Doing Life Together

ID-10087460These days, parents seemed consumed with their children getting high test scores. The belief is that high test scores predicts academic success. But a new study suggests that parents should put their efforts elsewhere–in developing the personalities of their children.

With more concern about what leads to academic success, researchers continue to look at a number of factors that might contribute to positive educational outcomes. We know that it helps to be smart when it comes to success in life. But what else could be important for success?

A new study by Dr. Arthur Poropat from Griffith University’s School of Applied Psychology found that personality may be a better measure of success than intelligence. He looked at what is called the “Big Five” personality traits–extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience, in college students and compared these traits to their test scores and grades. Two of those traits, conscientiousness and openness to experience had the biggest influence on academic success.

This means that students who are willing to put in focused effort in their studies may have an advantage over being smart, as measured by intellectual tests.  Interestingly, if you look at previous studies, students who think they are smart often have declining performance in college because they stop trying so hard. But hard workers try more and do better.

Since we can’t train intellect, but we can train personality, this study points to the idea that more attention should be focused on helping our students have intellectual curiosity and a strong work ethic–two things we can train!

Personality, it appears, it not just an adjunct to intelligence, but a major player when we assess educational outcomes. Personality is associated with academic success. And of all the factors studied, Conscientiousness had the strongest association with academic success.

So parents, focus on teaching your children intellectual curiosity and strong work habits. Those two character traits will take them farther than intellect.







Source: Arthur E. Poropat. Other-rated personality and academic performance: Evidence and implications. Learning and Individual Differences, 2014; 34: 24 DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2014.05.013

ID-100208264Rosie is a little anxious about her first date with Sean. We all know how important first impressions are when it comes to finding love.

After a few outings at a local coffee shop, her feelings of attraction were obvious. The setting was intimate, soft  music played in the background and the aroma of coffee filled the air. All led to a favorable impression of Sean. She wanted to continue the relationship, seeing many positive traits in Sean.

Did anything about that first coffee shop date contribute to Rosie’s good impression of Sean? A Japanese study suggests that something about that coffee shop date could have contributed to her positive impression of Sean.

The study looked at the impact music had on the impressions formed for opposite sex conversation partners during a first encounter. When music was part of the background of the conversations, participants rated their conversation partners significantly more favorably than those in pairs with no music in the background. The researchers concluded that music may have made the conversationalists more charming!

Based on this study, music could facilitate feelings of interest and attraction during first encounters. Because of the way music stimulates neurochemical systems in the brain, positive impressions can be increased. And character traits such as friendliness and openness were rated higher when music was playing in the background.

So, if you want to make a good first impression, have music playing in the background. It might make the attraction stronger! Music just might be the aphrodisiac of love!




Source: Sumi Shigeno. Effects of background music on young Japanese adults’ impressions of opposite-sex conversation partners Psychology of Music 0305735614561816first published on December 15, 2014 doi:10.1177/0305735614561816

ID-100220921Music, dance, drawing, reading, listening to poetry–all ways we can engage the arts. But is there a connection between staying young and engaging these activities?

Yes, engaging in the arts helps you stay young.

1) Take up dancing. Dancing is not only aerobic but it challenges the brain. So the benefit of improved blood flow to the brain and the mental tasks involved in dancing have been shown to lower the risk of dementia. Maybe it’s time to take that salsa class or sign up for Zumba and dance your way into a healthier brain.

2) Take up an instrument or continue to play one. For years, I have played the piano and flute because I enjoy it. But now I know that continuing to play those instruments could help my aging brain. A study from Stanford University School of Medicine showed that baroque music was especially good. So pull out that Bach piece and improve your rusty playing skills. It’s not only relaxing for many of us, but engages our brains in ways that help memory and focus.

3) Read poetry. Drink it in, don’t be distracted and think about the deeper meaning of the poem. Too often we read without focusing and read too many things, downloading too much information to our brains. This isn’t good. But if we take a poem, read it with focus, think about it and allow the beauty of poetry to sink in, this is good for the brain. Go ahead, pull out a classic like, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost and meditate on it. Better yet, read portions of the Song of Solomon and let it sink into your soul. It’s not only good for your spirit, but also your brain.


Yesterday, I heard a CNN reporter talking about the movie 50 Shades of Grey like she was promoting a Disney Movie. I was stunned by what she was saying. She was giddy with approval (not sure how that was journalism) and telling me to take my husband or boyfriend to see the movie. Oh, but leave dad at home.

So, in her opinion, I would want to sit with my husband or boyfriend and watch Dakota Johnson topless having bondage sex. This would be a great date or experience? According to the reporter this would be fun!

All I could think of is how uncomfortable and embarrassing this would be. I would want Dakota to put her clothes on and stop allowing a man to hurt and objectify her. I would be distraught at the porn, thinking this is some dad’s little girl. Actually, I would probably be yelling this in the theatre, so it is best I don’t go.

I openly admit I haven’t read the books and I won’t see the movie. The media hype has been over the edge and the true critics see Fifty Shades as a mediocre movie at best. But one review caught my eye and gave some explanation as to why this movie is so popular.

Behind all the sex, LifeSiteNews writer, Kirsten Anderson, gets to the heart of what is attracting so many women. She writes, “Forget the porn for a minute; forget the abuse.  In Fifty Shades, we have a story that has touched the hearts of millions of women, and underneath its filthy exterior, at its core, it’s about unconditional love and redemption.”

And after a thoughtful analysis, Kirsten challenges Christians, “… this is our story. If a hundred million people will shell out for a counterfeit paperback version of a love we live every day, we should see that not just as an attack, but an opportunity. Love is our story.  Let’s tell it better.”

I couldn’t agree more.

To read her analysis, click here.