General Questions

/General Questions

Evidence Based Dating Strategies

Dating advice is everywhere, but most of it is based on opinion and folklore (or even creepy pick-up artists). New research from the University of Queensland uncovers the truth about how to attract a date.


When you’re trying to attract the attention of a potential partner you have a choice: make yourself stand out from the crowd, or show how well you fit in with others. Standing out suggests that you’ve got individuality and flair, while fitting in with others shows you’re friendly and agreeable. Both are attractive to potential partners, but which strategy is more successful?


If you asked your grandparents what to do they’d say that women are attracted to men who stand out from the crowd, whereas men are attracted to women who know how to fit in with others.


These ideas might sound old-fashioned, but a study from 2006 showed that when university students were thinking about dating, the female students tended to change their opinions to fit in with others, while men were more likely to change their opinions to stand out from the crowd. But are these strategies effective?


New research from the University of Queensland (co-authored by Dr Richard Wellauer of Benchmark Psychology) shows that men are actually more attracted to women who don’t conform to the group - those who stand out from the crowd.


Dating advice for women


Whether it’s evaluating dating profiles, rating the attractiveness of other people in small group interactions, or thinking about how much they’ve enjoyed recent dating experiences, men consistently reported that women who stood out from the crowd were more attractive, even though most women think that men prefer conformist women.


Dating advice for men


Women also reported that they preferred men who stood out from the crowd, but only up to a point - being too independent can be unattractive. If anything, men who are good at both standing out and fitting in with others are more successful in relationships.


So when you’re updating your online dating profile or going out with a bunch of new people, don’t let other people’s ideas about what’s attractive change how you act. Women don’t need to be afraid of standing out and showing off their individuality. Men don’t need to worry about acting the tough guy. Express your own opinions and flair, but make sure you also show that you’re able to be flexible and go along with the group.


This research is about dating, but it may as well be about job interviews, meeting new friends, or chatting to people while waiting for your morning coffee. We often spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to present ourselves in a way that stands out the least - instead, we should be making sure that we’re not living by other people’s standards. It’s okay to stand out from the crowd and it’s okay to fit in with others, but a mix of both is best of all.

Evidence Based Dating Strategies2022-04-21T11:58:53+10:00

Are you Ok ?

This blog began as a marketing exercise, as part getting to know what resources were available for mental health I began looking at online self help forums through Facebook, message boards and the like.


The breadth and diversity of self help forums for children; giftedness, autism, behavioural disorders, and many more overwhelmed me. These forums are incredibly vibrant, moderated by volunteers, with hundreds of enthusiastic contributors and readers. Most of the forums are virtually absent of any form of trolling, and with a topic as contentious as parenting even the disagreements are rare and mostly managed politely. It really did open my eyes to how effectively social media at its best can be used to support mental health.


Then I turned my attention to adult self help forums, and was stunned by how scarce they are and even the ones that do exist were so much quieter than what I had seen earlier. It was heart breaking to read one forum where a man was posting his increasingly distressed and unhappy thoughts over a series of months and receiving nothing but Internet silence in reply. I can only begin to imagine how this silence must have felt to him in what I can only assume was one of the lowest points of his life.


This got me to thinking about the differences between kids and adults. As a child, ideally there is always someone who has their out for you. Parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings all play a role in making sure both the physical but also emotional needs of the child are looked after. Last week my daughter told my wife that an older girl had accidentally walked in on her at the school toilet and she had felt embarrassed. Now she doesn’t want to go to the school toilets anymore. Our response was immediate. We had a big chat to her about it, gave her some encouragement, talked to her school teacher, and one of the teacher aides agreed to take her to the toilet the next day before lunch to get her used to it again. In a perfect world, all children would have multiple people in their lives who are looking out for them to make sure they are ok.


But as an adult who is there looking after your problems?


“I’ve noticed its been a few weeks since you went to the gym, are you feeling ok ?”

“Every time we have to have a staff meeting you get sick and have to go home, are you ok ?”

“We all used to drink too much when we were teenagers, but you are still doing it, are you ok?”


Today is international suicide prevention day, as well as being Are you Ok day. If you ever felt like you needed permission to ask a friend or a colleague “are you ok?” then today is it.


Mental health professionals help people everyday who haven’t been able to figure things out for themselves. There is an old saying “you cant solve a problem with the same brain that created the it”, sometimes it really is as simple as getting another person’s opinion. When a tooth hurts, no one expects you to drill it yourself, when your throat hurts, no one expects you to decide for yourself whether you need antibiotics or just time and rest, yet when your emotions hurt, or your behaviours hurt, it is like we expect people to figure things out for themselves.


There are a lot of trained professional in medical, psychological, and family practices all around the country. If you ask someone today if they are ok and the answer is no, there is no shortage of places to turn for help.




Are you Ok ?2019-03-26T20:10:34+10:00

4 steps to declutter your life

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how much 'stuff' you've got to deal with in life? Too many bills and bank statements, too many jobs to get done, too many appointments, too many appliances or devices that keep needing to be fixed or replaced every few years, too many clothes (most of which you don't wear)? If you're like most people, you're looking for the quickest way to regain control of your life and find some peace and quiet.


I've begun reading the book 'The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide' by Francine Jay. The book claims that it'll help me get rid of unnecessary stuff and clutter in my life so I'll have more 'space' to function. Francine Jay also believes that having less stuff will make you happier.


The interesting thing is that rather than being a 'how to' manual, this book is more like a philosophical textbook, as the author describes the true costs and value of spending habits and behaviours. In fact, at least a third of the book is devoted to examining beliefs and attitudes about possessions and doesn't offer any any practical advice at all! Here's a sample.


"What if I told you that having less stuff could make you a happier person? It sounds a bit crazy, doesn't it? That's because every day, and everywhere we turn, we receive thousands of messages to the contrary: buy this, and you'll be prettier; own this, and you'll be more successful; acquire this, and your happiness will know no bounds.

Well, we've bought this, that, and the other thing. So we must be in seventh heaven, right? For most of us, the answer is “no”. In fact, quite often, the opposite is true: many of the items, and the empty promises, are slowly sucking the money out of our pockets, the magic out of our relationships, and the joy out of our lives."


So, why would a book about getting rid of your stuff spend so much time talking about attitudes and beliefs rather than just getting to the point and telling me how to get rid of my junk?


This investigation of attitudes is essential for regaining control of your stuff. It's also a central part of psychological therapy, and something that I work through with clients all the time when dealing with a range of different problems, including depression, anxiety, anger, and addiction.


So what attitude is necessary to declutter your life? Most people don't take into account the true cost of acquiring and owning things – the cost of storage and maintenance, the cost on our stress levels (and how that will influence our relationships), and the lost opportunity cost. Instead, we usually only think about how much money something costs and how much happier we think we'll be once we own it.


We also need to appreciate things for what they are. Objects don't change who you are and they won't make you happier – you are you, and things are things. Although on a certain level we know that what we own won't make us any happier, we get tricked in to thinking this way all the time.


It is important to consider the problem of your own consumerism in detail, examining your attitudes from all angles before trying to do anything practical. This will get to the root of the problem, rather that offering superficial advice or tricks to try and fix everything as quickly as possible.


The main aim of 'The Joy of Less' is to help people re-evaluate how they think about possessions, and I think it's a great book that will help you get back in control your stuff. However, the way the author talks about change applies to other things as well and reflects the an important psychological principle that I discuss with clients every day: sustainable change depends on a thorough understanding of the problem before attempting to do something about it.



Here's four steps to help you declutter your life.



  1. What do you gain by doing things the way that you're currently doing them? What are the deeper reasons behind your current behaviour? For example, you may find that you can't bear to throw away that heirloom because you're worried about what your family will say. Or maybe you're often arguing with your partner because you're stressed about other things and haven't developed effective strategies for dealing with stress.
  2. Work out the true cost of not changing. What are the long term costs to your relationships, your stress levels, your health, and your ability to fulfil your purpose in life? Don't just think about the money and time cost.
  3. Be prepared for the pain of change and focus on the goal. Acknowledge that change will be difficult and unpleasant in the short term, but have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and why. This could be as simple as a having a written statement or mantra that you can use to remind you of your goals, such as “I know it'll be hard, but I'm not going to get frustrated by traffic today because it'll just make me feel more angry and my frustration won't fix anything.”
  4. Go small. Big changes usually aren't sustainable and are more difficult to achieve. Start making small changes that will give you a high chance of succeeding. Once you've succeeded with a small goal, you'll feel positive and energized to tackle the next milestone.





"Decluttering is like dieting. We can jump right in, count our possessions like we count calories, and “starve” ourselves to get fast results. All to often, however, we'll end up feeling deprived, go on a binge, and wind up right back where we started. First, we have to change our attitudes and our habits... Instead of being a short-term fix, it'll be a long-term commitment to a new, wonderful way of life."

4 steps to declutter your life2022-04-21T11:53:23+10:00

Overthinking – a few tips on getting out of your head

JulietaClinical Psychologist, Dr Julieta Castellini has seen a lot of clients who overthink their problems. Their stories, along with her own research and study into this problem have allowed her to put together some helpful advice for people who just dont seem to be able to stop worrying.




What is overthinking?


Have you ever had the experience of going to a social event and afterwards thinking and re-thinking what happened? Or perhaps getting caught up in thinking over and over about how decisions you may have made will turn out in the future? These are two classic examples of overthinking.


Overthinking involves narrowing your attention to focus on unpleasant feelings that you might be experiencing, such as sadness, anger or worry. By overthinking, we focus more on exploring possible causes and consequences of these unpleasant feelings, rather than spending time thinking through ways of addressing the problem. As we aren’t really dealing with the problem at hand, overthinking tends to make us feel worse in the long run. If you are overthinking experiences that occurred in the past, we call this rumination, and if the overthinking is about events or situation that may occur in the future, we refer to this as worry.


When should I do something about it?


It’s a normal, human reaction to overthink situations from time to time; however there may be times when overthinking gets out of control. A handy rule is if overthinking is getting in the way of your daily routine (e.g. going to work, parenting your children, engaging with friends), then it is likely to have become a problem.


What can I do?


Overthinking is not like a button that can be pushed on and off, but there are ways to manage it, with a bit of practice. Here are some tips:


Mindfulness: When you find you are getting caught up in overthinking, come back to the present moment and focus on what you can experience in your body. Ask yourself, what can I hear? What can I see? What can I smell? What can I taste? What can I feel with my skin? By focusing on what is happening within our bodies, it can help us to have a break from our worry and rumination and gain perspective on what we were overthinking


Change your environment: Sometimes we get caught in a rut in our overthinking. By having a change of scenery, this helps to get us out of our head. Try going for a walk, opening some windows or putting some music on.


Get active: When you notice yourself getting caught up in overthinking, try to stop and get involved in doing something else. This might be playing with your kids, reading, cooking or enjoying a hobby. When we are doing these kinds of activities, it’s hard to have as much focus on overthinking.


Problem solve: Instead of spending time getting caught up in the whys of how a situation may have come about, try to focus on thinking through your opinions in this situation. What can I do now? It might even be worthwhile to write down a list of the options you have, along with upsides and downsides to each option.


Talk it out: It can be incredibly helpful to talk out our worries with supportive family or friends. This gives us an opportunity to air what we are thinking and gets some perspective from others about it.


If you find that your overthinking is getting in the way of other important things in your life, it may be helpful to talk to your GP about whether it is worthwhile to speak to a psychologist about other ways to manage this.


Overthinking – a few tips on getting out of your head2019-03-26T20:10:34+10:00