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Volume 16, Issue8August 2003

Presidential Column

Henry L. Roediger, III
Henry L. Roediger, III
Washington University in St. Louis
APS President 2003 - 2004
All columns

In this Issue:
Teaching and Teacher Ratings

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


  • Teaching and Teacher Ratings

    Administrators of universities are increasingly emphasizing teaching, especially at the undergraduate level. This is true of both private and public universities. I don't suppose there was ever a time in American education when administrators ever came out against teaching, but often teaching suffered benign neglect in the sense that good teaching was rarely rewarded and bad (even atrocious) teaching was rarely punished, or even noticed. If a professor were not up to snuff, nothing much was done about it. I'm showing my age, but I can remember a time when numerous faculty members did not prepare syllabi for their courses, did not bother to be too organized in their approach, and often assessed student performance infrequently and haphazardly. Twenty or more years ago, I heard professors speak derisively of having to teach undergraduates.

First Person


  • RiSE-UP Examines Cultural Differences and Freshmen Anxiety

    The APS Student Caucus symposium for Research on Socially and Economically Underrepresented Populations or RiSE-UP included presentations by Wonkyong Lee, University of Waterloo; Mercedes Carswell, Michigan State University; and Yuri Miyamoto, University of Michigan. In her presentation, "Cultural Differences in Persuasion: Analysis of North American and Korean Print Ads," Lee sought to identify message differences in advertisements from the same company, such as Microsoft, to North American and Korean audiences. She found that the focus of a company's ad differed to meet cultural expectations.

  • Student Grant Winners

    The APS Student Caucus would like to thank everyone who entered the 2003 APSSC Student Grant Competition.

  • Consequences of Person-Environment Fit Across Contexts: We Are Where We Live

    What would happen if neurotic New Yorker Woody Allen woke up and found himself deep in the heart of Texas? If an impulsive teenager woke up and found herself having to live like her more sedate grandmother? If a liberal Berkeley student woke up and found himself studying among more conservative peers at Ole Miss? Personality traits can dramatically interact with a person's environment. The subsequent degree of Person-Environment Fit, or PE-Fit, can produce vastly different outcomes, as explained during the APS Student Caucus symposium, "Consequences of Person-Environment Fit Across Contexts," at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta.

  • How to Get Published: Guidance from Journal Editors

    Lilienfeld's Top Ten Journal Submission Errors 10. Selecting the wrong journal 9. Not explaining why the article makes an important contribution 8. Too much or too little background 7. Making inferential leaps in logic that are unclear 6. Confusing explanatory with confirmatory data analyses (misrepresentation) 5. Presenting too much information and over-analyzed data sets 4. Omitting effect size information 3. Glossing over design limitations 2. Absence of a clear take-home message 1. Article not proofread (grammar & spelling errors) APS values its student affiliates.

More From This Issue


  • The Ties That Bind Us: Social Neuroscience Provides Cerebral Answers to Life’s Social Problems

    Social neuroscience assumes that the essential mechanisms of mind and behavior can only be explained by a partnership between biological and social approaches. Researchers in social neuroscience use various methodologies and levels of analysis in their pursuit of ever more broader, more comprehensive, theories of social processes and behavior. Like the proverbial overnight sensation, social neuroscience seems to have burst on the scene rather suddenly. But in fact, this is a well-established field with rich albeit short history.

  • APS at 15: Reflections on the Founding

    Fifteen years ago, in August, 1988, after an attempt to reorganize the American Psychological Association failed, the Assembly for Scientific and Applied Psychology formed the American Psychological Society to serve the needs of the scientific wing of psychology. That revolution, as it has been called, forever changed the face of psychological science. To celebrate APS's 15th anniversary, and to honor APS's founding president, Charles A. Kiesler, who passed away in late 2002, some of the founding mothers and fathers of APS gathered for a special symposium at the APS convention in Atlanta.

  • The Life and Times of Working Memory

    It used to be called short-term memory. But as the modern label implies, working memory is a dynamic system that involves processing current information. The change in name reflects the evolution of a large body of research focusing on the nature and capacity of this critical and interesting component of individual cognition. Unfortunately, as we tracking the emergence, expansion, and eventual decline of working memory across the lifespan, we also find that working memory is many things to many people. This was one of the themes of a symposium, "The Life-Long Development of Working Memory," chaired by APS Fellow and Charter Member J.

  • It’s the 21st Century – What Did You Expect?

    Does the term "intelligent agent" bring to mind an image of a government operative carrying out less-than-wholesome activities in foreign lands? Do you think a "wearable computer" is a device that has been engineered to withstand coffee spills and forceful two-finger keyboard pecking? Can an "adaptive room" be created by placing a small refrigerator next to the lazy-boy chair in the family room? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, do not tell your network administrator.

  • From the Mouths of Babes: The Validity of Children’s Testimony

    Sometimes, a child is victim and/or the only eyewitness in a court case. How much validity do we ascribe to statements by a four-year-old child? How can we tell if the child was coached to express something other than the whole truth and nothing but the truth? APS Fellow Maggie Bruck, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, addressed these and similar questions at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta. Bruck's invited address, "Effects of Suggestion on the Reliability and Credibility of Children's Reports," explored the various aspects, including many myths of suggestibility, of the reliability and credibility of children's reports.

  • Offspring Studies in Alcohol Research Offer New Insight Into Comorbidity

    Is the comorbidity of alcoholism and psychopathology strictly genetic in nature, or do environmental risk factors come into play as well? These issues were the focus of an invited address delivered by Andrew Heath, of Washington University School of Medicine, at the APS 15th Annual Convention in Atlanta. His talk, "Contributions of Genotype x Environment Interaction Effects to Psychiatric Comorbidity: Insights from Alcohol Research," was sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Heath, a Charter Member of APS, is the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry.

  • Wanting and Liking for the Addict

    Traditional views of what motivates addictive behavior, such as hedonistic pleasure seeking and avoidance of aversive withdrawal symptoms, have been repeatedly demonstrated as insufficient and illogical. New directions in addiction research continue to challenge traditional assumptions about drug abuse. According to APS Fellow and Charter Member Terry E. Robinson, University of Michigan, previous assumptions do not account for the "dissociation" between what he names the "wanting" and the "liking" of the drug by the addict.

  • Slowing the Process of Forgetting

    Everyone has experienced the derailment of a train of thought or struggled with that tidbit of information on the tip of your tongue. Forgetting is a problem for many people and a nuisance to most of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful to learn how to remember more? Learning techniques that slow the process of forgetting were the focus of an invited address by APS Fellow Harold Pashler, University of California, San Diego, at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta.

  • Older, But Wiser

    Workforce projections forecast that within the next seven years 50 percent of the US workforce will be 45 or older.

  • Discovering Psychology, Then and Now

    Discovering Psychology is a popular public television series that educates students and the general public about psychological science. The series consists of 26 half-hour programs narrated by APS Fellow and Charter Member Philip Zimbardo, a professor at Stanford University. Each of the 26 programs focus on one specific area of psychological research, for example "The Self," "Testing and Intelligence" and "Sex and Gender." The programs features psychological scientists, practitioners, and theorists who explain their research and theories noting direct applications to life examples.

  • A Social Brain Science Approach to Recognizing the Self

    Most neuroscientists would agree that the human brain has adapted over time to meet the challenges of life. One of the biggest challenges to adaptation for the self, the sense of one's unique existence, is other people. One's sense of self is used in numerous social areas such as fantasizing, distinguishing oneself as separate from others, and in developing one's identity and is a crucial aspect of social functioning.

  • September 11 and the Pursuit of Evil

    For nearly two years, the fear of terrorism has motivated dramatic events, from airport security, the creation of the US Department of Homeland Security, even mobilizing an invasion of Iraq. As the United States has fortified its security against the reality of suicide terrorists, it seems that little has been paid to the "why" of such extreme hate and to the evil of terrorism. The motivation of terrorists was the focus of a symposium chaired by Ali Banuazizi, Boston College, at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta.

  • Crib Notes for Infants

    Inspired by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, APS Fellow Renee Baillargeon, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, continues to refine and challenge what we think we know about infants with her premise that premise that infants "are smarter than we think." Aided by refined methodologies, she is challenging old constructs and her research is producing exciting findings. In an invited address, "Infants' Physical World," presented at the APS Convention in Atlanta, Baillargeon shared her model for how infants acquire the building blocks of cognition, including a method for teaching infants essential principles of spatial reasoning at earlier ages.

  • Depression Prevention and Self-Esteem Discussed During PSPI Symposium

    Depression and high self-esteem are the two polar opposites of self-image, and two recent reports in the APS journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest looked at these two contradictory aspects of mental health. The findings were presented at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta. Depression is one of the most common and debilitating psychiatric disorders and is a leading cause of suicide. Most people who become depressed will have multiple episodes, and some depressions are chronic. Given the recurrent nature of the disorder, it is important not just to treat the acute episode, but also to protect against its return.

  • Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Attachment Processes

    The attachment an infant and parent feel for each other is a fundamental aspect of human relations. Research presented at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta explored the importance of infant attachment, including understanding the realities of the world, the lasting effects on adulthood, child stress levels and parental attachment, and biological connections needed for survival. R.

  • Social Stress and Support Factors in Susceptibility to the Common Cold

    The common cold: that bugbear of medical mischief. It infects everyone from time to time, irritating us and making us less productive, as if to say "for all your knowledge, for all your technology, you're not that smart. I've still got your number; you still haven't got me licked." The scientific world has recently made substantial headway against this common scourge, thanks to the work of Sheldon Cohen, Carnegie Mellon University. Cohen delivered the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Address at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta. The James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award is given to psychological scientists for their outstanding contributions to applied psychology.

  • Teaching Institute

    The 10th Annual Teaching Institute, co-sponsored by APS and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, continued the popular pre-convention event where attendees share ideas that can be immediately put to use in the classroom. In addition to the traditional day-long program, this year's institute included a pre-institute workshop focused on helping participants develop or refine their teaching philosophy.

  • Do Negative Cognitive Styles Increase Vulnerability to Depression?

    Depression is one of the most common psychological disorders. It has been estimated that 10 percent of the population, roughly 19 million Americans, suffers from a depressive disorder in any given year. However, many people never become depressed. Why do some individuals never become depressed whereas others suffer a lifelong battle with this condition? Lauren Alloy, Temple University, suggests that cognitive styles may affect an individual's vulnerability to depression. Her research is guided by two major cognitive theories of depression: the Hopelessness Theory of Depression and Beck's Cognitive Theory of Depression.

  • What’s Neurobiology Got to Do With It?

    Since Adam and Eve, monogamous relationships have been the model for religion and law. Some people seem more inclined to pair and settle down than others. Research into the mating habits of prairie voles has identified connections between their neurotransmitters and monogamous mating habits and may help understand human fidelity better. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said these connections may help understand why some people mate for life and others do not. Insel reported his findings in an invited address, "The Neurobiology of Social Attachment," at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta.

  • Androgen Insufficiency and Female Sexual Motivation

    It is accepted that the androgen hormone regulates male sexuality while estrogen is thought to be more psychologically influential in female sexuality. However, researchers have hypothesized about the role androgen plays in regulating female sexuality, suggesting that androgens may actually regulate the degree to which estrogen is available. At present, there is no clear evidence how an androgen insufficiency might affect a woman's sexual desire. There is no specific "normal" range for androgen levels in women and no agreement among researchers concerning which androgens are important or connected with androgen insufficiency.

  • Grand Illusions Of Memory: Keynote Address Showcases Evidence of False Memories

    Elizabeth Loftus is one of the world's foremost scientific experts on memory, having published 20 books and over 350 scientific articles on the subject. She has applied her research to the legal system, with an emphasis on studying the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Loftus, a Past President of APS, has served as an expert witness or consultant in hundreds of legal cases, including such well known cases as the McMartin pre-school molestation case, the Hillside Strangler case, Abscam, Oliver North, the Rodney King beating, the Menendez brothers, and the Michael Jackson case.

  • The Mind’s Self-Portrait: An Illusion of Conscious Will

    I look on my brain as a mass of hydraulically compacted thoughts, a bale of ideas, and my head as a smooth, shiny Aladdin's lamp. -Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude An artist's or writer's self-portrait can run the gamut from realistic likeness to abstract beyond recognition. When you ask someone what a self-portrait of the mind might look like, most people would probably assume it would be a picture of the brain. But when the mind tries to construct a self-portrait, the closest it gets is a caricature. This inability to achieve a complete understanding of itself underlies the mind's inferences about the relationship between thought and action.

  • Psychology That Spans Boundaries

    Some of the most interesting and meaningful research in psychological science spans the boundaries of disciplines. During her term as APS President, Susan T. Fiske highlighted cross-disciplinary work in the Observer Presidential Columns. "Psychology That Spans Boundaries" was also the focus of Fiske's Presidential Symposium at the APS Annual Convention in Atlanta.

  • IRB Workshop

    Rome may not have been built in a day, but a preconference workshop in Atlanta made significant headway in tackling a difficult subject by providing a comprehensive look at Institutional Review Boards or IRBs and human subject regulations in behavioral and social science research. Along with the Working Group on Human Research Protections in Behavioral and Social Sciences, APS staged a daylong, pre-convention workshop. Hosted by APS Fellow and Charter Member Felice Levine, the workshop was geared toward researchers seeking to explore issues of human subject protections, as applied to psychological science research.