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272014Volume 27, Issue10December 2014

Presidential Column

Nancy Eisenberg
Nancy Eisenberg
Arizona State University, Tempe
APS President 2014 - 2015
All columns

In this Issue:
The Importance of Psychological Research at NICHD

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 Importance of Psychological Research at NICHD

    Many psychological scientists who have conducted research for some time have a home or favorite funding agency. Mine is the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Although NICHD supports considerable medical research, for decades it has been a strong funder of basic psychological research relevant to human development, broadly defined. I got my first R01 (major individual principal investigator) grant and my first Research Scientist Development award (also a grant) at NICHD. The first review panel I served on was housed at NICHD (in the old days, review panels tended to be within NIH institutes, rather than reviewing grants across institutes).


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    Aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom, “Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science” offers 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 bimonthly 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 nonexperts, making them ideally suited for use in the classroom. Visit David G. Myers and C. Nathan DeWall’s new blog “Talk Psych” at

First Person

  • Using Findings From Anxiety Research to Conquer Graduate School

    Most graduate students in psychology are familiar with behaviors that reinforce anxiety — namely, avoidance, the use of safety behaviors, and reassurance seeking. Yet how many of us consciously apply our knowledge to help us understand our own adaptive and maladaptive behaviors as graduate students? Our perpetual state of over-commitment propels us into habitual behavior, and our focus on the final product rarely allows us to reflect on our experience as graduate students. Here, I delineate the common obstacles I have encountered as a graduate student and offer empirically supported coping strategies. Not Knowing When or How to Say No As an undergraduate student, I was desperate to accrue as much research experience as possible, whereas now I am more selective about the projects to which I commit.

More From This Issue

  • Frank to Speak on ‘Relieving the Burden of Mood Disorders’

    Ellen Frank has been recognized internationally for her clinical research on the assessment and treatment of mood disorders, including the creation of interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), a psychotherapy treatment that has been proven effective in preventing and reducing the recurrence of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Frank, a 2015 recipient of the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award, will deliver her award address at the 27th APS Annual Convention, May 21–24, in New York City. Frank is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the director of the Depression and Manic Depression Prevention Program.

  • Psychological Science Authors Earn Badges for Open Practices

    2014 was the first year in which Psychological Science authors were eligible to earn up to three badges in recognition of open scientific practices. Open Data badges are awarded to authors who have made data that are shareable online publicly available; Open Materials badges are awarded to authors who have made the research methodology necessary for replication of the study publicly available; and Preregistered badges are awarded to authors who have reported results according to a publically available preregistered design and analysis plan.

  • Books to Check Out: December 2014

    To submit a new book, email [email protected]. Processing Inaccurate Information: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives from Cognitive Science and the Educational Sciences edited by David N. Rapp and Jason L. G. Braasch; the MIT Press, August 22, 2014. Social Influences on Romantic Relationships: Beyond the Dyad edited by Christopher R. Agnew; Cambridge University Press, October 2014.

  • A Conversation With James S. Jackson

    James S. Jackson, an APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow and Director of the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan, has begun a 6-year term on the National Science Board. He will be among 25 board members who will advise the US Congress and the president on science and engineering policy. On his birthday, Jackson sat down in July with APS Executive Director Alan Kraut for an interview, at a time when both scientists happened to be on travel in Europe. In the dialogue, conducted on his 70th birthday in the south of France, Jackson reflected on his life and career. Alan G. Kraut: James, what an incredible time in your life.

  • Milestones in a Distinguished Career: James S. Jackson

    1962: Enrolled as engineering student at Michigan State University (MSU) and later changed major to psychology 1968: Became National President of the Black Student Psychological Association 1971: Hired as the first full-time African American faculty member at the University of Michigan (UM) 1972–73: Served as president of the Association of Black Psychologists 1979: Launched the groundbreaking National Survey of Black Americans 1989: Appointed to the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 1995: Named Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at UM 2001: Won NIMH grant to begin the National Survey of American Life 2002:…

  • Blurred Concepts of Consent

    The message may seem ridiculously obvious: “If she doesn’t consent, or can’t consent, it’s rape.” So why does the White House need to enlist Benicio Del Toro, Daniel Craig, and other famous actors to deliver this explanation in public service announcements? Why did the California legislature feel compelled to pass a law that effectively defines consent as a clearly stated “yes” before every stage of sexual activity? Why are colleges and universities across the country refining — or instituting for the first time — workshops and courses to teach students the importance of establishing clear, mutual agreement before initiating sex?

  • Exploring Infant Cognition

    Many of today’s developmental psychologists defend the hypothesis that “babies are smarter than we think” — a lot smarter than we think, explained Nora Newcombe of Temple University during her APS William James Fellow Award Address at the 2014 APS Convention in San Francisco. But Newcombe’s work on mental rotation and human spatial perception has made her question the complex cognitive abilities that many researchers ascribe to infants. “They’re smarter than you think if you think they don’t know anything,” she said, noting that no serious contemporary scientist sees babies as “blank slates” devoid of mental ability.

  • Sternberg is New Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science

    Robert J. Sternberg received his doctorate in cognitive psychology from Stanford in 1975 and went on to become IBM Professor of Psychology and Education, Professor of Management, and Director of the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise at Yale University. Sternberg left Yale in 2005 to become Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology and Education at Tufts University and then served as Provost of Oklahoma State University and President of the University of Wyoming. He is now Professor of Human Development at Cornell University. Sternberg is also the recipient of 13 honorary doctorates.

  • The Fault in Our Stats

    Just as advancements in technology have revolutionized the collection and measurement of data, new statistics offer an approach to analysis that allows results to be examined and applied in a broader scientific context. A growing demand for accountability and reliability in the social sciences has spurred an increase in studies reporting effect size, which measures the magnitude of a relationship, and confidence intervals, which provide an estimate of error. Unlike hypothesis testing and p values, these parameters are not as skewed by population size and thus can be used to compare results across multiple studies (meta-analysis), serving as a standard measure.

  • APS Fellows Recognized for Their Impact on Students, Community at Large

    APS Fellows Randall Engle and Laurence Steinberg have been selected as recipients of the 2014 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for “inspiring a former student to make a difference in his or her community.” Randall W. Engle, Professor of Psychology at Georgia Institute of Technology, is a renowned expert on the science of working memory and attention, and the interaction between the two. Based on his extensive body of research, Engle has argued that individual differences in working-memory capacity may result from differences in attentional control, and that the ability to exert attentional control is a key component of general fluid intelligence.

  • APS Members Lord and Shadlen Elected to Institute of Medicine

    Catherine Lord, the DeWitt Senior Scholar and a professor of psychology in psychiatry and of psychology in pediatrics at Weill Cornell, and Michael N. Shadlen a professor of Neuroscience at Columbia University, were elected as new members to the (IOM) on Oct. 20 during the IOM’s 44th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.