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262013Volume 26, Issue4April 2013

Presidential Column

Joseph E. Steinmetz
Joseph E. Steinmetz
The Ohio State University
APS President 2012 - 2013
All columns

In this Issue:
The Psychology Department

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

  • The Psychology Department

    President’s Note: In my first column for the Observer, I wrote briefly about the great value that psychology departments have in institutions of higher education in the areas of teaching, research, and service. In this month’s column, Ruth V. Watkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, provides a more in-depth insight into the contributions the department of psychology makes to the university from her perspective as a college dean. Dean Watkins is a behavioral scientist; she is a member of the faculty of the Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Her research interests are in communication development and disabilities, including prevention of disability in populations who are at risk.


  • Teaching and Advising First-Year Students

    “What do they think this is, high school????” If you have taught first-year college students, you may have felt such exasperation. Especially in the fall semester, first-year college students are truly like strangers in a strange land (Chaskes, 1996).  Everything about the college setting is unfamiliar, from your campus acronyms to study skills that can facilitate success. Just as we citizens would not expect immigrants new to our country to master our colloquialisms and customs as soon as they set foot on land, we educators cannot reasonably expect new first-year college students to act like, well, natives, until they have had ample opportunity for enculturation (Chaskes, 1996).

  • Exploring Social Justice Through Music

    The concept of social justice is taught in many college courses across numerous disciplines, including social work, political philosophy, education, and psychology. According to Rawls (1999), social justice is “the basic structure of society, or more exactly, the way in which the major social institutions distribute fundamental rights and duties and determine the division of advantages from social cooperation” (p. 6). Finding ways of exploring social justice that are meaningful and engaging to students can present significant challenges for any instructor. While classroom activities often include readings, group discussions, videos, and a variety of evaluations, songs are often overlooked.

  • Teaching a Night Class

    “I’m facing the challenge of a one-session section of Intro, evenings from 6:30 to 9:20…I have a sense of the sort of suggestions I might hear, but I am interested in any insights on how to keep folks engaged until 9:30 at night.” Great question! Teaching a night class can be challenging, even intimidating (at first), but with sound preparation and some unconventional strategies you can succeed. In fact, you may even find you prefer a night class to one taught during the day.

  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    C. Nathan DeWall, University of Kentucky, and renowned textbook author and APS Fellow David G. Myers, Hope College, have teamed up to create a new series of Observer columns aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom. Each column will offer advice and how-to guidance about teaching a particular area of research or topic in psychological science that has been the focus of an article in the APS journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

First Person

  • Ways to Make the Most of Peer Mentoring Experiences

    “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone…and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.” -Justice Sandra Day O’Connor As graduate students, the guidance that we receive from mentors can meaningfully contribute to the tapestry of our career experiences and lives. Although mentors are traditionally thought of as older and in a higher position/rank, mentors are not limited to this category. After all, coworkers and colleagues are frequent sources of support (Allen & Finkelstein, 2003). Peer mentoring, or guidance in a career context from an individual with the same rank but longer tenure than the protégé, can be beneficial for both the mentor and the protégé. We often have opportunities to learn and guide our academic peers — why not get the most out of it?

More From This Issue

  • In Love With Science This February

    In February 2013, love (of psychological science) was in the air. More than 125 articles about research published in APS journals appeared in major media outlets, and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with discussion of the research. Among the highlights were four studies published in Psychological Science:  “A Brief Intervention to Promote Conflict-Reappraisal Preserves Marital Quality Over Time” by Eli J. Finkel, Erica B. Slotter, Laura B. Luchies, Gregory M. Walton, and James J. Gross. (in press).

  • April 2013 Rising Stars

    In March, APS Began a multi-part series profiling Rising Stars in psychological science. This month, we highlight more young luminaries poised to revolutionize the field. In upcoming issues we will continue to profile these outstanding stars. Andy Baron Marc Berman Raphael Bernier Philipp Kanske Sangeet Khemlani Edward Lemay Kristen Lindquist Christin M. Ogle Elizabeth Page-Gould Ruchika Prakash Marjorie Rhodes Karen M. Rodrigue Kristin Schneider Bob Spunt Peggy L. St. Jacques Kate Sweeny A. Janet Tomiyama Tessa West Jamil Zakia Andy Baron University of British Columbia  What does your research focus on?

  • True Grit

    It may be obvious that effort and stamina are required to accomplish anything worthwhile in life. But how easy is it to forget this fact in moments when we feel tortoise-like relative to our seemingly hare-like peers?

  • Reflecting on a Lifetime of Achievement

    As part of APS’s 25th Anniversary celebration, the Board of Directors is honoring 25 distinguished scientists who have had a profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter century. Eight individuals have been selected to receive the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award, honoring a lifetime of significant contributions to applied psychological research. The remaining 17 scientists are receiving the William James Fellow Award, which recognizes their significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. In this issue of the Observer, APS continues the series profiling three of these eminent scientists: Judy S. DeLoache, Bruce S.

  • Psychological Memory Science and Legal Reforms

    This article is part of a series commemorating APS's 25th anniversary in 2013. Remember those days back in grade school when you wrote an essay entitled something along the lines of, “How I spent my summer vacation?” It was a chore back then, but now, all these decades later, I feel like doing it again. I spent a good chunk of my last summer’s vacation doing something that I had never done before; I worked with a Pennsylvania trial judge, Jeannine Turgeon, and a plain language expert, Elizabeth Francis, from the University of Nevada, Reno, to devise a set of jury instructions that trial judges could offer to jurors at the end of a trial in cases that involved eyewitness evidence.

  • The Mind of the Climate Change Skeptic

    A multitude of environmental scientists, among others, worry that future generations will look back at the present era as one in which the human race could have — and should have —taken decisive action to prevent (or at least mitigate) the most menacing costs associated with global climate change. According to public opinion surveys, however, only 38 percent of Americans believe that global warming will seriously affect them or their way of life (Newport, 2012), and 42 percent continue to believe that global warming claims are “generally exaggerated” (Saad, 2012).

  • Improving the Health of All Americans

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars (HSS) program is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership, and policy change in health. The program seeks to improve the nation’s health by addressing the full spectrum of factors that affect health and inform policy. Up to 12 outstanding individuals who have completed their doctoral training are chosen to participate in an intensive two-year program at one of four nationally prominent universities: Columbia; Harvard; University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley; and the University of Wisconsin.

  • MCAT Revision Anticipates Psychological Science

    Two years from now, in the spring of 2015, a new Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will be released. This will be the fifth time the MCAT has undergone a major revision since it was first administered in 1928. Each revision of the MCAT provides a window into what is considered to be appropriate academic preparation for medical school. Recent versions have placed a relatively strong emphasis on understanding and working with scientific data (McGaghie, 2002). The 2015 MCAT will be noted for the addition of a new subtest on the behavioral and social sciences.

  • Motivation, Ideology, and the Social Process in Radicalization

    Mitt Romney hit the proverbial nail on the head when he proclaimed in a presidential debate that “we cannot kill our way out of this mess.” He was undoubtedly referring to the global war on terror that the United States has been waging for the last 12 years. The question remains: If not killing, then what? To be sure, the United States’ struggle against terrorism boasts impressive achievements: elimination or arrests of major Al Qaeda leaders, dismantlement of terrorists’ logistical infrastructures, and severe blows to financial networks that supported terrorism.

  • Autism Research in Psychological Science

    April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, recognized by the United Nations General Assembly for the purpose of improving the lives of people living with autism. According to the organization Autism Speaks, autism affects 1 in 88 children; however, scientists are still working to understand the causes of autism-spectrum conditions (ASC) and develop evidence-based interventions. An upcoming article in Psychological Science adds another piece of understanding to the autism puzzle.

  • For Map Users, Less May Be More

    Map users are often given the option to choose their own displays, but that doesn’t mean they always choose the map that suits their needs. In a new article, Mary Hegarty from the University of California, Santa Barbara reviews recent research suggesting that, when given the choice, both lay-people and experienced weather forecasters tend to select complicated maps containing information that’s irrelevant to the task at hand. Research shows that including extraneous details makes maps more difficult to interpret; simple, task-focused maps, on the other hand, are easier to use.

  • Gazzaniga to Deliver Keynote Address at 25th APS Annual Convention

    Widely considered to be one of the fathers of the field of cognitive neuroscience, APS Past President Michael Gazzaniga will give the keynote address at the 25th APS Annual Convention in Washington, DC, on "Unity in a Modular World." Gazzaniga is credited with being the first researcher to examine split brain patients in order to understand whether some cognitive functions are predominantly performed in one brain hemisphere or the other. Gazzaniga’s examination of split brain patients and his contributions to the field have greatly enhanced our understanding of lateralization of cognitive function within the brain, and how the two brain hemispheres communicate.

  • Clinical Psychological Science Has Everyone Tweeting

    Research published in APS’s newest journal, Clinical Psychological Science, is getting big attention — potentially from millions of people — on social media. The study, conducted by Jessica Tracy and Daniel Randles of the University of British Columbia, focused on whether the distinction between shame and guilt might play an important role in predicting outcomes for recovering alcoholics.