So you’ve grown up overweight, awkward, unpopular, healthy or not, but now you’ve reached a point where you’re different. And you’re probably struggling to change your self-image and maybe even your behavior. From a health coaching perspective, I think it’s important to consider a person’s history and self-image in planning for future behavior change.
People change all the time. You can think of life as a process of becoming. But one of the funny things about identity, as a psychological state, is that you retain traces of the person you used to be in the person you are. After thinking of yourself a certain way during the formative times of your life, you internalize that identity, even when your reality changes. Continue reading The Forever Fat Kid: Identity and Growth, Part 1
Dedicated co-working spaces are proliferating, and it’s probably a huge relief to small startups and remote workers who can finally enjoy community and collaboration without the price tag associated with an ongoing office lease. Here in Boston, there are at least two major co-working chains (WeWork and Workbar), in addition to several one-off options, for people who would otherwise be working solo or in very small groups. Continue reading Building Community Through Shared Identity
Certain identities are deeply meaningful for the time and the place in which we live. Being a woman in the 21st century United States carries expectations that were not shared by women in 17th century China and will not be by women in 24th century Argentina. And a woman in the 21st century United States may also be a scientist, police officer, or soldier; she might belong to any racial or ethnic background; she might belong to multiple different cultures; and so forth and so on. So what, you ask? Continue reading Being Both: The Psychology of Identity Integration
You know people may judge you by the way you look. You can probably guess that people may also judge you by your email address, especially if it’s something embarrassing or revealing. But you might not realize that your email address can also cue people into other aspects of your identity that can then be used to stereotype you and even influence your behavior.
The first set of research projects I ever worked on examined stereotype threat and lift effects in the context of email addresses. I was an undergraduate student assisting on projects devised by Margaret Shih (now at UCLA) and Todd Pittinsky (now of Stony Brook University). To this day, I think these are very cool studies, and I credit them with making me fall in love with psychology. Continue reading What Your Email Address Says About You
In the work I’ve done with medication adherence, there are several “usual suspects” we find behind people’s failure to take drugs as prescribed. Issues related to habit and routine are common; I know my own medication habits become significantly worse when I’m traveling a lot. We also see non-adherence due to a lack of education or understanding of proper drug use, or inability to effectively communicate with providers.
We do find that emotional issues, such as a negative reaction to having a particular diagnosis, can drive some people’s non-adherence. Related to that, an issue with medication adherence that I think is under-explored is how people’s sense of personal identity affects their willingness to take certain medications. Simply put, I don’t think today’s relatively young 50- and 60-year olds feel emotionally ready to take the medications that come with many chronic condition diagnoses. Continue reading Medication Adherence and Identity: Shifts in the Meaning of Aging and Comfort with “Old People’s” Drugs