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Volume 22, Issue10December 2009

Presidential Column

Linda Bartoshuk
Linda Bartoshuk
University of Florida
APS President 2009 - 2010
All columns

In this Issue:
Spicing Up Psychological Science (cont.)

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

  • Spicing Up Psychological Science (cont.)

    The pleasure evoked by food attracts both scientists and artists. In the Presidential Symposium at the upcoming APS Convention in May, experts from both worlds will share their insights about why we love spices. Here, I’ll trace what we know about the story of spice, highlighting the roles of our fascinating convention speakers. The anatomy of spice perception involves illusion. We seem to perceive spices both with the senses of taste and smell, but in reality, smell does most of the work. Consider cinnamon, an ancient spice (the first spice mentioned in the Old Testament). Even with our eyes closed, the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls grabs our attention.

APS Spotlight

  • Champions of Psychology: John T. Jost

    APS Fellow John T. Jost received his PhD from Yale University in 1995 and is currently Professor of Psychology at New York University, where he has taught since 2003. He has published over 80 scientific journal articles and book chapters and has received numerous awards and honors. In 2007, Jost was named as one of the five most highly cited social-personality psychologists at the rank of associate professor. His active research interests include stereotyping, prejudice, ideology, and intergroup relations; social justice; political psychology; and the theory of system justification.


  • Helping Failing Students: Part 1

    Chris Keller is a hard working student. She never misses class, sits in the front row, and takes copious notes. She reads her text faithfully each week, completing her reading assignments well ahead of time. She makes flash cards to help her learn key terms and concepts and takes all the practice quizzes in her online study guide for the course. She often takes advantage of her professor’s office hours to ask questions about lectures, class discussion, and past quizzes and tests. Unfortunately, despite her “A effort,” Chris is failing her psychology course. Disappointed that her hard work is not paying off, Chris is becoming discouraged, and feels like she is wasting her time investing even more effort in the course. Trey Anderson is also failing the same psychology course, but for a very different reason. He rarely attends class, showing up for only quizzes and tests.

First Person

  • Psychologists Without Borders: A Graduate Student Perspective on Interdisciplinary Research

    Psychology is emerging as a hub in a new intellectual world without borders (Cacioppo, 2007). This development is exciting on many counts, as it promises innovative cross-fertilization of ideas across disciplines to tackle complex human and natural problems. A strong culture of teamwork is also increasingly permeating science, and, with psychology as a hub science, psychologists are in a solid position to be key players in this interdisciplinary enterprise. Graduate students are greatly affected by this changing academic landscape. Here, I present some of the challenges, opportunities, and strategies of interdisciplinary research from the point of view of a graduate student with some experience in crossing borders and fences in order to understand the brain and behavior.

More From This Issue

  • On the Newsstand: Special Edition (Cont.)

    This is a continuation of last month's special edition of On the Newsstand featuring quotes from media coverage of "Current Status and Future Prospects of Clinical Psychology: Toward a Scientifically Principled Approach to Mental and Behavioral Health Care," a Psychological Science in the Public Interest report (Volume 9, Issue 2) by Timothy B. Baker, Richard M. McFall, and Varda Shoham. The following are excepts from a Washington Post op-ed by the authors of the report. Is Your Therapist a Little Behind the Times? By Timothy Baker, Richard McFall and Varda Shoham The Washington Post November 15, 2009 “A young woman enters a physician’s office seeking help for diabetes.

  • A Vast Right Arm Conspiracy? Handedness May Affect Body Perception

    There are areas in the brain devoted to our arms, legs, and various parts of our bodies. The way these areas are distributed throughout the brain are known as “body maps,” and there are some significant differences in these maps between left- and right-handed people. For example, in left-handed people, there is an equal amount of brain area devoted to the left and right arms in both hemispheres. However, for right-handed people, there is more cortical area associated with the right arm than the left. Psychologists Sally A. Linkenauger, Jonathan Z. Bakdash, and Dennis R. Proffitt of the University of Virginia, along with Jessica K. Witt from Purdue University and Jeanine K.

  • Digital Divide: Ways to Include the Aging Population in the Technology Revolution

    Technology is no longer what it used to be: Computers long-ago replaced typewriters and telephone landlines are in rapid decline. Technological advances are being made every day, making many of our lives easier and allowing information to be more accessible. However, technological progress can in fact be more limiting for some older people. According to Neil Charness and Walter R. Boot from Florida State University, the key to including the aging population in information technology is to adopt age sensitive design principles.

  • Angry Faces: The Link Between Facial Structure and Aggression

    Angry words and gestures are not the only way to get a sense of how temperamental a person is. According to new findings in Psychological Science, a quick glance at someone’s facial structure may be enough for us to predict their tendency towards aggression. Psychologists Justin M. Carré, Cheryl M. McCormick, and Catherine J. Mondloch of Brock University conducted an experiment to see if it is possible to predict another person’s propensity for aggressive behavior simply by looking at their photograph. Volunteers viewed photographs of faces of men for whom aggressive behavior was previously assessed in the lab.

  • Institutional Research Productivity in Psychological Science

    We recently examined institutional research productivity in the flagship APS journal, Psychological Science (PS). A research productivity study is a weighted empirical count of the institutions or individuals publishing in identified journals (Howard, Cole, & Maxwell, 1987). Research productivity studies serve several purposes: (a) they help identify leading and emerging centers of scholarship, (b) they assist in the recruitment and organizational fit of faculty and students, and (c) one outcome, the ordinal rank of contributors, is useful in decision making of university administrators, faculty, and students (Brooks, 2005; Toutkoushian, Porter, Danielson, & Hollis, 2003).

  • Neuroscience in the Real World

    Neuroscience was born from a simple question— how does the brain work? — and its applications originally focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases.  But neuroscience “has rappelled down from the ivory tower and eloped from the hospital ward,” said Martha Farah in her William James Award Address at the APS 21st Annual Convention. Although they remain important in the health field, studies of the brain have also contributed to a host of enhancement techniques used outside of the medical realm.

  • Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology

    The Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology (ESN) was officially launched in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, in September 2008. However, preparatory meetings had been held in Modena, Italy, in 2004 and Toulouse, France, in 2006. The ESN Federation sprang from the need to fight parochialism in neuropsychology. Historically, most European countries have set their own national society of neuropsychology; in several instances, more than one society of neuropsychology exists in individual countries. These societies typically involve a few hundred members.

  • The Road Taken (and the One That Wasn’t)

    Throughout one’s professional life, there are many paths that might be taken and many choices to make. Increasingly, one decision confronting a psychologist is whether to remain within the domain of psychology for teaching, scholarship, and service activities or to branch into related disciplines and functions. Here, I review several major choices that one faces and how my choices at these points shaped my journey as a scholar and teacher. These are broken into several categories: work domain, professional focus, and setting.

  • Members in the News

    Timothy B. Baker, University of Wisconsin, The Daily Page, Nov 5, 2009; The Washington Post, Nov 15, 2009: Calling for More Science in Psychology Doctoral Programs. Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Leiden University, The Atlantic, Dec 2009: The Science of Success. Jonathan Baron, University of Pennsylvania, Nature, Oct 29, 2009: Risk School: Can the General Public Learn to Evaluate Risks Accurately? Jay Belsky, Birkbeck College, University of London, The Atlantic, Dec 2009: The Science of Success. Craig M. Bennett, University of California, Santa Barbara, Forbes, Nov 16, 2009: Battle for the Brain: Using Neuroscience in Marketing. W.