Friday, November 26, 2021



Belgium confirms case of new, 

heavily mutated

 Covid variant

Dow Drops 900 Points…


The photographer captures the face of fear on the CNBC website Friday (26 Nov 2021). The loss of value in savings and investments is more powerful than an equal value of an increase.

People fear losses of all kinds.

The trigger of fear is the new virus variant, which can trigger fear of death and severe illness—especially for those who have lost a loved one or struggled through a hospitalization or even a tough bout at home.

Fear is a powerful motivator to take action—self-defense—hide, avoid threats, seek safety.

Action in financial markets isn’t really about the value of a company or business but about human nature and that powerful emotion of fear, which drives action.

Fear also motivates people to avoid vaccines. Of course fear is not the only reason people have avoided the vaccines—skepticism and distrust are other reasons.

Seeking safety is a good thing when the response has a rational basis. By rational, I mean, in this context, a response grounded in available empirical data.

We don’t know a lot about the new variant, it’s resistance to current vaccines and treatments, or how widespread it will be.

Expecting More Fear

I suggest an aftershock may occur next week if one person in the USA turns up having the new variant.

Another shockwave may happen in a few weeks when holiday revelers end up in hospital with infections.

Religious Response and the Spirit of Fear

Here in the USA, Christians were markedly divided about safety measures and vaccines for the 2020 virus that is still with us. Some boldly declared God didn't give us the "Spirit of Fear." I understand many believe if God is with them, then they are safe. Unfortunately, many Christians suffered and died. I suspect the word "spirit" is a metaphor. In any event, perhaps fear can be seen as a gift that helps humans stay safe and avoid danger? I won't argue the point because such beliefs cannot be served by empirical data and are strongly resistant to change.

Pursuing Peace

I hope for peace and goodwill, which depends on people enjoying a safe holiday season. For us in the West that means Christmas through New Years.

 I write about psychology and religion.




Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thank You for the Memories


Photo: Mr Brown upper left; Rev Kenyon lower right

We had Sunday dinner in the kitchen by the window. My wife asked me about people in my life. Soon we began sharing stories of those people we admired or respected. Somehow, we went back to our childhood—perhaps it was the holidays. We both grew up in very conservative churches with strict behavioral codes but we had fond memories of some people who made life special and created good memories.

When I was 13, we moved to Millville NJ. I turned 14 in the summer and entered 9th grade. So, it was a new community with a new school, new neighbors, and a new church. If you moved to new settings, you know the anxiety it can bring. I’m thankful for the things kind adults did. In those days, adults didn’t have first names.

My dad wasn’t a fisherman but I learned to enjoy fishing when two different Millville men took me fishing in the Delaware Bay. Thanks Mr. Montgomery (Pictured below) and Mr. Sharp.

Mr. & Mrs. Montgomery

At that time, I loved baseball. My dad didn’t know American sports. Soccer and cricket weren’t much heard of in Millville. What a treat when a man across the road took me to watch the Phillies play the Mets at Connie Mack Stadium. Thanks Mr. Jensen. And thanks to the churchmen who invited me to play on the team.

There were others too. Mr. Brown who took me to lunches and offered good advice. And Mrs. Johnson who welcomed me to many family events—including trips to the Jersey shore.

Photo: Mrs. Johnson

Then there was church where the character of Rev. and Mrs. Kenyon have been their legacy in my life. I’m talking about kindness, warmth, compassion, approachability, encouragement, and being people I felt I could trust.

Forgive me for not mentioning others. If my memory returns, I’ll update this post.

Getting from age 13 to adulthood in a new community isn’t always an easy trek as I have learned from others who did not have enough great adults in their lives.

I hope that other young adults may be encouraged to reach out to nearby youth. Some people emphasize the value of words. I’d like to highlight the importance of good works and good character that can create a lifetime of good memories.

About the author

Geoffrey Sutton is a retired psychologist and Emeritus Professor of Psychology who writes about psychology and the psychology of religion. See

Photo below: I don't have fishing photos from those early memorable trips

but I have this one from around 1970.

Related post


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Gratitude: The Effects of Expressing Thanks


Can expressing thanks really make a difference in your life?

A classic and oft cited study suggests the act of writing about things we are thankful or grateful for is good for us. Here’s a summary of what Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough found in a sample of 192 college students— mostly women (147).

The Research Method

The students were divided into three experimental groups at the beginning of a quarter.

The students completed 10 weekly reports.

The three groups:

1. Gratitude. They were asked to think about last week and write down 5 things that they were grateful or thankful for.

2. Hassles. The researchers explained that hassles are things that are irritating. They were to think about what happened today and list up to 5 hassles.

3. Events. The students were asked to think about the past week and write 5 events that impacted them.

How the researchers measured change in the participants—what the participants did.

1. They rated their feelings using 30 terms like anger, sad, and happy.

2. They completed a 13-item physical symptom checklist of such things as headaches, upset stomach, and sore muscles.

3. They recorded how they coped with the most pressing problem in the past week. The researchers were looking for a grateful response to any help they received. The scale was internally consistent—alpha = .92.

4. They rated their general wellbeing for the past week.

5. They rated their expectations for the week ahead, which assessed such dimensions as pessimistic - optimistic.

What Happened?


After creating a measure of gratitude from all the data collected, they compared the ratings for the groups using a one-way ANOVA. The high score obtained by the gratitude writing group was significantly higher than for those in the hassles group but not more than those in the events group.

FeelingsThe groups were not significantly different on their ratings of positive or negative feelings.

Wellbeing: The gratitude group had significantly higher ratings.

Expectations: The gratitude group had significantly higher ratings.

Physical health

Symptoms: The gratitude group reported significantly fewer symptoms.

Exercise: The gratitude group spent much more time exercising that those in the hassle group.

Response to help: Those who reported grateful responses to help also reported higher overall wellbeing.

Does Expressing Gratitude Have an Effect?

The results of this study, and other studies, offers scientific evidence that expressing gratitude in writing is a helpful thing to do. The contrast to focusing on life's hassles is especially helpful in understanding potential effects on our feelings and expectations. There's even a link to health and general wellbeing.

No study is perfect. By now, you can find a lot of research supporting the positive effects of gratitude.


The article listed below includes three studies. This post just summarizes the first study.

Hashtags #gratitude #thankfulness #wellbeing #optimism


Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389.

 Ad. Learn More about research in Creating Surveys on AMAZON or GOOGLE


 Ad. Learn more about gratitude and spirituality in Chapter 4 of Living Well available on AMAZON


The Gratitude Questionnaire

Gratitude Psychology

Grateful People -- The Big 12 of Gratitude

Gratitude Books

The Little book of Gratitude by Robert Emmons

Gratitude Works! A 21 Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity by Robert Emmons

Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons

Please check out my website

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton