Observations

Facing the Way We Elect Our Leaders

Apparently CNN, the Gallup Poll, and the New York Times are working way too hard during election season. A study published by Princeton University researchers in the June 10 issue of Science shows that a photograph is more than enough for voters to pick the most competent candidate during election time.

Participants were shown black-and-white headshots of two candidates in 95 Senate races. Races involving high-profile candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Richard Gephardt were excluded from the study, as was any data where the participant recognized either candidate.

Participants were asked to choose which political candidate seemed more competent, based solely on the candidates’ photos, and accurately predicted 71.6 percent of US Senate races in 2000, 2002, and 2004.

The findings suggest that fast, unreflective decisions can contribute to voting choices, which are widely assumed to be based primarily on rational and deliberate considerations, researchers said.

“The findings are striking — I didn’t believe them at first,” said Alexander Todorov, assistant professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University. “I think that a lot of inferences that we make about other people are fairly automatic and can even occur outside of conscious awareness. The catch is that these inferences can influence important deliberate decisions.”

Crystal Hall, a graduate student in psychology at Princeton University and co-author of the study said, “In the real world, people are certainly motivated to make choices based on many factors other than facial appearance. Our study simply suggests that, perhaps, our first impressions influence people more than they believe.”

Researchers also asked participants to make judgments based on the photos on a variety of other traits including honesty, attractiveness, charisma, trustworthiness and likeability. The study found that only their judgments on competence accurately predicted the outcome of the elections.

“In some related work, we found that when asked about traits that are important to people in politicians, they claim that competence is more important over traits such as honesty,” said Hall. “We believe that this gives some insight onto why people may be, deliberately or not, choosing politicians that look more competent.”

The Short Report — PS Adds New Format

Since its debut 16 years ago, Psychological Science has reshaped the vision for a scientific journal. Its concise articles and reports (all 5,000 words or less) made the journal widely-read and well-cited and helped build bridges among psychology’s ever-growing web of subdisciplines, giving scientists, researchers, educators, and clinicians a convenient look at current, exciting scientific research and methods within and beyond their specialty areas.

Now, the journal will again break new ground, with the addition of a new manuscript format — very short research reports of wide interest, or the Short Report. These empirical reports of 1,000 words or less have no abstract and only one figure or table, and are intended to be timely, concise articles similar to “Brief Communication” pieces in Science and Nature. As with commentaries and letters, Short Reports will receive expedited attention and advance quickly in the publication queue, possibly appearing several months faster than Research Reports would. And as with the other articles published, they should interest readers across a wide variety of subdisciplines.

“The need for Short Reports has grown out of the inventiveness of authors and their ability to package an interesting experiment within a very short space,” said James Cutting, editor of Psychological Science.

The first Short Report will be “How Backward Masking Becomes Attentional Blink: Perception of Successive In-stream Targets” by Talis Bachman and Karita Hommuk. A second will appear in the November issue; “See the Ball, Hit the Ball: Apparent Ball Size Is Correlated With Batting Average,” by Jessica Witt and Dennis Proffitt.

Other types of articles published in Psychological Science include General Articles (5,000 words or less), Research Articles (4,000 words or less), Research Reports (2,500 words or less), Commentaries (1,000 words or less) and Letters (500 words or less).

(Word counts include text, endnotes, and acknowledgments, but not abstracts or references which have their own limits.)

In addition to Psychological Science, the American Psychological Society publishes three other journals: Current Directions in Psychological Science, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, and, beginning in 2006, the new Perspectives on Psychological Science.

More information about APS journals is available at www.psychologicalscience.org/journals.

SIOP’s Beloved Director Lee Hakel Retires

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology recently bid a fond farewell to Lee Hakel as she retired after serving 10 years as SIOP director. She had been involved with I/O Psychology for more than 20 years, first as the managing editor of Personnel Psychology before taking a seat on the SIOP executive committee.

“I am so grateful to the SIOP members for giving me the opportunity to work for them,” said Hakel.

At the SIOP 20th annual conference in April, it was announced that the organization had renamed a scholarship the “Lee Hakel Graduate Scholarship Award” and the doctoral consortium the “Lee Hakel Doctoral Consortium” in honor of Hakel’s remarkable service and stewardship. Also, in 2002, Hakel received the first Gold Medal Award from SIOP, given every three years to honor noteworthy and long-lasting contributions to the organization.

In an online tribute, members of SIOP shared their memories of working with Hakel and the impact she had on the organization. Below are just a few of these remarks.

“Lee is quite simply one of the most dedicated individuals to SIOP that I have ever known or worked with,” said Mike Coovert, APS Charter Member and former editor of The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist.

A past president of SIOP and APS Fellow and Charter Member, Mike Campion, said that the organization is “one of the best run professional associations due largely to Lee’s efforts and leadership.”

Paul Thayer, an APS Fellow and Charter Member, said, “Lee is incredible! She remembers everything, knows everything, and cares about everything. She will help, keep you out of trouble, and point you in the right direction.”

Hakel said it would be impossible to select just one event as the highlight of her time at SIOP, but that weekly staff meetings were especially memorable because of their team approach to advancing the goals of the organization.

“Perhaps the best memories were of Monday morning staff meetings when we would brainstorm problems, set goals, and support each other in our work,” said Hakel. “Those meetings were where we became a team, and it was very good to be a part of that team.”

The dedication Hakel has is not limited to her work with SIOP, however; a list of volunteer organizations for which she has been an active leader would be longer than many people’s full resumes. Her home community of Bowling Green, OH, benefits greatly from Hakel’s service on the board of Planned Parenthood of Northwest Ohio and president of the Foundation for Family Health, Inc.

During her retirement, she plans on continuing to serve on several of these committees, as well as taking a much-deserved break to spend time with her husband Milt and their children, and seven grandchildren.

“Perhaps the best part of retirement is just the freedom of doing things on your own schedule.”

Succeeding Hakel is Dave Nershi, who most recently served as the executive vice president of the National Exchange Club based in Toledo, OH. Nershi has 24 years of experience in management, communications, and marketing on local and national levels. Nershi said he is “looking forward to working with and providing support to the members, the committees and SIOP’s leaders.”

“Lee has been a valued colleague and friend since the beginning of APS, and we will miss her very much,” said APS Executive Director Alan Kraut.

Please join us in wishing Lee Hakel all the best on the occasion of her retirement.

Observer Vol.18, No.9 September, 2005

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