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What Influences Our Food Likes and Dislikes?

Evaluative conditioning is defined as a change in liking, which occurs due to an association with a positive or negative stimulus (De Hower et al., 2001).

Simply put, this means that our preferences for brands, products, people and other things can be influenced and even modified by the presence of something we like or dislike strongly.

Evaluative conditioning has also been associated with the development of food likes and dislikes.  Humans develop a dislike for foods that are followed by negative consequences such as nausea, rashes, diarrhea, and breathing problems (Pelchat & Rozin, 1982).  Taste aversions are derived from various situations, such as food poisoning, allergic reactions, over consumption and some medical treatments (Batsell & Brown, 1998). 

Although the majority of developed food aversions are attributed to the taste or flavor of food, a proportion of aversions are related to smell (de Silva & Rachman, 1987). 

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Introducing Faith on the Couch

Our lives do not exist in a vacuum. If they did, I suppose life might be a bit easier.

Instead, we have intricate connections — with our family, friends, and our faith. These are rarely simple connections, but are instead informed and influenced by years of experience, learning, understanding, and interactions.

Nowhere is that connection more complex than our relationship with our faith and beliefs. Whether you were raised in a Catholic household (as I was),...
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15 Ideas for Keeping Romance Alive Year-Round

On Valentines Day most couples make fancy dinner reservations, buy lovey-dovey cards and express their appreciation for each other. But what happens on February 15th? One day a year doesn't make a romantic relationship.

Plus, there are plenty of ways to keep the passion alive all year, which helps to genuinely strengthen your relationship. Below, three experts share their tips for year-round romance.

1. Show your appreciation every day. “From morning until night, couples have the opportunity to offer words of affirmation, appreciation and adoration to one another as well as the chance to offer nonverbal cues as well,” according to psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber, MA. Nonverbal cues are anything from a wink to a kiss to a smile. Every day Sumber asks himself a question that’s valuable for everyone to ponder: What can I do to celebrate my partner today?

2. Surprise your partner. Small surprises also make the everyday special, according to Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and author of Emotional Fitness for Couples. He suggested leaving a love note on the fridge, in the shower or in your partner’s pocket; leaving a loving or sexy voicemail; or sending a card to work. Sumber recommended breakfast in bed, flowers or even a singing telegram at work.

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Best of Our Blogs: February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! Only maybe it's not so happy for you. Maybe the holiday isn't an opportunity for love and celebration, but another reminder of why you're not complete just as you are.

As a teenager, I hated the holiday. As popular girls were gifted with roses, I was often left empty handed. And in doing so, it made me feel un-special, unloved and added to my belief that only a few lucky souls deserved flowers, candy and heartfelt sentiments. And I was not one of them.

The thing is, even if you are in a relationship, all that pressure to give a gift that proves your love can be too much. It's the reason why the malls are always packed the weekend before Valentine's Day. Individuals searching for the perfect gift may be filled with good intentions, but the sad truth is they usually lack deep enough pockets to spoil, treat and exceed the expectations of those who receive them.

In the end, Valentine's Day is like any day. It's entirely what you make of it. If you're going the gift route, make a conscious decision to give and receive without expectation. If you're single, choose to have fun with a friend or do something good for yourself. Don't let a holiday ruin your day. Spend it learning something new by reading our top posts of the week.
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Dancing with Angels: Art from the Darkness and the Light

“’Come to the edge,’ he said. They said: ‘We are afraid.’ ‘Come to the edge,’ he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.” Guillaume Apollinaire

Why is it that when you are exposed to certain kinds of art you sometimes feel despair, depression, etc. while other types connect you with the sublime? I remember very well having attended various art museum shows and then suddenly sensing great despair and hopelessness as I looked at a series produced by a visiting visual artist. Asking others in the room what they sensed, I found it quite intriguing that they felt the same.

Almost all my life I have been involved in some form with the visual and performing arts, either as a student, an admirer, or even marrying a watercolor artist. It is no surprise that my own children have gone on to become forces of their own in the contemporary art world ( being featured in common and trade publications as well as doing shows all over the world. Over the years, being so surrounded by this world, I have developed relationships with visual and performing artists, often serving them as a mentor, coach, or psychotherapist.

In my trek to understand the relationship between emotional states and creative output of the artist, I have seen, what appears to be, a correlation.
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Brain and Behavior

“Hysteria” in LeRoy: A Skeptic’s View

I grew up in Batavia, N.Y., about ten miles down the road from the small town of LeRoy. I had just gone off to Cornell a few months before the big train derailment in December, 1970, that spilled cyanide crystals and about 30,000 gallons of the solvent called tricholoroethene onto the railroad bed.

I never imagined that 40 years later, as a psychiatrist, I’d be reading about this incident in connection with one of the most mysterious mass outbreaks of neurological symptoms in recent memory. And yet, this past January, the environmental-activist-cum-movie-star, Erin Brockovich, began investigating a possible connection between that chemical spill and the bizarre outbreak among a group of LeRoy Junior-Senior High School students.

I truly don’t know what explains the strange constellation of signs and symptoms seen in this group of young people. I’m not sure anybody does. Most of the expert opinion has settled on the description of “mass psychogenic illness.”

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6 Steps For Better Communication About Valentine’s Day

This guest article from YourTango was written by Maryanne Comaroto. 
Rob, 35, from California asks:

Last year my wife flipped out when I bought her lingerie for Valentine's Day. The truth is, I still don't know why. She just got angry and said, "Isn't it obvious?" and that was it. Any advice on what I get her this year that won't set her off (and that we both can enjoy), which is what I thought the point of Valentine's Day was?
Maryanne's answer:

Rob, that's a great question. Some guys might have just blown it off and thought, "Hmmm, maybe this year I'll get her some lingerie in a different color." Sounds like you're guessing that is not the answer, unless you like being told off and sexually frustrated.

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Valentine’s Day: Love and the Lonely Heart

Valentine's Day reminds us to celebrate love.

But no matter how much chocolate we eat, how bright our flowers, how much we say that it’s a silly holiday, or how happy or unhappy we are about the state of our relationships, this love celebration often comes with some serious pangs of loneliness.

While we might fantasize that love is a cure for loneliness, and imagine that someday we’ll stop feeling lonely, or that other people don’t feel lonely, the reality is that love and loneliness go hand in hand; when we open our hearts to feel love, we also open our hearts to feel loneliness.

Loneliness does not mean that we are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with us. Loneliness is not a contagious disease that we can ward off by never being alone or manically pursuing relationships. Loneliness is not a sin. Loneliness does not mean we are ungrateful.

Loneliness is not reserved for single people, depressed people and introverts. Loneliness is a part of every human’s experience, whether we are looking for a partner, married, the life of the party, or a certifiable hermit.

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7 Tips for the Romantically Challenged on Valentine’s Day

When Valentine’s Day rolls around, there’s pressure to buy or do something swanky or extra-special. And for some partners this spells trouble. Whether you’re stumped on what to get your sweetheart or romantically clumsy (or clueless), these tips from two seasoned relationship experts can help!

1. Know how your partner likes to be loved.

Partners have different needs and find different things appealing. For one partner, a bouquet of flowers is a special gift. For another, flowers are meaningless but a book makes their heart skip a beat. (Honey, if you’re reading this, you know I appreciate both!)

This is where your partner’s “love frame” comes in. This term originated from psychologist George Bach, according to Bill Cloke, Ph.D, a psychologist in private practice in Los Angeles for over 20 years and author of Happy Together: Creating A Lifetime of Connection, Commitment, and Intimacy. It simply refers to how you show love to your partner along with how you feel most loved.

“Knowing what your partner likes to receive when they want to feel loved can create a very special feeling because they sense that you know who they really are and love them for it,” Cloke said.

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Best of the Web

What Came First, Religion or Depression?

There’s a cartoon picturing a chicken and an egg in bed together. The chicken is smoking a cigarette with a very satisfied expression on his face, and the egg is restless and disgruntled. The egg finally looks over to the chicken and says, “Well, I guess that answers that question.”

That’s how I think of the relationship between religion and depression: like the chicken and the egg debacle.

I can’t say which came first in my life, because they were both there from the start. And you need only read through a few of the lives of the saints or walk the exhibition aisles at the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit to see that holy people aren’t all that happy much of the time.

How is it that we depressives tend to be more spiritual? Or is it that the more religion you get in your life, the more depressed?

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Diagnosis of a DSM 5 News Cycle

As I was sitting around catching up on some mental health news on Saturday, I inadvertently stumbled upon another manufactured news cycle about the DSM 5. Considering no new significant research findings were released in the past week on the DSM-5 revision efforts, I was a little surprised.

This latest fake news cycle started on Thursday, apparently with the release of a Reuters news story from Kate Kelland. Kelland notes the newest concern comes from "Liverpool University's Institute of Psychology at a briefing in London about widespread concerns over the manual." There's no link to the briefing. And I'm not sure what a "briefing" is -- a press conference? (And since when is a press conference a news item? It's not really equivalent to a new research study, is it?)

Kelland fails to note that Europe and the U.K. don't actually use the DSM to diagnose mental disorders -- it's a U.S. reference manual for mental disorders diagnosis. So while it's nice that some Europeans are expressing concern about this reference text, their concern isn't exactly much relevant. Context is everything, and Reuters failed to provide any useful context in that article.

Sadly, Reuters is a brand name. And once you write an article under that brand name, it cascades down an entire news cycle. Let's follow it for fun!

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