If you plan on becoming a psychologist, you might want to know that this career requires many years of study and practice. Psychologists seek to understand and explain thought, emotion, feelings, or behaviors to increase our understand of why people and animals behave as they do. If you plan to work in this field with a bachelor’s degree, you can do so as an assistant; however, psychologists with a doctoral degree qualify for the widest range of teaching, research, clinical, and counseling positions in universities, healthcare services, elementary and secondary schools, private industry, and government. Additionally, master’s and doctoral degree holders face less competition in the workplace.
What you can do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology
Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology can qualify you to assist psychologists and other professionals in community health centers, vocational rehabilitation offices, and in correctional programs. You may also work as an administrative assistant for psychologists or find employment in other areas, such as sales, service, or business management.
A job with the federal government is one of the few ways that you can work as a psychologist without an advanced degree. If you want to work for the federal government, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 24 semester hours in psychology, or a combination of education and experience to qualify for entry-level positions only. Competition for these jobs is tough, so count on working hard in school to maintain a high grade point average (GPA).
In the future, opportunities directly related to psychology will be limited for bachelor’s degree holders. Some may find jobs as assistants or in other jobs involving data collection and analysis. Those who meet state certification requirements may become high school psychology teachers. According to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $33,227 in the 2005-2006 school year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salaries for wage and salary clinical, counseling, and school psychologists were $64,140 in May 2008.
What you can do with a master’s degree in psychology
People with a master’s degree in psychology may work in a variety of fields. Some options include:
- Industrial-organizational psychologists
- Psychological assistants conducting research under the direct supervision of doctoral-level psychologists
- Teaching at the post-secondary level in junior colleges, trade schools, and high school
A master’s degree in psychology requires at least two years of full-time graduate study and requirements for graduation usually include practical experience in an applied setting and a master’s thesis based on an original research project. Some universities require applicants to have an undergraduate major in psychology, but other colleges prefer coursework in basic psychology with additional courses in the biological, physical, and social sciences, and in statistics and mathematics. Many degrees may depend upon your specialization. Some master’s degree programs in psychology include:
- MA or MS in Experimental Psychology
- MA or MS in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
- MA or MS in Forensic Psychology [PDF]
- MA or MS in Clinical Psychology
- MA or MS in Social Psychology
- MA or MS in Child Development
A terminal master’s program does open the door to entry level jobs in fields such as mental health, industrial-organizational psychology and forensic psychology. Other sectors of employment include colleges, universities, private business and government.
Master’s degree holders in fields other than industrial-organizational psychology may face stiff competition for jobs, because of the limited number of positions that require only a master’s degree. Master’s degree holders may find jobs as psychological assistants or counselors, providing mental health services under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist. Still, others may find jobs involving research and data collection and analysis in universities, government, or private companies.
What you can do with a doctoral degree in psychology
The American Psychological Association makes it perfectly clear in their introduction to “What Is Psychology?” article that psychologists have doctoral degrees. Additionally, they go on to say that opportunities in psychology for those with higher degrees will be more plentiful than for those with undergraduate degrees. The careers for psychologists with doctoral degrees can vary, and opportunities for people with advanced degrees in psychology are expanding in number as well as in scope:
- The move toward preventing illness rather than merely diagnosing and treating it requires people to learn how to make healthy behavior a routine part of living.
- In addition, an aging America is leading to more research and practice in adapting homes and workplaces for older people.
- The diversity in America today calls for psychologists to develop and refine treatments and approaches to meet the unique needs of different racial and ethnic groups.
- Furthermore, research advances in learning and memory, and the integration of physical and mental health care, make psychology more exciting than ever.
Psychologists with doctoral degrees are helping to make the changes that are needed. Many employers are interested in the skills that psychology majors bring to collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data and their experience with statistics and experimental design. Many psychologists with doctoral degrees work independently and also team up with other professionals to contribute to every area of society.
Job prospects should be best for people who have a doctoral degree from a leading university in an applied specialty, such as counseling or health, and those with a specialist or doctoral degree in school psychology. Psychologists with extensive training in quantitative research methods and computer science may have a competitive edge over applicants without such background.
The decision whether or not to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology is up to you. You need to be passionate about your career choice, and willing to commit time and energy to a higher degree. For many individuals, earning an advanced degree is a great way to open doors to new professional opportunities. Those with a master’s or doctorate degree typically have more job options and earn more money than those with an undergraduate degree in psychology.
Obtaining an advanced degree in psychology is a major achievement, but it isn’t right for everyone. Graduate school involves a major investment of both time and money, so it is important to get as much information as you can before making a choice to go beyond a bachelor’s degree. But, your achievements can pay off in more freedom, greater responsibilities, and a career that could make a difference in many lives.
One of the most complex and interesting fields of study is psychology. The human mind is an interesting place, that we’re only just beginning to understand. Over the last 100 years, though, we have made great strides as a society in understanding what goes on inside the mind.
There are plenty of famous clinical psychologists who have helped us open up the mind and begin to solve some of its mysteries. If you are looking to get a psychology degree, chances are that you will study the work of many psychologists, including these 10 famous clinical psychologists:
- Sigmund Freud: Everyone knows who Sigmund Freud is. This Austrian philosopher and psychologist is known as the founder of modern psychoanalysis. Freud’s theories have provided a basis for modern clinical psychology, and even provided a basis for a great deal of controversy. With one of his colleagues, Joseph Breuer, he was among the first to conceive of the study of the mind and psyche. He developed several therapy techniques that are still in use today, and Freud’s concepts have made him a household name.
- Carl Jung: Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung is known as the founder of analytical psychology. He had a deep interest in religion, and its effect on the psyche. Jung also pioneered the idea of dream analysis, and used dreams as part of his clinical therapy approach. He considered himself a natural scientist, and observed the development of people. One of Jung’s most interesting concepts considers the way that people become individuals — and the way that they become “whole” people. Jung is one of the most well-known clinical psychologists.
- B.F. Skinner: You’ve probably heard of the Skinner box — device meant to help with operant conditioning. B.F. Skinner is known as the founder of modern behaviorism in psychology. He studied how to get people to behave in certain ways, performing famous experiments. Skinner was the founder of experimental research psychology, a branch that looked how to change people’s behavior through different types of therapy. Interestingly, Skinner was also a poet and inventor.
- Carl Rogers: One of the founders of humanistic psychology, Carl Rogers was known for his person-centered approach to therapy. His techniques have been used in psychotherapy and counseling as a way to focus more on the needs of the patient/client. Rogers worked with different groups in Northern Ireland and South Africa. His work garnered him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. The techniques used by Rogers are considered influential still, and he is considered one of the most famous clinicians of the 20th century.
- Alfred Kinsey: If you think about the psychology of sex, you have to know about Alfred Kinsey. He became famous for really delving into sexual psychology and sexual development. His work was very influential, although considered controversial at its height in the 1940s and 1950s. Kinsey founded an institute for sex research, and it now bears its name. Many other sexologists and therapists have followed in his footsteps. There are plenty who still consider the Kinsey Reports to be profound works of psychological brilliance.
- Erik Erikson: One of the founders of of developmental psychology, Erik Erikson is known as a pioneer in human development. You have probably heard the term “identity crisis.” Erikson was the psychologist who invented the phrase. Interestingly, he never actually received a bachelor’s degree, even though his on of the most famous clinical psychologists of all time. He taught at Yale and Harvard, and was known for his work in social psychological development. Erikson’s son, Kai, is a famous sociologist.
- Jean Piaget: In terms of the “theory of knowing,” Jean Piaget is considered the pioneer. Piaget was known for his work with children, and tracking their psychological development. He worked out different theories of education, insisting that proper education for children was vital to keep societies from collapsing. His therapies and theories, as well as the epistemological studies he did with children, have made Piaget one of the most famous psychologists of all time.
- Albert Ellis: This clinical psychologist is known as the founder of cognitive behavioral theories. Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) in 1955, and this technique is still used today. His theories are widely believed to have revolutionized psychotherapy, helping the shift to behavior-based treatment. Prior to his death in 2007, Ellis was named the “greatest living psychologist” by Psychology Today. He also did work in the fields of sexology and religion.
- Albert Bandura: One of the pioneers in social learning was Albert Bandura. He is still alive today, and is considered the greatest living psychologist by some. Bandura’s experiments with Bobo Dolls, and learning aggressive behaviors. His development of social cognitive theory, as well as personality theories, are considered quite forward-thinking and an integral part of the shift from behaviorism to cognitive psychology. Many of Bandura’s findings are still used today by psychologists helping patients with social modeling, and with other therapies.
- Kay Redfield Jamison: The youngest person on this list (and the only woman) Kay Jamison is known for her work with bipolar disorder. Jamison is a clinical psychologist who centers her working on helping those with mental problems — especially bipolar disorder — effectively. Jamison has bipolar herself, and has a unique insight into the minds of her patients. She has lectured all over the world, and has authored hundreds of academic articles.
Other Famous Clinical Psychologists
There are, of course, plenty of other famous psychologists who have contributed to the field, and the study, of the human mind and behavior. Here are five more well-known psychologists:
- Philip Zimbardo: Known for his famous prison study, Zimbardo looks at humiliation, sadism and authority. His books include The Lucifer Effect and The Time Paradox.
- Ivan Pavlov: You probably know this name, Pavlov wasn’t strictly a clinical psychologist. He did famous conditioning experiments with dogs, and his theories were also applied to humans.
- Abraham Maslow: Known for his hierarchy of needs, Maslow created a theory that helped explain motivations behind human actions.
- R.D. Laing: Worked extensively with mental illness. His departure from the way psychologists normally treated mental illness earned him fame — and controversy.
- William Glasser: This internationally known psychologist pioneered choice therapy, which is used as part of reality therapy.
Learning about the varieties of mental illnesses could take a lifetime, especially if you focus on treatments and causes. By tapping into resources such as wikis or question and answer sites, a student or psychologist can learn about nuances within specific mental illnesses that may not be found in textbooks or medical journals. The following Q&A sites focus on mental health or illness in general, for specific audiences and for professionals.
Taste does not depend on the palate alone; rather, it is a combination of different sensory delights. Aroma and visual effects play a significant role in how good food tastes, so even the most delicious dishes could end up tasting like sawdust if they don’t smell and look enticing. So as a new entrant to the kitchen, your focus should not just be on the recipe books, but also on how the food can be served so it begs to be eaten or, on a lighter note, looks too good to be eaten. If you’re stumped for garnishing ideas that are simple yet effective, keep reading:
- Learn the basic cuts: Before you enter the kitchen with the intent of preparing food, you must know how to wield a knife effectively. This is not just for safety reasons, but also for aesthetic purposes – when you know just how to cut vegetables and fruits so they can be used to decorate food, you’re definitely going to be accepted as a good, if not great cook. It’s not that hard to dice fruits and veggies into shapes that serve as garnishes – very often, it involves removing the seeds and other innards, dicing the fruit or veggie into strips or slices, or just peeling them and placing them in a variety of shapes. If you have an eye for design, you cannot go wrong with the decoration aspect, food or otherwise.
- Bright colors are always appealing: For foods like salads and veggie dishes, use the brightest colored vegetables to garnish your plate. In general, use the ingredients that are already in your dish so the garnish complements the food that it’s decorating. Remember to wash and clean the vegetables and fruits you’re using for garnish, even if they’re not going to be eaten. They could contaminate the food and cause food poisoning.
- Remove things that could alter the taste of the dish: When you garnish with lemon or oranges, remember to deseed them so that they don’t accidentally get into the food. Also, avoid using foods that change color when exposed to air (like apples) or wilt over a period of time if you’re not going to be serving the food immediately. Some foods have odd smells, so don’t use them as garnishes or they could pollute the aroma of your dish; and do remember not to clutter up the plate with more garnish than food.
- Use edible garnish: Although plastic flowers and artificial items look good and keep forever, it’s best to use edible items as garnish. Avoid artificial colors and agents even though they heighten the visual appeal of food.
- Invest in the equipment: For garnishing that looks professional, buy the right knives, peelers and other tools that help you get those curls and slices just right. Also remember to serve the food on plates and dishes that look good and complement the color of the food you’re serving and the garnish that decorates it.
It’s a diverse world we live in, one that is filled with a number of religions and Gods. Some religions like Buddhism are a way of life, others like Christianity and Islam believe in the teachings of one God, while yet others like Hinduism have a pantheon of Gods and rituals. And then there are the atheists and agnostics as well, the ones who believe that there is no God or spiritual being who is responsible for our destiny. But spirituality is something that is innate in each of us; it is godly and even goes beyond God because even non-believers can be spiritual. To define it in a nutshell, spirituality is the voice of your conscience, that tiny nudge from inside that tells you if you’re doing right or wrong.
So how do you use spirituality to boost your wellness quotient, that instant feeling when you wake up in the morning that tells you all is well with your world?
- Listen to your conscience: In short, don’t do anything that makes you feel guilty after it’s done. If you knowingly do something wrong, your conscience is going to prick you continuously until you apologize for your mistake or seek amends in an alternative way.
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: This sounds like something from the Bible, but it applies to practical life very well. If you don’t like being lied to or cheated, don’t do the same to other people. If you want respect and admiration, be prepared to offer them yourself. In general, people respond to the way you treat them, and treat you accordingly.
- Expect very little: I always teach my children that expectation is the root cause of disappointment. When you expect other people to make you happy or relieve your sadness, you’re only building a dependence that could become addictive and unhealthy. Instead, trust your own mind and heart and find ways to build your self-esteem and confidence without looking to other people to boost them for you.
- Give in to your loved ones: No man is an island, and the relationships we form as we go through life say a lot about us. When you value your loved ones and treat them well, you forge deeper and more emotional bonds with them. And you’re not going to lose anything when you give in to them once in a while instead of getting your way all the time. Relationships are all about tolerance and understanding, not who’s right or wrong.
- Let go of everything that’s unhealthy: It may be a relationship that is going nowhere; it could be the food that you gorge on; or it could be a lifestyle that is hedonistic – whatever it is that is unhealthy and causes stress, it’s best you give it up for your own good. It will be difficult at first, but when you strive hard and hold on to your willpower and self-control, you’ll be very satisfied that you beat a personal demon.
Getting to know your spiritual side and becoming more in tune with it helps you become a better person, someone with fewer base emotions and more good ones.
Do you want to see into your future? Tarot cards are often categorized as something that only few can wield, but the truth is, anyone can learn to read tarot cards. After all, it’s the cards that are doing all of the work when it comes to predicting the future. Learn everything you need to know about the art of reading tarot cards from these top tarot card blogs.
Top Tarot Card Blogs
Check out these tarot card blogs, some penned by professionals, which will help you hone your tarot card reading skills.
1. Mary Greer This is one of the best tarot blogs on the web. The writer goes into massive depth over tarot card readings and the history of tarot cards. There’s almost all of the information you need to know at this site.
2. Discover the Meaning of Tarot At this site you’ll pick up on the basics of reading tarot cards and get a few history lessons in-between.
3. Biddy Tarot This blog thoroughly explains what each card means, making it a must-read for those who are just exploring the subject. It also gives you a list of the top 10 cards that mean love or the end of it.
4. Tarot Eon This blog no longer updates, but it’s chock full of information for those learning the basics or wanting to take their skills from beginner to advanced. There’s also a forum where you can discuss tarot readings with other members.
5. Tarot Cards At this site you’ll learn how to read tarot cards and decipher what the cards mean when a person is at a certain stage in their life. It’s a fun blog for those who just want an overview of how tarot readings work.
6. Santeria Religion 101 This blog isn’t only about tarot readings, but has a substantial amount of content over how to read cards and learn to interpret cards that can mean multiple things, depending on where a person is in their life.
7. Tarot Elements At this site you’ll find a crash course in each tarot card and the many possibilities each hold. It’s an easy-to-follow site that won’t be hard for the novice to understand.
8. Alchemy Website – The Artwork of Modern Tarot This blog explores the artwork of tarot cards, displaying countless versions collected from all over the world.
9. Gaian Soul This blog is all about how tarot cards effect our spirituality and how we can use them as a guide when we’re going through a rough patch in life. The blogger also has brief interview with professional tarot card readers on why they love to read for people.
10. Practical Tarot Readings This tarot card reader is interested in making the cards work with the things you’re going through in life. It’s a great blog for those who want an overview of tarot card readings.
11. Tarot Magic Adventures This site explains tarot in relations to other things like astrology and numerology. The site also regularly goes over the tarot cards of big names like President Obama.
12. Corrine Kenner This site talks about the various spiritual components of tarot and also has podcasts from the writer’s interviews with blog radio shows.
13. Llewellyn Unbound This site has livestream links for interviews with some of the biggest names in spirituality and tarot card readings. There’s also in-depth info over each card.
14. Learn Tarot If you’re interested in learning your fate on your own watch, taking the time to learn tarot card readings is for you.
15. Trionfi This tarot site is perfect for those who want to learn about the cards without getting confused. The content is organized and in-depth enough that you takeaway what you need to know without becoming overwhelmed.
Tarot Card Resources
Learn more about what’s in the cards from these sites that will show you the ropes of reading tarot cards
16. Living in Season This site delves into the spirituality aspect of reading tarot cards and gives an in-depth explanation about the possibilities of each card.
17. New Moon Journal This site talks about tarot cards and methods of improving your perception of reality and taking the steps to design your destiny.
18. Owl’s Daughter You’ll become obsessed with this blog which gives you the background story on tarot and how the images on the cards came to be.
19. Lunaea Weatherstone’s Blogue This blog touches on the spiritual part of tarot readings and enhancing your own life with meditation and deep thinking.
20. Kris Waldherr This blogger shows you how to enhance your spirituality with tarot card readings, creative drawing and freethinking that will allow your mind and soul to relax and get in tune with each other.
Take your time when learning how to read tarot cards. It isn’t a process you want to rush through and makes a great hobby for those who love exploring a niche topic at length.
There’s no doubting the fact that stress leads to illness and disease – from a simple headache to the more serious migraine, from a slight sense of queasiness to full-blown stomach ulcers, from mild discomfort to a major heart attack, stress can cause a variety of disorders and diseases. It’s called transduction, this translation of emotional distress to physiological change to physical symptom, and it’s probably the biggest cause of disease and illness today.
So why and how does stress lead to illness?
- Stress raises the levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and boosts nervous system activity; this in turn affects your health and leads to further anxiety and more stress.
- Stress affects your immune system, weakens it, and so leaves you prone to common colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses and syndromes.
- Stress has been linked to viral illnesses and even diseases like cancer.
- Stress affects your metabolism adversely and leads to excessive weight gain or loss.
- It affects hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone and plays havoc with the monthly menstrual cycles of women.
- Stress also affects brain neurotransmitters and causes loneliness, depression and other mental disorders.
- It affects the gastrointestinal system and leads to high acidity and the formation of ulcers and other stomach disorders.
- Stress raises the level of toxins in your blood and causes skin diseases and conditions like acne.
- Prolonged stress can lead to heart attacks and strokes that affect the quality of your life and even cause death.
- Stress causes a buildup of pressure which leads to headaches and migraines.
All stress is not bad; in fact, a small amount of it at the right time is good. For example, when you feel a surge of adrenaline before a competition, it gives you the edge and helps you perform better; when you feel nervous before an interview and are on tenterhooks, you tend to be more aware of yourself and so perform better; and when you’re threatened in any way, the surge of hormones that rushes through your system raises your self-protective instincts and keeps you from harm and danger – it gives you more strength and more speed than you possess under normal circumstances and is very often the difference between life and death.
The key to making the most of stress is to not let it become a chronic issue in your life by following a simple mantra – there’s no use worrying about the things you cannot control; and if things are within your control, try to be proactive and find a solution instead of worrying and stressing yourself out. Stress can be prevented and minimized by following a diet rich in nutrients and vitamins and exercising regularly.
Life has its ups and downs, and most of us are able to take the rough with the smooth without too much trouble. But some people are affected so deeply by accidents, the loss of a loved one and other traumatizing events that they end up becoming mentally disturbed. Sometimes it’s just a mild case of depression, but at other times and when combined with other factors, it could become really serious and end up causing a nervous breakdown, a situation where you’re prone to suicidal tendencies, are unable to function normally, are extremely stressed out, and generally live in your own world far removed from what is real and practical.
Most of us are dismissive about depression; we think that’s it’s easy for people to get over it and that all they need to do is stay positive, think happy thoughts and surround themselves with loved ones. But if you’re prone to any form of mental illness because of genetic and environmental factors, depression could be just the start of something potentially more dangerous. Any form of depression could lead to a nervous breakdown if:
- You have a strong family history of mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder and others similar to these.
- You have suffered an emotional trauma such as the sudden and tragic loss of loved ones or a recent separation from a spouse or significant other. The trauma need not be recent because post traumatic stress disorder could occur even years after the event usually because similar feelings are brought on by a trigger.
- You’ve had an unhappy and abusive childhood or youth and your adult life is affected significantly because of the same.
If you think a loved one is prone to a nervous breakdown because of these factors or similar others, it’s best to get them professional help. Therapy and counseling, in combination with medication, can help keep the brain balanced, prevent a nervous breakdown, and allow them to lead a near-normal life.
The fastest and surest way to prevent a nervous breakdown is to be aware of the risks and monitor the person who is at risk for the following symptoms:
- Severe and prolonged depression
- Insomnia and restlessness
- A complete lack of interest in anything, work, family, friends or any other activity
- Drastic change in eating and living habits
- Hallucinations and an overactive imagination
- Psychotic episodes that may or may not be violent
- The tendency to hurt themselves and others around them
- Paranoia and unnatural fears of people and things
- An addiction to alcohol or drugs
- Mania or sudden episodes of euphoria and the feeling that they can do anything they want
- Violent and frequent mood swings
In short, any abnormal behavior or reaction is cause enough for monitoring a loved one who has been affected by a recent trauma or who is going through an unreasonable amount of stress. The sooner you get them to therapy or counseling, the better for their mental and physical health.
Growing old is an inevitable part of life if you don’t die young, and even though we’re prepared to accept the changes that our bodies and minds go through, there comes a time when the elderly are forced to rely on the help of other people if they are to live in reasonable comfort. Some are lucky enough to be able to live with family members while others make do with a personal caregiver in the comfort of their homes. It’s only those who have neither of these options who move to assisted living facilities or a nursing home where they are looked after by healthcare professionals.
While most people would prefer to have their family look after them or hire a personal caregiver to do the job, there is one downside to this method of caring for the elderly – the caregiver’s life is affected more often than not. But if they are prepared and know what to expect, it could turn out to be a positive experience. So if you’re a caregiver for the elderly, here’s what you need to do to avoid stressing out and also doing the best you can for the person(s) you’re looking after:
- Don’t expect gratitude or appreciation: You may be doing your best to look after your charge, but that’s not to say that they’re going to show their gratitude or appreciation for you. While some people do so, others tend to be cranky and crotchety as old people are wont to be. So it’s best not to expect these attributes, even if they are forthcoming initially. If you look at what you do as just another job rather than as a favor for someone, you’ll do just fine. As time goes by, you’ll get used to their eccentricities, if they have any.
- Talk payment at the outset: While this is not an issue for total strangers or medical professionals (who are not family), when you’re a family member (as in a distant relative caring for your elderly great aunt or uncle), you must thrash out payment issues before you take up the position. This is a sticky issue, but the sooner you deal with it, the better you’re able to resolve it. Put your demands on the table and ensure that you are paid adequately because the money you make goes a long way in compensating the sacrifices you may be forced to make.
- Know where to draw the line: If you’re a family member looking after your mother, father, aunt or uncle, you’re doing so because you don’t want them to be all alone when they’re old and infirm. You go out of your way to make them comfortable out of the goodness of your heart. But if your charge(s) take advantage of you and demand all of your time and energy, it’s time to put your foot down and reclaim some of your life back. It’s best to do this at the outset so that they know where you stand. Make them understand that you will look after them well, but not at the cost of sacrificing your own life.
- Look after yourself: And most important of all, if you fail to take care of yourself and keep yourself fit and in good health, you fail in your duty as a caregiver. If you’re not in good health, you’re unable to look after your charge(s) and may be endangering their health and even lives. Also, set aside some time for your social life; interact with people of your own age, and take time to do the things that you want. Looking after the elderly is a job that tries the patience of even saints, so if you want to stick to it in the long term, you need to care for your mental, physical and emotional health first.
First introduced to society as a set of virtual paddles and a ball, video games have come a long way since the seventies when Pong was unleashed on a generation. Nowadays, there are literally dozens of gaming systems out there with millions of titles to play. If that weren’t enough, video games have also conquered the internet and mobile phones at about the same time as each was introduced. With everything from a pack of cards to modern war being capable of reproduction via joystick, gamers and parents of gamers are left wondering how many hours played equal hours wasted or have even led to the worst.
Contrary to claims that video games turn teenagers and children into violent criminals, new research has shown that a bit of virtual blood and guts is actually good for brain. But don’t take our word for it. Below are twelve recent studies showing video game play can be an improvement. So set the controller down for a while, have a read, and see how video games can help everything from reaction time to social skills.
- 1. Why World of Warcraft is Good for You : In 2001, an Everquest player committed suicide . In the report, his mother claims that the game had something to do with it. However, the Economist recently weighed in with another angle. A new study from cognitive scientists at the University of Rochester suggests that video gamers make faster and more accurate decisions. The scientists concluded that gamers developed an enhanced sensitivity to what is going on around them, which may help with activities such as multitasking, driving, reading small print, and keeping track of friends or children in a crowd. The gamers who did the best were those who played fast-moving games such as Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament.
2. Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions : Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have discovered that playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster and just as accurate. Science Daily reports that dozens of 18 to 25 year olds who did not play games were divided into two groups. One played the games such as Call of Duty and the others played a slower game, The Sims. Afterwards, they were asked to answer questions and make decisions on problems. The action game players were up to 25 percent faster at coming to a conclusion. The researchers have more in this article.
3. How Video Games Trained a Generation of Athletes : Think all gamers are obese couch cruisers who have never played a sport? Read this from Wired and have your mind changed. They report that Brandon Stokely of the Denver Broncos actually mimicked a play he had done hundreds of times before on a video game. Titles such as Madden NFL actually allow players to get to know plays, defenses, calls, and all sorts of other technical aspects of football that only the field could bring. No longer just a tool to learn the basics, these sorts of games are actually allowing players and coaches to change the way it is being played.
4. Is Gaming Good for Kids? : As reported on from a local CBS affiliate, video games can be good for kids and teens. They report that 97 percent of them play video games and 65 percent play with others, making it a sociable experience. Although there is no shortage of violent and bloody games on the market, the same study found that the most popular games were racing, puzzles, and sports. Two experts and kids also weigh in.
5. Violent Gaming is Good for the Brain : A new study by the “Frontiers of Cognition” journal tells that video games, even violent ones, can be good for the brain. Dr. Lorenza Colzato of the study explains how video games can help the reflexes, switching between tasks, and improving response time. The doctor also believes the benefits of perpetuating fake violence can outweigh any negative social impact and could even help gamers land a job one day.
6. Video Games Help Seniors Combat Depression : Proving that video games aren’t just for kids, they can also help out seniors. According to research conducted at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, video games that combine game play with exercise can improve the symptoms of subsyndromal depression in seniors. In the study, 19 seniors with this kind of depression played an exercise game for the Nintendo Wii for 35 minutes, three days a week. Over a third of the patients experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction of symptoms. Many even had a significant improvement in their mental health-related quality of life and increased cognitive stimulation.
7. Gaming is Good for You : Can gaming actually help stop terrorists? While Professor Talmadge Wright and colleagues at Loyola University haven’t directly answered that question, but they do take particular notice of Counter-Strike, a game that pits players as terrorists or counter-terrorists in order to win the game. After interviewing and studying gamers, the study showed that players of this game actually displayed similar qualities to those of expert chess players. He also noted the importance of the social side of Counter-Strike was revealed in the constant banter, in-jokes, and insults that people exchanged during play.
8. The Social Benefits of Video Gaming : Clay Routledge is a doctor with a popular blog on Psychology Today. In this entry, he focuses on the positive side of gaming, which can include better social skills. He hypothesizes that if violent video games can lead to violence, why can’t social games lead to better social skills? He discusses research in which players of social games are tested to see how they respond to a situation that requires their help. Those who played the social game were more likely to positively intervene when a participant was harassed by a boyfriend as part of the study.
9. Does Brain Training Work? : Many gamers and advocate use brain training games as a benefit of playing games. In this web series, Scientific American examines if these brain training games actually work. Thousands of people participated in this study published by “Nature” aged from teens to seniors. Three groups were divided into one that did internet basics, reasoning games, and non-reasoning games. After playing for a significant amount of time, they were tested on cognitive abilities. Watch the video to get the results.
10. Gaming for a Cure : “Video Games Cures Cancer” just might be the headline one day according to Science Daily. In this report, a game called Foldit is featured. It turns one of the hardest problems in molecular biology into a game like Tetris. Players stack a protein, instead of blocks or other shapes in this game. This study showed that people were actually as good or better at stacking proteins than a super computer. This was especially true on problems that required radical moves, risks, and long-term vision. Over 50,000 people have played the game and learned a great deal more about the human body while doing so.
11. Violent Video Games Make You Smarter : This study by researchers in the Netherlands suggests that shoot-to-kill video games improve quick thinking and make players more able to cope with the demands of modern life. Because gamers often stop to check email, answer the phone, and others before resuming a game, it can lead to a faster ability to switch in between tasks.
12. Video Games and Their Link to Violence : If still unsure about the ability to improve yourself by playing games, you are not alone. As reported on by “USA Today,” a review of 130 studies “strongly suggests” that playing violent video games increases aggressive thoughts and decreases empathy. Craig Anderson of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University in Ames reports that there are “known factors for the development of aggression and violence.” On the other side is Christopher Ferguson of Texas A& M who believes that the effects of violent video games are “generally very low.” Read the article here to decide for yourself.
Remember that video games can become an addiction, like practically anything else can. To get the most out of the benefits reported in the above twelve recent studies showing video game play can improve yourself, be sure to play with family and friends while maintaining a balanced life outside of the games.