Kay Deaux Is Voted APS President-Elect

Although the race for the White House continues to heat up, APS members have already made their presidential decision for next year. The new APS President-Elect is Kay Deaux, a social psychologist who is a distinguished professor and administrator in the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Deaux will assume the office of President when Sandra Scarr’s presidential term ends on May 26, 1997.

Plucked from the ranks of the APS Board, Deaux has a long history of involvement with APS and has been particularly active as a member of the Coordinating Committee for the Human Capital Initiative (HCI).

APS members also chose two new Board of Directors members: John M. Darley, formerly the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Princeton University, where he is now the Dorman T. Warren Professor of Psychology; and Steven J. Ceci, who is the Helen L. Carr Professor of Psychology at Cornell University. They replace outgoing Board Members Richard A. Weinberg and Elizabeth Capaldi. Sandra Scarr has assumed the presidency of APS, effective July 2, replacing Richard F. Thompson. The new APS Secretary is Milton D. Hakel, chair of the HCI Coordinating Committee and former APS Treasurer. (See the Observer masthead on page 2 of this issue for the full roster of the APS Board.)

As in any good election story, we must report the trends, relevant or not: (1) All three newly elected leaders are from the New York-New Jersey region, and (2) All three support scientific exchange across research boundaries. (The latter is the relevant trend, in case anyone was wondering.)

Research Themes

Deaux’s research interests involve two major themes: gender and social identification. Some of her earlier work focused on stereotypes and evaluators of men and women. Among other things, she has conducted a field study in a steel mill that revealed some ways in which gender stereotypes can bias an evaluation of individual ‘s occupational performance.

The study took place at a time when the mill was deliberately trying to increase the number of women employees and was presented for management’s use to help alter the company’s evaluation processes.

For the past 10 years, Deaux’ s work has focused on categories of social identification, such as gender, ethnicity, occupation, and political affiliation. Still largely in the theoretical stage, her work focuses on the functions those categories serve, why they are important, how a person’s identifications may change, how people categorize one another, when a person finds those categories satisfying, when they do not. Among other issues, Deaux has studied the experiences of

Hispanic students attending ivy league schools, looking at factors affecting their sense of ethnic identity during the first year of college. Seeing that some students develop stronger ethnicity while others seek to minimize their ethnic identification, Deaux studied the different paths and strategies used by students who change that aspect of their social identity, as well ยท as the influence of self-esteem in prompting those changes. Deaux’s research has been supported by many sources, primarily the National Science Foundation, but also the Department of Labor and university programs.

“I very much believe in the mission and agenda of APS,” says Deaux, who has served on the Board of Directors and on the Nominating Committee, which she chaired in 1990. She is particularly enthusiastic about APS’s role in encouraging collaborations between disparate areas of psychology. “APS is an important organization,” says Deaux, “because it recognizes the interplay between various subfields of psychology and various levels of analysis, from the discovery process to the eventual ‘giving away of psychology in the public interest,’ (that is, the application of behavioral research knowledge to policy, teaching, practice, and elsewhere).”

“Both its convention and publications provide a forum where people can learn about other areas,” she continued. “As examples, social and cognitive psychologists or clinical researchers and neuroscientists can see how their work is related, explore the links between them, and expand the knowledge base. APS is unique in the psychology field for providing that forum,”she said.

HCI Success

Deaux also is a member of the Human Capital Initiative Coordinating Committee, which oversees the development of behavioral science research agendas in broad areas of national interest, such as aging, productivity, mental illness, health, violence, and others. In that capacity, according to Deaux, she sees the measurable impact we can have on federal funding for behavioral science research .. “NSF is one of our major success stories,” said Deaux, referring to NSF’s use of the HCI in funding psychology and other behavioral and social science research. “I’m hoping we can be equally effective in other agencies,” she added. “Initiatives we have developed so far have been natural fits for several agencies, and I hope we’ll be able to have additional successes as people in Washington increasingly see the role of behavioral research in furthering knowledge and developing solid policy.

“Psychology has a continuing challenge to make the public aware of what our research is, what it can do, what it can tell us,” says Deaux. There is still much to learn, she says, but “people need to know how far we’ve come, and how much we do know now.”

Intent on Research

Down the road from Deaux is new Board Member John Darley, an eminent social psychologist at Princeton whose eclectic list of research interests includes bystander intervention in emergency situations and psychological strategies for energy conservation.

Currently, Darley is concerned with the ways in which a person with power over interactants is able to shape the “personalities” that those others will assume in tile interaction. To what degree are powerful individuals aware that they have molded the personalities that the less powerful individuals present? Some of the classic findings in social psychology, including correspondence bias and perceiver-induced constraint, suggest that the powerful are not aware of their influence, but other findings suggest that people are quite strategic in their manipulations of others, which suggests a conscious awareness of what they are doing. How does the powerful interactant manage the process that constructs the other, and what traces of awareness of this management remain with the powerful individual?

One of Darley’s major areas of interest is psychology and law, specifically, “whether ordinary people share the moral intuitions of the criminal code,” There often are discrepancies between community sentiment, what people think should be criminalized, and what the law criminalizes, says Darley, who is in the process of sketching out the implications of those discrepancies.

As one example, there is a discrepancy between what people generally think about a defendant’s intent to commit a crime versus the assumptions about intent that are seen in the Model Penal Code currently being adopted in many jurisdictions. According to Darley, “the general thrust of the Model Penal Code is to move away from the views of ordinary people.”

”The Model Penal Code tends to focus on a settled intent to commit a crime,” he explained, “where people key more on the occurrence of the harm. So when I decide to rob a bank, once I form a settled intent, the Model Penal Code says ‘that’s it, you’re guilty. ‘” On the other hand, he continued, “people seem much more willing to let things go farther toward the crime before they decide someone is guilty. They understand someone can form intents and then un-form those intents.”

Darley feels strongly that criminal code drafters need to know about this kind of discrepancy, and that they should either be changing the law or educating people about their rationale.

A Home to All

Darley’s sentiments about APS echo those of Deaux. “We continue to need what APS was founded for,” says Darley. “Explaining psychological science to our various constituencies, including funders. is a very important job. We

can never rest about doing it.” Equally important, be adds, is the need to “communicate about our science to each other” through APS’s publications and convention. “There are fascinating issues at our boundaries,” says Darley. Although he is in social psychology, which is decidedly not driven by technology, he nevertheless sees enormous implications for the field in the “remarkable pace of discoveries in neuroscience, the increasing ability of brain imaging technology to provide us with clues about memory and cognitive processing. ”

At another boundary, psychology has a good deal to say about the degree of trust that exists between individuals, as well as the trust individuals have in their social institutions, and the consequences of that trust for willingness to participate responsibly in social institutions. Establishing reasonable levels of trust in institutions may be critical to the emergence of civil societies in formerly Eastern-bloc countries. It may also be critical to continuing faith in several of our own society’s institutions.

What does he hope to accomplish as a member of the APS Board? APS should “examine the patterns and subspecializations of science in our organization.” says Darley, “to make sure we’re providing a home to all areas. We want to give a strong signal of inclusion and make sure we’re a place where everybody feels comfortable, where our scientific colleagues come to the party.”

East Coast Trifecta

If instead of heading down the New Jersey Turnpike toward Princeton, you go northwest to Ithaca, you’d be in for a long ride, for one thing. But that’s where you’d go to find the other new APS Board Member, Stephen Ceci. Ceci is the Helen L. Carr Professor of Psychology at Cornell University, a lifetime endowed chair that was bestowed upon him in 1991.

Ceci teaches and conducts research in several areas of psychology. Author of approximately 250 articles, chapters, and books, Ceci gained national attention for his 1990 book, On intelligence More or Less: A Bio-ecological Treatise. In the book, which received critical acclaim for its boundary-crossing nature and is now in its second edition, he presented a new theory of intellectual development, synthesizing findings from cognitive, biological, developmental, and mathematical psychology.

Ceci shares with Deaux and Darley the belief that APS continues to serve an important galvanizing role for all of scientific psychology. He believes that we have entered a new era in which the research that is most likely to be funded in the future lies at the intersection of our traditional disciplinary boundaries. “It is becoming increasingly common for funders to issue RFPs and RFAs for problem-oriented research that crosses several boundaries,” he commented. “Psychologists will need to collaborate with neurobiologists, linguists, and sociologists, to name just a few of the fields that are involved in trying to enhance education and learning, for example.”

Further significant advances within the field of psychology will derive, he says, from researchers who cross-fertilize each other’s scholarship and who dig deeper and with broader research tools and approaches to uncover more elegant discoveries and to develop more productive theories. “To do this, we will need to dig with a breadth that ensures that we interface with colleagues in other areas. I cannot imagine solving society’s most pressing problems with only one set of disciplinary bands,” he maintains.

If you do take that trip to Ithaca, you’d better check to see if Ceci will be there. In addition to giving over 150 research talks at psychology departments around the world, he has been a keynote speaker at major psychological and psychiatric organizations in several countries. Ceci also is an expert on memory in children and has written extensively on the scientific aspects of children’s testimony in the courtroom. He has been active in the professional debates over the controversial book The Bell Curve and memories of early abuse.

Terms of Endurance

Ceci and Darley began their three-year terms on the APS Board in June 1996. And, as the eighth president of APS, Deaux will be the third to reign under the revised APS bylaws, which took effect in 1994 and established a three-year period of presidential service on the Board. So, Deaux will serve one year each as President-Elect, President, and then Past-President.

Observer Vol.9, No.5 September, 1996

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