APS Welcomes New Officers

The conclusion of the 18th Annual APS convention not only represented an achievement in the sharing of psychological science, but it also marked the induction of new APS officers.

Morton Ann Gernsbacher began her term as President for 2006-2007 as Michael S. Gazzaniga becomes the Immediate Past President (replacing Robert Levenson in that post).  John T. Cacioppo serves as President-Elect and Barbara L. Fredrickson and Diane Ruble embark on three-year terms as Members-at-Large of the APS Board. Linda Bartoshuk begins her term as Secretary; she was appointed to that position and replaces Abigail Baird.

Continuing on the Board are Roberta Klatzky, Carnegie Mellon University, Treasurer; Richard Bootzin, University of Arizona; Patricia Devine, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Douglas Medin, Northwestern University; and Elizabeth Phelps, New York University.

President: Morton Ann Gernsbacher

Morton Ann Gernsbacher is the Vilas Research Professor and Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is internationally renowned for her research in psycholinguistics and her Structure Building Framework theory of language development.

She is a recipient of the APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow lifetime achievement award, as well as numerous other awards and honors, including a NIH Research Career Development Award, a Fulbright Research Scholar Award, a James McKeen Cattell Foundation Fellowship, and a Professional Opportunities for Women Award from the National Science Foundation.  She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Gernsbacher has served in several leadership positions in APS prior to her Presidential term, including chair of the Publications Committee and chair of the Program Committee.  “Each of my experiences,” she said, “has impressed upon me how passionately committed APS is to advancing psychological science.”  She also is co-editor of Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

Gernsbacher’s most recent research delves into why autistic children often do not develop language skills. Departing from the traditional paradigm that children with autism simply “do not have language,” Gernsbacher found that their shortcomings in language development may not be due to intellectual limitations or social impairment, but because of motor planning challenges.
“I’ve become very interested in autism, and in particular the cognitive, emotional, and perceptual strengths, rather than deficits, found in autism,” she said, “This is a novel perspective and one that I would like to see flourish.”

According to Gernsbacher, some of APS’s most significant achievements have involved transforming these scientific breakthroughs into positive, tangible changes in our daily lives. “I have the tremendous satisfaction that comes from raising awareness about outstanding research on behavioral and social phenomena, and then hopefully seeing that awareness translate into positive change,” she said.

President-Elect: John Cacioppo

As President-Elect, John Cacioppo also hopes to promote the tenets on which APS was founded. “Psychology is one of the most productive, influential, and rapidly evolving of all scientific disciplines. I feel fortunate because the APS staff and Board have always been forward-looking and proactive.”  He is a past Member of the APS Board and has served on several APS committees, including Publications.  He was the Keynote Speaker at the 2002 APS annual meeting, and he currently serves as an Associate Editor of the APS’ Perspectives in Psychological Science.

At the University of Chicago, Cacioppo is the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor, as well as the Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. He is a Fellow of AAAS and serves on the National Advisory Council on Aging for the National Institute on Aging at NIH.  He has served as President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), the Society for Consumer Research, and the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR).

Cacioppo also is a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Troland Research Award, the SPR’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychophysiology, and SPSP’s Campbell Award for distinguished scientific contributions to personality and social psychology, and the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.

His research “[addresses] fundamental questions about the mind and its dynamic interactions with the biological systems of the brain and body and the social world in which it resides,” he explained.  Currently, his work is looking specifically at how loneliness affects social cognition, emotion, brain and biology, and general health. “The goal is to build on work in the neurosciences, cognitive sciences, and social sciences,” he said, “[and to encompass] studies ranging from social cognition, motivation, and emotion to interpersonal and group processes…to social influences on health and mortality.”

APS not only fosters psychological research, but helps teach and inform both the community and legislators, Cacioppo said. “APS has worked tirelessly to teach policy-makers the difference between clinical impressions and scientific evidence.” In this way, APS is far more than just a psychological association—it is an organization that supports and stands for science.

As a pioneer in merging neuroscience with social psychology, Cacioppo believes that the boundaries of psychological science can expand even further.  He expresses great pride in APS’s success in bringing together different facets of psychological research. “[APS] journals are designed to represent the breadth of psychological science, and their presence has provided centripetal forces that have helped bring the disparate fields of psychological science together to form a coherent and healthy discipline.”

New Members of the Board: Barbara L. Fredrickson, Diane Ruble

Barbara Fredrickson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she is also Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory. A pioneer in research in positive emotion, Fredrickson created the Broadening and Building Model, a key hypothesis as to why positive emotions are part of our human nature, which says that positive emotions promote the formation of new social bonds and ideas while allowing that individual to build physical and intellectual resources.  Both aspects increase the chances of survival.

Fredrickson’s current research examines the ways positive emotions benefit our health and everyday lives.  In her lab, she has found that positive emotions allow individuals to regulate their negative emotions, help override their own-race bias, and facilitate the ability to look at the big picture. “Positive emotions produce success in life as much as they reflect successes in life,” she concluded.

A leader in  research at the interface of social and developmental psychology, Diane Ruble, Professor of Psychology at New York University, joins Fredrickson as a new Member of the Board. Her research seeks to answer the question, “How is social knowledge formed, and how does it affect the social functioning and adaptation of children and adolescents?” Throughout her three-decade long career, she has made great strides exploring developmental aspects of person perception, social comparison, and identity.

Currently, Ruble’s research examines how children categorize themselves and others into social groups.  “At present, my major focus is the development of children’s knowledge about and identification with social categories: gender, ethnicity, [and race].” Her approach emphasizes “self-socialization” processes: the idea that children actively seek information about what gender or ethnicity means and how it applies to them.  Her findings with respect to gender, for example, suggest that soon after children have learned about gender categories they show an increase in sex-typed behavior and gender stereotyping.  Some of these findings appeared in a recent article in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Both Fredrickson and Ruble share a steadfast commitment expressed by Gernsbacher and Cacioppo with regard to advancing all areas of psychological science.  “I look forward to learning more about how to integrate and share the various contributions made by APS scientists,” Fredrickson said.  “We all have a lot to learn from our colleagues working in other areas of the field.”

Secretary: Linda Bartoshuk

APS Secretary Linda Bartoshuk is a Professor of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science in the College of Dentistry and a member of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Florida in Gainsville.

One of the world’s foremost experts on the psychophysiology of taste, her research has identified three levels of tasters: nontasters, medium tasters, and supertasters, who experience significantly heightened taste sensations.  Bartoshuk has also contributed enormously to the development of more accurate methods of assessing genetic variations in taste.

The implications of her basic research findings with regard to genetic differences in taste sensitivity span a variety of applied topics.  “Your taster status not only influences your food choices, but it also affects your health,” Bartoshuk explained. The more sensitive you are to taste, the more oral pain you are likely to feel when in the dentist’s chair; also, the less bitter vegetables you eat, which increases the chances of colon cancer.

Bartoshuk, a former Member of the APS Board of Directors, has served as president of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) and the Eastern Psychological Association. She was elected to membership in Society of Experimental Psychology and The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 1998, she received the AChemS Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Chemical Senses.

Observer Vol.19, No.9 September, 2006

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