What Is Disenfranchised Grief?

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

It’s clichéd but true that everyone grieves in different ways. Grief is almost always seen as a private matter that elicits widespread sympathy. But, people also grieve for losses that society is not always expecting or allowing. This is known as disenfranchised grief, as defined by the APA Dictionary of Psychology:


disenfranchised grief: grief that society (or some element of it) limits, does not expect, or may not allow a person to express. Examples include the grief of parents for stillborn babies, of teachers for the death of students, and of nurses for the death of patients. People who have lost an animal companion are often expected to keep their sorrow to themselves. Disenfranchised grief may isolate the bereaved individual from others and thus impede recovery. Also called hidden grief.

You can read more about disenfranchised grief in Dr. Kenneth J. Doka’s chapter of Handbook of Bereavement Research and Practice: Advances in Theory and Intervention titled “Disenfranchised Grief in Historical and Cultural Perspective” and in Coping With Infertility, Miscarriage, and Neonatal Loss: Finding Perspective and Creating Meaning, by Amy Wenzel.


VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2015). APA dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

What Is the Seat of Mind?

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Is your mind inside your skull? When you’re thinking, do you “feel” or “hear” the thoughts inside your head? These questions may seem to have obvious answers, but the seat of mind, as defined by the APA Dictionary of Psychology, has been, and still is, a matter of debate:

girl-thinking-1200seat of mind: the proposed place or organ in the body that serves as the physical location of the mind (or, in cartesian dualism, the location in the body where mind and body interact; see conarium). In current thinking, the brain is the seat of the mind; historically, other organs have been proposed, such as the heart. Some theories suggest that the mind (or the spirit) is diffused throughout the body.

In fact, in their new book, Transcendent Mind: Rethinking the Science of Consciousness, Drs. Imants Barušs and Julia Mossbridge argue that consciousness may not be from one’s brain.

What do you think? Or, perhaps I should ask, where do you think you think?


Barušs, I., & Mossbridge, J. (2016). Transcendent mind: Rethinking the science of consciousness. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2015). APA dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

What Is Wednesday: Rewards or Bribes?

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

As any parent knows, the distinction between a reward and a bribe is both critical and hard to define. I may know it when I hear it, but if I hear myself offer a bribe, it’s already too late!

Rewards for KidsSound familiar? Rewards for Kids!, a multi-award-winning book by psychologist and child-development expert Virginia Shiller can help. Dr. Shiller’s book includes “how-to” instructions and 21 sample reward plans for parents. These address problems like bedtime procrastination, sleep disturbances, difficulties maintaining a schedule (e.g., to be ready for school on time), procrastination or avoidance of chores and homework, “establishing hassle-free hygiene,” and more. See more about the reward plans and charts in the table of contents.

So, what’s the distinction between a reward and a bribe? Timing, according to Dr. Shiller: She recommends rewarding 1–2-year-olds for good behavior immediately (or as soon as possible). Luckily, “smiles, clapping, cheers, and wacky antics are all it takes to thrill a toddler” (Shiller, n.d., para. 5). For kids 3 and older, rather than offering them a treat to get them to stop what they’re doing (a bribe), she says “offer rewards for good behavior before your child has a chance to misbehave” (Shiller, n.d., para. 11).


Shiller, V. (n.d.). The right way to bribe your child. Retrieved from http://www.parenting.com/article/the-right-way-to-bribe-your-child

Shiller, V. M. (2003). Rewards for kids! Ready-to-use charts & activities for positive parenting. http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4441005.aspx

What Are Maximizers and Satisficers?

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Grocery-Shopping-30How do you shop? Are you a coupon shopper? Do you spend time online in advance comparing prices and features? Do you read as many online reviews as possible? Or, is your shopping more casual?

Dr. Barry Schwartz, who more recently wrote a chapter for APA Books about choice, freedom, and autonomy, coined the terms maximizer and satisficer in 2002 (according to the APA Dictionary of Psychology):

Maximizer: a type of consumer who wishes to make the very best decision. For example, a maximizer on a shopping trip in a grocery store is likely to carefully examine every single cereal before buying one. Generally, maximizers are considered more susceptible than the converse satisficers to all forms of regret leading to buyer’s remorse.

Satisficer: a type of consumer who is happy with a good-enough choice. For example, a satisficer on a shopping trip in a grocery store is likely to buy the first box of reasonably priced cereal he or she sees.

Which one are you? Does it depend on what you’re buying? Do you have too many choices?


VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2015). APA dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

What Is Lexical Uncertainty?

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

“The usefulness of language derives in no small measure from the fact that it permits reference to a nonlinguistic world—to objects and events, to properties and relations, to all of the distinct phenomena of which perception informs us” (Lockhead & Pomerantz, 1991).

Psychology is a diverse, interdisciplinary field of research with a unique and rich vocabulary. In 2007, APA Books published the APA Dictionary of Psychology to help practitioners, researchers, students, and the public understand this science. (This dictionary, now in its second edition, includes almost 26,000 carefully vetted terms.)

The launch of the APA Books Blog provides a new opportunity to discuss and disseminate the lexicon of psychology, and thus we launch a regular feature—What Is… Wednesdays! Here, we will define and explore psychological terms, occasionally noting APA Books that interested readers may want to consult.


So, what of lexical uncertainty? The APA Dictionary of Psychology offers two descriptions: (a) “In logic, the type of uncertainty that arises from inherent imprecision of human language, and in particular from the attempt to describe and evaluate real-world situations using imprecise and often subjective linguistic categories” and (b) “in psycholinguistics, any uncertainty about the meaning of particular words experienced by or observable in language users.”

For more about lexical uncertainty, On the Consequences of Meaning Selection: Perspectives on Resolving Lexical Ambiguity is a great place to begin. The research in this book sheds light on how we decipher and comprehend ambiguous words.


Gorfein, D. S. (Ed.). (2002). On the consequences of meaning selection: Perspectives on resolving lexical ambiguity. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318997.aspx

Lockhead, G. L., & Pomerantz, J. R. (1991). The perception of structure. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318101.aspx>

VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2007). APA dictionary of psychology. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4311007.aspx

The first two titles above are available through the PsycBOOKS database. (Students: Note that your library may provide you free access. Check your library’s resources and consult your librarian if you need help!)