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Are Impulsivity Problems Memory Problems?

Everyone seems to know at least one person who could be described as impulsive. That person whose brain — and mouth — seem to go a mile a minute, who does things without thinking them through, and who often gives up when they feel the going gets tough. Impulsivity has been associated with a host of problems including diminished cognitive abilities, vigilance, and executive functioning. No study, however, has examined the relationship between impulsivity and prospective memory.

Prospective memory refers to a person’s ability to create plans for the future and then remember to execute them at the appropriate time. Remembering to take medication at a specific time, to meet…


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When Trauma Isn’t Traumatic

Longitudinal data collected from university students suggest that exposure to an acute trauma may be linked with an improvement in symptoms of anxiety or depression for some individuals. The research, led by Anthony Mancini of Pace University and co-authors Heather Littleton of East Carolina University and Amie E. Grills of Boston University, investigated human resilience in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting that occurred in 2007.

The shooting left 33 people dead (including the shooter) and 25 others injured, making it the most deadly civilian shooting in U.S. history. The event was undoubtedly tragic, affecting the lives of VA Tech students, staff, and their family and friends in profound ways.

This is a photo of a plant growing out of a tree stump.But Mancini and colleagues hypothesized that the shooting may have had a surprising effect for some individuals.…


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DARPA Seeks Information on Experimental Falsifiability

This is an illustration of different types of graphs.Psychological scientists have called for an increased focus on replication to strengthen the reproducibility of scientific research. Now, other groups are beginning to follow suit: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), best known for developing emerging technologies for the military, has taken an interest in evaluating research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

This month, DARPA put out a request for information (RFI) seeking tools and approaches for disconfirming models, theories, and hypotheses. The information request targets three areas related to this goal: (1) predictive modeling and hypothesis generation, (2) innovative experimental methods, and (3) analysis and interpretation.

“These capabilities should seek to overcome some of the challenges of replication, reproducibility, and generalizability,” the RFI instructs.

Some areas of interest in the RFI are particularly relevant to…


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Mischel, Other Golden Goose Awardees, to Be Honored in DC

The fourth annual Golden Goose Awards ceremony will be held Sept. 17 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., with APS Past President Walter Mischel and two other psychological scientists among the 2015 honorees.

The final group of awardees was announced today. Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical population biologist, and Christopher Small, a geophysicist, are being honored for their groundbreaking work on “hysopgraphic demography” – the study of how human populations are distributed by altitude and how that exposes them to varied geophysical and biological hazards. Neurophysiologists David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel are also receiving the award this year for their pioneering work on neuroplasticity.

In June, Mischel, a William James Fellow, along with his colleagues, APS Fellow Yuichi Shoda (University of Washington) and Philip Peake (Smith College), were the first group to be selected for the 2015 Golden Goose Awards in recognition of their extensive contributions to…


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Report Demonstrates Need for Improved Reproducibility in Psychological Science

This is an illustration of a magnifying glass.Over the last several years, psychological scientists have become especially concerned about the reproducibility of studies in the field. Do peer-reviewed publications hold up under scientific scrutiny? Or are some papers that get published just lucky flukes?

Until recently, researchers have relied only on intuition to estimate reproducibility. A new report published in Science, however, attempts to provide the first empirical estimate of the reproducibility of psychological science. According to this report, less than half of the psychology studies from a sample of 100 replicated.

The report, coordinated by APS Fellow Brian Nosek (University of Virginia) and the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, VA, involved recruiting over 270 researchers who attempted to reproduce 100 findings published in psychology journals in 2008.

Just because a study was not replicated does not…


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