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Hebl Wins Top Teaching Award

APS Board Member Michelle “Mikki” Hebl of Rice University is the winner of this year’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The “Cherry Award” honors the finest university teachers in the English-speaking world.PAFF_020416_HeblCherryAward_newsfeature

As the 2016 Cherry Award recipient, Hebl will receive a $250,000 award and an additional $25,000 for the psychology department at Rice University. This is the largest single monetary award for university teaching excellence in the United States.

Hebl’s research focuses on the subtle but serious issues related to diversity and discrimination, particularly in the workplace. Historically, discrimination was far more explicit; for example, signs saying “no Irish need apply” or “Whites only.” Contemporary antidiscrimination laws, however, have rendered these forms of overt discrimination far less common.

Hebl’s research suggests that the strident discrimination of the past hasn’t simply disappeared: While explicit forms of discrimination have become rarer,…


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Replication Effort Finds No Evidence That Grammatical Aspect Affects Perceived Intent

A multi-lab replication project found no evidence that the verb form used to describe a crime influences the way people judge criminal intent, in contrast to previously published findings. The Registered Replication Report (RRR), published in the January 2016 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, synthesizes the results from 12 independent replication attempts.

In 2011, William Hart and Dolores Albarracín published a striking study in Psychological Science examining how the verb aspect in which a passage is written affects how that passage is interpreted. In one of their experiments, subjects read a passage describing the shooting of one man by another man after a gambling disagreement. One version of the passage was written in a form called the imperfective aspect (Westmoreland was firing gun shots), and the other passage was written in the perfective aspect (Westmoreland fired gun shots).



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What the Rise of Large Datasets Means for Psycholinguistics

The ability to crowdsource data from large groups and the rise of Big Data have helped advance many different areas of psychological research. The field of psycholinguistics — the study of the psychology behind the acquisition, use, production, and comprehension of language — is one of those areas. Such is the importance of Big Data to the field that it was the subject of a special issue, edited by Emmanuel Keuleers (Ghent University, Belgium) and APS Fellow David A. Balota (Washington University in St. Louis, USA) and published in a 2015 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Words are often the main focus of linguistic studies, and variables unique to each word — such as length, pronunciation, frequency, concreteness, and valence — influence how people process and respond to each word. Large datasets that examine these factors allow psychological scientists…


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Fuzzy Thinking Gives Adolescents a Clearer View of Risk

Although many people make risky decisions, one group — adolescents — are the most likely to engage in risky behavior. According to one theory explaining the developmental trajectory of risky decision-making — the imbalance theory — this phenomenon is prevalent in adolescence partly because areas of the brain involved in reward mature before areas of the brain connected with behavioral inhibition and delay of gratification.

In a recent article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, APS Fellow Valerie F. Reyna, Rebecca B. Weldon, and Michael McCormick, all of Cornell University, describe how a second theory — fuzzy-trace theory (FTT) — may provide suggestions about altering adolescents’ tendency toward risky behavior.

Although FTT is…


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Helping Healthy Habits Stick

PAFF_010615_MaintainingHealthyHabits_newsfeatureEvery New Year, millions of people resolve to adopt healthier habits, and that will no doubt be fueled this year by the US government’s new dietary guidelines urging people to eat less sugar. Despite these good intentions, actually sticking to a new diet or exercise plan is hard to sustain. Estimates show that around 25% people forsake their New Year’s resolutions within the first week.

In a special section of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a group of prominent researchers underscores how behavioral science can provide actionable solutions to societal problems, like getting people to make long-term improvements to their health. The authors, led by University of Minnesota professor Alexander Rothman, outline evidence-based strategies that can help individuals and policymakers alike meet their goals for a healthier year ahead.

“The persistence of unhealthy habits undermines efforts to perform a new behavior,…


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