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Memories of Spence

APS Past President Janet Taylor Spence, who died in March 2015 at the age of 91, loved the pursuit of psychological science and inspired all who worked with her. In a special symposium chaired by another APS Past President, Kay Deaux, and APS Fellow Lucia Albino Gilbert, scientists shared their perspectives on Spence’s wide-ranging contributions to psychological science.

Spence’s contributions to the field, first in the area of anxiety and later in the realm of gender, have been far-reaching. Her research on anxiety included the development of the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, a method for relating dispositional levels of anxiety to performance. In the 1970s, she became interested in gender-related research, a topic that would continue to engage her long past her retirement from the University of Texas in 1997. In a highly productive collaboration with the late Robert Helmreich, Spence developed several measures for gender-related characteristics and…


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Breaking Free From Bad Behaviors

Many people try their best to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Others strive to be good environmental stewards, cutting down their usage of electricity and water. And still others intend to treat everyone fairly, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

But those efforts require a level of self-control that can easily be drained. Old habits die hard.

In a cross-cutting theme program sponsored by the NIH Common Fund Science of Behavior Change and titled “Breaking Free — Intersecting Perspectives on the Science of Behavior Change” at the 2016 APS Annual Convention in Chicago, psychological scientists shared cutting-edge research on halting and reversing destructive behavior.

APS Fellow Russell A. Poldrack of Stanford University strayed from the focus on self-control to discuss his research on the use of automatic mechanisms to change behavior. Poldrack asserts that habits we learn early on (including bad ones) are not overwritten when we break them,…


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Deploying Technology to Revolutionize Science

The technology revolution is raising new questions for both the science and the applications of psychology. Can mental health care be delivered remotely over the Internet? Can we use neuroimaging technology to adaptively control our own brain activity? How can technology be used to study people in settings far more natural than a lab?

In a cross-cutting theme program, “Advancing Psychological Science Through Technology,” at the 2016 APS Annual Convention in Chicago, leading researchers opened a window into the future role of technology in psychological science.

Psychological and computer scientist Rainer Goebel, who directs the Maastricht Brain Imaging Center at Maastricht University, the Netherlands, talked about the use of ultra-high magnetic field scanners as a way to link cognitive phenomena such as perception, attention, working memory, imagery, and awareness to cortical layers in the brain.

Noting the scientific potential of online panels and communities, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, Tara…


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Bower Reflects on Integrating Two Theoretical Frameworks

As a Yale university graduate student back in the mid 1950s, APS Past President and William James Fellow Gordon H. Bower was being indoctrinated into the then-dominant learning theory of Clark Hull, who sought to explain learning and motivation by scientific laws of behavior.

But he became a devotee of William K. Estes’s statistical theory of learning after meeting him at a 1957 workshop.

At the APS-Psychonomic Society W. K. & K. W. Estes Lecture at the 2016 APS Convention in Chicago, Bower delivered a 60-year retrospective on his attempts to integrate or translate Hull’s theory into Estes’s statistical framework. He also talked about his many years of collaboration with Estes, who passed away in 2011.

“Not only was he a superbly creative scientist, he had an enormous impact on our field,” Bower said. “I feel lucky to have known him so well for so many years.”

Today, Bower is…


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Workshop Shows How to Make Open Science an Everyday Practice

Courtney Soderberg and Brian Nosek discuss the importance of open-science practices.How can we carry out research that is credible and useful in solving social problems? What are the interventions, tools, and techniques that will improve the daily practice of psychological science? These are the questions that motivate researcher Brian Nosek, Courtney Soderberg, and the rest of the team at the Center for Open Science (COS) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In their workshop at the 2016 APS Annual Convention in Chicago, Nosek (Executive Director of COS and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia) and Soderberg (statistical consultant at COS) highlighted the practical strategies and tools that scientists can use to conduct research in a way that fosters openness, integrity, and…


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