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Spirituality May Help Buffer Some New Mothers Against Postpartum Depression

While the birth of a new baby is usually an exciting time for parents, for half a million American mothers each year, childbirth is followed by the onset of postpartum depression (PPD). Along with potential long-term harm to newborns, PPD makes adjustment to life with a new baby more challenging for mothers, who may experience difficulty at work and in relationships.

This is a photo of a mother holding her infant.Previous research suggests that women who are members of racial minority groups are especially at risk for PPD — psychological scientist Alyssa C. D. Cheadle of UCLA and colleagues were interested in finding out whether religiosity and spirituality might help to mitigate the risk of postpartum depression in African American women.

Cheadle and colleagues hypothesized that spirituality and religiosity, both important in the African American community, would each predict decreases in mothers’…

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Milner Awarded Kavli Prize in Neuroscience

APS William James Fellow Brenda Milner has received the 2014 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience. Milner is a neuropsychologist at McGill University, Canada, known for her work with the patient H.M., who experienced impaired memory after most of his medial temporal lobes were removed to control his severe epilepsy.

After the surgery, it appeared that H.M. was not able to retain newly created memories even though he continued to remember his life prior to the operation. But Milner discovered that, despite his damaged memory, H.M. was able to acquire some new skills. For example, H.M. became proficient in a mirror drawing task that involved drawing a five-pointed star. Most people have trouble with mirror drawing tasks because of the confusing visual cues caused by the mirror; H.M. was able to master the mirror task over three days despite having no memory of earlier practice sessions. Milner’s…

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Three Pioneers Go ‘Inside the Psychologist’s Studio’

At the 2014 APS Annual Convention in San Francisco, three of the world’s most celebrated psychological scientists sat down for interviews about their education, their accomplishments, and their legacies.

It was all part of the “Inside the Psychologist’s Studio” video series, modeled after the popular Inside the Actor’s Studio television program.

This is a photo of Claude Steele being interviewed by Elizabeth Phelps.

Past APS Board Member Claude Steele talks with APS President Elizabeth Phelps.

Past APS Board Member Claude Steele talked about his years of research on stereotype threat — the theory he developed to describe situations in which a person fears their own potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their own social group — and its application to minority students’ academic performance.

In an interview with APS President Elizabeth Phelps, Steele also reminisced…

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Remembering the Stanford Prison Experiment

ZimbardoHundreds of people gathered in the APS Exhibit Hall to meet the scientist responsible for one of the most famous psychology experiments of the 20th century. The line was long, stretching down one side of the huge room and winding around a corner, but APS Fellow Philip G. Zimbardo’s admirers were not deterred.

Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment is famous in the social psychology literature and beyond. By placing college students in a made-up “prison” environment and assigning them to serve as either guards or inmates, Zimbardo found that a power imbalance — even one created as part of a simulation for a university experiment — could lead to extreme abuses among the powerful and depression-like responses among the powerless.

Artifacts from Zimbardo’s famous experiment —…

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Reflections on the Failure of Ignorance to Recognize Itself

In his session during the APS–STP Teaching Institute, “Reflections on the Failure of Ignorance to Recognize Itself,” Distinguished Lecturer David Dunning of Cornell University, an APS Fellow, outlined his research into the accuracy — and, more commonly, the errors — of human judgment.

He explained the Dunning–Kruger effect, in which a person who performs poorly in a certain area or task is unable to recognize their own incompetence; as it turns out, the skills that we use to acquire competency are the same ones that are necessary for us to assess our own competency. This leads to a situation that sounds like an Abbott and Costello routine: Those with a great deal of knowledge about a subject also know how well they…

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