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202007Volume 20, Issue11December 2007

Presidential Column

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

In this Issue:
The Structure of Psychology

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 Structure of Psychology

    In my first three Presidential Columns, I discussed the evidence that psychology has become a hub scientific discipline, that the creation of psychological knowledge is increasingly the product of scientific teams, and that psychological scientists are ideally positioned to contribute to and lead interdisciplinary research teams addressing a wide range of theoretical and practical questions. These developments are changing the landscape of psychological science, but what might they mean for the structure of academic psychology departments? During the better part of the 20th century, psychological science could be described as a set of balkanized fields with specialized journals regarded as the place to publish by those within a field and read by few outside that field.

APS Spotlight

  • A Family Affair

    2006 marked our 50th wedding anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Carmi’s work life as a psychologist. Upon our return from a brief honeymoon, Carmi, then a graduate student at NYU, began a social psychology internship in the Veterans Administration. Our marriage is linked to Nina’s psychology career in a different way: She entered graduate school at Columbia University in the anthropology department that year, but subsequently came to the realization that psychology had an apparently unbeatable advantage over cultural anthropology — no marital separation due to fieldwork in exotic locations.

  • Replicating Milgram

    Last month, we featured IRB best practices (“IRBs: Navigating the Maze” November 2007 Observer), and got the ball rolling with strategies and tips that psychological scientists have found to work. Here, we continue the dissemination effort with the second of three articles by researchers who share their experiences with getting their research through IRB hoops. Jerry Burger from Santa Clara University managed to do the seemingly impossible — he conducted a partial replication of the infamous Milgram experiment. Read on for valuable advice, and look for similar coverage in upcoming Observers.

  • NIH Examines Peer Review

    Peer review at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is getting an in-depth look, with the official goal of “optimizing its efficiency and effectiveness, and to ensure that the NIH will be able to continue to meet the needs of the research community and public-at-large.” Whether this effort translates into significant changes remains to be seen. But there’s no doubt that the peer review system, like NIH as a whole, has changed significantly, including review committee size, composition, and process, and NIH appears to be struggling to manage these changes.


  • Working with Students in Need: An Ethical Perspective

    Professor Smith, do you have a minute? I need to talk with you. Dr. Jones, can I see you after class for a few minutes? Professor Miller, are you busy tomorrow? Faculty members interact with students in many ways. They teach, advise, oversee student clubs and honor societies, do collaborative scholarship, help with career and graduate school aspirations, and many times, simply listen or offer advice. The fact that students’ lives are not always idyllic is no surprise to most faculty. Some students just need a sympathetic ear with whom to talk about everyday problems, stressors, or other difficulties and concerns.

First Person

  • Champions of Psychology: Victor Benassi

    This is an ongoing series in which highly regarded professors share advice on the successes and challenges facing graduate students. Victor Benassi is a professor of psychology and faculty director of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Center for Teaching Excellence. His research has addressed such topics as judgment of personal control, belief in alleged paranormal phenomena, and depression. Additionally, Professor Benassi is involved in developing and implementing Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) programs at UNH. He is one of several people from UNH who developed and implemented a formal academic program in college teaching that is available to graduate students and faculty from UNH and other institutions. In recent years, he has been developing an online course titled Preparing to Teach a Psychology Course. Through the efforts of eight master teachers of psychology, over 200 graduate students and faculty from the United States and eight other countries have completed the course. Benassi has published numerous articles and chapters on issues related to PFF and faculty roles beyond research.

  • The Non-Traditional Transition to a Phd

    Editor’s Note: This past June members of the APSSC completed our annual student survey. One of the most requested Student Notebook items was the inclusion of non-traditional students’ points of view. To address these concerns, two authors were contacted specifically for their non-traditional status, opposite genders, and opposite family situations. Both are currently master’s students in the process of picking a PhD program, however. The authors discuss their upcoming transition to the doctoral program world in their own way and in light of their own life situations, but ultimately, both end up more focused on the choice that lays ahead of them than on the obstacles in their way.  After reading, please feel free to share your thoughts about the pieces. Would you tell a different story? Have age, family status, or gender affected your academic and career decisions? Do you feel that these things have held you back, propelled you forward, or made no difference? Send your thoughts and stories to [email protected]. She Said: The Lone Scientist By Kim Thomas My fascination with solving humanity’s statistical mysteries began early and never stopped evolving.

More From This Issue

  • Understanding Race Differences in Health Disparities

    The knowledge of racial inequities in America is hardly breaking news. Our country’s long history of segregation and discrimination continues to reverberate in many areas of our society. Nowhere are the effects of discrimination more evident than in the health status of black Americans. “Over the life-course, blacks, more than any other [racial] group, live the fewest years and a high proportion of those years are in poor health” said APS Fellow and Charter Member James S. Jackson during his James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Address at the APS 19th Annual Convention. Jackson is leading the charge to understand and curb these differences.

  • Rhythms of Research

    With the December issue of Psychological Science, James Cutting ends his editorial stewardship of APS’s flagship journal. Cutting’s tenure was a time of tremendous expansion of PS; he ushered it from bimonthly to monthly publication in 2004 and handled a dramatic growth in the number of submissions. Following is an editorial reprinted from the December 2007 issue of Psychological Science, a fitting capstone for Cutting’s final issue. APS is indebted to James Cutting for his leadership of the journal and his contributions to the field.

  • The IAT: How and When It Works

    “Left…right…left…right” could be heard echoing from the Hilton Washington’s Military Room during the APS 19th Annual Convention.  And while the chorus may have sounded like boot camp exercises to curious passers-by, it was merely APS Fellow Anthony Greenwald administering the Implicit Association Test (IAT) en masse during his Psi Chi Distinguished Speakers address.  Throughout his talk, the University of Washington Professor educated his audience about the history and validity of the IAT and, of course, provided the opportunity to experience the IAT firsthand.

  • Exhibit on the Mind Features Psychological Science

    A major new exhibition at the Exploratorium in San Francisco is highlighting psychological science.  Mind is a collection of 40 interactive exhibits designed to teach the public about psychological processes by evoking thoughts, emotions, and actions.

  • APS Born While Washington Was Busy with Other Matters

    No disrespect for the importance of the event, but the slice of Washington concerned with science was engaged with other matters, bizarre and normal, when APS was born in 1988. In evident disarray, the Reagan Administration was winding to a close. Long-running rumors about astrology consultation in White House decisionmaking were confirmed when an exasperated presidential chief of staff ousted the resident horoscope specialist, who served as an aide to First Lady Nancy Reagan. As later revealed, it was her astrologer who selected the time for a major Soviet-American arms-control agreement, the propitious moment being 2 p.m., December 8, 1987.