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How Jerome Bruner Transformed Psychological Science

Bruner_Jerome 2013Legendary APS William James Fellow Jerome Bruner passed away at the age of 100 on June 5, 2016. His groundbreaking contributions to cognitive, educational, and perceptual psychology have had transformative effects on the field as a whole, as well as effects on fields such as anthropology, neuroscience, and linguistics. Often considered a founder of the cognitive revolution, many of Bruner’s ideas seem almost intuitive now, but at the time, they challenged the basic principles of scholarship and education. Bruner pushed for teaching children fundamental structure over simple facts and advocated for educating children on any subject material at any stage in development as long as it was taught effectively and with gradually increasing difficulty.

In his seminal research, Bruner established the three modes of knowledge acquisition: enactive or action-based learning, iconic or image-based learning, and symbolic or language-based learning. In contrast…


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How Collectivism Protects Against Contagious Fear

A makeshift checkpoint in Porto Loko, Sierra Leone.

A makeshift checkpoint in Port Loko, Sierra Leone.

An outbreak of Ebola in the Republic of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone that began in 2014 made headlines around the world, as the number of individuals affected continued to climb.

Ebola is a viral disease that can be transmitted to humans through animal and insect bites, but can also be spread from person to person through bodily fluids. The severity of the outbreak in West Africa, combined with the knowledge that the virus could spread through human contact, led many people in parts of the world that were actually at low risk of an outbreak to express xenophobic attitudes.

“The old quote that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’ rang true to us when everything started exploding with Ebola…


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Neuroticism Predicts Anxiety and Depression Disorders

This is a photo of a person with an umbrella in a storm.The personality dimension of neuroticism — characterized by an individual’s tendency to experience negative emotions, especially in response to stress — has been shown to predict several forms of psychopathology, including substance abuse, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. But does it predict one type of disorder more strongly than the others?

To better understand how neuroticism relates to various mental health outcomes, psychological scientist Richard Zinbarg, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, and colleagues recruited 547 teenage participants from ethnically and socioeconomically highly diverse high schools in Chicago and Los Angeles to participate in a longitudinal study.

The students, high school juniors at the time the study began, completed scientifically validated measures of personality. Based on their scores, the researchers categorized the…


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Science Develops New Data- and Materials-Sharing Requirements

This is an illustration of a compass.In June 2015, a committee sponsored by the Center for Open Science developed a set of guidelines offering “a concrete and actionable strategy toward improving research and publishing practices” named the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines. Now, scientific publishers are putting these guidelines into action: The journal Science has announced that it has used these guidelines to revise its standards for articles that it publishes.

The TOP guidelines invite journal editors to consider transparency and openness as they pertain to eight different parts of the research process. After careful consideration of these guidelines, Science now requires that data, program code, and materials must be available to other researchers. These resources must all be cited using persistent identifiers, such as citations or DOIs. Authors are also required to “follow relevant standards…


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It’s About Time

From reminiscing about the past, to scurrying to work to be on time, to planning for retirement, time affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors on a variety of levels. In a cross-cutting theme program, “The Meaning of Time,” at the 2016 APS Annual Convention in Chicago, psychological scientists shared research on the ways humans think about the past, present, and future.

APS Fellow Laura L. Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, presented findings emanating from her socioemotional selectivity theory, which maintains that as time horizons shrink as we age, we become increasingly selective about our social networks and our experiences. We invest our time in emotionally meaningful goals and activities and rewarding relationships.

APS Fellow Daniel L. Schacter of Harvard University drew from his research on memory to discuss episodic simulation, which refers to the development of detailed mental representation of a hypothetical event. Episodic simulation, Schacter…


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