Habit automaticity takes very-many consistent repetitions

Habit automaticity built up asymptotically

Example of increase in automaticity

Habit automaticity on desired new habits was measured daily

…participants were asked to choose a healthy eating, drinking or exercise behaviour that they would like to make into a habit. Participants were asked to try to carry out the behaviour every day for 84 days.

SRHI scores were the primary outcome measures… The behaviour of interest is followed by statements to which participants report their level of agreement; example items are ‘I do automatically’, ‘I do without thinking’ and ‘I would find hard not to do’. We created an automaticity subscale… which gave a total score range of 0–42.

Habit automaticity built fast at first, built slower later, and approached a maximum

…the relationship between repetition and habit strength follows an asymptotic curve in which automaticity increases steadily—but by a smaller amount with each repetition—until it reaches an asymptote (plateau).

SPSS Version 14 was used… to fit a curve for each individual’s data… using Mitscherlich’s law of diminishing returns (y=a-be-cx),
where
y is automaticity and
x is day of the study…
a’ represents the asymptote of the curve (the automaticity plateau score),
b’ is the difference between the asymptote and the modelled initial value of y (when x=0) and
c’ is the rate constant that represents the rate at which the maximum is reached.

  • An asymptotic model proved to be a good fit for almost half (48%) of the participants who provided enough data for analysis.
  • Those for whom the asymptotic model was a poor fit had typically carried out the behaviour fewer times during the study.
  • Two other groups of participants had relatively high levels of performance; one for whom the model could not be fitted and one with a very high modelled asymptote. It is probable that these individuals were relatively slow in forming their habits and would have reached a plateau if the recording had continued for longer.

On average …the fit of the asymptotic curve was superior to the linear model. We are therefore reasonably confident that the asymptotic curve reflects a generalized habit formation process.

Habit automaticity plateaued only after very many repetitions

We were only able to find one statement in the literature discussing how long it takes to for a habit… once it has been ‘performed frequently (at least twice a month) and extensively (at least 10 times)’…

Our study has shown that it is likely to take much longer than this for a repeated behaviour to reach its maximum level of automaticity.

Early repetitions result in larger increases in automaticity than those later in the habit formation process, and there is a point at which the behaviour cannot become more automatic even with further repetition.

The average modelled time to plateau in this sample was 66 days, but the range was from 18 to 254 days.

Habit automaticity built better when repetitions were consistent

…even in this study where the participants were motivated to create habits, approximately half did not perform the behavior consistently enough to achieve habit status.

…missing one opportunity does not preclude habit formation, but missing a week’s worth of opportunities reduces the likelihood of future performance and hinders habit acquisition.

… individuals who performed the behaviour more consistently showed a change in automaticity scores which was modelled more closely by an asymptotic curve.

Habit automaticity required more repetitions for habits that were more complex

…it can take a large number of repetitions for an individual to reach their highest level of automaticity for some behaviours…

It is notable that the exercise group took one and a half times longer to reach their asymptote than the other two groups. Given that exercising can be considered more complex than eating or drinking, this supports the proposal that complexity of the behaviour impacts the development of automaticity.

…creating new habits will require self-control to be maintained for a significant period before the desired behaviours acquire the necessary automaticity to be performed without self-control.

…reaching a higher asymptote took longer.[1]


  1. Lally, Phillippa, et al. “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.European journal of social psychology 40.6 (2010): 998-1009.

Cognitive therapy gains can be sudden and large

Cognitive therapy gains can be sudden and can be early in therapy.

Cognitive therapy gains can be sudden, and can spiral upward

Psychotherapy does not always follow a linear path.

Most… research is based on the assumption that treatment progress in psychotherapy is linear, or log-linear, and follows some form of regular dose-response relationship… However, this assumption regarding the macro, or average level of change, does not necessarily hold for a finer grained analysis of individual progress…

The prevalence of sudden gains found in several studies from different research groups varies between 17% and 50%…

…sudden gains are a phenomenon of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) and result from CBT-specific techniques. …substantial cognitive changes could be observed in the therapy session preceding the sudden gains. Sudden gains were followed by a better therapeutic alliance and more cognitive changes in the session after the sudden gain. Thus, the authors postulated an upward spiral, i.e., cognitive changes during the pregain sessions foster the therapeutic alliance and eventually result in additional cognitive changes…

In this paper the frequency of sudden gains as well as sudden losses will be investigated in a large naturalistic outpatient sample (n=1500) with repeated measurements of session progress.

Sudden losses are less frequent, and are more-or-less random

…23.4%… of the patients in the sample experienced at least one sudden gain…

…4.5%… of those experienced a sudden gain and a sudden loss…

…18.9%… had only sudden gains…

…5.47%… experienced only sudden losses.

In contrast to sudden gains, sudden losses occur over the course of treatment without a typical peak of occurrence.

Cognitive therapy gains are greater for people who are hurting more

…those patients who experienced no sudden shifts at all and followed a more linear trajectory had the shortest therapies. At intake patients with no sudden shifts tended to be significantly less disturbed on average… than the three groups with sudden shifts… … post-hoc tests revealed that patients with no sudden shifts were less impaired… compared to sudden gain patients…

…patients with both sudden gains and sudden losses stayed in treatment longer than those in the other groups.

Patients with sudden gains… did not rate the therapeutic relationship significantly higher on average than patients with sudden losses… Results further confirm previous findings that a large amount (about 42%) of sudden gains tend to take place early in therapy and they are part of the phenomenon of early change… But the phenomena also occur later in treatment (about 58%). …we found shorter treatments for patients experiencing sudden gains early in treatment. Patients with early sudden gains showed the highest effect sizes… at the end of treatment.[1]


  1. Lutz, Wolfgang, et al. “The ups and downs of psychotherapy: Sudden gains and sudden losses identified with session reports.” Psychotherapy Research 23.1 (2013): 14-24.

Psychiatric medication development restrained by insurance regulation and FDA

Restraint of patient in stretcher illustrates restraint of psychiatric medication development by insurance regulation and FDA
[1]

Psychiatric medication development declined steeply after the 1950s and 1960s

…there has been a steep decline in the development of new medication classes. Instead of new molecular entities, slight molecular modifications producing ‘‘me-too’’ drugs attempted to garner market share.

The current deficit in novel agents contrasts sharply with the 1950s. Then, there was a sudden efflorescence of potent psychiatric therapeutic agents. The pace of discovery of entirely new classes of psychotropic drugs was dizzying. These included lithium, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), chlorpromazine, iproniazid, reserpine, imipramine, chlordiazepoxide, haloperidol, and clozapine.

These discoveries resulted from chance observations of unexpected clinical benefits rather than being derived from basic neuroscience. All major classes were serendipitously discovered by 1969. For instance, chlorpromazine was a pre-surgical antihistamine sedative whose antipsychotic properties were completely unsuspected. Imipramine was developed as a chlorpromazine ‘‘me-too,’’ but turned out to be an antidepressant. Conversely, clozapine was a potential antidepressant, but turned out to be an antipsychotic with remarkably low extrapyramidal toxicity and superior efficacy.

What stymied generative serendipity over the next 40 years? A number of elements came together.

  • The most important factor may have been the drastic change in medical practice economics. Hospital-based academic research was supported from clinical income. That freed up clinicians for therapeutic explorations. However, ‘‘managed care’’ declared this irrelevant to patient care and markedly shortened hospital stays.
  • Second, often patients were discharged before the effects of a new therapeutic regimen became clear.
  • Third, industry became concerned with immediate return on their investments, which were limited by extensive regulations, liability concerns, and exhaustive preclinical animal model testing.
  • Fourth, the growth of clinical research organizations (CROs) diverted industrial support from investigator-initiated academic research to relatively inexpensive, pre-set industrial protocols.

Psychiatric medication development trials could be much better for patients both in trials and in treatment

The standard randomized parallel-group design leaves a crucial causal ambiguity. If 60% of those treated with medication have substantial improvements, while only 30% of those on placebo improve (assuming statistical significance), then in about half of those who seemed to have a direct drug benefit, the drug was actually not required. Identifying individuals who actually require medication to improve and maintain their gains remains obscure. Therefore, attempts to determine how a drug brought about its benefits by studying those who improved during drug treatment are handicapped by study of a causally heterogeneous mixture.

…an alternative design would be to initially and openly treat all patients with the putative medication, titrating for the individual’s optimal dose, until it is clear if the patient was not a treatment responder. These subjects would leave the trial. Apparent responders would be maintained on medication for a period, but then randomly, and in double-blind fashion, switched to placebo or remain on medication. All patients would be followed independently and closely, blind to treatment status, for defined signs of worsening. At a predetermined level of modest worsening, double-blind medication retreatment would start. A worsening rate higher in the placebo-substituted group than in the medication-maintained group would provide clear evidence of medication efficacy. Those individuals who worsened on slow placebo substitution and then improved on medication re-treatment are very likely specific drug responders. Those who switched to placebo and nevertheless continued to do well would be far less likely to be specific medication responders.

To summarize, this design would determine individuals very likely to be medication-specific responders, very likely non-specific responders, and non-responders.

Other practical benefits are that all patients initially receive active treatment. This fosters recruitment, since many patients will not risk being initially assigned to placebo. In addition, patients will learn if medication is necessary for them to remit or that they have sufficient resources.

In fact, academic investigators have successfully used this design.


  1. Weingart, Scott. “Podcast 060 – On Human Bondage and the Art of the Chemical Takedown.” org, 13 Nov. 2011, emcrit.org/podcasts/human-bondage-chemical-takedown/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2017.
  2. Klein, Donald F., and Ira D. Glick. “Industry withdrawal from psychiatric medication development.” Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria 36.3 (2014): 259-261.

Jesus lived, died, and lives to be our way to God

Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast."
[1]
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”[2]

Jesus taught and healed, then was sacrificed, rose, and sent his Holy Spirit

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”[3]

The canonical gospels combine stories about Jesus with records of his teaching. Despite important variations between them, they share a common narrative thread and a common purpose. The narrative falls roughly into two halves.

The first establishes Jesus as a teacher and miracle worker in Galilee (the northern province of Israel). Though baptized by John the Baptist, he launches an independent career and wins his own followers. Jesus works amongst his people, the Jews, and acknowledges their God and scriptures. He offers an interpretation of the Jewish faith that is critical towards the religious elite but favourable to those who are destitute, humble, of no account.

The second part of the narrative shifts to Jerusalem in Judea (the southern part of Israel), where Jesus’ provocative ministry alarms the governing authorities (the Romans, supported by Jewish leaders) and leads to his arrest, trial, and execution. He is crucified as a criminal and buried in a tomb. When some of his followers visit the grave three days later, they find it empty. Miraculous appearances by Jesus convince his followers that God has raised him from the dead. The Book of Acts (written by the author of Luke’s gospel) continues the story in the New Testament, recounting how Jesus, having ascended into heaven, pours out his Spirit on his followers at Pentecost and brings into being the Christian community.[4]

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit so we can live close to God

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”[5]

…the Pauline view presents human beings not with the challenge of realizing their own divinity by going within, but with the duty of looking upward toward ‘the Lord’ (Paul’s preferred title for Jesus and for God) who alone can save them from their destiny of sin and death.

For although human beings have no natural ability to become a ‘Son of God’ like Christ, by supernatural grace they may be transformed into new beings – ‘sons by adoption’ in Paul’s terms. Humans are saved not by their own power or potential, but by being ruled by Christ and living in, through, and for him rather than for themselves.

For Paul, the ritual of water baptism symbolizes the death of the old self and the birth of a new Christ-like self. After baptism, as Paul puts it, ‘it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’. The baptized do not become gods in their own right, but members of ‘the body of Christ’ – parts of a divine collectivity under the headship of Christ. Their transformation begins on earth, but will culminate in their resurrection from the dead.[6]


  1. Jesus appears to Disciples in Galilee.FreeBibleImages.org, www.freebibleimages.org/photos/jesus-appears-galilee/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2017.
  2. The Bible. New International Version, 2011. John 21:1,12.
  3. The Bible. New International Version, 2011. Luke 4:16-21.
  4. Woodhead, Linda. Christianity: a very short introduction. OUP Oxford, 2004, p. 10.
  5. The Bible. English Standard Version, Crossway, 2001. John 16:7.
  6. Woodhead, Linda. Christianity: a very short introduction. OUP Oxford, 2004, pp. 20, 22.

Dogs adapted to live with people

Dogs adapted to shiift their period of socialization to live with people.

(a) Dogs begin to explore the world around them at four weeks of age using sight, hearing, and smell. Later, all these senses show dogs when they’re safe. 

(b) Wolves begin to explore the world at two weeks of age using only smell. Later, only smell shows wolves when they’re safe, and much is novel and frightening.

Dogs adapted to socialize with people

While it is possible to tame a wolf, the process is much more intensive than that required to produce a tame dog. Wolves require twenty-four hours contact a day starting before three weeks of age… …around four weeks old… they begin to bite their sleeping human companions and thus co-sleeping with humans ends, but the pups still spend all their waking hours in the presence of people. This socialization process continues until the pups are four months old…

Dogs require as little as ninety minutes of contact with humans during their ‘critical period’ of socialization—one of the critical periods of development… —to form a social attachment…

The critical period for socialization begins with the ability to walk and explore the environment… The critical period of socialization closes with the avoidance of novelty, when an animal runs away from, rather than approaching and exploring, novel objects.

Wolves begin to walk and explore at two weeks of age… And wolves don’t show the avoidance of novelty—the true ‘‘onset of fear’’—until six weeks of age.

Dogs do not start to walk and explore until four weeks… …fear gradually increases… until around eight weeks when they will run away from a truly novel stimulus (a stimulus having no familiar characteristics).

Thus wolves and dogs both have a four-week critical period for socialization—wolves just go through it two weeks earlier than dogs do.

…dogs and wolves… developed the ability to see, hear, and smell at the same time. The consequence of this is that dogs began to explore the world around them at four weeks of age with the senses of sight, hearing, and smell available to them, while wolves began to explore the world at two weeks of age when they had the ability to smell but while functionally blind and deaf… This change in the interaction between the developing senses and the critical period for socialization means that dogs can generalize familiarity using all of their senses, while wolves must rely primarily on their sense of smell, making more things novel and frightening as adults.

Dogs adapted to forage near people

Dogs… no longer have to spend as much energy and ingenuity foraging. Rather than hunting prey, dogs can rely on human refuse, which is more predictably located and available year round. Foraging on garbage is a less complex behavior pattern than hunting and dog pups can forage even before they are entirely weaned. Thus, by the time they are ten weeks old they are perfectly capable of finding their own food…

Dogs adapted to populate near people

Dogs have lost seasonality of reproduction: in other words they do not reproduce solely at a particular time of year… Dogs also reach sexual maturity faster than wolves and can reproduce during their first year of life… Furthermore, dogs are polygamous, in contrast to wolves, which are generally monogomous… Thus dogs show no pair bonding and protection of a single mate, but rather have multiple mates in a year.

Wolves, and in fact all of the wild members of the genus Canis, display complex coordinated parental behaviors. Wolf pups are cared for primarily by their mother for their first three weeks of life… During this time she remains in the den with them while they rely on her milk for sustenance and her presence for protection from predators. Because of this she cannot spend much time away from them, and the father brings the mother food during this period. Once the pups come out of the den and have enough teeth to chew, the father, mother as well as some pups from previous years, begin to regurgitate food to the pups… Wolf pups become independent by five to eight months, although they often stay with their parents for years…

Dogs, on the other hand, show greatly reduced parental behavior. Pups are still cared for by the mother. They rely on her for milk and protection just like wolves. However, unlike wolves, the mother gets no help from any other dogs during this time. There is no paternal care, let alone help from older siblings. Once pups are weaned at around 10–11 weeks they are independent and receive no further maternal care…

Dogs adapted to love people

…dogs are canids that have come to occupy a new niche through natural selection.

The real differences between dog and wolf behavior lie at… basic levels: in the process of socialization, in foraging, and in reproduction.

The intertwined changes… are small but they have massive downstream effects. These indirect consequences include the fact that we have dogs resting at our feet and not wolves.


  1. Udell, Monique AR, et al. “A dog’s-eye view of canine cognition.” Domestic Dog Cognition and Behavior. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2014, pp. 221-240.

Assert well by stating one sentence, listening, and reasserting

The increase and decrease of defensiveness with reflecitve listening to assert well

Figure 10.1. The increase and decrease of defensiveness in the assertion process as the asserter “shifts gears” between asserting and reflective listening responses.

…when someone is violating my space, I want THAT behavior changed.

The three-part assertion message… begins with a description of the offending behavior and includes a description of the consequences on your life and how you feel about those consequences.

The three parts of the assertion message are stated as succinctly as possible and are contained in one sentence.

Effective assertion is characterized by firmness without domination. It vigorously defends one’s own space while steadfastly refusing to violate the trespasser’s turf. That is why the three-part message contains no solution. It is up to the other person to figure out how he can best evacuate my space.

Beginners at assertion usually send more effective messages when they use the formula:

When you [state the behavior nonjudgmentally],
I feel [disclose your feelings]
because [clarify the effect on your life].”

Assert well in one sentence: describe one behavior

First, describe the behavior in specific rather than fuzzy terms.

Second, limit yourself to behavioral descriptions. …behavior… is observable. Anyone present who had sound hearing and sight could have noticed the same behaviors.

Third, make your behavior description an objective statement rather than a judgment. …be sure that no subtle judgmental words have crept in.

Fourth, behavioral descriptions should be as brief as possible. I typically concentrate on one behavior at a time.

Fifth, be sure that you assert about the real issues. …repeated small irritants often grow until they loom large in our feeling world.

Sixth, be sure to assert to the right person.

Assert well in one sentence: disclose your feeling

“When I experienced the negative effect of the other’s behavior, what was the first feeling I experienced?” Often the first feeling is the primary feeling—the one which belongs in the assertion message.

The asserter can increase the emotional accuracy of his statement by selecting from several words of varying intensity to see which best matches his inner feeling. For example, he might try such words as “nervous,” “worried,” “afraid,” or “petrified.”

The more we express our feelings, the more we sharpen our emotional awareness.

Assert well in one sentence: say one tangible effect

Concrete or tangible effects” seem to be most convincing to people. By concrete or tangible effects we mean those things that unnecessarily cost the asserter money, harm his possessions, consume his time, cause him extra work, endanger his job, and/or interfere with his effectiveness at work.

In most ordinary relationships and in every significant relationship, people trespass on one another’s turf in tangible ways.

The assertion message that cites tangible effects often influences the intangible areas of a relationship.

…a three-part assertion on values issues is never appropriate (in fact, you can never complete the third part—citing a concrete effect of the other’s behavior on your life space).  One assertion after another is discarded—as many as half to three-quarters of them—because they fall into the values area and constitute an intrusion on the other person’s space rather than a defense of the asserter’s space.

Effective assertion is open and honest communication.

Assert well by shifting gears: reflectively listen, then reassert

I get down to business quickly. When you send an assertion, your body language should demonstrate that you mean what you say, that you are not ambivalent about it, and that you expect to get your needs met. At the same time, assertive body language communicates respect for the other person.

After sending your brief assertion message with appropriate body language—stop. Be silent.

…it is almost certain that the person to whom the assertion was addressed will make a defensive response. …it is most important to “shift gears” and listen reflectively to the predictable defensive response. As Figure 10.1 indicates, this shifting back and forth between assertion and listening normally takes place several times before the assertion is completed.

As the recipient of the assertion expresses her defensiveness and that is reflected back with respect, her defensiveness subsides. The vicious cycle of increasing defensiveness is broken and constructive conversation can begin again.

The defensiveness-reducing power of effective listening responses is truly remarkable. For many people, it must be seen to be believed.[1]


  1. Bolton, Robert. People skills. Touchstone, 2009, pp. 262-314.

Reflective listening is helped by observing and getting in sync

Active listening by observing and getting in sync makes you come across as good-natured[1]

Reflective listening is easier when you factor in social styles

The Social Styles Profile, an adjective checklist that shows how people consistently describe others, was developed using factor analysis. Originally, our factor analysis had shown us five clusters or scales: 1) assertiveness; 2) versatility; 3) responsiveness; 4) aloofness; and 5) easygoing.

For the assertiveness scale, a very high odd-even reliability of 0.93 was found. The versatility scale had a reliability of 0.91. In testing the responsiveness and aloofness scales, we found some overlap of adjectives; thus, we combined these two scales, with a resulting reliability of 0.70. The easygoing scale did not have enough reliability to be statistically meaningful, and it was dropped.

…our research group investigated the question of whether one rater’s evaluation of a subject correlates with that of two other raters… The results were that assertiveness and responsiveness showed a significant positive correlation among raters; versatility was also positively correlated among raters, but the correlation was not as strong…

…because it appears that the versatility score, unlike the other two, has some positive and negative connotations to it—more endorsement versus less endorsement—we chose to keep it separate from the other two scales. Numerous studies have proved our contention that assertiveness and responsiveness are not a measure of success or endorsement, but that versatility is.

After the raw scores had been tallied, the scales were divided into fourths, so that 25 percent of the population was in each quartile.

Successful, well-regarded career persons were found along all ranges of the assertiveness and responsiveness scales—just as were less successful individuals.

Social styles labels analytical, driver, amiable, expressive, assertiveness, and responsiveness help with active listening

Social styles labels [2]

Reflective listening using social styles in turn means focusing on observables

Observables labels bring out the dimensions and combinations of the social styles, which helps with active listening

Observables labels

Assertiveness is a valid observable. Assertiveness values run along a well-understood continuum of passive—assertive—aggressive.

Openness conveys that what’s observed is how much a person holds his emotions closed-in or out in the open. Openness values run along a continuum of controlled—balanced—emotive.

Looking ahead, observing will be simpler if you can focus on the strongest variation in assertiveness or openness. Also, getting in sync will be simpler if you can benefit from the existing balance in your social style.

The assertive style can be learned. Start out balanced, and you can flex with less effort, or you can flex further and sync up better.

Balanced openness may never become second nature. But you can recognize which openness style feels like home to you, and be better prepared to flex here to sync up better.

The closing section provides direct guidance on how to use social styles observation and social styles sync for active listening:

  • When you’re observing someone, what are characteristic combinations of their observable actions?
    What do you see?

  • When you’re then syncing up to communicate better with him, what are characteristic combinations of your sync actions?
    What do you do?

Reflective listening requires watching the observables, and getting in sync

Your objective in communication is not merely to express yourself. Your aim is to get your idea across to somebody else.

Style flex provides a way of communicating on the other person’s wavelength without losing your own integrity (the substance of what you say stays the same), or your naturalness (most of your behaviors will be your typical ways of relating).

Observable/sync actions help with active listening

Observable/sync actions

Note:
An employer has no business with a man’s personality. Employment is a specific contract calling for specific performance, and for nothing else. Any attempt by an employer to go beyond this is usurpation. It is immoral as well as illegal intrusion of privacy. It is abuse of power. An employee… owes performance and nothing else.—Peter Drucker [3]


  1. Bolton, Robert, and Dorothy Grover Bolton. Social style/management style: Developing productive work relationships. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 1984, p. 15.
  2. Merrill, David W., and Roger H. Reid. Personal styles & effective performance. CRC Press, 1981, pp. 210-216, 53.
  3. Bolton, Robert, and Dorothy Grover Bolton. Social style/management style: Developing productive work relationships. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 1984, pp. 70, 73-76, 15-16.

Self-care in marriage makes partners more positive, happy, well, and connected

Ackerman's PPIK theory of intelligence as Process, Personality, Interests, and intelligence as Knowledge illustrates the course of self-care, which, in marriage, makes partners more happy, well, positive, and connected

gp = intelligence-as-process
gk = intelligence-as-knowledge
R = Realistic interests
A = Artistic interests
I = Investigative interests
TIE = Typical Intellectual Engagement
gf = fluid intelligence
gc = crystallized intelligence

Illustration of Ackerman’s PPIK theory, outlining the influences of intelligence-as-Process, Personality, Interests, and intelligence-as-Knowledge during adult development, covering academic and occupational knowledge.

The representation indicates that measured fluid intelligence (Gf) develops out of intelligence-as-process (gp), and that measured crystallized intelligence (Gc) develops out of (or is a consequence of) intelligence-as-knowledge (gk).

Interests (Realistic, Investigative, and Artistic) and personality traits (Openness and TIE) are influenced by intelligence to some degree, and in turn, influence knowledge.

Self-care in marriage keeps partners taking small steps that add up

…many intellectually demanding tasks in the real world cannot be accomplished without a vast repertoire of declarative knowledge and procedural skills. The brightest (in terms of IQ) novice would not be expected to fare well when performing cardiovascular surgery in comparison to the middle-aged expert, just as the best entering college student cannot be expected to deliver a flawless doctoral thesis defense, in comparison to the same student after several years of academic study and empirical research experience. In this view, knowledge does not compensate for a declining adult intelligence; it is intelligence!

Moreover, the importance of personality and interests as determinants of the direction and amount of effort expended in the acquisition and maintenance of intelligence-as-knowledge should not be underestimated. Small correlations at the micro-level, when aggregated as influence over time…, may help us predict and understand why some adults continue to acquire knowledge in particular areas and others do not.[1]

Self-care in marriage lets partners build optimism 

Explanatory style is the habitual way in which people explain the bad events that befall them… Three dimensions of these explanations are of interest: stability versus instability, globality versus specificity, and internality versus externality.

A stable cause invokes a long-lasting factor (“it’s never going to go away”), whereas an unstable cause is transient (“it was a one-time thing”).

A global cause is one that affects a wide domain of activities (“it’s going to ruin everything I do”), whereas a specific cause is circumscribed (“it has no bearing on my life”).

Finally, an internal cause points to something about the self (“it’s me”), whereas an external cause points to other people or circumstances (“it’s the heat in this place”).

Pessimistic explanatory style (the belief that bad events are caused by stable, global, and internal factors) predicted poor health at ages 45 through 60, even when physical and mental health at age 25 were controlled. Pessimism in early adulthood appears to be a risk factor for poor health in middle and late adulthood.[2]

Self-care in marriage makes partners more happy and well

The seven protective factors that distinguish the happy-well from the sad-sick are under at least some personal control.

Self-care increases happiness and wellness

Odds ratios of happy-well to sad-sick or dead 
Variable College men age 75-80 Core-city men age 65-70
No alcohol abuse very high 4.56 to 1
Without depressive diagnosis 10.4 to 1 3.51 to 1
Smoking <30 pack-years 4.81 to 1 4.56 to 1
Some regular exercise 3.09 to 1 unknown
Body mass index >21 and <29 3.05 to 1 1.71 to 1
Mature defenses 2.65 to 1 2.98 to 1
Stable marriage 1.94 to 1 2.75 to 1
Parental social class 1.46 to 1 1.12 to 1
Education unknown 0.86 to 1
Ancestral longevity 1.00 to 1 1.00 to 1
Warmth of childhood 0.98 to 1 0.99 to 1
Childhood temperament 0.92 to 1 1.10 to 1

[3]

Self-care in marriage makes partners more positive and connected

To be well psychologically is more than to be free of distress or other mental problems. It is to possess positive self-regard, mastery, autonomy, positive relationships with other people, a sense of purposefulness and meaning in life, and feelings of continued growth and development.[4]


  1. Ackerman, Phillip L. “Domain-Specific Knowledge as the “Dark Matter” of Adult Intelligence: Gf/Gc, Personality and Interest Correlates.Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences 55.2 (2000): P69-P84.
  2. Peterson, Christopher, Martin E. P. Seligman, and George E. Vaillant. “Pessimistic Explanatory Style Is a Risk Factor for Physical Illness: A Thirty-Five-Year Longitudinal Study.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 55.1 (1988): 23-27.
  3. Vaillant, George E., and Kenneth Mukamal. “Successful Aging.American Journal of Psychiatry 158.6 (2001): 839-847.
  4. Ryff, Carol D. “Psychological Well-Being in Adult Life.Current Directions in Psychological Science 4.4 (1995): 99-104.

Close feelings built by mothers’ and fathers’ play with infants and toddlers

Father play with infant builds close feelings[1]

Close feelings built by connecting with mother and father

Background emotions… chart the timeline for the ongoing sense of self, and integrate… changes in internal milieu in response to external or internal events…[2]

…background emotions reflect our basic proximity to others, that is, our fundamental feeling of interpersonal connectedness. Pathologically altered background emotions in depression thus reflect a sense of lost proximity.[3]

In contrast to negative emotions, which can be expressed and regulated by the infant in alone states from the first day of life, positive affect in infancy occurs only in dyadic contexts… To experience and express positive emotions, infants require the participation of an attuned adult who can both construct and coregulate the positive affect in a moment-by-moment process.

The present findings chart one pathway in the development of background emotions—from parent–infant affect coordination to sequences of symbolic play in toddlers…

Close feelings built through play with infants

The shape of infant arousal at play, the background emotion temporal line, showed a markedly different pattern with mother and father, and those were persistent across the first years of life.

The affective contour with mother was more gradual and contained more neutral states. There was typically only one positive emotional peak of longer duration that occurred later in the interaction and was preceded and followed by shared gaze in neutral arousal, as if mother and child were copreparing the intense moment.

…moments of high positive arousal with father were more frequent, were shorter in duration, occurred more quickly, and could have been reached from any previous state. Fathers also showed higher affective matching of the infant’s positive arousal, accentuating episodes of intense emotionality through shared affect. …the degree of father–infant synchrony (coherence) was comparable to the mother’s, suggesting that although interactions with fathers may appear more random, fathers and infants engage in a tightly fitting, well-matched interactive dance to the same extent as mothers.

It is possible that the quick-paced yet fitted interaction with father facilitates specific forms of emotion regulation in infants, perhaps those related to the management of novelty, unpredictability, and quick shifts in arousal. Research on the effects of father absence on children’s difficulties in regulating emotions in social and learning contexts… is consistent with this assumption.

…father– child play partners are less focused on each other and moments of intense affect appear quickly, frequently, and without preparation, an affective line that may direct infants to explore the environment and contribute to their capacity to engage in rapidly changing intense experiences while maintaining a sense of secure base…, internalized through the synchronous interactions with the father.

Close feelings built through play with toddlers

As infants make the transition from preverbal relatedness to verbal representations, a symbolic layer is added to the previously established mutuality in ways that preserve the specific rhythms of the parent– child coordination and thus echo the child’s earliest nonverbal experiences.

The parent-specific contours of infancy were preserved at the toddler stage, and episodes of complex symbolic play with father were of shorter durations, higher frequencies, and quicker latencies. The present findings are the first to show sequential relations between the father’s and child’s symbolic expression at play. Similar to the findings for synchrony, fathers appear to support the child’s creative output to the same extent as mothers while providing moment-by-moment scaffolding.

…the affective components of the interaction played a more central role in toddlers’ interactions with mother. Reciprocal maternal acts were followed by an increase in symbolization; intrusiveness was followed by a decrease in symbolic play and the child’s resort to functional activity; and mothers used the social play mode more than fathers. Reciprocity also emerged as an independent predictor of the child’s symbolic complexity with mother, pointing to the special role of mutual, socially oriented reciprocity for infant development via the relationship with mother.

For fathers, the frequency of positive peaks in infancy predicted toddlers’ symbolic expression above and beyond the father’s concurrent scaffolding and the father–infant synchrony, highlighting the organization of intense positive arousal as a potential contributor from the father– child relationship to emotional development.

Close feelings built by co-occurrences, sequences, and synchrony with mothers and fathers

…the infant’s first two meaningful relationships incorporate all three forms of affective coordination— co-occurrences, sequential relations, and synchrony—into the interaction and may suggest that such coordination is an important aspect of interpersonal intimacy across the life span, with each relationship offering affect matching and synchrony in a unique and special way.[2]


  1. Parke, Ross. “Are Mothers and Fathers Interchangeable?PurpleCrying.info, purplecrying.info/sub-pages/information-for-dads/are-mothers-and-fathers-interchangeable.php. Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.
  2. Feldman, Ruth. “On the origins of background emotions: from affect synchrony to symbolic expression.Emotion 7.3 (2007): 601-611.
  3. Varga, Somogy, and Joel Krueger. “Background emotions, proximity and distributed emotion regulation.Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4.2 (2013): 271-292.

Touch in infancy and adolescence teaches our brain networks what we value

Brain networks have patternmatching layers that make predictions and sense prediction errors. The anatomy shown here for vision has a counterpart for touch.

…the hierarchical neuronal message passing that underlies predictive coding.

…neuronal activity encodes expectations about the causes of sensory input, where these expectations minimize prediction error. Prediction error is the difference between (ascending) sensory input and (descending) predictions of that input.

On the left: this schematic shows a simple cortical hierarchy with ascending prediction errors and descending predictions.

On the right: this provides a schematic example in the visual system.[1]

Touch is crucial to emotion

Affective touch may… convey information about available social resources…[2]

interoception… refers to the perception and integration of autonomic, hormonal, visceral and immunological signals…—or more informally as the sense of the body ‘from within’.

…we propose that emotional content is determined by beliefs (i.e. posterior expectations) about the causes of interoceptive signals across multiple hierarchical levels.

Emotion produces conscious experience

It is tempting to speculate that deep expectations at higher levels of the neuronal hierarchy are candidates for—or correlates of—conscious experience, largely because their predictions are domain general and can therefore be articulated (through autonomic or motor reflexes).

…interoceptive predictions can perform physiological homoeostasis by enlisting autonomic reflexes… More specifically, descending predictions provide a homoeostatic set-point against which primary (interoceptive) afferents can be compared. The resulting prediction error then drives sympathetic or parasympathetic effector systems to ensure homoeostasis or allostasis, for example, sympathetic smooth-muscle vasodilatation as a reflexive response to the predicted interoceptive consequences of ‘blushing with embarrassment’.

Touch is central to selfhood and boundaries

…experiences of selfhood unfold across many partially independent and partially overlapping levels of description… A simple classification, from ‘low’ to ‘high’ levels, would range

  • from experiences of being and having a body…,
  • through to the experience of perceiving the world from a particular point of view (a first person perspective, …),
  • to experiences of intention and agency…,
  • and at higher levels the experience of being a continuous self over time (a ‘narrative’ self or ‘I’ that depends on episodic autobiographical memory,… )
  • and finally, a social self, in which my experience of being ‘me’ is shaped by how I perceive others’ perceptions of me…

In this putative classification, interoception plays a key role in structuring experiences of ‘being and having a body’ (i.e. embodied selfhood) and may also shape selfhood at other, hierarchically higher levels.[1]

The emotions we feel are largely predictions based on past experiences

…interoceptive inference involves hierarchically cascading top-down interoceptive predictions that counterflow with bottom-up interoceptive prediction errors. Subjective feeling states – experienced emotions – are hypothesized to depend on the integrated content of these predictive representations across multiple levels…[3]

Intuition suggests that perception follows sensation and therefore bodily feelings originate in the body. However, recent evidence goes against this logic: interoceptive experience may largely reflect limbic predictions about the expected state of the body that are constrained by ascending visceral sensations.[4]

Reward and motivation are predicted, based on emotions that are predicted, based on touch that was experienced previously

Reward is a complex construct comprised of a feeling and an action. Components of reward include the hedonic aspects, i.e. the degree to which a stimulus is associated with pleasure, and the incentive motivational aspects, i.e. the degree to which a stimulus induces an action towards obtaining it… Typically, the feeling is described as “pleasurable” or “positive” and the actions comprise behavior aimed to approach the stimulus that is associated with reward.[5]

…the representation of self is constructed from early development through continuous integrative representation of biological data from the body, to form the basis for those aspects of conscious awareness grounded on the subjective sense of being a unique individual.

Interoception refers to the sensing of the internal state of one’s body. …interoception… is proposed to be fundamental to motivation, emotion (affective feelings and behaviours), social cognition and self-awareness.[6]


  1. Seth, Anil K., and Karl J. Friston. “Active interoceptive inference and the emotional brain.”  Trans. R. Soc. B 371.1708 (2016): 20160007.
  2. Krahé, Charlotte, et al. “Affective touch and attachment style modulate pain: a laser-evoked potentials study.”  Trans. R. Soc. B 371.1708 (2016): 20160009.
  3. Seth, Anil K. “Interoceptive inference, emotion, and the embodied self.” Trends in cognitive sciences 17.11 (2013): 565-573.
  4. Barrett, Lisa Feldman, and W. Kyle Simmons. “Interoceptive predictions in the brain.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16.7 (2015): 419-429.
  5. Paulus, Martin P., and Jennifer L. Stewart. “Interoception and drug addiction.” Neuropharmacology 76 (2014): 342-350.
  6. Tsakiris, Manos, and Hugo Critchley. “Interoception beyond homeostasis: affect, cognition and mental health.Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences 371.1708 (2016): 20160002.