The U.S. birth rate in 2020 hit a record low, despite some speculation that COVID stay at home orders might give rise to a “baby boom”.

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Statisticians have demonstrated that famines, earthquakes, and diseases predict a decline in births 9 months after the traumatic events. Following the peak of the COVID pandemic, economists of the Brookings Institution released a report detailing the U.S. birth rate’s relationship with fluctuating economic conditions. …


Journalist Jesse Singal and Yale Psychologist Paul Bloom discussed Singal’s new book, The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure our Social Ills during an online book talk where they highlighted the pitfalls of popular psychological interventions.

Image attribution: https://www.chevaliersbooks.com/jesse-singal

In Singal’s new book which debuted April 2021, he criticized the faulty scientific findings of some of the most prominent academics in psychology. Psychologists include Angela Duckworth, a UPenn child education researcher and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance; Martin Seligman, former APA president and positive psychologist; and Carol Dwek, a Stanford psychologist known for her work on mindset.

Bloom…


Opinion-based media channels are found to be linked to poorer mental health

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In an interview, UC Irvine social psychologist Nickolas Jones discussed the results and implications of his recent study which found that different arrays of news-“media diets” were related to differences in emotional outcomes and beliefs about COVID-19.

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the center of life on Earth as stay-at-home orders, mask protocols, and social distancing guidelines have dictated the lives of citizens around the world. …


Looking through a microscope, through the perspective of a manufacturing operator

Meaningful work isn’t only about what you are doing, it’s also about your relationship with what you are doing.

For the past month, I have been working at Cepheid, a biotech company in Silicon Valley. My role as a manufacturing operator takes place in an assembly line, I perform manual labor. We have three shifts as our operations run 24/7, and I work the morning shift. The majority of my fellow operators are middle aged or older adults who are first generation immigrants. …


What are mental health apps?

You might already use apps to help you in many ways: to help you get from place to place, to connect and share things with friends, or to remind you to do important things like wake up and when you’re meeting up with a friend. But you may not be aware that there are thousands of apps out there that focus on mental health.

Mental health apps are mobile apps designed to help users understand and manage their mental health. Mental health apps can have a number of different goals; they may be informational, to help users learn more about…


Chatbots are software programs that are designed to serve as conversation partners. These programs use artificial intelligence to provide users with real-time chats that mimic conversations with a real person.

How can a chatbot help my mental health?

Chatbots have been incorporated into some mental health apps, to help users work through how they are feeling through questions, assessments, suggestions for activities, and skills-building. Examples of chatbot apps include Woebot, Wysa, Replika, and Youper. Some mental health chatbots are made by psychology researchers, AI engineers, and clinical practitioners whose expertise comes together to create a therapy bot. …


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For the past two weeks, I’ve been chatting daily with two mental health chatbots, Woebot and Youper. Chatbots are computer programs designed to serve as conversation partners. Both apps were developed with the goal of providing users with therapy exercises that integrate mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Daily check-ins were central to both apps, and during these check-ins, I told the chatbots how I felt and what my feelings were linked to (e.g. friends, school, sleep, health). The chatbots then summarized this data through graphs, folders, and gratitude journals. …

Yvonne Phan

Yvonne is a social psychology researcher at UC Irvine and NYU. She hopes to apply her research and ideas to journalism that inspires reflection and connection.

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