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262013Volume 26, Issue10December 2013

Presidential Column

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

In this Issue:
Educating Consumers of Psychological Science

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

  • Educating Consumers of Psychological Science

    This time of year brings several things to mind. I suspect I am not the only one shocked that the holiday season seems to be upon us once again, nor the only one wondering what happened to daylight late in the afternoon? For me, this is also the time of year I come to the end of my Introduction to Psychology class. As the end approaches I start to think, what will my students take away when the lectures and exams are over? To answer that question you would have to ask them, but I know what I hope they take away. I hope that going forward they are educated consumers of the science of psychology. Some small percentage of my students will go on to major in psychology, and maybe even become psychological scientists. But most won’t. I have future doctors and economists and actors and writers in my class.


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    C. Nathan DeWall, University of Kentucky, and renowned textbook author and APS Fellow David G. Myers, Hope College, have teamed up to create a series of Observer columns aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom. Each column will offer 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 bi-monthly 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 non-experts, making them ideally suited for use in the classroom.

First Person

  • Seven Reasons to Pursue Advanced Quantitative Training

    At the graduate level, quantitative methods are arguably the only common training across the subdisciplines of psychology; your first-year sequence of statistical training likely included biological, clinical, cognitive, developmental, personality, and social psychology students. While we all get trained in the basics of analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multiple regression, forging a stronger psychological science requires improving the analytic tools of psychologists. Here are seven compelling reasons why everyone should pursue additional training: You are limited by the analytic tools you possess. As a researcher, your vision is constrained by how you can think about and utilize data. Psychological processes are complex and rarely fit neatly into groups.

More From This Issue

  • Nakamura Heads Peer Review at NIH

    Chronology of a Career 1960-1963 Bronx High School of Science – has known since grade school that he will become a scientist. 1963-1968 Undergrad, Earlham College - ‘60s social and political climate piques interest in partying, and then psychology; eventually discovers experimental psychology. 1968-1969 Research Assistant, NY State – studies juvenile delinquency; develops deeper appreciation for how difficult it is to study human behavior, especially human antisocial behavior. 1969-1970 Research Assistant, Albert Einstein College of Medicine – pharmacology in rodents and primates.

  • The Next 25 Years

    This article is part of a series commemorating APS's 25th anniversary in 2013. In winding up this year-long series, the Observer contacted several APS Rising Stars from the past few years and asked them to provide forecasts on the different directions that psychological and integrative research will take over the next quarter century. Here’s what they hope to see by the time APS celebrates its 50th anniversary.

  • Reflecting on Lifetimes of Achievement

    As part of APS’s 25th anniversary celebration, the Board of Directors is honoring 25 distinguished scientists who have had a profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter-century. These individuals received the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award, honoring a lifetime of significant contributions to applied psychological research, or William James Fellow Award, which recognizes their significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. In this issue of the Observer, the series concludes with profiles of these eminent scientists. Read about all of the 25th Anniversary award recipients at

  • Aiming for a Multifaceted Approach to Psychiatric Disorders

    In the search for new ways to prevent and treat mental illnesses, scientists need to refine their understanding of the complex interplay between environmental factors and brain development in these disorders. Steadily chipping away at this goal is Elaine F. Walker, recipient of the 2013 APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Emory University. In her award address at the 25thAPS Annual Convention in Washington, DC, Walker discussed the changing views of mental illness, as well as recent genetic, neuroscientific, and behavioral findings.

  • Salovey Inaugurated President of Yale University

    In an October 13 ceremony, APS Fellow Peter Salovey was inaugurated 23rd President of Yale University. Salovey also serves as the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology at Yale and served as the provost of Yale from 2008 to 2013. Salovey’s research focuses on emotions, particularly on links between emotion and health-related behavior. His “Emotional Intelligence” theory, developed in collaboration with APS Fellow John D. Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, posits that individuals have varying levels of emotional abilities, in much the same way that individuals have varying levels of intellectual abilities, and that these emotional abilities play an important role in human behavior.

  • Narcissism Unleashed

    They can be self-centered, arrogant or cocky. They seem charming at first, but later turned out to be intensely self-absorbed. They may be supremely confident in their abilities but turn out to be incompetent — and blame other people for their failures. Narcissists must perform a variety of mental and social gymnastics to protect their grandiose views of themselves. They seek attention and admiration. They build splashy, often exaggerated profiles on Facebook. They play games in relationships. And they lash out at anyone who criticizes them.

  • Koob Selected to Direct NIAAA

    An APS Fellow and internationally recognized expert on the neurobiology of addiction has been selected to direct the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). George F. Koob will begin his duties in early 2014. As director of NIAAA, Koob will administer a $458 million budget for research, policy development, and other programs related to alcohol. Operating under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIAAA is the worldwide leader in funding research on alcohol and its effects on human well-being, and is a leading supporter of behavioral science. The Institute funds research spanning the areas of genetics, neuroscience, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment.

  • Finding the Truth in False Memories

    Over the past decades, psychological scientists have debunked the notion that human memory provides a reliable record of actual events. The well-known work of APS Past President Elizabeth F. Loftus, who in a classic experiment convinced study participants that they got lost in a shopping mall as children even though no such event had ever occurred, is an example of how memories are subject to after-the-fact revisions. Now, British artist A.R. Hopwood is turning the science of false memories into art.

  • Psychological Science Paper Recognized with Robert B. Cialdini Award

    The Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology has bestowed a special honor on the authors of an August 2012 Psychological Science paper. APS Fellow Judith M. Harackiewicz, Christopher Rozek, and APS Fellow Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, along with Chris Hulleman of the University of Virginia, are recipients of the 2013 Robert B. Cialdini Award, a prize endowed by APS Fellow Robert B.

  • Newcombe to Discuss Integrative Approach to Cognitive Science in Convention Speech

    Temple University psychologist Nora Newcombe has received a 2014 William James lifetime achievement award from APS, in honor of her role in advancing the field of cognitive science. Newcombe will deliver her award address, “Resolving the Nativist-Empiricist Debate: A Neoconstructivist Approach to Cognitive Development,” at the 26th APS Annual Convention, to be held May 22-25, 2014, in San Francisco. Newcombe has made vast contributions to the understanding of spatial cognition — the mental visualization of two- and three-dimensional objects.

  • The ‘Heartwarming’ Nature of Social Bonds

    Emotional connections with others are one of the fundamental ingredients for a happy and fulfilled life. Seeking out these connections often feels good, providing a kind of social "warmth." New research published in Psychological Science suggests that this social warmth may be more than metaphor, revealing that brain areas involved in the perception of physical warmth are also involved in heartwarming social experiences. “The neural systems in place to detect signs of social connection may have borrowed from the neural systems that detect physical warmth,” write psychological scientists Tristen Inagaki and Naomi Eisenberger.

  • SSSP Provides Opportunities for Psychopathy Researchers

    A layperson’s conception of psychopathic personality might involve psychosis, mental illness, and violent behavior, but none of these things is actually equivalent to psychopathy. While psychopathy is one risk factor for aggression, psychopaths are usually rational people, and they can be found throughout society. Members of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy (SSSP) are working against common misconceptions in an effort to “better understand the characteristics and causes of psychopathy, as well as better ways of detecting it, treating it, and ultimately preventing its destructive manifestations.” Scott O.