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212008Volume 21, Issue4April 2008

Presidential Column

John Cacioppo
John Cacioppo
University of Chicago
APS President 2007 - 2008
All columns

In this Issue:
Opportunities for Psychological Scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse

About the Observer

The Observer is the online magazine of the Association for Psychological Science and covers matters affecting the research, academic, and applied disciplines of psychology. The magazine reports on issues of interest to psychologist scientists worldwide and disseminates information about the activities, policies, and scientific values of APS.

APS members receive a monthly Observer newsletter that covers the latest content in the magazine. Members also may access the online archive of Observer articles going back to 1988.

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  • Thumbnail Image for Disaster Response and Recovery

    Disaster Response and Recovery

    Disasters like Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut draw massive media coverage, trauma interventions, and financial donations to victims. But psychological research shows the efforts don’t always yield the intended benefits.

Up Front

  • Opportunities for Psychological Scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse

    The fiscal year 2008 federal budget for research and development did not keep pace with inflation for the fourth consecutive year. The budget for research and development at the National Science Foundation (NSF) is only 1 percent higher than last year, and the budget for most institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is unchanged from 2007. The consequence, illustrated in Figure 1, is that funding levels are declining for research project grants (RO1s) – the primary funding mechanism at NIH ( Knowledge of institute priorities can be helpful in this competitive funding environment, so featured here is an interview with Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a NIH institute that supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.

APS Spotlight

  • Champions of Psychology: Nora Newcombe

    This is an ongoing series in which highly regarded professors share advice on the successes and challenges facing graduate students. Nora S. Newcombe is a Professor of cognitive psychology and James H. Glackin Fellow at Temple University. A Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, she received her PhD from Harvard University. Her research focuses on spatial development and the development of episodic memory. Newcombe is the author of over 150 chapters, articles, and books, including Making Space (with Janellen Huttenlocher). Newcombe’s awards include APA’s  George A. Miller Award, G. Stanley Hall Award, and Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science.

  • Psychology Teachers in Cambodia

    Journal entry, December 21st, 2006: I arrived in Phnom Penh with bruises on my arm from juggling heavy cargo all the way from Maine. Happily, every one of the three checked pieces of luggage arrived successfully, along with what I lugged through the six airports along the way. My backpack included a brand new laptop computer and as many books as I could fit inside. I carried a new printer in its box which I didn’t dare leave to the baggage handlers. The printer wasn’t heavy, but lifting it in and out of overhead bins, carting it along the aisles of the airplanes and through the airports — well, I looked like a battered victim of travel upon arrival!

  • APS Teaching Fund Projects

    In Fall 2006, APS awarded the first round of grants from the APS Fund for Teaching and Public Understanding of Psychological Science. Established with the support of an endowed fund of $1 million from the David and Carol Myers Foundation, the Fund’s inaugural grants supported six diverse projects ranging from regional conferences in the United States, to teaching in Cambodia and Iran, to the development of websites which are supporting teachers around the globe. We are pleased to feature first-hand reports of what these dedicated educators were able to achieve with their APS Fund support. Two are presented here.


  • Observations on Teaching

    Whatever is rushed to maturity will surely break down early. Whatever is accomplished in a hurry will surely be easily destroyed. (Zen Lessons, 1989, p. 33). This final Teaching Tips column under our editorship looks back and seeks to summarize the important, prevailing ideas in Teaching Tips over the last 15 years. We read Teaching Tips from its inception to the conclusion of our editorship, 107 writings. What did they tell us? What is left unsaid? We sought substantive ideas that would withstand the test of time. Our observations emphasize the paradoxes that infuse the practice of teaching; they reveal why good teaching can be so difficult, but at the same time, understanding them can assist us in teaching well. Be Intentional in Your Teaching Read our columnists’ work revealed the many nuances of teaching.

First Person

  • Educational Psychology: Looking Through a Different Window

    On the first day of class, a clinical psychology classmate expressed surprise that an educational psychology student would be taking Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM). Our professor asked, “Is there some kind of rivalry that I should know about?” The professor quickly went on to explain that HLM was in fact originally used for educational research. The comment from my classmate, similar to many others I have heard, pointed out to me that too often psychology students know little about the field of educational psychology. In this brief article, I will describe this field, its relationship with psychology, and my experiences as a student in both traditional psychology departments and educational psychology departments.

More From This Issue

  • The Magical Memory Tour

    Scientists at the University of Leeds are asking people to blog about their memories of The Beatles to create the biggest database of “autobiographical memories” ever attempted. The online survey, devised by psychologists Martin Conway and Catriona Morrison from the Leeds Memory Group, aims to enhance our understanding of human memory by uncovering the role The Beatles and their music plays in our personal histories. Psychologists know that certain cues are successful at triggering the recollection of events from our lives — our “autobiographical memories.” Music in particular has a strong emotive and recollective power in relation to our long-term memory.

  • Does Prevention Save Health-Care Dollars?

    Preventive measures have long been wistfully regarded as under-utilized in improving the nation’s health and restraining health-care spending. But skepticism about their potential is receiving more attention, even as prevention is acclaimed on the presidential campaign trail. The claim that prevention has been over-sold may appear erroneous, if not heretical, especially when advocates in academe and politics regularly allege missed preventive opportunities for improving health and saving money. Congress periodically chimes in with recommendations for greater emphasis on prevention and increased support for social and behavioral health research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

  • The History Corner: The Galvanometer

    The mirror galvanometer is one of several instruments used for measuring small amounts of electrical current. Its use in psychological research led to greater understanding of the physiological underpinnings of emotion. The Archives of the History of American Psychology houses several different galvanometers, which measure electrical current, such as the one pictured to the right.  This device is a mirror galvanometer typically called a Deprez–d’Arsonval galvanometer because the design was initiated by Marcel Deprez  (1843–1918)  and Jacques d’Arsonval (1851–1940) in France in the 1880s.

  • Then and Now: APS Conventions

    Then: The First APS Convention: 1,000 Strong The following appeared in the July 1989 Observer. In what one attendee called a “psychology Woodstock,” over a thousand psychological scientists and scientist-practitioners attended the historic first convention of the American Psychological Society [our original name] on June 10-12, 1989, in Alexandria, Virginia.  The attendance exceeded everyone’s expectations, and very nearly the capacity of the convention facility. Registration so topped early estimates that the convention had to be moved to the new hotels only months before the event.

  • Arranging For Serenity

    I am a New Age skeptic. I used to be a New Age cynic, so this shows just how far I have come in opening my mind to things I don’t understand. I no longer dismiss channeling and crystals and acupuncture as so much hocus-pocus, nor do I embrace these practices. I disinterestedly await proof. I have to admit, though, that there is one New Age practice that has always had some intuitive appeal to me, and that’s feng shui. Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of placement, and it’s based on the belief that space and distance and arrangement of objects can affect our emotions and our sense of well-being.

  • On the Newsstand

    An Absence of Free Will, A Tendency to Cheat The New York Times February 19, 2008 “A study suggests that when people are encouraged to believe their behavior is predetermined — by genes or by environment — they may be more likely to cheat. The report, in the January issue of Psychological Science, describes two studies by Kathleen D. Vohs of the University of Minnesota and Jonathan W. Schooler of the University of British Columbia.” Coverage of “The Value of Believing in Free Will: Encouraging a Belief in Determinism Increases Cheating” in Psychological Science (Kathleen D. Vohs, Jonathan W. Schooler, Volume 19(1), 49-54).

  • Special Neuroscience Issue

    The April issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science is a special neuroscience edition, synthesizing the latest research in this cutting edge field. The articles in this issue detail neural mechanisms involved in perception, attention, categorization, memory, recognition, attitudes, social cognition, language, motor coordination, emotional regulation, executive function, decision making, and depression. In the editors’ introduction, Russell Poldrack, University of California, Los Angeles, and Anthony Wagner, Stanford University, address some of the exciting developments in neuroscience over the past two decades.