It’s the time of year for Christmas cheer, feeling jolly under the holly, and hearing “ring ding ding a ling doo” from the radio. Psychology, as the study of the human mind and behavior, seems like the perfect discipline to bring to bear on the subject matter of joy, happiness, cheer, celebration, community, family, and the giving of gifts, in its representation in the Spirit of Christmas experienced with family and friends, in the purchase of gifts for others and oneself based in good will, and well-wishing towards everyone. In spite of all this overt positivity, Christmas can be difficult for some people in British Columbia in a couple ways including Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), minor or major depression, or lack of family contact. Even so, most people most of the time have a lovely time and enjoy the holiday spirit, whether “Merry Christmas!” from a religious bent or “Happy Holidays!” from a secular one. A time for British Columbians to bring joy into their lives and the company of loved ones “under the open fire” and with the gifts a comin’. The science of psychology can elucidate the Spirit of Christmas. We are evolved primates, Great African Apes from the Great Rift Valley, which runs from Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley to Mozambique. Our nervous systems, minds, and behavior emerge from our shared evolutionary history including social norms and morays including our need for belonging and gathering as social primates. This means family connection, charity through reciprocal altruism, and in-group (family) celebrations, which translates into everyone’s beloved Christmas spent with loved ones. In the spirit of Christmas joy brought to light by the explanatory power of the science of psychology, Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, to you!
About the Author: Scott Douglas Jacobsen is a student at Athabasca University, researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing.