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Stay connected to the latest research presented this week by distinguished scientists at the 26th APS Annual Convention. Find daily meeting coverage - from Thursday through Sunday - here and on social media.

Overcoming ‘Us’ and ‘Them’

In her keynote address at the 2014 APS Annual Convention, APS Past President Mahzarin Banaji spoke about her work on implicit biases and how insights from psychological science can help people overcome their unconscious judgments.

Three Pioneers Go ‘Inside the Psychologist’s Studio’

Three of the world's most celebrated psychological scientists sat down for interviews about their education, their accomplishments, and their legacies.

Extreme Memory

APS Past President Henry Roediger, III, and memory athlete Nelson Dellis provided an inside (and scientific) look at the techniques used by memory athletes and how they can be applied in everyday life.

The Roots of Stress

Esteemed scientists addressed the roots of stress from neurobiological, cognitive, health, and developmental perspectives in the presidential symposium at the 2014 APS Annual Convention.

Using Technology to Scale the Scientific Mountain

S. Alexandra Burt likes to compare science to a hike up a mountain. The physical exercise might be refreshing, and the wind in your face might be invigorating. But the journey as a whole is long and slow and filled with very deliberate steps. The result is that many scientists often restrict their sights to hills or low peaks.

“What technology allows you to do is take that to the next level,” said Burt, an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. “You can really go for Everest-style mountains.”

The metaphor made a fitting introduction to a day-long theme…


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Exploring the Psychological Science of Violence


Violence is one of the most widespread, if oftentimes inexplicable, forms of human behavior. From motive to method to outcome, violence spans all demographic boundaries and is the subject of widespread study by psychological scientists. Four eminent researchers at the 2014 APS Annual Convention examined factors that might shed light on the violence that humans encounter on a daily basis.APS Fellow Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania focused on prenatal circumstances that may influence violent behavior. He cited a Dutch study showing that children whose mothers have poor nutrition during pregnancy are 2.5 times more likely to develop antisocial…


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From Principles of Cognitive Science to MOOCs

For more on MOOCs, see video of this symposium and coverage of the earlier Estes Symposium on MOOCs held at the annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in November 2013.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,” said Ken Olsen in 1977. Olsen founded Digital Equipment Corporation, a major player in the computer industry between the 1960s and 1990s — but even as an expert intimately involved in technology, Olsen couldn’t foresee that in 2014 consumers around the world would want smart machines in their homes and in their pockets, as…


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A Year of Reproducibility Initiatives: The Replication Revolution Forges Ahead

Adhering faithfully to the scientific method is at the very heart of psychological inquiry. It requires scientists to be passionately dispassionate, to be intensely interested in scientific questions but not wedded to the answers. It asks that scientists not personally identify with their past work or theories — even those that bear their names — so that science as a whole can inch ever closer to illuminating elusive truths.

That compliance isn’t so easy. But those who champion the so-called replication revolution in psychological science believe that it is possible — with the right structural reforms and personal incentives.



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What Big Data Means For Psychological Science

Major advances in computing technology, combined with the vast digital networks and the immense popularity of social media platforms, have given rise to unimaginably large troves of information about people. It’s estimated that the amount of digital data in existence today is in the thousands of exabytes — or 10 to the 18th power of bytes.

This era of Big Data has enormous potential to change the way psychological scientists observe human behavior. But just as it creates new opportunities, access to huge chests of information also creates new challenges for research, said Michael N. Jones of Indiana University Bloomington,…


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Changing Neurobiology With Behavior

When people think about the relationship between the brain and human behavior, they generally tend to think in one direction. The brain drives behavior: end of story. However, the relationship is more complex, as conveyed at the “Changing Neurobiology With Behavior” theme program at the 2014 APS Annual Convention. Darlene D. Francis (University of California, Berkeley), R. Alison Adcock (Duke University), Daphne Bavelier (University of Geneva, Switzerland), and Amit Etkin (Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA) discussed their research demonstrating how behavior can influence and change our brain.Francis’s work focuses on the way behavioral experiences influence our stress responses…


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Using Pseudoscience to Shine Light on Good Science

Science is the domain of methodical inquiry, hypothesis testing, and careful theory building — it deals with evidence that is subject to observation, investigation, and replication. Without question, understanding the scientific method is critical to any sort of scientific education.

But if psychology professors really want their students to think like scientists, they have to teach them about decidedly nonscientific ways of thinking, argued Scott O. Lilienfeld in the APS–David Myers Distinguished Lecture on the Science and Craft of Teaching Psychology at the 2014 APS Annual Convention in San Francisco.

To say that Lilienfeld, APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow and…


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Science That Serves the Public

Applying psychological science to promote public cooperation and the responsible use of technology in education were the themes of the Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI) symposium at the 2014 APS Annual Convention.PSPI author Craig Parks of Washington State University reviewed some of the highlights from his recently published report (coauthored with Jeff Joireman of Washington State University and APS Fellow Paul A. M. van Lange of the VU University Amsterdam) titled “Cooperation, Trust, and Antagonism: How Public Goods Are Promoted.” And APS James McKeen Cattell Fellows Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University) and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff (University of Delaware) gave…


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Butler Builds a Culture of Research

Many faculty mentors consider the APS Convention a can’t-miss event for their students — and nowhere is that attitude more apparent than at Butler University, a small private university located in Indianapolis. Butler joined research giant University of Michigan and three California schools in the top five institutions by number of submissions to the 2014 APS Annual Convention. Forty Butler undergraduates and eight faculty members made the trek from Indiana to San Francisco this year. What’s more, Butler was also a top-five submitter in 2012 and 2013. “Over the years, we have developed a tradition that psychology majors will conduct…


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Exploratorium Harnesses the Power of Visitor Participation

Science museums are educational playgrounds, packed with interactive, informative, and engaging exhibits that teach people about science by involving them in it. But the Exploratorium in San Francisco is taking visitor involvement to a whole new level — visitors don’t just learn by doing, they become active participants in real scientific research under way on the museum floor.

This fall, a new set of exhibits based on psychological science will be making its official debut at the Exploratorium, said Hugh McDonald, principal investigator on the project.

McDonald and colleagues from the Exploratorium detailed the project in a symposium presented at…


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Scenes From Convention

Over 4,300 people attended the 2014 APS Convention in San Francisco, May 22–25. Browse these photos to relive the fun to or see what happened at the meeting if you were not able to attend. 




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Days Of Our Lives, One Day At A Time

Anyone who has spent any time around the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous has heard the phrase “stinkin’ thinkin.’” This folksy expression refers to certain attitudes and thought patterns—blaming, self-pity, negativity in general—that threaten the recovering alcoholic’s emotional sobriety and could, if unchecked, lead to relapse.

Not every recovering alcoholic chooses AA, but every recovering alcoholic is at risk of picking up a drink if such destructive thinking goes unchecked. Happily, for those seeking an alternative to 12-step programs, there is a well validated therapeutic approach with the same goals and similar tactics. It’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, and…


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Why We Feel Others’ Pain — Or Don’t

When the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 teenage girls from a schoolhouse last month, the world responded with an outpouring of undiluted emotion—shock, outrage, fear, and most of all deep sympathy for the victims and their families. It was impossible not to feel the suffering of these innocent, helpless girls in the hands of their cruel jihadist captors.

Well, maybe not impossible. Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter showed not a trace of empathy, as she chose instead to poke fun at a Twitter campaign to raise awareness of the victims’ plight. While the world’s heart went out to…


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Remembering the Stanford Prison Experiment

Hundreds of people gathered in the APS Exhibit Hall to meet the scientist responsible for one of the most famous psychology experiments of the 20th century. The line was long, stretching down one side of the huge room and winding around a corner, but APS Fellow Philip G. Zimbardo’s admirers were not deterred.

Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment is famous in the social psychology literature and beyond. By placing college students in a made-up “prison” environment and assigning them to serve as either guards or inmates, Zimbardo found that a power imbalance — even one created as part…


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Reflections on the Failure of Ignorance to Recognize Itself

In his session during the APS–STP Teaching Institute, “Reflections on the Failure of Ignorance to Recognize Itself,” Distinguished Lecturer David Dunning of Cornell University, an APS Fellow, outlined his research into the accuracy — and, more commonly, the errors — of human judgment.

He explained the Dunning–Kruger effect, in which a person who performs poorly in a certain area or task is unable to recognize their own incompetence; as it turns out, the skills that we use to acquire competency are the same ones that are necessary for us to assess our own competency. This leads to a…


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The Anatomy of Everyday Hatred

It’s hard to outdo Medea for raw hatred. Thrown over by her husband Jason for another woman, the mythic sorceress takes revenge by poisoning her rival and, just for good measure, her rival’s father. Then, just to make sure that Jason comprehends the enormity of her wrath, she murders their two sons in cold blood.

Now that’s hate—and probably a lot of other emotions as well, including jealousy and humiliation and anger and disgust. Scientists and poets have long been fascinated by intense, negative emotions such as Medea’s, but surprisingly there is no overarching theory of hatred. Who hates whom,…


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The Buffer Zone: Romance and Insecurity

Let’s call them Linda and Max. They’ve been a committed couple for some years now, but Max brings a lot of emotional baggage to the relationship. Previous girlfriends treated him shabbily, and as a result he’s insecure about Linda, not entirely convinced she loves him. On occasion this persistent fretting makes him act like a . . . well, a jerk.

You know Linda and Max. I know I do—or at least versions of them. Most people would say they’re doomed as a couple, yet they last. Somehow, when Max is threatened, Linda knows to give him the reassurances he…


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