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172004Volume 17, Issue12December 2004

Presidential Column

Robert W. Levenson
Robert W. Levenson
University of California, Berkeley
APS President 2004 - 2005
All columns

In this Issue:
Mentoring: Reflections on Becoming an Academic Great-Grandparent

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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    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

  • Mentoring: Reflections on Becoming an Academic Great-Grandparent

    Like ships passing in the night (or more like academic conference-goers rushing through a crowded hotel lobby), I recently met my first academic great-grandchild. The encounter was fleeting, the exchange very brief: "I'm a former student of X (one of my first PhD students) and this is my graduate student Y." Quickly doing the genealogical math in my head, I blurted out something incredibly banal along the lines of: "So you're my great-grandchild - how nice to meet you." Later, walking with my dinner group on our way to some imminently forgettable meal, I began thinking wistfully about the lost opportunity to find out more about this person, to see if there were recognizable signs supporting the existence of some kind of academic DNA.

APS Spotlight

  • Building Research Capacity

    Cindy J. Lahar received the Fulbright Scholar Lecture/Research Award to Cambodia, where she worked at the Royal University of Phnom Penh from January through August 2004. Lahar was named a Carnegie Scholar for 2003-2004 and works with the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s hearing little of American bombs falling in southeast Asia or of Pol Pot's genocidal regime. I did learn a lot in a fine American school system in my middle-class suburban world, but no one talked to us about the Khmer Rouge - or maybe I wasn't listening. Wars on the other side of the globe and genocidal regimes didn't seem to affect me. But now they do. I visited Cambodia first while on holiday in early 1999 and since then have become fascinated, and horrified, by both the history and the current situation of this small southeast Asia nation.


  • Entrances and Exits: Making the Most of 60 Key Seconds in Every Class

    By Cathy Sargent Mester "Did you hear the one about the dog and the hot air balloon?" In reading that question, you decided whether to read more or not. This article, like every public act of communication, can succeed or fail with the impact of just a few precious seconds, those at the beginning of the message and those at the end. The importance of those seconds is especially critical when the public communication is oral rather than written, because listener attention is very lightly held overall. When we listen we are much more susceptible to physical and mental distractions than when we read. The good news, however, is that listeners are at the peak of their attentiveness at the opening and at the closing of an oral message. These are golden opportunity times. With a strong beginning, we capture the listeners' attention and interest.

First Person

  • Food for Thought

    First, you take an introduction to psychology class and recognize that understanding the multitude of topics in psychology won't be easy. Then you make an even quicker realization that sorting through an infinite number of Web sites on every imaginable issue is unlikely to make your assignment any easier. There is a place on the Web, however, capable of single-handedly condensing your online routine: The Psi Café at Psi Café is an easy to navigate virtual space peppered with artistic references to Greek mythology. There you will find the impossible - neatly organized psychology themes linked to many interesting Web sites. In the site's Resource Section, for example, you can access carefully assembled information on careers, research, and graduate training in psychology, along with resources on funding, psychological associations, and the history of psychology.

More From This Issue

  • At the Height of Its Game

    When basketball phenom LeBron James takes to the hardwood this winter, there will be distractions: deific expectations of the man Sports Illustrated tabbed The Chosen One; reminders of a failed Olympic run by opposing hecklers coast-to-coast, from Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles to Spike Lee in New York; advertisers with dollars in their eyes; a mid-season birthday on which he will turn just 20 years old. Yet no matter how hard James practices and prepares, it's his work with APS Fellow Charlie Maher that might be his best shot. See Also Martin Gipson: A True Sportsman Maher isn't a coach or a teammate.

  • Martin Gipson: A True Sportsman

    On April 23, 2005, the late Martin Gipson will be inducted into the University of the Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame. He was a unanimous induction despite having never suited up for a competition. "Martin was one of the worst physical athletes I have ever known," said Terry Liskevych, coach of the University of the Pacific and later the US national women's volleyball teams. "Yet he was instrumental in helping hundreds of athletes and coaches achieve beyond what they thought possible." Gipson's influence came as a sport psychologist, and working beside Liskevych, the two guided the US team to three top-10 Olympic finishes, including a bronze medal in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992.

  • Shipping News: Increasing Public Understanding Of Psychological Science

    Psychology has no shipping department. We have research and development, but we don't ship. -Robert Cialdini, Arizona State University Standing, from left: Alan Leshner, Holly Stocking, Carol Tavris, Lduy T. Benjamin, Sharon Begley, Jon Palfreman, Elizabeth, Ruksznis, Eliot Aronson, Robert Cialdini, Richard McNally, Sarah Brookhart. Seated, from left: K.C. Cole, Joe Palca, Elizabeth, Loftus, Peter Clarke, Alan G. Kraut. Psychology is inherently interesting to people and there is an appetite for information about human behavior and social issues. However, the public image and application of psychology have been co-opted by "pop" psychology publications and TV therapists.

  • NIH Changes Criteria for Evaluating Grant Proposals

    The National Institutes of Health, or NIH, has updated its 7-year-old Criteria for Evaluating Research Grant Applications to better accommodate clinical, interdisciplinary, and translational proposals. NIH said the changes are in response to feedback from the extramural community indicating that the 1997 criteria did not sufficiently address the salient points of all projects. To address these concerns and better accommodate clinical, interdisciplinary, and translational studies, the new guidelines were adopted at an August meeting of NIH Institute and Center Directors.

  • Competent Testimony Requires Competent Interviewers

    6th Annual Convention James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Address Michael E. Lamb, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, delivers his James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Address, "Children Are Competent Witnesses When Competently Interviewed," at the APS Annual Convention. In cases of abuse, children are often the only source of evidence. Police officers, judges, juries, and lawyers frequently doubt the reliability of information provided by children. But the accuracy and credibility of a child's testimony may actually hinge on the competence of the adult interviewer.