Category Archives: School Psychology

Final Hours to take advantage of our Buy 2, Get 1 Course Free. Don’t Delay!


Autumn, Wood, Fund, Fall Foliage

Add any three courses to your shopping cart and the lowest priced 3rd course will automatically deduct at checkout (courses must be purchased together, one free course per order).

Use coupon PDR 360 to receive an extra 25% off at checkout!

Offer valid on future orders only. Sale ends December 3, 2019.

Use the links to see our range of CE Courses!

School Psychology CE


Speech-Language Pathology CE


Psychology CE


Counseling CE 


Marriage and Family  Therapy CE


Social Work CE


Occupational Therapy CE


Nutrition and Dietetics CE



The Four Steps of Perspective Taking

Cheerful children having a great time together Premium Psd

Course excerpt from High Functioning Autism in Children

Children with high functioning autism (HFA) differ from other children on the spectrum in that they wish to interact with others but lack the know-how. Thus, social skills training is an important component of remediation for children with HFA.

Michelle Garcia Winner (2007) created the “Social Thinking” program. This approach has gained popularity in recent years because it teaches children the “why” of social decision-making, not just rote social skills. This training can help children with the generalization of their social learning skills across various settings. Such interventions aim at teaching children the thought processes that underlie social behaviors so that they can think flexibly and tailor their behavior to a given situation.

Up until now, professionals have generally tried to teach children specific skills, such as greetings or initiating a topic of conversation and then practice with them to improve the development of these skills. This does not account for the fact that we cannot use social skills in the same way under different social situations. For example, “consider a 13-year-old boy who – based on the culture of his age – is actually expected to say “What’s up?” when greeting his peers, say “Hi” when greeting his teacher and then say “Hello” when brought into a formal meeting.” (For more detail, visit the Social Thinking website at )

According to Garcia Winner (2015):

The gap between teaching students behaviorally based, memorized social skills and the need to teach our students how to adapt their social skills based on the expectations of the situation and the people in the situation is the gap between the more tradition social skills teachings and Social Thinking. When teaching Social Thinking we are teaching students to become active social problem solvers who are not focused on memorizing what to do socially but instead are engaged in figuring out what people around them are doing, what they are expecting, what our students are seeking in their interactions with others and all this helps them to figure out how to interact in any given time or place and with different people. (para. 3)

Garcia Winner adds that social thinking is not only employed when we are involved in social interactions, it may be utilized any time we share a common space. For instance, social thinking is engaged when one is at the supermarket and moves their shopping cart out of the way, as a courtesy to a fellow shopper.

Instructing children on social skills involves the conveyance of the presence of other people’s minds, as well as social thoughts. To do this we can employ the four steps of perspective thinking.

The four steps listed and discussed here (adapted from can assist students with recognizing and considering the extent to which they think about other individuals, and adjusting their behaviors to suit, even in the absence of intentional communication. We may engage these four steps to accommodate just about any social interaction:

Step 1: Whenever you share a common space with another individual, both of you generate thoughts in regard to the other. You have thoughts about them, and they have thoughts about you.

Step 2: Initially, individuals will typically consider the intentions and motives of the other. If one person or the other appears suspicious, they will be scrutinized more closely by the other individual.

Step 3: Each individual will likely consider and estimate how the other person is assessing them, whether it be positive, negative, or neutral. Another aspect is that there may be a history between the two individuals, which impacts how these thoughts may be weighed.

Step 4: Steps may then be taken, in the form of behavior modification, to alter or maintain the perception that we wish to project for the other individual, and the other individual is likely reciprocal in this activity.

The four steps described above occur at an intuitive level (below immediate consciousness) within milliseconds. The initial three steps engage social thought, whereas only the last step involves behavior.

When discussing these steps with students, it can be explained that this process is based on the fundamental assumption that all of us innately wish other individuals to have reasonably “good” thoughts about us, even when our interactions are fleeting. Further, this assumption has the opposite concern embedded within it; we do not wish for other individuals to have “strange” or uneasy thoughts about us. It can indeed be a challenge for spectrum students to simply perceive that other individuals likely have thoughts that are different from their own, let alone mentioning that we all partake in having both good and weird thoughts about others. Most students with social learning difficulties rarely, if ever, stop to contemplate that they, too, can entertain strange thoughts about others.

In addition, many students with autism do not understand that social memories play a critical role in our day-to-day interactions. All of us have emotional social memories of individuals that are derived from how they make us think about them over time. People whose actions convey “good” thoughts in the minds of others are much more likely to be considered as “friendly” and have a far better likelihood of making friends than those who generate “weird” thought memories in the minds of others. In teaching social thinking, students should not only be helped to realize they have to be responsible for their own behaviors over time, but also be made aware of the associated social memories that people retain about them. The rationale behind someone calling a friend or co-worker to clarify or apologize for how their actions might have been interpreted is to instill improved social memories about themselves in their brains.

The Four Steps of Perspective Taking are engaged when we share space with others and are a requirement toward the appropriate behavior of student’s in the classroom. An unspoken rule in the classroom setting requires that all students and teachers participate in an awareness of, and mutual social thought about, the others in the class. Also, that each student, and the teacher, is responsible for monitoring and modifying their behaviors accordingly. A student who is not proficient in these four steps is typically considered to have a behavioral issue.

Students with social learning deficits must learn cognitively what many individuals do naturally and intuitively. Therefore, to assist them with grasping perspective-taking, lessons should be actively taught that include these four steps. To ponder this aspect in more depth, try spending a day observing/noting your own social thoughts, and how they impact your actions in the presence of others. Subsequently, one’s own social thinking may serve as a guide for instructing ASD students. For instance, teachers often discover that students with high functioning autism develop quite an interest in their own, and others’ thoughts, once the process is broken down into discrete elements that can be observed, discussed, and related to their own day to day lives.

Follow this link to learn more about teaching children perspective-taking and to learn strategies to ease transitions, prevent meltdowns, and teach organizational skills.

Click here to learn more

CE Credit: 4 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE Counseling CE | Speech-Language Pathology CEUs | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | Nutrition & Dietetics CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

Learning Level: Introductory

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).


Becoming Celebrities: Media Exposure of Mass Shootings

Course excerpt from Counseling Victims of Mass Shootings

Related image

Mass shootings leave many unanswered questions:

  • Why did the shooter do it?
  • What could have provoked him?
  • What can we do to prevent things like this from happening in the future?

Yet in asking these questions, often in a very public way, we are contributing to what may be one of the largest influencing factors of mass shootings.

According to a paper presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention by Jennifer B. Johnston, PhD, and Andrew Joy, BS, of Western New Mexico University, people who commit mass shootings in America tend to share three traits: rampant depression, social isolation, and pathological narcissism. Johnston and Joy issued a powerful message when they stated that what the shooter seeks most is fame, and it is up to the media to deny them that coverage.

After reviewing data amassed by media outlets, the FBI, advocacy organizations, and scholarly articles, Johnston and Joy, defined mass shootings as either attempts to kill multiple people who are not relatives, or attempts resulting in injuries or fatalities in public places. They concluded that the prevalence of these crimes has risen in relation to the amount of mass media coverage of events and the proliferation of social media sites that tend to glorify shooters and downplay victims. Further, the researchers stated that “media contagion” is largely responsible for the increase in these often deadly outbursts (Johnston & Joy, 2016).

“Mass shootings are on the rise and so is media coverage of them. We suggest that the media cry to cling to ‘the public’s right to know’ covers up a greedier agenda to keep eyeballs glued to screens, since they know that frightening homicides are their No. 1 ratings and advertising boosters” (Johnston, 2016).

Johnston and Joy also found that mass shooters share a consistent demographic profile. Most are white, ostensibly heterosexual males, largely between the ages of 20 and 50, who tend to see themselves as ‘victims of injustice,’ and share a belief that they have been cheated out of their rightful dominant place as white, middle-class males. The quest for fame also emerged as a predictable variable, and one that, according to Johnson, skyrocketed since the mid- 1990s in correspondence to the emergence of widespread 24-hour news coverage on cable news programs, and the rise of the internet during the same period. Johnston explains, “Unfortunately, we find that a cross-cutting trait among many profiles of mass shooters is the desire for fame” (Johnston, 2016).

Johnston isn’t the first to note this trend. Media contagion models have previously been proposed by researchers such as Towers et al. (2015), who found the rate of mass shootings has escalated to an average of one every 12.5 days, and one school shooting on average every 31.6 days, compared to a pre-2000 level of about three events per year.

“A possibility is that news of shootings is spread through social media in addition to mass media” (Johnston, 2016).

These trends suggest, and what Johnston and Joy advocate, is a fundamental shift in the way we respond to mass shootings – one that would include much less dramatic media exposure. She explains, “If the mass media and social media enthusiasts make a pact to no longer share, reproduce or re-tweet the names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers, we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in one to two years. Conservatively, if the calculations of contagion modelers are correct, we should see at least a one-third reduction in shootings if the contagion is removed” (Johnston, 2016).

Johnston’s suggestions follow those of the working group of suicidologists, researchers and the media commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control to tackle the problem of celebrity suicides. Finding that suicides widely reported in the media tended to have a contagious nature, the group recommended the media reduce its reporting of them. A clear decline in suicides was found a few years later in 1997 (Johnston, 2016).

Media reporting has an undeniable effect on us and, as Johnson points out, offers a reliable vehicle for mass shooters to satiate their need for fame, significance, and power. A secondary benefit to reducing media coverage of mass shootings is the impact upon the public, the media viewers.

Click Here to Learn More

Counseling Victims of Mass Shootings is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients process, heal, and grow following the trauma of a mass shooting.

Sadly, mass shootings are becoming more widespread and occurring with ever greater frequency, often leaving in their wake thousands of lives forever changed. As victims struggle to make sense of the horror they have witnessed, mental health providers struggle to know how best to help them. The question we all seem to ask is, “Why did this happen?”

This course will begin with a discussion about why clinicians need to know about mass shootings and how this information can help them in their work with clients. We will then look at the etiology of mass shootings, exploring topics such as effects of media exposure, our attitudes and biases regarding mass shooters, and recognizing the signs that we often fail to see.

We will answer the question of whether mental illness drives mass shootings. We will examine common first responses to mass shootings, including shock, disbelief, and moral injury, while also taking a look at the effects of media exposure of the victims of mass shootings.

Then, we will turn our attention to the more prolonged psychological effects of mass shootings, such as a critical questioning and reconsideration of lives, values, beliefs, and priorities, and the search for meaning in the upheaval left in the wake of horrific events. This course will introduce a topic called posttraumatic growth, and explore the ways in which events such as mass shootings, while causing tremendous amounts of psychological distress, can also lead to psychological growth. This discussion will include topics such a dialectical thinking, the shifting of fundamental life perspectives, the opening of new possibilities, and the importance of community. Lastly, we will look at the exercises that you, the clinician, can use in the field or office with clients to promote coping skills in dealing with such horrific events, and to inspire psychological growth, adaptation, and resilience in the wake of trauma.

Course #31-09 | 2018 | 47 pages | 20 posttest questions

CE Credit: 3 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!


Helping Children Find Their Strengths

Course excerpt from Motivating Children to Learn

The primary aim of this course is to illustrate strategies and activities that can help motivate children to learn by removing obstacles that are in their way. A good starting point in this process is to teach them that there are many ways to be “smart.” One way to help children learn and understand their strengths is to understand the concept of multiple intelligences. There are nine different categories of intelligence. These intelligences can assist clinicians, parents, and teachers with identifying the best way for students to learn.

Child Learning

Below is a list of the different intelligence areas and the child’s preferred method of learning.

  • Visual/Spatial: Prefers using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Verbal/Linguistic: Prefers using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Logical/Mathematical: Prefers using logic, reasoning, and systems.
  • Interpersonal: Prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Intrapersonal: Prefers to work alone and use self-study.
  • Aural/Musical/Rhythmic: Prefers using sound and music.
  • Naturalist: Prefers working outdoors with animals and plants.
  • Existential: Prefers dealing with abstract theories.
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic: Prefers using your body, hands, and sense of touch.

Hunt (2015) explains it this way: How does this knowledge help children learn? For example, a student who is a naturalist in Multiple Intelligences might classify insects while working in the plant area. We have them at the level of analyzing and in an area that they feel comfortable in—the plant area. A student in a kindergarten classroom who is mathematical might be comparing five items from the kitchen area. For a middle school or high school linguistic student, we might be writing two paragraphs contrasting poets from the 19th century. For a musical student, we might have them outline a chapter on banking while listening to music. Maybe this would be distracting to some students so you might have students use earbuds, so those who like to listen to music wouldn’t disturb the ones who do not like to listen to music. If you are a visual learner, we might have you show comparisons using a Venn diagram. An interpersonal learner could classify rocks with a partner, while an intrapersonal learner might compare two features from their project individually. An elementary level example for a kinesthetic learner might be to stand at the back counter while separating fruit and vegetable pictures.

A child needs to understand that his or her identity is not defined by their learning disability. In order to do so, children require help to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is even more critical for a child who struggles in school to verbalize and recognize what they are good at. Most children with learning disabilities are told what their deficits are, and what areas they need to work on; however, few are told what their strengths are.

As parents and clinicians, we need to seek and cultivate our children’s innate gifts and strengths. This may require some detective work toward an appreciation of each child not just for what is acceptable and culturally valued in our society, but for their actual abilities. We need to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What does my child/student/client enjoy doing?
  • What comes to him/her naturally?

When people align with their strengths they feel as if they come alive.

Examples of strengths include:

  • Works well/gets along well in groups
  • Is able to organize items and thoughts
  • Shows empathy and sensitivity to others
  • Accepts personal responsibility for actions (good and bad)
  • Participates in discussions at home, school and with friends
  • Uses inflection and expression when speaking
  • Figures out new words by looking at the context or by asking questions
  • Makes connections between reading material and personal experiences
  • Observes and understands patterns in nature and in numbers
  • Thinks logically

Knowing about strengths and weaknesses is helpful to children, but it has to be taken a few steps further in order to be useful to them. How can we help children use their personal strengths to build self-confidence and a positive attitude? Part of this depends on the child’s age. Young children love to tell you about themselves and are open to telling you what they like to learn. In contrast, older children and teens may have a hard time opening up. We need to point out their strengths:

  • “I noticed you love basketball, you seem so comfortable holding and dribbling the ball.”
  • “I noticed that you love to figure out math problems in your head.”

However, according to Anjum et al. (2013), Some children and adolescents, especially those with behavioral concerns may be reluctant to explore or believe their strengths because they have been conditioned to associate negatives about themselves. In such cases, the professional may first work on building the self-efficacy of children and adolescents by using evidence-based strategies such as cognitive-behavioral programs that can help them to believe that they have the ability to change. Once they focus and spend more time on what they are capable off, they will automatically spend less time in thinking about their shortcomings.

To learn more about multiple intelligences, building on children’s strengths and practical techniques to support children in becoming more resilient learners, check out our new online CE course:

Motivating Children to Learn is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides strategies and activities to help children overcome their academic and social challenges. This course describes the various challenges that can sidetrack children in their developmental and educational processes, leaving them with a sense of discouragement and helplessness. Such challenges include learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, behavior disorders, and executive functioning deficits. Left unchecked, these difficulties can cause children to develop the idea that they are not capable of success in school, precipitating a downward spiral of poor self-esteem and – eventually – school failure. The good news is that much better outcomes can result when parents, teachers, and therapists engage children in strategies and activities that help them overcome their discouragement and develop their innate intelligence and strengths, resulting in a growth mindset and a love of learning. Detailed in this course are multiple strategies and techniques that can lead to these positive outcomes. Course #40-44 | 2018 | 77 pages | 25 posttest questions


Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!


Tags: , , , , , ,

The Impact of Suicide

By Laura More, MSW, LCSW

Suicide PreventionThe health and economic consequences of suicide are substantial. Suicide and suicide attempts have far reaching consequences for individuals, families, and communities. In an early study, Crosby and Sacks (2002) estimated that 7% of the U.S. adult population, or 13.2 million adults, knew someone in the prior 12 months who had died by suicide. They also estimated that for each suicide, 425 adults were exposed, or knew about the death. In a more recent study in one state, researchers found that 48% of the population knew at least one person who died by suicide in their lifetime. Research also indicates that the impact of knowing someone who died by suicide and/or having lived experience (by personally having attempted suicide, having had suicidal thoughts, or having been impacted by suicidal loss) is much more extensive than injury and death. People with lived experience may suffer long-term health and mental health consequences ranging from anger, guilt, and physical impairment, depending on the means and severity of the attempt (Stone, Holland, Bartholow, et al., 2017).

The economic toll of suicide on society is immense as well. According to conservative estimates, in 2013, suicide cost $50.8 billion in estimated lifetime medical and work-loss costs alone (Florence, Simon, Haegerich, Luo & Zhou, 2015). Adjusting for potential under-reporting of suicide and drawing upon health expenditures per capita, gross domestic product per capita, and variability among states in per capita health care expenditures and income, another study estimated the total lifetime costs associated with nonfatal injuries and deaths caused by self-directed violence to be approximately $93.5 billion in 2013 (Shepard, Gurewich, Lwin, Reed & Silverman, 2016). The overwhelming burden of these costs were from lost productivity over the life course, with the average cost per suicide being over $1.3 million. The true economic costs are likely higher, as neither study included monetary figures related to other societal costs such as those associated with the pain and suffering of family or other impacts (Stone, Holland, Bartholow, et al., 2017).

Suicide Prevention: Evidence-Based StrategiesSuicide Prevention: Evidence-Based Strategies is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews evidence-based research and offers strategies for screening, assessment, treatment, and prevention of suicide in both adolescents and adults. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2015, 44,193 people killed themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “Suicide is a serious but preventable public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.” People who attempt suicide but do not die face potentially serious injury or disability, depending on the method used in the attempt. Depression and other mental health issues follow the suicide attempt. Family, friends, and coworkers are negatively affected by suicide. Shock, anger, guilt, and depression arise in the wake of this violent event. Even the community as a whole is affected by the loss of a productive member of society, lost wages not spent at local businesses, and medical costs. The CDC estimates that suicides result in over 44 billion dollars in work loss and medical costs. Prevention is key: reducing risk factors and promoting resilience. This course will provide a review of evidence-based studies on this complex subject for psychologists, marriage & family therapists, professional counselors, and social workers. Information from the suicide prevention technical package from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be provided. Included also are strategies for screening and assessment, prevention considerations, methods of treatment, and resources for choosing evidence-based suicide prevention programs. Course #30-97 | 2017 | 60 pages | 20 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more.

About the Author:

Laura More, MSW, LCSW, is a healthcare author and licensed clinical social worker. Laura was one of the founding partners of Care2Learn, a provider of online continuing education courses for the post-acute healthcare industry. She now provides healthcare authoring services. She has authored over 120 online continuing education titles, co-authored evidence-based care assessment area resources and a book, The Licensed Practical Nurse in Long-term Care Field Guide. She is the recipient of the 2010 Education Award from the American College of Health Care Administrators.

CE Information:

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Presidents Day CE Sale at PDResources



Valentine’s and President’s Day Sale at PDResources – Buy Two Courses Get One Free!

If two really are better than one, than a third for free should really knock your socks off this holiday! Now through Monday, enjoy a FREE CE course with the purchase of any two

Powered by elink





Tags: ,

People Buy More Food After the New the New Year – In Spite of Resolutions

From The University of Vermont

People Buy More Food After New Year in Spite of ResolutionsDespite New Year’s resolutions to eat better and lose weight, people buy the greatest amount of food and calories after the holidays, finds a study led by a University of Vermont researcher.

The study, published by PLOS ONE, finds consumer spending on food increases by 15 percent over the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year), with most of the increase attributed to higher levels of junk food.

But shoppers buy the greatest amount of food after New Year – the equivalent of a nine percent increase in calories above holiday levels, says Prof. Lizzy Pope of the University of Vermont, who led the study as a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab.

“People start the New Year with good intentions to eat better,” says Pope, who recently joined UVM’s Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science. “They do pick out more healthy items, but they also keep buying higher levels of less-healthy holiday favorites. So their grocery baskets contain more calories than any other time of year we tracked.”

The findings are surprising given the holidays’ reputation for overeating – and suggest that people need better strategies for shopping under the sway of “res-illusions,” the research team says.

The researchers recommend that consumers use written grocery lists to deter impulsive junk food purchases; substitute as much junk food as possible with fresh produce and nutrient-rich foods, and split grocery baskets visually to ensure nutritious foods represent at least half of your purchases.

Background and methods

The authors of the study, New Year’s Res-Illusions: Food Shopping in the New Year Competes with Healthy Intentions, are Lizzy Pope (University of Vermont), David Just (Cornell University), Brian Wansink (Cornell University), and Drew Hanks (Ohio State University).

“We wanted to see how New Year’s resolutions and the end of the holiday season impact grocery shopping habits – how much food people buy, and how many calories the foods contain,” says co-author David Just, Cornell University.

More than 200 households in New York State were recruited to participate in the seven-month study of grocery store spending behaviors, from July 2010 to March 2011.

To identify shopping patterns, researchers split the data into three periods: July to Thanksgiving represented participants’ baseline spending (how much the average shopper regularly spends per week on groceries), Thanksgiving to New Year’s was considered the holiday season, and New Year’s to March the post-holiday period.

Foods were categorized as healthy or less healthy based on a nutritional rating system used at participating grocery stores.

“Despite New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, people tend to hang on to those unhealthy holiday favorites and keep buying them in the New Year,” says co-author Drew Hanks, The Ohio State University, who worked on the study as a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell.

“Based on these findings,” Hanks adds, “we recommend that instead of just adding healthy foods to your cart, people substitute less healthy foods for fresh produce and other nutrient rich foods. The calories will add up slower and you’ll be more likely to meet your resolutions and shed those unwanted pounds.”


Related Continuing Education Courses:


Tags: ,

%d bloggers like this: