Lifetime Contributions to Psychology were introduced.
The first, Dr Kelly D. Brownheil (Yale) is known for his work and advocacy in the field of health psychology. He coined the phrase "toxic food environment". In 2006 Time Magazine named him one of the top 100 most influential people. In his 2004 book Food Fight he argued that big soda is as bad as big tobacco.
After receiving his oversized plaque and proclamation, Dr. Brownheil made a brief presentation, arguing for "global nutrition citizenship". He noted that obesity rates in the U.S. are alarming, and the world rate even more so. "Prevention is key, and the bad guy is industry". In China recently, "over-nutrition" was declared a bigger problem than lack of nutrition. Imagine. What is happening, he said, is "the food colonization of the developing world"- or as is widely heard to our South, "the Coca-Cola-ization of Mexico".
Several graphs were presented, illustrating consumption trends in 1984 versus the 2000's. Around 2005 there was a huge surge. In the U.S. we consume about 40 gallons, per year, per person, of soft drinks. That's on average, including those who do not drink it at all.
Image onscreen: wholesome boys playing soccer on the street under a Coca-Cola sign. Branding. And, "is 'victory' in the US creating problems elsewhere - "like 'Whack-A-Mole'? [Slide]
Key Topics Dr. Brownheil emphasizes include the power of default, 'the way it is'. "Can we impact portion sizes? Cost?" What is the environmental context? Secondly, look at the crafting.
He cited one of his grad students' research (Ashley Gearhardt) - who looked at the history of the tiny coca leaf. "It is not abused in nature." But in commerce, well, it's another story.
"Companies are intentionally manipulating ingredients to maximize profit", he concluded, even if the impact is negative."
Next the 2nd award winner was introduced, Dr. Rena R. Wing (professor at Brown University). Some of the introduction included reference to her having been cited over 19,000 times in journals, for her extensive work on obesity and diabetes. What she found basically, is that "weight loss is more effective than medication". Obesity is in her judgment "our society's most pressing health problem". She emphasizes behavioral change, she explained, while Dr. Brownheil emphasizes policy change. Her continuing goal is twofold: 1) We need to disseminate what we know ; and 2) We need to improve maintenance of weight loss.
What impact have psychologists had? First, the identification of 'social learning'. Secondly, things like cognitive restructuring and motivational interviewing.
[graph shown onscreen: Outcome of Behavioral Approaches]
BR> Initial treatment and maintenance are improving. This from a study of a diabetes prevention program with 3000 participants, all with 'impaired fasting glucose', all high risk. Long term study found that factors in avoiding initial development of diabetes were most efficacious when they entailed 'lifestyle intervention', as opposed to treatment consisting of metformin. (31% prevention vs. 58%). Over time (10 years) weight crept back up, but there was no onset of diabetes.
The question on a slide is posed: "Does losing weight reduce the risk of heart disease and death?"
Next slide. A look at 5,000 obese/overweight subjects with type 2 diabetes. Participants in the DPP (Diabetes Prevention Program) in fact seemed to benefit measurably. It can be shared by primary care physicians and others (though not psychologists, ironically). She has been promoting and partnering (e.g., with the YMCA cost-effectively disseminating lifestyle programs) to make such programs available. It consists of a series of "video lessons" delivered via the Internet, at first weekly, then monthly. People submit their data (weight) and the program provides feedback, (like "Great"!). [Think of the 'story'! Transmedia.]
In 1994 something called The Weight Control Registry was undertaken to look closely at the data. A goal was to maintain weight with a healthy diet, 60-90 minutes a day activity, and little TV.
[A thought: This was before most people had Internet, and pre-Facebook and smart phones. Does "little TV" translate to "little online tweeting/YouTubing/texting/FB"?]
One study looked at f2f versus Internet-based regimens. With the f2f mode there were 4 weekly contacts which then turned to monthly - a "self regulation model". The conclusion was that behavioral change could lead to important health benefits. Still, she said, we need to think about working further towards relapse prevention.
At this point the three onstage moved to a latenite-TV like set, for a 'chat'. They spoke about Bloomberg's campaign in New York to limit portion size of sugar soda drinks. For example, despite his business background, the backlash by industry has been that the mayor wants a "nanny state". And a response may be that we all get vaccinations, cars have seatbelts, and there have been restrictions on tobacco, each relating to risks of death and disability, and in each case involving government playing a role. So the question may be, is obesity of equal seriousness in terms of public health? Clearly it is serious.
Dr. Bennett Johnson said she finds it fascinating how Coca-Cola pushes "personal choice", yet how many would find obesity a personal choice? Dr. Wing noted that if it's not, then the arguments for things like portion control (help) make much sense. Dr. Kelly added that "we don't want to attack overweight people for the problem", and that often they face stigma and discrimination as-is. Dr. Bennett Johnson reiterated that the optimal intervention would be prevention. Dr. Wing added that there is a strong genetic component as well, parents often sharing the issue, so there are 2 overweight parents who may feel guilty about not providing sufficient goodies. "Setting up an environment for the whole family is key". And, being a good model too; these 2 elements are key.
Dr. Kelly said that we can argue as individuals, at schools, to legislators, etc., for better food and a better environment. "I like the idea of parents helping children to make healthy choices." The children will learn and influence some of their friends with their sharing of facts and modeling.
Dr. Wing said we see this in groups as well, with families and friends. Think too of 'the California lifestyle' where many are mindful of healthy food and lifestyle, everyone is simply more aware.
Dr.Kelly noted that not only have our "body norms" changed, but our notion of eating has changed. Cars didn't come with cup holders. There was a time the thought of fast food chains serving breakfast would be crazy, much less the specialty late-night and all-night food offerings. So someone like Bloomberg can make a difference if he can impact something like portion size.
Dr. Bennett Johnson mentioned the notion of the "tipping point", when say 1/3 of our whole society is doing something, it moves the "norm". Dr. Wing replied that the opposite case might be made, as she would prefer, that there is so much science and policy-influencing out there that perhaps it might tip towards a positive direction.
Dr. Kelly said he thinks we are "beyond the tipping point... every day something comes out and sounds radical. The next year it will be considered commonplace."
Dr. Bennett Johnson asked him how we might respond when we develop the tools for the most effective treatments but are not included in healthcare reimbursement (as psychologists). Dr. Wing explained that CMS will reimburse for counseling on obesity, but not psychologists, nutritionists, or exercise physiologists (the experts). They are excluded. It would seem that lifestyle interventions should involve behavioral psychologists at the lead. We should keep pushing. Dr. Bennett Johnson added that we can outreach to the providers meanwhile, to primary care physicians and pediatricians, family practitioners, etc. Dr. Wing agreed: At the least, we can help with research based resources.
So what might we say - respectfully - to "people of large size"? Dr. Bennett Johnson would explain that fitness is extremely good, for everybody. Why not make a target of say, losing 10 pounds? Or 10% of body weight (10 pounds of 200). That might be helpful. It is achievable.
Dr. Kelly again underscored that the most we can do is "in the spirit of making the environment healthier so there aren't so many drivers of obesity in the first place. I hope this is a message we can all get behind."
Finally, the APA President thanked everybody and shared that her husband, who died 5 years ago, used to say his one wish was to see her as President of the APA someday, and now here she is. "Psychology is amazing in so many ways."
And that's Day 1 Tomorrow: Virtual Reality treatments, military applications, and virtual humans.
APA Convention Report #2
Asynchronously Live from APA Convention 2012 (Orlando, FL)
3 August 2012
A full report will be forthcoming, but as I am chairing/introducing the session, I'll not be able to take literal notes just now. However, I will re-construct the presentation and offer links to some of the videos, in the days after the Convention.
Virtual Reality Goes to War: Innovations in Military Behavioral Health Care
Invited Plenary Address: Virtual Reality Goes to War: Innovations in Military Behavioral Health Care
Albert "Skip" Rizzo, Ph.D.
Dr. Albert ('Skip') Rizzo began with a brief overview of current Defense of Department and Veterans' Administration needs and projects. Framed with the caveat that we all know 'war sucks' in general, the goal here is to do something to help the situation we are in, with the tools and resources we can bring to bear. The nature of war itself has changed, with more survivors of serious injuries. During the Vietnam war, for example, the ratio was 3 wounds to 1 kill among injured soldiers, and now it is 12:1. More people survive their wounds. Of course there are significant numbers of post-war casualties as well, including adjustment problems and suicide.
Some of the current treatments for PTSD , anxiety disorders, and adjustment problems were discussed, within the context of history - how psychological tools and treatments have historically been driven by military applications - such as the Army Alpha tests (and the public's embrace of IQ testing) following World War I , and the birth of clinical psychology during World War II, setting the stage for clinical neuropsychology. Recent military efforts have continued to drive innovation, research and treatment protocols, and stimulated several areas of focus - such as TBI and PTSD - within psychology, psychiatry, medicine, neuropsychology, counseling and rehabilitation.
Dr. Rizzo described 4 specialized labs with which he has been working, as research professor and as associate director of the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. They have been working on a variety of virtual and augmented reality programs, from a 'classroom simulator' to a 'motor rehab lab' with a 3-D environment used with patients recovering from stroke. There are computerized prosthetics, and 'virtual patients' who - through use of artificial intelligence (AI) - are able to help human practitioners and trainees to hone diagnostic and interviewing skills. Although some may at first be skeptical of simulations and AI-based counseling/support applications, several compelling video clips were shown. In one we could watch as an initially reticent interviewer soon 'loosened up' and went with the flow of conversation in the quest for diagnostic information. In another we see an onscreen depiction of a friendly, calm, military man sitting on a porch and explaining in a friendly, folksy manner why he might in fact be helpful: "I'm still just a piece of software, but I'm getting better all the time."
Some history and definitions were shared, terms such as Virtual Reality itself.
[For some definitions, as well as an historical perspective and examples of some diverse mental healthcare applications, please see this report
One of the earliest and most-studied applications has been 'exposure therapy' treatment, using virtual reality. There have been dramatic successes in the treatment of claustrophobia (in Spain), as well as customized treatments for the fear of heights and other well-known phobias.
Some aspects of flat-screen VR are well known now, such as World of Warcraft, and some applications can be deployed very inexpensively now, such as an application for 'upper extremities therapy' which entails a $50 webcam, chopsticks and handballs. More recent and sophisticated applications include things like stereoscopic VR using multiple flat screens and head-mounted displays. Such set-ups "used to cost $350,000 to implement" but can now be done for a fraction of the cost, making it much more accessible.
"We're going from the automated paradigm to leveraging immersion" and naturalistic environments, observed Dr. Rizzo.
Knowledge continues to make advances in terms of both application and customizeability. We've come a long way since the early 90's introduction of computer-based treatments for simple phobias. Now there are treatments which are demonstrably effective, with a wealth of research finding VR treatments to work "as well as in-vivo exposure". In particular, exposure therapy has been amenable to VR-based treatment modalities. For example, there has been some impressive work in a laboratory in Spain focused on treatment of claustrophobia. (Onscreen we can see the animated depiction of a 3-D space with walls which can be manipulated.) In 1994, Rizzo noted, the phobia treatment imagery was not even all that realistic by today's standards, but it worked. Today it is 'virtually better' in every sense. Progress was continuous, with advances in 1995 (fear of heights) and 1997 (fear of flying). In 2000 the graphics started to become much more sophisticated.
We see onscreen a literal 3-D replication of an air terminal and airplane, which we can travel through - virtually. Engaging virtual environments, such as this virtual San Diego Airport, provide treatment tools targeting specific fears, such as air travel.
Several research findings are highlighted, such as a 2008 meta-analytical study which compared VR versus real-world/imaginal (exposure) treatment components. Result: the VR modality equaled or surpassed the imaginal in terms of efficacy. "People suspend disbelief and react as if it is the real thing."
Given that among soldiers alone - more than 300,000 or one in 5 in 2008 - are returning home with PTSD, there is a good case to be made for the deployment of such technology-facilitated tools, applied by health/mental health professionals.
A video onscreen goes live, with a loud, percussive battlefield soundtrack and extremely realistic imagery. We hear and practically feel the rat-a-tat-tat of gunburst, and bombs or IEDs exploding in the distance. 'Creepy sounds' too. One needs to have been through it to feel the power fully, but this is realistic enough for today's audience to be impacted by the realism.
Today there are many tailored programs - from the virtual classroom to a 'virtual World Trade Center', along with the Virtual Iraq and Afghanistan environments. More samples from the war situation were shown, replete with the sound of the humvees (vehicles) and the crackle of weapon fire. Multiple senses are engaged here - and additional sensory input channels are now available in some applications as well. The experience - and engagement - can be extremely powerful. Immersive.
Dr. Rizzo emphasized the emotional power evoked here, and the 'need to be sensitive' to it:
One needs to remember, "It's a tool in the hands of a well-trained clinician", not a stand-alone 'clinician of Oz'. It's a clinical interface. A tool.
Several studies were cited demonstrating the success with VR treatments, even where other treatments have failed [e.g., Rizzo et al]. The efficacy of VR-based exposure therapy is so compelling that such treatment is now widely accepted as 'evidence-based'. Meanwhile, researchers are continuously "gathering the evidence, incrementally", across the various treatments and applications.
In terms of particular challenges within 'military healthcare', one obstacle is not so much 'efficacy' as the willingness to seek treatment in the first place, with a common attitude, even if seriously hurting, of "I don't need mental help." One advantage here may be that less public self-exposure is required, and this may foster engagement.
There is also a special advantage of implementing a well-designed program, which is that "once you build a simulator you can repurpose it for a variety of situations" - such as using the Iraq environment as a foundation, with added mountains, for example, to turn it into an Afghanistan simulation. An airport or disaster site or simulated work environment might similarly be adapted for a specific situation. There is additional ongoing research involving the chemistry of behavioral extinction, and use of fMRI imaging [e.g., Roy et al].
Another recent application is in the area of 'stress resilience training' - with the developers' task involving the building of an 'emotional obstacle course'. The training is largely experiential, as opposed to 'death by Powerpoint', and basically emulates the principles of CBT.
Simulated patients with advanced voice recognition increasingly have the ability (via AI) to respond to individual concerns and interests. They are 'intelligent human agents' more than static automated programs. Another example of a training application: Virtual Patients.
Despite some hesitation (apparent in a video clip) we soon see a somewhat stilted interviewer who "starts acting like a real clinician", with this virtual patient. This training module appears at least as effective as more traditional medical/psychiatric practica involving actors. The simulated patients come equipped with sophisticated voice recognition and offer a wide array of individual responses. (Example: A quick and easy response to "Are you a Padres fan?")
And there is SimCoach.
A demonstration video is onscreen: "Hi there! The name's William... but you can call me Bill." [See Demo Video ]
Here we see another example of virtual-human interview-skill building, as a new virtual character, Ellie, faces a real-life soldier, who seems skeptical and cautious. The soldier asks, 'why should I talk with you?'. Our virtual human replies:
Well, this is private. And you can say what's on your mind. (pause)
"I'd like to ask a few questions so I can figure out how to best help you. Would that be OK?"
Predictably, the soldier is still reticent. But Ellie is both persistent and supportive, knowing the common feeling that nobody can possibly understand the horrors without having personally been there. "I don't want to say I know what you went through because I don't," she acknowledges. But she is there to listen, and maybe it will be helpful. She is non-judgmental, supportive, and empathetic as well, saying at one point, "that must be tough".
Where are we now, and what is our future like? Military funded projects continue and 'the architecture keeps on adapting'. Half the cases of PTSD, meanwhile, have not even been identified. And more and more applications are appearing for education and training purposes - for example SimCoach being used by the Atlanta Braves, and applications to study and modify classroom behavior, particularly inattention.
Augmented Reality, Second Life (virtual seminars and offices), mobile apps, and Virtual Reality: "the ultimate Skinner Box".
And as for war, it is an awful thing, clearly, with many victims, "but we can do what we can to help".
For more on this topic, please see the articles below and the USC-ICT homepage. Additionally, several of these videos can be found on Dr. Rizzo's YouTube channel.
Asynchronously Live from APA Convention 2012 (Orlando, FL)
These reports are shared immediately following the presentations, from verbatim notes and 'handouts' or presenter materials. Every effort is made to be accurate and further editing and proofing/fact-checking utilizes the graphs, tables, etc. shared by the presenters. In the event of any inaccuracies, typos, or post-event clarifications corrections will be made. Clarifications/additions by the presenters are also invited and welcomed.
Few topics are of greater importance to psychiatrists and psychologists than a revision of the Holy Bible for many: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the mental illness disease guide used globally in providing mental health services.
I arrived to find there was already a symposium underway on this topic as well, same panelists, and soon to lead into a "discussion hour", which promised to be interesting.
Listen in if it truly interests you. :-)
[This is now from notes, believed verbatim, but not yet edited, checked, with links & images added.]
Someone is speaking about the outlook for a "strictly biologically based" DSM-5. Is the DSM turning "all life impacting disorders" into medical diseases?
And what about the values of counseling psychologists?
The DSM is not entirely evidence-based... there is a "lack of empirical evidence".
What about the impact on vulnerable populations?
The speaker is now the President-elect of Div.35.
She is speaking about our diagnostic categorization and the likely (harmful) results of our "decontextualization of mental health disorders".
Another Division's spokesperson asks: What about "problems of living"? Isn't that what we most often address? "Try not to use 'symptom'". She would "rather we review clients' rights issues... in their social context. And the argument was made that the DSM needs this context as well.
More to the point, says a clinician [as the room is now filling up for the 'discussion hour' segment], what real impact will the proposed DSM revisions have on things like diagnosis and assessment?
A brief transition as the hall fills and it is explained to the divisional presentation attendees that this particular hour has been designated as a sort of open town hall/Q&A as a "Discussion Hour" on the DSM-V [with past-APA President, Dr. Frank Farley] In addition to questions for the panel, comments are also encouraged.
Conversation Hour #3171 DSM-5 Controversy - Q&A
Before opening the floor to comments &/or questions, some framing of issues was done by the panelists, including one [Jon] who emphasized the importance of reliability and validity, noting that since 1980 the DSM focus has been more on reliability than validity. Regarding validity, it is alarming how - while traditional definitions of mental health or illness encompassed the 'behavioral, psychological, or biological disorder'- initial emphasis in the revisions called for an 'explicitly biological definition of mental disorder'. "Are we all treating 'illness'? I deal with grieving, with problems with a spouse, with work... that's what we do..." One panelist (Donna) was a former CNN reporter/interviewer who now tries to do 'interviews that mean something', while combining her reporter's instincts with her psychological skills and sense of humanism, in this case to 'tell the story' as she sees it: "I sort of feel like we're little children and we don't know how to play together...We have lost our way - and we are throwing medicine at everyone. Children too. We need to look at what it means to be a human. To become more person-centered. Are we hurting or helping people?" She has been working hard to try to get 'one person in Congress' to listen. [Apparently they have other concerns.]
And with that, the floor was opened to the assembled crowd of psychologists and others, deeply invested in the impact of DSM-V revisions.
First question/comment (Div. 41 member) - Females have more internalization disorders and men have more externalization disorders. Of concern to men: the disproportional lowering of criteria for substance abuse.... Black males are 5 times more likely to have a 'schizophrenia' diagnosis. This may lead to an 'at risk' diagnosis...
Q: Why can't we put out a DSM on our own? [Insurance?]
Comment: We need to focus on "medicine and case management"
Comment: I'm an Australian lawyer who believes in the law-and 'practicing defensively'.
Also the importance of "differential diagnosis".
Comment: I'm a forensic psychologist [who thinks this will have]substantial impact.
Q: I'm Italian. What took the APA so long to take on the issue? Finally APA has the guts...
From a school psychologist: How does the change impact LD? RTI? Discrepancy models? The new DSM requires RTI, unlike the old...
Comment: I observe a great deal of interest among colleagues internationally, and was surprised to learn on the heavy reliance (especially among psychiatrists). Aside from that, my own concerns are about the stated intent to take away 'Asperger Syndrome', after it finally became a known entity, one which is exceptionally helpful in terms of social and educational adaptation (and not necessarily a big added expense). I can share stories of brilliant outcomes where Asperger's was understood and supported, and speaking of validity, I've no clue where they get the idea that it is not a very clear and useful category. Lastly, I know many are equally or more distressed at the thought of renaming PTSD, which everyone knows of, through not only war but other traumas and catastrophes, and turning it into a simple "injury", as if a band-aid will heal it in a few days.
Response: Points taken, but you'll be happy to know that in the case of the movement to turn PTSD into an 'injury', that is the result of an action by one group of Veterans... and it seems unlikely to be enacted in the revisions.
Comment/Question: We can't just 'tweak' the DSM. With the continuation of a medicalized model, tiny differences in diagnosis don't mean anything. What about a culture that says 'kids need help'? We need to facilitate a cultural transformation. "The time may be right for a paradigm change."
Comment: There is a whole cultural context, absolutely. We have apps for depression. And there is 'algorithm mania' - we reduce everything to a checklist. What can be automated is automated.
Comment: I'm a 6th year doctoral student, still idealistic... [but I see] 3 year olds getting prescribed anti-psychotics, insurance refusing treatment for heroin withdrawal. I'm working with a patient and midstream, based on a 10 minute phone interview, they decided the diagnosis was wrong and it's really sociopathy... [some applause]
Comment: I love the energy, but we need to move towards action.
Summary of Concerns:
1. Diagnostic Categories/Validity
2. Politics & the money of the pharmaceutical industry (Could the new healthcare law be an opening?)
3. Alternative system of categorization?
Some concerns: We (consumers, psychologists, counselors, etc.) don't want to get into turf wars or fights. How might we draw insurance companies into a dialogue with us? How can we validate a diagnosis short of a checklist?
And thus it was left with more questions than answers, a sense of concern for patients as well as the practice of mental health professionals, and a sense of what may be at stake, and how the trend line may be moving in terms of diagnostic categories and treatments.
Saturday 4 August 2012
Greetings from APA's 120th Annual Convention.
Today there are many excellent events to choose from, and I've decided on the next two because of their "fit" with my interests and their relevancy to psychology - and daily life - today. Each a legend, seeing them back to back was doubly wonderful. As it happens, the second speaker had just listened to the first presentation (as I did) and used some of the first presenter's points and examples in his own presentation, in theory two completely different topics. First up is Drew Westen, a well-respected political consultant (and author/psychologist). Immediately following is Howard Gardner, of Multiple Intelligences fame, speaking today on his own concepts and definitions, and sharing observations on the characterization and implementation of his 'MI' theory.
Here now, some of the highlights, as reported "asynchronously live" from Orlando.
Drew Westen, Ph.D. - Harvard professor, consultant to media (CNN, etc.), caucuses, and politicians, presenting on:
The Psychology of Dysfunctional Democracy
First Dr. Westen made clear that he was not going to promote any specific candidate or party; rather he offered an indictment of the whole way that our Government has been bought, polarized, and ground to a near-halt. He would be equally sharp and blunt in his comments about both candidates for President, while noting the intervening variable of a quasi-3rd party: tea. ("You can't put lead in your teapot without brain damage.") He said he would surely offend fans of all candidates and parties with his directness, no doubt - but he'd offend equally in presenting each side.
DREW WESTEN - Harvard professor, consultant to media (CNN, etc.), caucuses, and politicians, author of The Psychology of Dysfunctional Democracy
Saturday, 4 August 2012
"The Psychology of Dysfunctional Democracy: Where's Franklin Roosevelt When you Need Him?" Drew Westen, Ph.D.
Transcribed verbatim - Now here's a man of many facts and soundbytes! Historical, political, and psychological.
Now, from a man who lives and breathes what might be called "the psychology of politics" .
He forewarns that he will be sharp and blunt in his comments about candidates, even a quasi-3rd party ('tea') Candidate. ("You can't put lead in your teapot without brain damage.")
As a starting point, Westen began with an FDR quote which he likened to his tea-party characterization:
"No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level - I mean the wages of decent living." - FDR
Dr. Westen noted that over the past 50 years we've gone from the popular perception that Government is benevolent and trustworthy to the opposite view.
"The government is actually not working that badly in many ways", Westen said. For example Medicaid and Social Security still exist, our troops are coming home... "So, how do we get back to Kansas?"
Actually, speaking of Wizard of Oz metaphors, some new variations were offered up in terms of the choices before Americans. Prevalent impressions:
- Tea Partiers: If I only had a brain
- "Fiscal Conservatives": If I only had a heart
- Democrats: If I only had courage
- The most popular political figure and institution in America today is "none of the above".
"The Presidential Contest: A Hobson's Choice"
Anyone of you ever given a Rorschach? That's Romney.
We don't know what's in his heart - is it an empty vessel waiting to be filled? Even Romney seems not to know. You're for guns, gun control...immigration reform and self-deportation. He never said these things as Governor. So... 'he's either a bat or an insect' (his Rorschach profile).
[Those familiar with the concept of 'primary process' might enjoy the Westen version of the 'GOP primary process' - 'unintelligent design, naturally selecting for inbreeding of ignorance and intolerance'.]
And his sponsors: "No concern for a)truth b)common decency, or c)what you'd said before."
Like McCain, he comes in 'twisted like a pretzel' to make it, and 'flip-flopping all over'. Soul of a lizard, all stripped away...except for the aggression. And preaching the Gospel of St. George [Bush:] In 8 years he destroyed the world economy.
Anyone ever given a Rorschach?
Obama. First year.
He never gave any indication of what he felt... did surveys on attitudes towards gays but consistently opposed 'gay marriage'.
His first morning as president he played golf with the president of JP Morgan. His 'peeps'? "I guess if that's popularism, CEO's are his 'peeps' "
He had both houses, super-majorities, and people rooting for him. Yet he "chose not to take bold action and has proven himself unable to create jobs, the top agenda of voters".
2010 - The stimulus is gutted. Hopefully Obama will learn why people hate him, and how to talk about jobs in a motivational way.
If Obama is elected: 4 more years of gridlock? "Where his empathy circuits have been firing during his first 3 years, I have no idea." But if there is 4 more years of gridlock in a dysfunctional House, bottom line: "Which do you prefer: A Depression or another Lost Decade?"
So, perhaps dysfunction is the problem. What are the causes?
Causes of Dysfunction:
1. "Money can't buy me love. But it can buy me Washington." ('How much to talk with you - for a minute? Two minutes?')
2. The end of the two political paradigms of the 20th century
3. The pollster-driven life [And: "their answers are invariably wrong."]
Some additional factors to consider, beginning with cause #1- Money
-- The cost of the average Senate seat in 2010 was $10 million
-- If you stick rotten apples into a barrel the whole barrel gets rotten. "If I could name 15 Senators who are not bought, I'd be lucky".
-- Corruption is in the eye of the beholder.
-- Why has no major player been prosecuted on Wall Street? Americans are angry about this!
Returning to FDR, Westen again quoted him as saying (paraphrasing) 'Never have the forces of money been so strongly aligned against one candidate, and I welcome their hatred.' Today, candidates might change that to ...'and I welcome their bundled money', and bank bailouts, and toxic assets.
Echoing a major theme espoused by Philip Zimbardo, Westen commented that in the end "a corrupt system corrupts even good people."
And the dominant thinking is so changed. Why not tell the banks, you ARE going to cut your rates for underwater mortgages? But our system is "owned and operated by Wall Street". Why do we extend subsidies and tax breaks for the super-prosperous oil companies while pushing to cut the meager entitlements of people who depend on them to have even a decent human existence such as described by FDR? Why are tax rates on the rich down 2/3 since Eisenhower? Under Eisenhower the rich payed 90%! Why did GE pay no taxes last year despite $14Billion in profits? (" Hey, for even 1 Billion I'd be happy to pay 30%!")
Cause #2: Demise of the Political Paradigms
We may think of some paradigms in moral or practical terms: What's fair? What leads to prosperity? We might consider the analogy of paradigms in science - normal science, and revolutionary science. In the case of Obama in 2008, he was empowered to challenge the system and then chose to play the system, something Westen finds 'repugnant' when he considers how "promised hope and change and delivered neither" Yet equally revulsive policy shifts have come from the GOP as well, for example in terms of the all-out war on unions. "Roosevelt built the middle class with the help of unions." We have the 'natural science' paradigms, followed by Presidents as diverse as Nixon (who launched the EPA) and Eisenhower (building a highway system, not promoting fracking). And then there was the Reagan 'Revolution' and the launch of a movement to 'return to the 14th Century' via a social agenda. Alongside that was a declared 'culture war', as described by Reagan's speechwriter, Pat Buchanan. Domestic issues, gender roles, gender equality. A half century past the 1960's, we've still not passed the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). [How would these play today?] And there is/was the morality debate as context for divisions - 'purity' versus sexuality, for example. And mantras of the day: Reagan spoke of 'love of country', Bush cheered to 'support our troops'. Reagan actually stoked the 'us versus them' divisiveness, racial and otherwise. His legacy? Reagan tripled the national debt while running as a fiscal conservative: "true genius". In the end he polarized the nation ("You're either with us or against us") so that 'no successor could bring together the incoherent strands of Reaganism'. Bush (2) tried, and doubled the national debt while beginning his term with a huge surplus. ("To be fair, Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House at the time.)
And finally, Obama: 'The Uncertain President', as illustrated by a lengthy quote (2011) by Obama explaining why he is for environmental protection but overriding the EPA due to "the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty...". Whose paradigm is this? As Dr. Westen described it, this reads like a greatest hits list of Republican talking points. Why, he wonders, is the President not standing up and taking on those who would ruin our fragile environment? "Thank you very much, Mr. President, for poisoning my children."
And yet it could actually be worse if a pure-blood corporatist like Romney got to assert a new paradigm to his liking. There is plenty of blame, disappointment, and skepticism to go around, and ultimately, 'the system' and 'We the People' (of the human variety) will be victims or change agents to bring about a new and functional democracy.
-- The Great American Middle Class was built brick by brick, and it is being dismantled brick by brick.
-- No one even knows how many people are out of work or holding down two, three, or four jobs just to get by.
-- The jobs that are coming back pay half the wages of the jobs we've lost and lack the benefits
-- 400 families have more wealth than half of the families in the U.S. combined (150 million people)
"We face an election between the Tin man and Oz - I'll let you decide which is which. What we need from our leaders is courage. Courage to take on vested interests, and to work on behalf of the American middle class."
And now for something completely different - or maybe not.
HOWARD GARDNER - of Multiple Intelligences fame, spoke about his history and work with MI. He occasionally noted a concept as being compatible with some of Westen's observations, just minutes earlier.
Full report to follow ASAP, but in sum Dr. Gardner presented his 8 intelligences and how they have been implemented globally, from Montessori preschools to other types of settings altogether. For whatever reasons, he's seen that education has taken to his work more so than psychology. (More on that to come). He compared some concepts to those of Piaget, and mentioned Gladwell's Outliers in terms of "intelligence" notions. He stopped to comment, playfully, "A few of you are tweeting; I'm reading what you say! Anyone here know what books are?" Wonderful. He even postulated a new type of intelligence used online. More detail coming ...
Running now to "How to give a killer TED event" - as presented by Dr. Phil Zimbardo's 'Analysis of a Ted Talk'. [See below]
back at the computer:
INVITED PLENARY #3323
Howard Gardner Theory of Multiple Intelligence: First 29 Years
Howard Gardner, of Multiple Intelligences fame, as its originator, spoke now on his own definitions and observations, regarding the concepts and implementations of his 'MI' theory. Over thirty years.
Interestingly, like me, Dr. Gardner had just watched Drew Westen (political consultant) talk about the dynamics at play in Washington politics and public's perception, as reported above, 'here and now'. He alluded to some of Dr. Westen's points and also mentioned other influential works such as Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers', which relates to the topic in that Gladwell describes a larger context for 'success' than any single intellectual factor.
Dr. Gardner described the development of his model over the past (nearly) 30 years, sharing some highlights of his career and key influences. At Harvard, where he teaches in the Graduate School of Education, he became absorbed in Project Zero, which explored the nature of autistic thinking. Four years ago he wrote a children's book, while immersed in work with brain damaged children. "Every day I was seeing kids who were good at an art form but not other things." He's already been familiar with the seminal work of Oliver Sacks (for example, 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat'), and appreciated the fact that "the way the mind and brain work isn't always intuitively clear". [A slide shows one result of his interest in the nature of cognition among those with significant brain damage: his book, 'The Shattered Mind'.]
And now, direct from the 'inventor' himself, how he views the meaning of 'multiple intelligences'.
The Theory: MI
Gardner began by saying he surely wasn't the first to look at differences; there was Thorndike's work, based on 'evolutionary evidence' involving prodigies, learning disability, autism... now add to this the question of "What kind of abilities and roles are valued by different cultures?".
And speaking of culture, and reflecting the evolutionary impact of today's world:
"I think in the digital world there may be other intelligences beneath the surface."
A broad perspective on 'intelligence' requires, Gardner argued, an inter-disciplinary effort (biology, anthropology etc.), "beyond psychometric testing and beyond sensory modalities". With this in mind, he has elaborated a "set of 8 specific criteria for what is/is not an intelligence".
Gardner provided his own definition of 'an intelligence':
"An intelligence is the biopsychological potential to process information in certain ways, in order to solve problems or fashion products that are valued in a culture or community." [emphasis his]
In his model, one thinks "of several relatively independent computer, not a single all-purpose one." He rejects the notion of 'g' as the single ruler of our intellect, as if we have "a single all-purpose computer inside our skull."
Up on the big screen (and in the image above on our smaller screens), Dr. Gardner showed a list of his 8 multiple intelligences, and a corresponding lifestyle which might capitalize on a particular intelligence:
OUR 8 INTELLIGENCES:
1. Linguistic ---- poet
2. Logical-mathematical ---- scientist
3. Musical ---- composer
4. Spatial ---- architect
5.Bodily-kinesthetic ---- dancer
6.Interpersonal ---- leader
7.Intrapersonal ---- reflective individual
8. Naturalist ---- botanist
Gardner noted that the first two, for example, may overlap or supplement each other, although they "may or may not correlate", experimentally. Think of law professors. They need both skills, the verbal and logical in order to be successful. Dr. Westen, he noted, illustrated some of the dynamics in his look at lawyer-turned-President Obama. Neither candidate in this case seems to be strong on the Intrapersonal dimension, having self-awareness.
Gardner also cited some similar or parallel notions of particular intelligences, such as the focus by Goleman on interpersonal/social intelligence. Gardner has also been struck by the possibility of a 'pedagogical intelligence', derived from his observations of children: for example, "a 4 year old can teach a 2 year old, but differently than teaching a 6 year old." Should we go on to posit a 'spiritual intelligence'? Existential intelligence?
MI News Flash! "I am no longer in the business of announcing new intelligences - that's up to you."
For now it is the 8 key intelligences: "Everyone in this room has 8 intelligences... they make us human, cognitively speaking." Moreover, referencing twin studies as well as observation, "No two people--not even identical twins (or clones) -- have exactly the same profile of intelligences."
A slide onscreen shows a Rorschach ink blot, and is labeled: "The Middle 1980's - 'MI' as an Educational Rorschach..."
Dr. Gardner described how oftentimes his theory served within educational systems in a way he did not envision, and his ideas were implemented in ways he did not see as necessarily helpful, especially when applied rigidly. It became a sort of movement, or mantra, "We need to teach in 7 ways" (there were 7 at the time). The thing is, "I didn't say any of that!" Over 10 or 15 years he has been interested in how his ideas have been implemented educationally. In particular, consider these 'two educational claims' about the necessary components for teaching and learning.
-- Individualize - Learn as much about each learner as you can, present materials in an intelligence-friendly way and assess that way as well.
-- Pluralize - Decide what is truly important and present that content in a number of ways, addressing the relevant intelligences.
"Note: NOT learning styles!" That is from onscreen. Continuing, Gardner underscored the point:
"If you try to cover too much stuff, a year or two later there will be nothing left - unless you re-learn it. [Two benefits of pluralization are that] you reach more people. If you teach pluralization you teach learners what it means to really learn something well...understanding is always multi-faceted." And he repeated, "Multiple intelligence is NOT learning styles!" If your 'musical computer' works well, embrace it. (Learning styles may be real factors, and 'playfulness', for example, may be an avenue of engagement, or style, but not an intelligence.) He sees the concepts continue to be confused.
In reflecting on how his work has been read, implemented, and mis-implemented, he noted that his work has generally been much more readily embraced by the educational community than by psychology. He offered 'three speculations' as to why:
1. Psychology has a vested interest in the theory and technology of IQ and IQ tests ('moving gravestones in a graveyard')
2. New tests of intelligence(s) are expected to correlate with standard measures
3. Psychologists would like an experimental test of MI and it is not that kind of a theory -- it's a synthesis of much data and will eventually be judged on its utility
Still, even as his work may be mis-applied, many have reported amazing results from its application. He did a BBC show where the host noted how test scores went up 'because of Gardner'. Given his healthy skepticism, he replied that he'd be happy to take the credit - but not the blame.
Traveling Memes: Domestic
Next Gardner addressed what he called (onscreen) 'Traveling Memes', or mission statements. He shared the mission statement as he described in 1983, guiding his work with the Key Learning Community: "...to research and develop innovative practices in teaching to celebrate diversity in our population and our communities and to personalize education by building upon each student's strengths in the following areas: Linguistic, Musical, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Naturalistic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal..."
Moving forward, some images of adaptations of his concepts from around the world - an image of an ad in Macau for condensed milk, said to have the magic power to develop all 8 intelligences, a work, by Michael Moore ('Stupid White Men'), Frames of Mind, and a book he co-edited, 'Multiple Intelligences Around the World'. He has visited China frequently, observing a popular class (in 2004) where classes involved all students drawing a goldfish. Why so popular in China? One reason may be the strong belief (elsewhere as well, of course) that 'my child is very special'. Or, 'my child is not so good in writing, but is very smart interpersonally'.
And then there is the 'Piaget Question', or 'American Question': How do you test it? Gardner spoke of Project Spectrum, the Explorama at DanfossUnivers in Denmark, and various applications in pre-schools, particularly the Montessori method. "We had a naturalist corner... lots of board games... both logic and social intelligence. [And some manifest this a bit differently: "they realize they can cheat if they understand better" than their peers. "We discourage this."]
Now turning to the future, and 'Intelligences for Tomorrow', beginning with "some speculations about 'MI' and the concept of intelligence(s) in the future." He begins by consideration of 'the breadth of the concept (emotional, moral, creative?) and the issue of 'pure' versus 'contextual' assessment. Do we want finer categories (e.g., 'financial intelligence'; he quipped that perhaps 'if you have this one you can buy the others'.) "Intelligences for what?"
He thinks, much as he respects him, "Goleman ['EQ'] conflates prescription and proscription - you can have a good computer used for destructive ends."
What response would you get, Gardner queried, if you ask kids who the smartest man is today? Bill Gates, most likely. Gardner gave a nod here to Malcolm Gladwell's hugely influential book, 'Outliers', which profiled Gates and other superstars, noting not only intelligence, but the importance of being 'in the right place and time'. And what if you were born 100 years ago...
"You're so well-behaved! But a few of you are tweeting! I'm reading what you say! Any of you know what 'books' are?"
Now we take for granted things like computers, distance learning, iPads and phones. "You can keep on learning indefinitely, or until you become senile." A slide lists some 'what happens to multiple intelligences at older ages. In sum, they are internalized; they may 'go underground' but don't disappear. "Personalized mental representations continue and perhaps even become more differentiated. [And] computers, distance learning may nourish these different profiles."
Some final thoughts before concluding and opening up to some questions: Firstly, one can consider people as diverse as a Mandela or a criminal against humanity, without regard to a specific intelligence - "intelligences are essentially amoral." He aspires to "push in a positive way rather than say 'oy vey'" and strives to encourage what he terms the 3 E's of Good Work: "Excellent in quality, technically; Personally engaging, meaningful; and Carried out in an ethical manner." Just as one can continue to learn, "It's never too early to nurture the good worker."
Question: "Would you rather know last year's grades, or IQ? No two people have the same profile. Psychologists have some interest but educators, much more so.
A 'closing thought' now: "Intelligence plus character - that is the mark of a true education.". The source: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now a brief Q&A with Howard Gardner:
Q: What are your thoughts on the highly gifted?
A: You can guess - I think highly gifted prodigies occur in different sectors; socially they don't need special attention... [But] you can't assume like Terman that if you get an IQ test everything is fine.
Q: Is there a 'sexual intelligence'?
A: Is it about humor, or sex? [Perhaps involved in performance skills would be] interpersonal intelligence and verbal intelligence, maybe artistic...
Q: In couples therapy, we see logical people and sensitive people. Are they different styles?
A: I don't like the word 'styles'! But awareness can help... I don't think you need to know MI theory to have a good marriage, but it probably doesn't hurt.
Q: Isn't it true that IQ is not based on biology, but on behavior? Citing Anastasi, for example...
A: Sounds like Sternberg. An intelligent person adapts to the environment, or if you are fortunate/powerful enough, gets the environment to adapt to you. My hesitancy: I don't think there's such a thing as adaptability per se. I might be color blind, deaf... but...
And time was up for this event.
Next up: Philip Zimbardo on how to give an engaging, dynamic TED event, and what you'll need to know.
HOW TO DO A TED Phil Zimbardo, Ph.D.
Most importantly, in my view: he looked very well. Despite past and present health struggles, tonight he walked around the stage, consistent with his take-away from doing several TED events, "you have to own the stage". TED imitating TED, here the one and only Phil Zimbardo (who hours earlier had won an award for his lifetime contribution to psychology) shares with us his experience with the power of the TED presentation, as both participant and observer.
TED began in 2006. The rule: 18 minutes or less. TED features have attracted over 100 Million views on YouTube and the TED Website.
APA leadership has been watching TED presentations and learning, and also advising potential participants on how to approach a TED talk as a presenter. He speaks quickly now, as is necessary to survive a TED performance - with a strict time limit and the need to be as engaging as possible within that time.
Zimbardo began with a bit of context - what he has been focused on, between the lure of studying the nature of evil (e.g., The Lucifer Effect) and now trying to directly contribute to some good. Thus his interest in time perspectives, and his new e-book about 'why boys are struggling and what we can do about it.' Tonight he wants to help others do great talks, should they have the opportunity.
TED approached Zimbardo 4 years ago with an invitation to give a presentation. First question:
What is TED? Technology. Education. Design.
You can organize a Ted-ZX event on your own, by the way but such events carry a $7500 registration fee for the 4 days. In 2008, he was fortunate to enjoy first-class treatment (via Virgin Air!) and was summoned to a rehearsal. "I never had to rehearse!" Soon he understood why it was important. He'd be face-to-face with a big digital countdown clock: 18:00 minutes. Ready-set-go! He found he'd gathered "too many slides" and he needed to condense his prepared presentation. Clips from his TED event flashed on the big screen behind him now as he is telling the TED audience how "good people could be seduced across the line" in his (in)famous Stanford Prison Study, and proceeds to address the nature of evil.
"Evil is the exercise of power. That's the key."
A slide is projected: "Evil, Evil Everywhere - Google 'evil' - a word so empty that it should surely have withered away - and up come 136 million hits in a third of a second."
OK, so there are '3 factors' -
1) Dispositional: What do people bring into the system? ("The Bad Apples")
2) Situational: What does the system bring to people? ("The Bad Barrel")
3) Systemic: How do system and people interact? "Broad influences: political, economic, legal power" ("The Bad Barrel-Makers")
Example: Abu Ghraib - "Don't blame us. It's not the system.... "
"I become an expert witness [with] access to top secret files." Evil. Flash back to the dungeon. OMG- the counter says 6 minutes left, 20 slides to go... speed up! (Zimbardo's pitch and movement and rate of speech all accelerate.) "I'm interested in what surrounds the bad barrel... The power is in the system! Three factors - dispositional (the bad apples), situational (the bad barrel) and the systemic - broad influences, political, economic, legal (the bad barrel-makers) ... villains and heroes... social psychology research... "
A summary cartoon is displayed - brilliant: what looks like a police interrogation room and the man in the tie says: "I'm neither a good cop nor a bad cop, Jerome. Like yourself, I'm a complex amalgam of positive and negative personality traits that emerge or not, depending on circumstances."
The clock is ticking, time is running out...
Home stretch. "A few more evil details, unveil heroes, and... finito!". That was the plan, but as he went into final conclusions, via the Schlesinger report on parallels between the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) and Abu Ghraib... "Power without oversight is a recipe for abuse..." And just as the punch line was ready to deliver, describing the other end of the spectrum, societal and fantasy and every-day people heroes... As he was about to conclude by speaking of his present interest in heroism, time was up!
00:00 Game over.
In this case, fortunately, he was given special dispensation to finish his conclusion (quickly), with the producer stepping up to share that he knows about 'heroism as the antidote to evil'.
Villains and Heroes. Social Psychology Research. Real-world parallels...
Zimbardo concluded by ending the SPE story: it ended with " the heroic woman who stopped the Stanford Prison Study... "And the good news: I married her." And he has been continuing in his efforts at evoking 'heroic imagination' as well.
[You can see his APA presentation on the SPE, which he presented along with his wife and former SPE participants, here.]
Now Zimbardo turned from his experience as a participant to some of his favorite TED presentations, chosen both to entertain and instruct on how to do a really great TED presentation. [I was familiar with some but not all of the clips, and will share some of them which I can locate, after the conference.] Now through these samples he'd like to 'lay out essential guidelines for success -- in Content and in Delivery'
All the TED clips were engaging, fascinating, and fast-paced. Dan Ariely, a cognitive psychologist, on 'Using a simple demo to reveal new ideas'. Visual illusion. Here the image of two rubix cube objects with multi-colored facets were shown, two highlighted. They absolutely look different, but if you mask the surroundings you can see they're the same color. "I think of illusion as a metaphor... an evolutionary role [with] decision-making implications.
Zimbardo painted now with a broader brush, to illustrate the importance of nuance and appearance, along with manipulation.
He gave the example of a study looking at why some countries have very high rates of organ donation (e.g., Sweden) while others in similar areas (e.g., Denmark) have very low rates. The short version is that a huge difference was made by changing from a check-box which must be checked to be a donor to a system where it is 'opt-out' and the norm is to be a contributor. All the difference was in the Motor Vehicles form. And the point? In many situations we are manipulated into a norm, while "we might have an illusion of decision-making."
Moving back to the big screen and visual power as presented on TED, as "A dynamic duo presents dramatic never seen before visuals". The team is Beverly and Dereck Joubert, wildlife photographers, conservationists, and humanists. Zimbardo introduces this amazing footage with the observation that the subject matter, 'lions and hyenas' is parallel to gang warfare. What followed (and was aired via TED) were some totally amazing images, of lions, elephants, and lightening, with the herd of lions intent on conquering a lone elephant. Says the narrator, "People believe death starts in the eyes..." and for a moment it looks like this mighty elephant may be worn out and giving up. "Or, something else can happen, the will to fight." Here, a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Meanwhile there is a leopard who is becoming comfortable in the couple's car. Says the husband of his wife, "she felt she's been displaced" by the leopard. From the humorous to the heart-wrenching: A tigress picks up a tiny baby monkey, after killing its mother, and protects it from gathering hyenas. Protector, yet killer. A conflict, almost "like a girl on the verge of becoming a woman."
Cut to Jane McGonigal, psychologist and director of Gaming, Institute of the Future.
Lesson point: Begin with immediate impact.
McGonigal begins her talk: "My goal for the next decade is to try to make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is to save the world in online games". At the time of her presentation (2010) some 3 billion hours a week were spent playing online games. "I believe that if we want to survive the next century on this planet we need to increase that total dramatically", she continues. By her calculations we must see 21 billion hours of gameplay a week by the end of the next decade, if we want to ensure the future survival of the human species. This is essential, she says, and the path to solving problems of hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, and obesity.
And to one of my own favorites, Hans Rosling, Swedish Statistician.
Giving life to static numbers, powerful graphic displays.
This is another must-see-to-appreciate presentation. Using 3-dimensional colored bubbles to represent things like population growth, fertility rates, and other trends, his presentation is spell-binding, "like a textbook or a Tinton" explaining we and them. Life expectancy, global shifts, all made exciting.
You can see Rosling's 2006 TED presentation (with over 4 million visits so far), below:
The presentation: Bryan Stevenson, Public Interest Lawyer for the disadvantaged in the South. "We have a hard time talking about race", he begins. "Now consider Apartheid, truth, reconciliation. We haven't done that." How would it feel, he asks his audience, to live in a nation state and watch the government executing its own people. "It's that mind-heart connection that I believe compels us to not just be attentive to all the bright and dazzling things but also the dark and difficult things.” (Bryan Stevenson) ... We're not fully human until we pay attention to suffering.
And now Tony Robbins, Motivational Speaker and Trainer, illustrates the next lesson point:
Owning the stage to inspire and motivate, with direct audience engagement.
He struts around and 'owns the stage', it is clear. He is asking, 'why don't people succeed? Excuses!' And he jumps into the crowd. He talks about the Supreme Court. He proclaims that "the defining factor is never resources, it's resourcefulness!" High energy personified.
Next we are treated to a sample of Cindy Gallop on 'sex education' as she sees it and preaches on her website: offering up a potpourri of possibly shocking self-revelation about her sex life. She exemplifies, with her shock value another ingredient:
The most provocative, violation of expectation, personal revelation.
Gallop certainly unloaded some unique ideas and history. Zimbardo plays more of the clip, saying to cover our eyes if offended by talk of sex acts. "I date younger men", she begins. And it goes graphic, so much so that it stirs a lot of discussion, but is not sent out as a regular TED event as it was deemed inappropriate for children.
"Girls want love, not porno acts", comments Zimbardo. He goes on to list several related social issues which may relate to the conversation, for example the notion that "Guys are failing". He sees a negative impact of 'excessive videogaming' as well as from so much freely available hard-core pornography. [facetious] No worries, Johnny's in his room, it's private, and time for gaming, porno, whatever... But back up. Forty percent of children in the U.S. grow up without a father. For women 30 and younger, 50%. Mothers remain the source of unconditional love while the fathers are pushing to succeed. So many factors to consider...
And back to life and death, mortality. Many of us have seen this (possibly on '60 Minutes' in addition to TED). A living example of the will to life, and a great illustration of an engaging TED talk.
Re-enacting a near tragedy, discovering new meaning in life.
Here is an incredible TED presentation by a neurosurgeon who brings along with her onstage, a real human brain, complete with dangling spinal cord. She knows brains well, but it took a while to realize when her own brain was suddenly imploding and she realized she'd lost her body's pilot... A brain hemorrhage. She's seeing a stroke this time from the inside out.
This TED video is now the most-watched ever, at over 9 million views!
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Harvard Neuroscientist begins by showing the human brain, with its 2 hemispheres, the left being a 'serial processor', and the right side a 'parallel processor'. Hemispheres think differently, have different 'personalities'. The left hemisphere is linear thinking, it looks at the past, the future, details of details... categorizes and predicts the future from the past, thinks in words: 'Remember to do your laundry!' My left hemisphere says 'I am', separate from you... the portion of my brain that I lost. It "gripped me and then it released me". She got on her exercise machine and noticed that her hands looked like claws. "Very Peculiar... Whoa! I'm a weird looking thing!" She seemed somewhere outside her body, yet needed to take charge: OK muscles: Contract! Relax... My left-hemisphere brain chatter went silent" - like a mute switch.
"I felt enormous, and expansive".I can no longer define the boundaries of my body. For a moment her left-brain voice returned to say: "We got a problem" And then 'back to la-la land'."I felt this sense of peacefulness... Imagine what it would feel like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage."
I've got to shower and get to work. But my right arm is paralyzed.
I realized I had a stroke. Cool: How many brain scientists get to study a stroke from the inside out?. But I have to go to work...
She realizes she should call her office but she cannot read her own business card - "Forty five minutes to go one inch into a stack of cards. I do not understand numbers. I do not understand telephones." She tries to match the squiggles on the card with the squiggles on the telephone - but, back to la la land. Did I dial that number? Eventually, miraculously, "a colleague picks up the phone and says grorghhhhrr. He sounds like a golden retriever. So I say, rghgrrrg! And I sound like a Golden Retriever". Next thing, I'm in an ambulance. In that moment I knew it was over, or a doctor will rescue me...
See it for yourself (there's lots more than I summarized here to engage the viewer, and it is delivered masterfully).
Talk about powerful, and the power to grip in 18 minutes or less! Ideas worth sharing...
So what are some of the other ingredients (aside from these amazingly gifted presenters) necessary for a memorable TED talk?
With tonight's timer counting down now as well, Zimbardo would review some secrets of content as well as delivery, use of humor, and useful tools.
Secrets of Content
Here a slide onscreen detailed some key presentation points for successful TED talks, such as we've just seen:
-- One Big Idea, worth sharing with the General Public, elegantly presented
-- Personal Story, relevant to main theme.
-- Revelation, small thing yielding Big impact, reversal of audience expectations
-- Novel examples illustrating key points
-- Not information dense -- 3 ideas max.
Secrets of Delivery:
-- Timing, Tight, New TED Talk Model, 12-20 minutes
-- (PRACTICE, with shorter max time)
-- Pacing: fast, smooth, high energy, full of Passion
-- Humor, selectively used to engage audience affect
-- Move Around a bit, Own the Stage in Performer Role
--Use hand gestures effectively to communicate feelings, direct audience attention
-- Use Visuals powerfully, with video clips, Keynote, or the new online presentation creator: Prezi.
Zimbardo noted that in his case the hand gestures come easily ("I'm Sicilian, so it's natural!"). He underscored the importance of visuals: "You cannot give a lecture without visuals" He suggests that presenters (to TED, at any rate) 'never use Powerpoint: Use Keynote; If that means buying a Mac, it's worth it... it allows embedded videos. And there is also a new tool, Prezi [www.prezi.com] which is said to 'bridge the visual landscape between whiteboards and slides'.
TED Talks are really two talks in one, one for the audience, the other for the 'Internet world'. Post-production takes 6-20 hours per talk, integrating input from 3 video sources, deleting glitches, etc. by a video team. It is now headed by Michael Glass, and was formerly headed by Jason Wishnow, both Stanford Alums.
The TED tapings use 3 cameras, on on the speaker, one on the audience, one on the screen. No talking heads doing TED presentations.
Some more incredibly effective TED presentations - by extraordinary people.
In closing, Zimbardo reminded us that TED presenters are 'actors on a stage' - in addition to whatever else they bring to the topic. He ended with his final tutorial: "Don't believe any of my advice, according to new statistical analysis of features of best vs. worst TED talks". The video sample features Sebastian Wernicke, Satirist Statistician.
The several lists, Venn Diagrams, and bar graphs are all very compelling but in the end boil down to the talking points of Zimbardo - with a twist. The presentation parodies the art of 'reverse engineering a TED talk' (like we do 'here and now'!). The illustration above depicts a simple mapping of our pleasure and engagement motivators, while each new graphic drills down into the 'real statistical explanations' for successful talks. There's a list of 'good words', including: You, Happiness, Brain, French, Coffee, Choice, Data; other words are supposed 'bad words' such as So, Oxygen, Aircraft, Building, Problem, Computer, Girls.... And from there Wernicke extrapolates out to good words like Happiness, People, Emotions, Ethics, Thought and Psychology... and bad words like Weather, Media, Animal and Plants, Transportation, Men... A graph illustrates the mean time for presentations which are 'fascinating' (9 to 15 minutes), or even 'Jaw-dropping'. The most favorited of all-time came in at just over the time limit (8:15) while the least favorited clocked in at 11:56. On the shorter side, the graph indicates one should 'KEEP TALKING'. And there are rule exceptions, with 'beautiful' and 'Ingenious' playing well at under 15 minutes. THe audience (still in Wernicke's presentation) is told that one needs to provide a service to the audience - I'll give you xyz, you're going to.... And "It's OK to fake intellectual capacity", using phrases such as et cetera et cetera. A diagram is offered up to show the ideal speaker's appearance (long hair, glasses), color swatches promise the key words for 'setting the mood for being rated'.... And so it goes. Not without some kernels of truth perhaps, but clearly painted as a broad parody of how one might prep for maximum TED effectiveness.
Perhaps the truth lies in between this simplistic and satirical version of how to be the master of a TED presentation, and the detailed and personal observations of the very serious social psychologist, Philip Zimbardo. Personally, I have confidence that Zimbardo has just presented as good a preparation for a TED event as can be had. I'm reminded of 'how to get to Carnegie Hall' (practice, practice...) It helps to be gifted from the start and have the vast experience in teaching or research or natural science as have had so many of these amazing presenters. As for Zimbardo, his last bit of advice for those who do get the opportunity to present a TED: "Talk as long as they will let you - until they drag you off the stage!"
And that is the last of the formal activities for me at this year's 120th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
I hope you've found something interesting. I'll add more detail, links and references in the next phase - editing down from this raw, often literal reportage, which I've shared with several group lists.
The conference ends tomorrow (Sunday) and I'll be spending my remaining time browsing through the various products, books and exhibits in the
exhibition hall, and working on this write-up in addition to hopefully seeing a day of Orlando's offerings.
For now, take care, enjoy, and Regards from APA Convention 2012 - in Orlando, Florida.
Ciao for now.
Disclaimer: I try to ensure accurate reports of study results, names, dates, etc., and use a combination of verbatim notes, presenter materials, Power Point data summaries, and direct follow-ups with presenters. If I have inadvertently misstated or mis-typed any information (names, dates, numbers, etc.) I would be grateful for any corrections and will be sure to update/correct any articles I present pertaining to these presentations.