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Volume 14, Issue4April 2001

Presidential Column

Robert Bjork
Robert A. Bjork
University of California, Los Angeles
APS President 2000 - 2001
All columns

In this Issue:
I was the PSPI Canary

About the Observer

Published 6 times per year by the Association for Psychological Science, the Observer educates and informs on matters affecting the research, academic, and applied disciplines of psychology; promotes the scientific values of APS members; reports on issues of international interest to the psychological science community; and provides a vehicle for the dissemination on information about APS.

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    Myths and Misinformation

    How does misinformation spread and how do we combat it? Psychological science sheds light on the mechanisms underlying misinformation and ‘fake news.’

Up Front


  • University of California-Santa Barbara

    Overview The Department of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) has cultivated a tradition of strong, empirically based teaching and research in contemporary experimental psychology. The twenty-six faculty, fifty graduate students, and many of the approximately 1500 undergraduate majors carry out leading edge research in several core areas of experimental psychology, including cognition and the perceptual sciences, developmental and evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and behavior, and social psychology. The department's commitment to interdisciplinary pursuits are reflected in exciting new research and teaching collaborations with a variety of other disciplines, including the biological sciences, anthropology, communication, educational psychology, linguistics, and sociology. One of nine campuses of the prestigious University of California system, UCSB provides an exciting intellectual environment in a setting of natural beauty between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Graduate Program UCSB's Department of Psychology offers top ranked Ph.D. programs featuring prominent faculty working in a wide range of individual specialties.

  • I was the PSPI Canary

    I had the singular privilege of being the team leader for the "juried analysis" published in the inaugural issue of APS's Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI). Robyn Dawes, John Monahan and I co-authored the report "Psychological Science Can Improve Diagnostic Decisions," which was published in May 2000. In the spirit of giving psychology away, we set out to show that statistical prediction rules can improve the accuracy, and statistical decision rules can improve the efficacy, of yes-no decisions in many diagnostic fields - including, for example, the prediction of violent behavior, detection of breast cancer and advanced prostate cancer, weather prediction, and detection of cracks in airplane wings. Several fields make routine use of the statistical aids, but in other arenas of critical importance to personal and public health and safety, they are unknown. I agreed to write the first PSPI report because I was ready for the opportunity to reach a different audience for a line of work I had published before only in medical journals. So I was willing, as PSPI Editorial Board member Carol Tavris characterized it, to be the canary that PSPI sent down into the mine.

Practice


  • University of California-Santa Barbara

    Overview The Department of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) has cultivated a tradition of strong, empirically based teaching and research in contemporary experimental psychology. The twenty-six faculty, fifty graduate students, and many of the approximately 1500 undergraduate majors carry out leading edge research in several core areas of experimental psychology, including cognition and the perceptual sciences, developmental and evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and behavior, and social psychology. The department's commitment to interdisciplinary pursuits are reflected in exciting new research and teaching collaborations with a variety of other disciplines, including the biological sciences, anthropology, communication, educational psychology, linguistics, and sociology.

First Person


  • How to Navigate a National Convention

    There are three simple rules to remember when attending a national convention: Get organized. Get networking. Get involved. GET ORGANIZED Getting organized can be summed up in three words: KNOW the program-it is your "bible." Weeks before you get to the convention you will receive the program in the mail. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when organizing your convention activities: You should invest several hours of your time selecting the talks you want to attend and the posters you want to see. Take time to make a personal schedule beforehand-this will make it much easier to get around the convention and attend all the events you desire. One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot do everything. You need to prioritize your schedule.

More From This Issue


  • Use of SAT I ‘Compromises Education System’ Says UC President

    Remember the analogical reasoning section from the SAT ? Try this one: Mauritania is to Dodo bird as The University of California is to _____ A. Albatross C. SAT I B. Palm trees D. SETI As of 2003, the correct answer could be "C," if a proposal by University of California President Richard C. Atkinson is adopted. In his February 18 speech to the American Council on Education, Atkinson recommended that the University of California no longer require the SAT I for admission to the university system. Instead, he advised the UC schools to rely on the SAT II, grade point average, activity records, and other, more "holistic" measures of students' achievement.

  • Speaking Truth to Power: Psychological Scientists on Advisory Panels

    As psychologists gain more knowledge of the pathways and influences involved in human behaviors, the more relevant are the implications of their expertise both in terms of scientific advancement and the governing of human affairs. This makes it increasingly critical that the best minds in psychological science be involved in policy and program debates over agenda-setting, prioritizing and the search for answers to the social and health problems that confront society.It is welcome news, therefore, that top researchers in psychological science fill more seats than ever on U.S. government advisory panels wherever scientific priorities are debated and decided.

  • Federal Office Leading Effort to Change IRB System

    The lead federal office for protecting human research subjects is making a concerted effort to respond to concerns voiced psychologists and others from behavioral and social science with regard to institutional review board (IRB) treatment of grants in their field.For some time, investigators from psychology have expressed the view that IRBs operate on a biomedical model that does not recognize the realities of behavioral and social science research. The result has been delays or even rejection of legitimate research proposals.

  • Having Direct Policy Input: Comments on IRBs

    You don't have to be on an advisory committee to have input into the federal policies that affect psychology's research. Science agencies are always encouraging direct comments from individuals in the field as the agencies draft guidelines and regulations, make organizational changes, or develop research programs.Here's one example: As reported in the March Observer, the National Bioethics Advisory Committee (NBAC) had solicited comments on its draft report on guidelines for protecting human research subjects, which included recommendations for Institutional Review Boards (IRB). Many APS members took the time to respond to NBAC's recommendations.