Convergence: Connecting Levels of Analysis in Psychological Science
 In the past, our field harbored distinct, and often competing, schools of thought that tackled different problems and produced findings that often appeared to diverge. Today, investigators attack shared problems at complementary levels of analysis and produce results that converge. Studies of people in a social world; mental systems of cognition and emotion; and biological mechanisms of the genome and the nervous system interconnect and yield an integrated psychological science. The APS 23rd Annual Convention displays, and celebrates, these advances in our field.

Presidential Symposium

Diverse Perspectives: Who Owns Science?

Friday, May 25, 2012, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Chicago Ballroom VI & VII

Douglas L. Medin Chair: Douglas L. Medin
Northwestern University

In this symposium, four scholars analyze diversity in science and explore the ways in which the nature of science may depend on who is doing it.

Margaret Beale Spencer

Advancing Grounded Portrayals of Human Development for Diverse Communities: The Advantages of Systems Theory and Mixed-Method Approaches for Challenging Stagnant Science
Margaret Beale Spencer
University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development
A professor of urban education, Spencer studies resiliency, identity, and competence-formation processes for African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and European-American youth. She designed a CNN study to test racial bias in children and was awarded the 2006 Fletcher Fellowship, which recognized work that furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Read the APS Daily Observation on Margaret Beale Spencer.


Helen E. Longino

Science, Diversity, and Objectivity
Helen E. Longino
Stanford University, Department of Philosophy
Scientific inquiry is social; scientific knowledge is a social accomplishment. The philosophical basis for these claims will be presented, followed by a discussion of their implications for understanding the role of values in science and the objectivity of science.

Longino’s teaching and research interests are in philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, social epistemology, and feminist philosophy. She has argued influentially for the significance of values and social interactions in the practices of science. Longino is well known for her books Science as Social Knowledge and The Fate of Knowledge.


Richard A. Shweder

Fundamentalism in Mainstream Psychology Versus Other Big Currents: Cultural Psychology, For Example
Richard A. Shweder
The University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development
The cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz once remarked, "I have never been able to understand why such comments as ‘your conclusions, such as they are, only cover two million people [Bali], or fifteen million [Morocco], or sixty-five million [Java], and only over some years or centuries’ are supposed to be criticism.” This presentation seeks to understand why retorts such as “that’s mere content” or “your findings ‘such as they are’ are geographically limited in scope and are culture-bound” are supposed to be criticism. Examined are contrasting definitions of high seriousness of purpose in two major currents of mainstream psychology, namely cognitive science and cultural psychology.

A professor of human development, Shweder is a cultural anthropologist whose research interests include psychological anthropology and cultural psychology. Over the past 40 years, has conducted research in the Hindu temple town of Bhubaneswar, India. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Socio-Psychological Prize.


Megan Bang

Seeing Relational Epistemologies and Impacts on Cognition: Toward Improving Science Education for Native Youth
Megan Bang
University of Washington, College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology
This talk will focus on our findings about the cognitive consequences of relational epistemologies and the ways in which to build on these epistemologies to enhance science learning for Native American students and teachers. This talk will explore several studies that have repeatedly found cross-cultural differences in attention to relational content and reasoning. Further, we have found relationships between the structure of everyday practices and peoples’ tendency to focus on relational understandings, their narrative structures, and the construal of the relational distance of the natural world within everyday practices. We find correlations between the relational construals of and engagement with the natural world and meanings, orientations, and reasoning. These findings have significant implications for science learning. I will review several that we took in the design and implementation of an experimental learning environment. We find that designing learning environments that engage centrally with relational epistemologies has significant impacts on Native students’ conceptions of, orientations to and engagement with science learning and especially changes Native students’ perceived relevance of and identification with science.

Bang’s work is broadly focused on issues of culture, cognition, and development. More specifically, she focuses on community-based and culturally based science education. Her academic work has explored the kinds and forms of explanations, arguments, and attentional habits Native American children are exposed to and learn in community settings as they relate to school science learning.

Read the APS Daily Observation on Megan Bang.


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