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Stay connected to the latest research presented this week by distinguished scientists at the 25th APS Annual Convention. Find daily meeting coverage - from Thursday through Sunday - here and on social media.

Orchestras Without a Conductor

In his keynote address, Michael S. Gazzaniga suggests the brain may work through local gossip rather than central planning.

A composer standing with hands at his side while the orchestra plays a perfect symphony — that's how the brain works.

At least that was the metaphor offered by Gazzaniga of the University of California, Santa Barbara, during the keynote address of the 25th APS Annual Convention. Gazzaniga argued that the brain's specialized modules may converse with one another rather than be guided by some almighty leader.


How to Fix a Fractured Nation

Psychological scientist Diane Halpern of Claremont McKenna College spoke about how to address political polarization in her James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award address at the 25th APS Annual Convention.

Brain Differences Are Not Always Deficits

In her Bring the Family Address, language-processing researcher Morton Ann Gernsbacher explained why it makes more sense to accept disabilities like autism as examples of brain diversity rather than viewing them as defects.

From Molecules to the Mind

In the Presidential Symposium at the 25th APS Annual Convention, four distinguished psychological scientists took attendees on a tour of the psychological and biological mechanisms that contribute to the formation of memories.

Psychology’s Image Problem

Eyewitness testimony, vehicle safety, economics, and aptitude testing are just a few of the domains that have been revolutionized by psychological research — but few lay people even know it.

“I think we take those applications for granted because we know about them, but they’ve often receded into the woodwork because they’re so much a part of everyday life that a lot of people aren’t sufficiently cognizant of them,” said Scott O. Lilienfeld in his APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Address at the 25th APS Annual Convention, held in May in Washington, DC.

Data show that large percentages…

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Brain Development and Neuroplasticity

Recent advances in neuroscience have effectively put an end to the “nature or nurture” debate. Instead, the focus of discussion has switched to mechanisms and brain-based interventions — in what ways are neural circuits changed by experience? When is the brain most receptive to education and learning? And what effects does high versus low socioeconomic status (SES) have on the development of neurocognition?

Perhaps no one is more intrigued or committed to answering these questions than 2013 APS William James Fellow Helen Neville, director of the Brain Development Lab at the University of Oregon. In her Award Address at…

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2013 APS Award Address: Roy F. Baumeister

Roy F. Baumeister is a recipient of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) William James Fellow Award for his lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology.

To explain the extraordinary phenomenon of human selfhood, Baumeister reviews evidence that human groups thrive precisely by differentiating selves. Contrary to recent claims that the self is an illusion or fiction, he concludes that the self is quite real — but only as part of a cultural system.

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2013 APS Award Address: Gerald L. Clore

Emotions provide embodied information about what is good or bad about important psychological situations. They influence judgments and decisions and regulate modes of thought. New research shows that the affect-cognition connection is malleable rather than fixed, as previously assumed, and that the impact of emotion depends on its apparent object.

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2013 APS Award Address: Elaine F. Walker

Research on the origins of serious mental illness has benefited greatly from advances in developmental neuroscience. With these advances, we now have a clearer picture of the complex interplay between environmental factors and brain development. Contemporary research on the origins of serious mental illness has drawn on this knowledge base and yielded important findings about the confluence of factors that give rise to mental disorders. This presentation will describe the major trends in these new findings and their implications for future perspectives on mental health.

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Biological Bases of Social Behavior

Shinobu Kitayama, University of Michigan, has documented signs of cultural differences embedded in the brain.

The outcomes of our social behavior are clear and present just about every minute of every day — in fact, many of us publish them online rather obsessively (thanks, Facebook; thanks, Twitter). But the biological sources guiding these interactions remain hidden from plain view. An interdisciplinary theme program at the 25th APS Annual Convention burrowed into the brain for a look at these underlying social…

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Grit Versus Aptitude: Relative Influence of Effort and Intelligence in Academic Success

In educational research, an age-old question has remained unanswered: Does IQ or hard work matter more in predicting success in school? Intellectual gifts have been studied extensively, but other non-cognitive factors contributing to success have been less carefully examined. One factor is “grit”, defined by Duckworth et al (2007), as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” This research studies the impact of grit, or perseverance for long-term goals and intelligence on middle school students’ GPAs.

We hypothesized that change in grit over a span of two years would be a better predictor of GPA than aptitude (New York State Education…

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Mastering Our Passions

James J. Gross, Stanford University, says studies show that people who suppress their emotions struggle with memory tasks, and also elevate the blood pressure of others around them.

The pursuit of emotion regulation is as timeless as it is universal. It was apparent to whoever wrote the age-old Hindu proverb, “Conquer your passions and you conquer the world.” And it was equally clear to the philosopher Descartes, who once advised, “The principal use of prudence or self-control is that it teaches us to…

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Psychological Scientists Call for Paradigm Shift in Data Practices

Fabricating data to support an a priori hypothesis is the ultimate sin in scientific research. But what about throwing out an “outlier” or two? Or reporting some, but not all, of the measures you tested?

These questionable research practices tend to fly under the radar, but they present a real challenge to the rigor and replicability of science. Scientists discussed these practices and the steps that can be taken to combat them during the “Good Data Practices” symposium at the 25th APS Annual Convention. The symposium was part of the “Building a Better Psychological Science: Good Data Practices and Replicability”…

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Students Chart a Career in Psychological Science

The APS Student Caucus (APSSC) held a host of events designed to get aspiring psychological scientists engaged and connected. It began with the Student Social held at Uptown Tap House in Washington, DC, during which students enjoyed drinks, music, dancing, and an opportunity to mingle with their peers before the start of the 25th APS Annual Convention. Despite the heavy rain, it was a great sensation with a turnout of more than 350 students.

The following morning, APSSC Membership and Volunteers Officer Andrew S. Sage (University of Missouri, Columbia) led a productive meeting with Campus Representatives. In an effort to…

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Multitasking in the Automobile

David L. Strayer has spent more than a decade studying the fundamental factors that impair drivers and lead to automobile accidents. Some distractions — like talking or texting on a smartphone — are already widely recognized as dangerous. But much of Strayer’s work focuses on cognitive distractions that occur even when people keep both hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road.

In June, Strayer made national headlines with a report on cognitive distractions behind the wheel. The report, published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, raises serious questions about speech-recognition technologies designed to facilitate “hands-free”…

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A Legend in the Study of Rumination

Ed Watkins, University of Exeter, United Kingdom, cites Susan Nolen-Hoeksema’s influential theory that rumination perpetuates the symptoms of depression.

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema of Yale University, a pioneer in the field of rumination, died in January at the age of 53 following heart surgery. A half dozen speakers — many of them scientific and academic protégés, and many of them choking up at times — gathered at the 25th APS Annual Convention to remember her life and work. Her husband, Richard, was on hand to receive…

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Paul Meehl: A Legend of Clinical Psychological Science

Scott O. Lilienfeld, Emory University, chaired the symposium cosponsored by APS and the Psychometric Society that honored the life and work of Paul Meehl. He noted that Meehl was considered by his peers to be “the smartest psychologist they ever met.”

When Paul Meehl died 10 years ago, he left behind a rich legacy of scientific thought. He was not…

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Organizational Researchers Honor J. Richard Hackman’s Legacy

J. Richard Hackman’s research identified the conditions and leadership styles that promote effective team performance.

J. Richard Hackman spent nearly a half century exploring the dynamics of teamwork and effective leadership, leaving an indelible mark on the field of organizational psychology. Hackman, a 2013 APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow, passed away in January, and a few of his former students and collaborators gathered at the 25th APS Annual Convention to honor his legacy.

Hackman’s research identified the conditions and leadership styles that foster effective…

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New Frontiers in the Science of Positive Emotions

The distinctions between meaningful and hedonic pleasure is crucial for understanding how positive emotions affect health, says Barbara Fredrickson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The notion that positive emotions play a critical role in our well-being is not new. By studying the evolutionary origins of emotions and emotions’ specific effects on our health, scientists are discovering that positive emotions don’t just make you feel good — they have an impact on our…

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Social Networking in a Graduate Industrial/Organizational Program

While social networks proliferate, insight is lacking about how graduate students, faculty, and administration collaboratively engage such networks. In early 2011, University of Phoenix rolled out what has become the world’s largest, single institution, educational social networking site, PhoenixConnect. The authors examined graduate student, faculty, and administrator contributions and interactions within this university social network.

Participants from the graduate program in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology were given qualitative interviews during bimonthly face-to-face classes to investigate the ways participants from different cohorts used social networking. The results revealed different patterns and frequencies of use by students, faculty, and administrators.

Student participants made…

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Meeting the Mental-Health Needs of Survivors of Large-Scale Trauma

Edna Foa, University of Pennsylvania, recommends modifying PTSD treatments found effective for individuals in major disasters involving large populations.

The world has certainly had a rough couple of years with the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan, and more recently, Hurricane Sandy. Each of these disasters affected the lives of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of individuals. In the wake of such disasters,…

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Beyond the Guild

Mary M. McKay, New York University, discusses her research on Multiple Family Group Therapy, which treats children with conduct issues by addressing overall family dynamics.

Despite the recent national focus on increased access to health care, 55 percent of counties in the United States still have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers. It is clear from such arresting statistics that mental health-care delivery needs radical change. Clinicians and researchers are beginning to think beyond the guild — the…

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NIMH’s New Framework for Classifying and Researching Psychopathology

Bruce Cuthbert of NIMH describes the institute’s new fabric for conceptualizing research on psychopathology.

For years, practitioners and researchers alike have been anticipating the completion of the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-5. Those following the creation and release of this new manual have surely heard the controversy and conflict surrounding the changes and revisions included in this new issue. Among the many criticisms of the manual are arguments that DSM lacks validity because the diagnoses are based on…

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Uncovering Neurodevelopmental Origins of Psychosis and Adolescent Mental Health: A Tribute to Elaine F. Walker

L to R: Vijay Mittal (University of Colorado at Boulder), Elaine F. Walker (Emory University), Michael Green (Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles), and Deborah Walder (Brooklyn College, City University of New York) after a tribute to…

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PSPI Reports: Effective Study Techniques, Power of Misinformation

Elizabeth J. Marsh, Duke University, shares her team’s research showing that some widely used study techniques are ineffective.

While effective learning strategies are integral to improving student outcomes, many students’ favored learning techniques flunk the test. That was the verdict from Elizabeth J. Marsh of Duke University, as she presented her research team’s findings at the fifth annual Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI) Symposium at this year’s Annual Convention. The event was hosted by James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award…

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Undergraduate Education at NSF

While a passion for scientific and technological innovation and the promise of a career with above-average job prospects may lead many undergraduate students to declare a major in a scientific field, fewer than half of them will actually complete their degree in one of these areas, according to a 2012 report by the National Center for Education Statistics.

There are several organizations committed to better understanding and addressing these gaps in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and retention, including the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education manages a host of programs in teaching and…

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Developing a Clinical Decision Support System

A Clinical Decision Support System (CDSS) is an application that analyzes complex patient data to help healthcare providers make better clinical decisions. While these tools have been successfully used to reduce medical errors and improve healthcare efficiency, they have not always been embraced by providers. David Albert of Columbia University describes the development of a CDSS designed to help dentists and dental hygienists provide tobacco cessation counseling in the dental office. In this poster, he shows how the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) was used to explore the different factors that influence the adoption of a new technology, and discusses how…

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Failure to Replicate the Mehta and Zhu (2009) Color Effect

Mehta and Zhu (2009) reported several studies in Science on the effects of the colors red and blue over a series of cognitive tasks. Red was hypothesized to induce a state of avoidance motivation which would cause people to become more vigilant and risk-averse in a task. Blue was hypothesized to induce a state of approach motivation which would cause people to use more innovative or risky strategies. Studies appear in high-impact journals, like Science, often because they report novel or far-reaching effects. Such studies need to be replicated in order to determine whether the finding is reliable.

My lab…

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Do Scare Tactics Work? A Meta-Analytic Test of Fear Appeal Theories

Melanie B. Tannenbaum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presents her research “Do Scare Tactics Work? A Meta-Analytic Test of Fear Appeal Theories,” at the 25th APS Annual Convention in Washington, DC.

Fear appeals evoke a polarizing reaction; proponents are confident in its efficacy, whereas opponents assert that ‘scare tactics’ often backfire. Several recent meta-analyses have found a positive effect of fear on intentions and behavior, particularly in combination with efficacy messages, while others have found null or even negative effects. Yet prior meta-analyses on the topic have been limited in scope, either due to few included papers or a limited…

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Party Like It’s 1988!

Attendees partied like it was 1988 at the 25@25 Celebration and Concert.

Scientists and students rocked to hits from the 80s (and a couple of other decades) as APS celebrated its 25th anniversary at the special 25@25 Celebration and Concert.

The 80s-themed concert, which took place May 25 at the 25th APS Annual Convention in Washington, DC, featured an ensemble of top-notch musicians that included some leading psychological scientists!

The performers…

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Improving Oral Health Behavior and Message Memory

Cameron Brick presents his research on “Improving Oral Health Behavior and Message Memory: Matching Cultural Exposure and Message Frame” at the APS 25th Annual Convention in Washington, DC. Brick received one of the 2013 NIDCR “Building Bridges” APS Convention Travel Awards.

Dental caries, gingivitis, and periodontitis are widespread health problems that increase the risk of tooth loss, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, but many Americans reject preventive behaviors such as brushing and flossing. These studies examine the benefits of congruency between an individual’s motivational orientation and the framing of persuasive health messages. People differ in whether they are motivated…

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Understanding Replication: Confidence Intervals Much Better Than p Values

Geoff Cumming, La Trobe University, Australia, presents his research on “Understanding Replication: Confidence Intervals Much Better Than p Values,” at the 25th APS Annual Convention.

Replication is at the heart of science. A current hot topic across medicine, psychological science, and other disciplines is that a number of widely-accepted published results cannot be replicated.

A major cause of the problem is reliance on null hypothesis significance testing (NHST). The imperative to achieve statistical significance, or getting a p value that is greater than .05, leads researchers to select data, variables, and analysis techniques, until they reach that goal. This results…

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Exploring Stanley Schachter’s Legacy

Lenny R. Vartanian of the University of New South Wales, Jerry M. Suls of the University of Iowa, and Lori Francis of Pennsylvania State University.

 

Psychological scientist Stanley Schachter (1922-1997) is credited with conducting innovative research on eating behavior from the perspective of social psychology. And his externality theory of obesity — which posits that non-physiological external cues has a particularly strong influence on eating in people prone to obesity — continues to shape research…

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How to Fix a Fractured Nation

2013 APS Award Address: Diane F. Halpern from Psych Science on Vimeo.

If you’re a staunch conservative, make friends with an MSNBC fan. If you’re a liberal, watch Sean Hannity once in a while.

These were among several solutions that psychological scientist Diane Halpern of Claremont McKenna College recommends as remedies for the great wall of partisanship that divides the American political system. Halpern spoke about how to fix a broken government May 24 in her James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award address at the 25th APS Annual Convention in Washington,…

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Memelab: Simulation of a Campus Population

Ian D. Miller, University of Toronto, presents his research “Memelab: Simulation of a Campus Population,” at the 25th APS Annual Convention in Washington, DC.

How do you predict when a picture or video is going to become an online viral phenomenon? In this experiment, participants created memes using our online laboratory (“Memelab”) and shared them with friends. Over a 2-month period, our web server counted how many times each picture was viewed by Internet users. On that basis, we determined which pictures were “more viral.” Although it mattered whether the picture was funny and relevant, the creator of the picture…

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Convention Attendees Meet a Legend

Michael Gazzaniga poses for a photo with some of his fans.

 

For some attendees, the highlight of the 25th APS Annual Convention was meeting a legend in person. APS Past President Michael Gazzaniga signed copies of his books and chatted with Convention attendees after his May 23 Keynote Address on “Unity in a Modular World.”

Gazzaniga is known for his innovative work with split-brain patients and his extraordinary discoveries related to the…

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Integrated Data Management Processes Expedite Common Data Management Tasks in Autism Research

Frank Farach from Prometheus Research, LLC presents his poster “Integrated Data Management Processes Expedite Common Data Management Tasks in Autism Research,” at the 25th APS Annual Convention in Washington, DC.

Many researchers engage in disposable data management (DDM) practices: They clean and organize data after a study has been finished, repeating the process for each new analysis. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these DDM approaches are inefficient because they waste money, human resources, and valuable time. In contrast, integrated data management (IDM), is a systematic process for managing data as a reusable resource. We investigated whether our organization’s adoption of IDM…

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Preserving the History of Psychological Science

APS Convention attendees stop by the Center for the History of Psychology exhibit to take a look at Milgram’s famous “shock box.”

Cathy Faye, Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron in Ohio, has a message for psychological scientists who have made significant contributions to the field:

Don’t throw away your notes, correspondence, or lab equipment!

Faye spoke on Friday, May 23, at the 25th APS Annual Convention to educate attendees about the Center’s collection of papers, photographs, recordings, moving…

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Birthday Flash Mob Surprises Convention Attendees

APS Executive Director Alan Kraut shows off his dance moves on the big screen

The 25th APS Annual Convention is off to a lively start — some might even call it a flashy start.

Last night, APS members who had gathered to watch science superstar Michael Gazzaniga’s Keynote Address on “Unity in a Modular World” were surprised when more than 30 of their fellow attendees broke into a choreographed dance while The Beatles’ “Birthday” blared from the loudspeaker.

If you missed the flash mob commemorating…

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The Benefits of Traditional vs. Wikipedia Assignments

Watch Megan John from Concordia College present her poster “The Benefits of Traditional vs. Wikipedia Research Assignments for Introductory Psychology Students” at the APS 25th Annual Convention in Washington DC.

This presentation describes how a Wikipedia assignment was integrated into a psychology course to replace the traditional major paper typically assigned in such courses. Thirty-three students worked on significantly expanding and improving eight different Wikipedia articles over a period of 15 weeks. A 30-item survey was administered at the end of the academic semester in order to capture and quantify students’ perceptions of the experience. The survey yielded both qualitative…

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