Kate Humphreys

Kate Humphreys received a PhD in clinical psychology from UCLA in 2014. She is a former President of Psychology in Action, and currently serves on the organization's Advisory Board. Her research and clinical interests include understanding the impact of stress and trauma on development. In particular, she is interested in how genes and environment lead to ADHD and other externalizing problems. She was inspired to join Psychology in Action because of all the interesting things she has come across in her classes and research thus far, and is motivated to share psychological knowledge to anyone who is interested!

ADHD Medication and Risk for Later Alcohol and Drug Use

Many parents have to make difficult choices about how to help their children with an ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) diagnosis. Two treatments have been proven in well-designed and carefully controlled research studies to be effective: behavioral management (also known as parent training) and medication (typically Ritatin or Adderall). Medication treatment has raised concerns about whether the use of medication to treat ADHD may be either a “gateway” for future substance use (e.g., ever trying…

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Got Issues: Blame Your Grandma

The idea of the tabula rasa is all but forgotten. Advances in modern genetics have taught us that not only are we not a blank slate at birth, but we are not even simply the product of our genes. The environment interacts with our genes to shape our development, however, it is not only OUR environment that does so. Let me tell you about an early discovery that led to this knowledge. In 1944, a…

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Are genetics destiny for psychiatric disorders?

Are genetics destiny? Simplistic thinkers may say so, but what scientists are learning is that, though many traits are heritable (e.g., height, extraversion, IQ), it is difficult to find a “gene” for the vast majority of traits. At the completion of the human genome project, there were high hopes that single genes could be located that are associated with human behavior, and in particular disease. With 70 percent of genes being expressed in the brain,…

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Is all risk taking bad?

He that is over-cautious will accomplish little. Friedrich Von Schiller German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright Individuals who psychologists describe as “risk takers” are generally identified as being at-risk for a number of dangerous or maladaptive behaviors, including high risk sex, gambling, substance use disorders. However, frequent or high risk takers may be a heterogeneous group, and as a result, it may be difficult to know whether a tendency to take risks is uniformly associative…

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Stress Affects Risk Taking Differently for Men and Women

by Andrew Sanders and Kate Humphreys Making decisions can be a difficult task. How do we choose to get from point A to point B? Does our decision change whether we are running late for an important engagement? Does stress facilitate our decision making, and if so, does it matter whether we are trying to get to something we desire (e.g., catch the beginning of a film) versus avoid something negative (e.g., punishment from supervisor…

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The Economy and Changing Gender Roles

I opened the Atlantic this week to read the cover story, with the subheading “In today’s economy, men are falling apart. What that means for sex and marriage.” The article includes personal anecdotes, historical notes on the history of marriage, sociological examples of on-Western cultures, and theories on marriage and love. Particularly interesting were theories on how sex and gender roles shift when a society has either a surplus or men or a surplus of…

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The Convenience of Therapy on your Computer

Finding a good therapist is important. As a graduate student in clinical psychology, I am often asked where to find one. Typically, I would recommend the psychology clinic associated with my university, or point them in the direction of therapists who use empirically supported treatments. Yet, there remains several obstacles for reaching a therapist. These include financial concerns, fears about therapy itself, and the availability of appropriate treatments in various geographical regions. Innovations in psychological treatment…

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Psychology Degrees Pay Less Than Others: Don’t Do it for the Money

There are many features to consider when choosing a field. Just to name a few: job security, hours, quality of life, and pay. A recent report from Perspectives on Psychological Science reviewed one of these factors for individuals who received psychology degrees across the educational ladder. Their conclusion: those who receive psychology degrees make less money, on average, than their counterparts from other fields. Those who major in psychology for their bachelor’s degree have a…

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Children with ADHD have greater likelihood of trying substances and developing substance use disorders.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders in childhood. In fact, estimates of the rates of ADHD had found that between 5-10 percent of all children meet diagnostic criteria for the disorder. Children with and without ADHD, at a group level, show several differences, including poorer school performance, more peer rejection, and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and acting out behavior. Following children over time is a common way…

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Career Options for How to Become a Therapist: Multiple Pathways Exist

Many individuals find the idea of helping people for a living to be appealing. There is no one path to this type of career. Clinicians, therapists, coaches, social workers, or psychologist, provide psychotherapy and guidance to people. Below are several popular avenues to becoming a professional therapist. Psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that completes a residency in psychiatry after finishing medical school. Psychiatrists generally prescribe medication and conduct psychotherapy with their patients. Their…

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What are the Areas of Study within Psychology?

The field of psychology had its modern origin just over 100 years ago, and yet interest in the field has grown rapidly. Researchers with broad and varied interests have expanded the field, and as a result there are many different subdisciplines. Highlighted here are several key areas of psychology. Biological psychologists apply biological principles to the study of mental processes and behavior. The field examines the basic biological processes that underlie normal and abnormal behavior…

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ADHD and Memory: Differences in What is Remembered

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD (formerly known also as ADD) are classically seen as the kids in class who have trouble staying in their seats and paying attention during long lessons. Underlying these problematic behaviors is a confluence of factors, with evidence pointing to genetics, neural function, and environmental factors (including parenting and lead exposure), which all can affect ADHD behavior. Many children diagnosed with ADHD seem to simply “grow out” of…

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Is ADHD a real disorder?

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that approximately 5 percent of children have a specific deficit in attention compared to children of their same age and sex, many people still question whether ADHD (and some still call it it’s former name: ADD) is a real disorder. A recent article in the New York Times takes on this subject carefully. The article outlines biological evidence that finds clear correlates to the disorder, including molecular genetics, twin studies indicating…

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Women’s Health and Perceptions of Gender

For many pressing health issues, including HIV/AIDS, cancer (in particular lung cancer), and suicide completion, women have lower rates than men. Women are the minority at birth, but the number of women (in the national surveys) far surpass men in survival rates across the lifespan, with a broad gender difference easily noticed when visiting my grandfather’s retirement community. Given that for most problems, most obviously genetic disorders, women come out as “more fit” from a…

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Pre-Maternity Leave Requested!

The upcoming article by Christine Dunkel Schetter outlines a number of difficulties that may negatively impact the infant’s birth weight and duration of the pregnancy. The sources of stressors outlined in the article are broad, including financial stressors, problems in ones romantic relationships, family responsibilities, employment conditions, and pregnancy-related concerns. Both episodic and chronic stressors appear to have such a strong negative impact on the infant’s development and health. This may put parents in a…

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Childhood Sexual Assault: Impacts are broad, but not for all victims?

Psychologists often rely on grouping participants together based on shared characteristics (e.g., are girls better than boy in reading ability). The goal is to broadly understand the relationships between potential causes and effects, and, ideally learn from them. In the first example above, perhaps reading interventions targeting boys may be an effect if the study documents a gender difference in that direction. The problem is that some people may mistake such findings to indicate that…

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