Mind Matters — 2020 Vision

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2020? Perhaps if you share your goals with a “higher status” individual, you will be more committed in reaching them. According to research summarized in the American Psychological Association Monitor’s In Brief column (January, February, 2020), people appear more committed to achieving their goals when they share them with someone they perceive as having more authority. The hypothesis is that “sharing a goal with someone whose opinion is valued makes it harder to abandon the goal.”

Another In Brief posting notes that “school shootings are more likely to be blamed on violent video games when the perpetrators are white Americans than when they are black. Analyzing over 200,000 news articles about mass shootings in the US over a forty-year timespan, researchers found that video games were over eight times more likely to be touted as a cause if the shooter s were white. This research points to how implicit racism is engendered.

Stress about the state of affairs in America also has a racial component. In a Stress in America survey conducted in 2019 by the Harris Poll, it was found that people of color are feeling more stressed and more concerned about discrimination than in 2015.

However, the survey also indicates a general rise in stress in adults in America regardless of ethnicity. Major sources of stress include mass shootings, climate change/global warming, immigration, and the presidential election.

The APA Monitor itself addresses the issues of climate change. Facts need be no more a driver of stress than ignorance. Facts are the starting point for finding solutions. Science has shown that climate change increases frequency and intensity of natural disasters. Psychologists undersand the link between such disasters and post traumatic stess, anxiety, substance abuse, domestic abuse, physical ailments.

Although we face many daunting facts, we can take heart in the possibility of finding solutions. We can also take heart in research that has found that, across the world, people rank kindliness as the value they desire most in a partner.

Perhaps our goal for 2020 should be practicing kindness, especially with one’s partner? Find an authoritative figure to share this goal to make it real.