image description
272014Volume 27, Issue4April 2014

Presidential Column

Elizabeth A. Phelps
Elizabeth A. Phelps
New York University
APS President 2013 - 2014
All columns

In this Issue:
Translating Psychological Science to Law (and Back)

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.

Read more

Latest Under the Cortex Podcast

Trending Topics >

  • 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

  • Translating Psychological Science to Law (and Back)

    My guest columnists this month are Jerry Kang, the Korea Times-Hankook Ilbo Chair in Korean American Studies and Law at UCLA, and APS Fellow Nilanjana Dasgupta, a professor of psychology at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a social psychologist whose research is on implicit social cognition and its impact on judgments of others and the self. These scholars have been working both together and independently to translate psychological science to law and public policy, and vice versa. Below, they reflect on their translational approach and demonstrate the importance of applying the science of human mental life and behavior to address societal problems. -Elizabeth A. Phelps Science teaches us new facts about the world. Psychological science teaches us new facts about the human mind and behavior.


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    Aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom, Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science offers 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. Current Directions is a peer-reviewed bimonthly journal featuring reviews by leading experts covering all of scientific psychology and its applications, and allowing readers to stay apprised of important developments across subfields beyond their areas of expertise. Its articles are written to be accessible to nonexperts, making them ideally suited for use in the classroom. Is It Always Wrong to Be Right? What Explains the Home-Field Advantage? Is It Always Wrong to Be Right? By C. Nathan DeWall Onraet, E., & Van Hiel, A. (2014).

First Person

  • Global Students for a Global Psychology

    April 2014 Student Notebook Announcements The Student Notebook is seeking advanced graduate students to contribute articles on developing a programmatic line of research and navigating the job market. To find out more information or submit an article, contact the Student Notebook editor, Allison Skinner, at [email protected]. Want to promote psychological science at your campus? Join the APSSC Campus Reps Program today!  The APSSC Hotel Match-Up Program is provided as a service to APS student members seeking to reduce their convention-related expenses by finding other students who are interested in sharing the cost of accommodation at the annual convention. Allison Cantor, APSSC Membership and Volunteers Officer, collects information from students interested in the program and only distributes this information to other applicants in the Hotel Match-Up Program.

More From This Issue

  • Mining the Unconscious

    The sentences that you are reading are in plain English. They are short. They contain simple words. And yet, while you read them you entertain no other thought or feeling (unless your mind is wandering). You do not think about your work. You do not think about something that bothered you earlier in the day. You do not experience happiness or sadness. As this example illustrates, cognitive scientists have known for a long while that consciousness can only do very little at any given point in time. So if we want to understand human behavior, broadly defined, we have to understand the human unconscious. The word unconscious usually brings to mind Sigmund Freud.

  • Property Values

    Ownership influences how people use objects — you are allowed to use your own car, but it’s usually wrong to use anyone else’s, at least without permission. And ownership also has important social consequences. Although your neighbor might be surprised if you spray-painted your own car, she’d be enraged if you did this to her car, and other people would probably see the situation her way. Ownership is at the heart of many actions, including buying, borrowing, and stealing. Because of this, appreciating ownership is crucial for understanding and predicting everyday actions and events.

  • Neuroscience Outreach

    Children are natural scientists and eager to learn, particularly when the material is relevant and creative and gives them insight into how their own brains work. And people are social, curious, and hoping to connect, so bringing together students fascinated by the brain and behavior at all levels of investigation leads to productive collaboration. Last summer, with welcome support from APS, we established NW Noggin. NW Noggin gathers graduates and undergraduates in psychology, neuroscience, and art from the Portland, Oregon, area to design and deliver their own multiweek programs on the brain and behavior for students in public schools.

  • Guide Your Students to Become Better Research Consumers

    It’s the first day of class. Students read a popular press clipping about a study (Something like, “Eat dessert for breakfast to lose weight” or “Facebook can raise your self-esteem” or “Why we lie”) and give their first responses. Here’s what they say: “How big was the sample? Was it representative of the whole population?” “Was the sample random?” “We questioned what type of people these were. Why these 63 people?” “Did they do a baseline measure?” In my years of teaching psychology, I’ve made an informal study of student responses like these. I’ve learned that students — at least the students at my selective university — are not very good consumers of research information.

  • Young Children Form First Impressions From Faces

    Just like adults, children as young as 3 tend to judge an individual’s character traits, such as trustworthiness and competence, simply by looking at the person’s face. And they show remarkable consensus in the judgments they make, suggests a new Psychological Science study led by Emily Cogsdill of Harvard University. Cogsdill’s study received Open Data and Open Materials badges from Psychological Science, a designation the journal gives to articles whose authors share their data with other researchers for possible study replication. All data, face stimuli, and prompts used in the study are publicly available via the Open Science Framework (

  • Scholarship Fund Established in Memory of Varda Shoham

    Clinical Psychological Science lost one of its leading voices in March when Varda Shoham, an APS Board Member, passed away after a 4-year battle with cancer. Shoham’s husband and research collaborator, Michael Rohrbaugh, has established the Varda Shoham Clinical Science Scholarship Fund in her memory. Shoham was a force in the world of clinical psychological science. She served as President of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology and the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, an organization of the 50 leading science-oriented doctoral programs and internships in clinical psychology in the US and Canada.

  • I/O Researcher Named Interim President of FSU

    APS Fellow Garnett S. Stokes, who previously served as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Florida State University (FSU), has been chosen to serve as interim president of FSU. Stokes will lead FSU until the University’s Board of Trustees locates a replacement for departing President Eric J. Barron. As a scientist, Stokes’s work focuses on industrial/organizational psychology with an emphasis on hiring and promotion. She is particularly interested in how “biodata”— that is, personality, values, attitudes, and life history — influence career choices and employee performance. This research is the subject of her 1994 book, Biodata Handbook.

  • Dehaene, Robbins, and Rizzolatti Receive Largest International Brain Prize

    Two renowned European psychological researchers, both of whom focus on cognitive neuroscience, have been awarded the world’s largest prize for brain research. APS Fellows Stanislas Dehaene and Trevor W. Robbins, along with Italian neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti, are receiving the Brain Prize of €1 million for “pioneering research on higher brain functions.” The Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize Foundation is making the award.

  • In Diversifying Neighborhoods, How Do Attitudes Shift?

    Almost half a century after the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, many American cities – including New York; Washington, DC; Chicago; and Houston – are still vastly segregated by neighborhood. White people tend to group in certain areas, Black people in another, Asian people in another still. And yet, changes to local demographics, housing policies, lending practices, and real estate markets over the last 50 years are increasing the sociocultural diversity of many city neighborhoods. How will individuals living in these neighborhoods react to the changes? Will greater integration promote more contact and trust between groups?

  • The Addict’s Perilous Bargain

    I’ve spent a fair amount of time around addicts over the years, and this I know. Addicts are great bargainers. Addicts will promise to forego the pleasures of booze or drugs or food in exchange for future happiness, career success, marital bliss—you name it. And as often as not, they renege on the deal. This is not a criticism—just the gritty reality of addiction. Addicts mostly bargain with themselves—their future selves—and they don’t welch because they are scoundrels. They lack the self-control to honor their promises. They truly want to give up their drugs today for a better life in the future, but well, tomorrow is so far away, and here’s today—right now.

  • Academic Admissions Researcher Schmitt to Receive 2014 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award

    APS Fellow Neal Schmitt will receive a 2014 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award. Schmitt, whose research focuses on personnel selection and academic admissions, will give his award address at the 26th APS Annual Convention, May 22–25, 2014, in San Francisco. Schmitt is currently University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University and executive vice president for research and development at Polaris Assessment Systems, which offers pre-employment screening and appraisals. In 2004, the College Board commissioned him and APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Robert Sternberg to research different but equally valuable predictors of college success in students.