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Concept: Existentialism


The quality of the therapeutic alliance (TA) has been invoked to explain the equal effectiveness of different psychotherapies, but prior research is correlational, and does not address the possibility that individuals who form good alliances may have good outcomes without therapy.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mental health, Therapy, Clinical psychology, Psychosis, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Existentialism


Although humans measure time using a continuous scale, certain numerical ages inspire greater self-reflection than others. Six studies show that adults undertake a search for existential meaning when they approach a new decade in age (e.g., at ages 29, 39, 49, etc.) or imagine entering a new epoch, which leads them to behave in ways that suggest an ongoing or failed search for meaning (e.g., by exercising more vigorously, seeking extramarital affairs, or choosing to end their lives).

Concepts: Time, Age, Real number, Existentialism, Philosophy of life, Green Line, Adultery, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority


Societal conditions associated with overstimulation or understimulation may precipitate and maintain oppression among individuals and communities by inducing dissociation. Distortion of reality and the flooding of everyday awareness with irrelevant information by mass media is a type of community-wide overstimulation. Alternatively, stimulus deprivation enables single-minded thinking to be narrowly preoccupied with rigid religious ideas, traditional rituals, and postmodern thought and behavior patterns. Provoked sex is utilized as a soothing tool for those who live in overstimulation and as an opportunity for transient enjoyment and rejuvenation for those who live in stimulus deprivation. Chronic exposure to disproportionate stimuli resurrects the trauma-based developmental detachment between the sociological and psychological selves of the individual at the cost of the latter. The enlarged sociological self of the individual is misused to induce a conforming identity transformation of individuals and entire communities that is a prerequisite to setting and maintaining an oppressive system. Constituting overstimulation itself, the enduring fear of chaos in a world akin to crisis enables deliberate acceptance of oppression to restore a sense of control. In fact, the expectancy of crisis triggers the trauma-related dissociative fears of individual internal chaos, which are misused, in turn, to aggravate fears of external chaos again. By facilitating the denial of internal fears rather than integrating them, psychological theories and practices of the past century have failed in addressing the problem of individual and societal oppression.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Mind, Thought, Behavior, Existentialism, Social sciences, Oppression


Dignity therapy is psychotherapy to relieve psychological and existential distress in patients at the end of life. Little is known about its effect.

Concepts: Psychology, Life, Palliative care, Philosophy, Psychotherapy, Existentialism, Nursing specialties


Self-deception is widespread in humans even though it can lead to disastrous consequences such as airplane crashes and financial meltdowns. Why is this potentially harmful trait so common? A controversial theory proposes that self-deception evolved to facilitate the deception of others. We test this hypothesis in the real world and find support for it: Overconfident individuals are overrated by observers and underconfident individuals are judged by observers to be worse than they actually are. Our findings suggest that people may not always reward the more accomplished individual but rather the more self-deceived. Moreover, if overconfident individuals are more likely to be risk-prone then by promoting them we may be creating institutions, including banks and armies, which are more vulnerable to risk. Our results reveal practical solutions for assessing individuals that circumvent the influence of self-deception and can be implemented in a range of organizations including educational institutions.

Concepts: Empiricism, Theory, Existentialism, Individual, The Real World, The Real, Deception, Self-deception


Poor mental health literacy and negative attitudes toward individuals with mental health disorders may impede optimal help-seeking for symptoms of mental ill-health. The present study examined the ability to recognize cases of depression as a function of respondent and target gender, as well as individual psychological differences in attitudes toward persons with depression.

Concepts: Psychology, Health, Person, Illness, Health literacy, Mental disorder, Existentialism, Individual


Previous research on cancer and sexuality has focused on physical aspects of sexual dysfunction, neglecting the subjective meaning and consequences of sexual changes. This has led to calls for research on cancer and sexuality to adopt an “integrative” approach, and to examine the ways in which individuals interpret sexual changes, and the subjective consequences of sexual changes.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Gender, Existentialism, Erectile dysfunction, Sexuality


Individuals with low (rather than high) self-esteem often struggle with existential concerns. In the present research, we examined whether these existential concerns may be alleviated by seemingly trivial experiences of both real and simulated interpersonal touch. A brief touch on the shoulder by a female experimenter led individuals with low self-esteem to experience less death anxiety (Study 1) and more social connectedness after a death reminder (Study 2). Reminding individuals with low self-esteem of death increased their desire for touch, as indicated by higher value estimates of a teddy bear, a toy animal that simulates interpersonal touch (Study 3). Finally, holding a teddy bear (vs. a cardboard box) led individuals with low self-esteem to respond to a death reminder with less defensive ethnocentrism (Study 4). Individuals with high self-esteem were unaffected by touch (Studies 1-4). These findings highlight the existential significance of embodied touch experiences, particularly for individuals with low self-esteem.

Concepts: Present, Psychology, Existentialism, Self-esteem, 2007 albums, Teddy bear, Cardboard box, Cardboard


Psychological research on wisdom has flourished in the last 30 years, much of it investigating laypeople’s implicit theories of wisdom. In three studies, we took an exemplar and prototype approach to implicit wisdom theories by asking participants to nominate one or more cultural-historical figures of wisdom. Study 1 revealed that individuals draw from a wide range of wisdom exemplars, with substantial agreement on the most iconic figures. In Study 2, multidimensional scaling analysis of exemplars revealed practical, philosophical, and benevolent prototypes; follow-up analyses indicated that prototypes differed in familiarity, likability, and perceived wisdom. Study 3 showed that individuals nominated exemplars from the practical prototype more frequently than from the philosophical and benevolent prototypes and that prototype nomination depended in part on nominator characteristics. These studies suggest that exemplar- and prototype-based implicit wisdom theories are consistent with explicit psychological theories of wisdom.

Concepts: Psychology, Greek loanwords, Mind, Philosophy of science, Existentialism, Candidate, Multidimensional scaling, William James


Person-centered care is a philosophy of care built around the needs of the individual and contingent upon knowing the unique individual through an interpersonal relationship. This review article outlines the history, components, and impact of person-centered care practices.

Concepts: Psychology, Interpersonal relationship, Existentialism, Individual, Individual rights