The Faces and Minds of Psychological Science
These distinguished researchers are leaders in the exciting field of psychological science. Using the latest methods and technologies, they have made enormous strides in exploring the complexities of human behavior in all of its forms, from the most basic brain research to applications in health, education, business, and social issues.
Psychological science covers the full spectrum of behavior, from the fundamental brain processes involved in how we think, learn, and remember, to the way that people function in groups and organizations, and everything in between. What unites these diverse efforts is a commitment to scientific rigor and to the advancement of the public well-being through science-based understanding of the human condition.
In order to improve our understanding of the human mind it is essential to collect data by measuring brain and behavior. Proper interpretation of such data, however, requires coherent data analysis and the development of formal process models. Eric-Jan Wagenmakers advocates Bayesian analysis tools and instantiates cognitive mechanisms in specific mathematical models. Such models stimulate the development of new theory and allow a more effective interaction between psychology and neuroscience.
In the search for new ways to prevent and treat mental illnesses, scientists are refining their understanding of the interplay between environmental factors and brain development in these disorders. Elaine F. Walker has been instrumental in propelling this area of research forward. In one of her most well-known studies, she retrospectively examined childhood home movies of adult-onset schizophrenia patients and their healthy siblings using quantifiable behavioral observations. This approach was groundbreaking in examining real-time predictions of schizophrenia across the early developmental trajectory. Most recently, Walker and her colleagues have been studying a developmental period called the “prodrome,” or the period of months or years that lead up to the onset of a clinical psychiatric disorder. Their aim is to enhance understanding of the neural mechanisms that trigger psychosis. Walker’s research carries important implications for public health and development of novel preventive interventions.
Watch Walker’s Award Address at the 25th APS Annual Convention.
We make decisions all the time and often in uncertain circumstances. Elke Webers research focuses on how we judge those choices, the decisions we end up making, and individual and cultural differences in risk-taking. Specifically, her research examines behavioral models of decision making and how to measure and model risk-taking behavior. Her work has tied together psychology and economics, by examining risky financial decision making. Additionally, she studies environmental decision making, for example, how people respond to climate change and ways in which policymakers can present programs to the public to make them most effective.
John Weisz uses psychological science to help children and adolescents overcome emotional and behavioral problems—including depression, anxiety, and misconduct. Following his Deployment-Focused Model of intervention development and testing, Weisz uses randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses to identify interventions that will succeed in the community clinic and school settings where young people most often receive mental health care. Through his Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health, Weisz and his team carry out multiple projects with a network of collaborators, including researchers from diverse disciplines, policymakers and government leaders, clinic and school personnel, and the true experts: families who use the mental health care system. Weisz is the recipient of a 25th anniversary APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award for bringing science and practice together to improve youth mental health care. Read more about Weisz’s research here.