Current Directions in Psychological Science Speaker Series


The Current Directions in Psychological Science Speaker Series, presented by Pearson and APS (Association for Psychological Science), provides current, cutting-edge research from respected researchers in the field in an accessible format for students and instructors across the country.
For information on upcoming events, please visit: www.pearsonhighered.com/currentdirections

Health Psychology – The Politics of Health
Social Psychology and Language – How Our Words Reflect Who We Are
Psychology and Law – Using Psychological Science to Reduce Mistaken Identifications in Criminal Cases
Industrial-Organization Psychology (I/O) – Cross-Cultural Issues in Leadership
Eating Disorders – The Intricate Dance of Genes and Environment in Eating Disorders
Behavioral Neuroscience – Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior
Culture and Human Development – How Culture Shapes Human Development From Beginning to End
Scientific Literacy – Integrating Perspectives on Scientific Literacy Into the Psychology Classroom

Health Psychology
The Politics of Health

Politics and health may seem like an unlikely pair. Yet, a brief glance into history shows us that public policies contribute mightily to individual health outcomes. Early examples of this relationship are found in the development of public and private sanitation systems in the Indus Valley region in 2000 BCE, the development of public water systems in ancient Greece and later Rome, and public health studies of the relationship between sewer systems and fevers in England in the mid-1800s. Dr. Ragin’s webinar presentation will take us on a brief journey through the history and research that demonstrates the clear relationship between the two, culminating in an examination of the research on current health policies in the U.S. and abroad that have direct influence on individual health status. This body of work will be explained in the context of the current socio-ecological model of health, which views health outcomes as a dynamic process resulting from the interaction of biology, human behavior, physical and social environments, health systems, and health policy.

Researcher / Speaker:
Deborah Fish Ragin
Master Teacher:
Nancy Simpson

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Social Psychology and Language
How Our Words Reflect Who We Are

Some of the most forgettable words in our vocabulary say the most about who we are.  Function words, including pronouns (I, you, they), articles (a, an, the), prepositions (to, for with), and a handful of other language categories, account for over half of the words we say, hear, or read.  Unlike more content-heavy words such as nouns, adjectives, and regular verbs, function words are difficult to detect and remember.  What makes function words interesting is that they reveal a great deal about the speaker’s thoughts, emotions, and relationships with their listeners as well as the topic itself.  In this talk, Pennebaker explores the secret life of function words and shows how analyzing them can reveal depression, dishonesty, leadership qualities, and whether you are compatible with the person you are currently interested in.

Researcher / Speaker:
James W. Pennebaker
Master Teacher:
Kimberley Duff

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Psychology and Law
Using Psychological Science to Reduce Mistaken Identifications in Criminal Cases

This talk will focus on the problem of mistaken eyewitness identifications of criminal suspects from lineups. The first part will document two lines of evidence showing that eyewitnesses often make mistaken identifications in actual cases. The second part will describe the experimental approach that we have been using in psychology to scientifically study how those mistakes happen and the recommendations for how to reduce the chances of mistaken identification. The final segment will discuss the success of this research in helping the justice system to make changes that improve the reliability of eyewitness identification. Visual materials will be used to augment the presentation.

Researcher / Speaker:
Gary L. Wells
Master Teacher:
Michael Leippe

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Industrial-Organization Psychology (I/O)
Cross-Cultural Issues in Leadership

In this presentation, Dr. Hanges discusses recent work establishing the influence of national culture on the attributes people desire in their leaders. He will discuss social information processing to explain the psychological mechanism by which people are believed to identify others as leaders. Dr. Hanges will go on to discuss the results of a 62 nation study in which the relationship between societal culture and leader attributes are tested. Some universally desirable attributes of leaders will be discussed as well as culturally contingent attributes. Finally, recent work demonstrating that this cross-cultural work is connected to practical issues of concern to organizations will be discussed.

Researcher / Speaker:
Paul J. Hanges
Master Teacher:
Marcus Dickson

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Eating Disorders
The Intricate Dance of Genes and Environment in Eating Disorders

Moving beyond old Nature versus Nurture debates, Dr. Bulik will challenge you to embrace the complex ways that genes and environment interact to influence risk for eating disorders. After decades of misdirected belief that eating disorders were purely sociocultural phenomena, we have made enormous strides in uncovering the genetic underpinnings of these pernicious disorders. Dr. Bulik will provide a listener-friendly distillation of contemporary genetics while acknowledging that biology does not act alone. Culture clearly plays a role, and the critical question is how our biology influences our vulnerability to toxic environmental pressures.  She will review what we know today and where we need to go in order to advance our understanding of the intricate dance of genes and environment in eating disorders.

Researcher / Speaker:
Cynthia M. Bulik
Master Teacher:
Lynne M. Kemen

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Behavioral Neuroscience
Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior

Are there sex differences in human behavior? If so, are these differences the result of our biology or does society create these differences in us? Research from animal models clearly suggests that sex differences in behavior are the result of hormone action on the developing brain. Dr. Wagner will review some of the ways in which hormones alter neural development in rodents and non-human primates to produce sex differences in brain and behavior. In addition, evidence for sex differences in human behavior will be explored. Evidence garnered from “naturally occurring experiments” examining the role of hormones in human brain development will be discussed.

Researcher / Speaker:
Christine K. Wagner
Master Teacher:
Kimberley Duff

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Culture and Human Development
How Culture Shapes Human Development From Beginning to End

Our world is an increasingly global one where we can have contact with people from all over the world through travel, economic connections, and the internet, as well as within our local communities. Consequently, understanding the cultural approach to human development is likely to be useful in all aspects of life, in helping to communicate with and understand the perspectives of others in a diverse, globalized world. Dr. Arnett will talk about the value of the cultural approach to understanding human development from the prenatal period through late adulthood.

Researcher / Speaker:
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
Master Teacher:
Christine Ziegler

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Scientific Literacy
Integrating Perspectives on Scientific Literacy Into the Psychology Classroom

The assessment of scientific literacy typically focuses on the natural and physical sciences. Despite its immediate and everyday relevance to individual and societal issues, psychological science has traditionally been absent from discussion and measurement of scientific literacy. Psychologists are well-placed to take an active role in integrating our discipline within the sciences. Our field has broad and obvious applications to individual and societal concerns. In addition, psychologists are keenly aware of both the strengths and the common traps we fall into in our thinking and reasoning. Even well-educated individuals are prone to cognitive biases, blind appeals to authority, acceptance of often repeated myths (e.g., subliminal messages persuade people to purchase products, opposites attract, and so on), and other lapses in critical thinking. Thus, in addition to having solid, empirical evidence and theory to offer the broader scientific community and public, we know how people, namely our students, think. Thus, the classroom is the perfect place for us to impart scientific thinking skills and a critical awareness of how these skills can go awry. In this talk I will discuss the meaning of the term scientific literacy and elaborate on how (and why) some key areas of psychological science deserve to be a part of the basic scientific knowledge base among the general public.

Researcher / Speaker:
Mark Krause
Master Teacher:
Bethany Fleck

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