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312018Volume 31, Issue2February 2018

Presidential Column

Suparna Rajaram
Suparna Rajaram
Stony Brook University, The State University of New York
APS President 2017 - 2018
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In this Issue:
The Memories of Memory Researchers

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.


  • APS Past President and William James Fellow Mahzarin Banaji pioneered research in implicit social cognition. Her collaborators and former students celebrate her work and influence.

  • APS President Suparna Rajaram asks four internationally renowned psychological scientists, including APS Past President Henry L. (Roddy) Roediger, III, APS Board Member Dorthe Berntsen, APS Fellow Qi Wang, and Charan Ranganath, about the paths that led them to shape how we study and understand human memory.

Up Front

  • The Memories of Memory Researchers

    In this Presidential Column, it is my pleasure to bring to you my Q&A with four internationally renowned psychological scientists who will speak at the Presidential Symposium I will host during the 30th APS Annual Convention on May 25, 2018, in San Francisco. These eminent scientists — APS Past President and William James Fellow Henry L. (Roddy) Roediger, III, APS Board Member Dorthe Berntsen, APS Fellow Qi Wang, and psychological scientist Charan Ranganath — have fundamentally shaped our understanding of human memory through a wide range of perspectives, techniques, and groundbreaking discoveries. I was struck by the varied paths they have taken in their lives and education, the challenges they have faced, and the ingenuity they have brought, time and again, to scaling new heights.


  • 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 the column for supplementary components, including classroom activities and demonstrations. Visit David G. Myers at his blog “Talk Psych”.

First Person

  • Studying First Impressions: What to Consider?

    First impressions are long-lasting. This familiar phrase indicates one of the many reasons that studying people’s first impressions is critical for social psychologists. Any information about a person, from her physical properties to her nonverbal and verbal behaviors, and even the environment she inhabits, influences our impressions and judgments about her (e.g., Ambady & Rosenthal, 1993; Gosling, Ko, Mannarell, & Morris, 2002). First impressions have been shown to last for months (Gunaydin, Selcuk, & Zayas, 2017) and affect personal judgments even in the presence of contradictory evidence about the individual (e.g., Rydell & McConnell, 2006). This article will briefly discuss some critical aspects of first impressions based on existing social psychological research, including my own. Types of First Impressions What are our first impressions about?

More From This Issue

  • Romance Research Roundup

    By the time Valentine’s Day rolls around each year, researchers have gleaned a new batch of findings on the psychological secrets of the human heart. Below are some of the most recent findings on the science of love. Oxytocin May Put ‘Rose-Colored Glasses’ On Relationships Ever wondered what a friend or colleague sees in a new love interest? A study of how romantic partners express and receive gratitude found that people with higher levels of the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin may focus on the bigger picture of their relationship, while those with less of the feel-good hormone remain more tethered to the here and now of what their partner is actually saying.

  • Probing the Good in Bad Behavior

    Exploring the more unpleasant aspects of individual and social nature is an occasional necessity for psychological scientists. But does approaching a phenomenon as all bad or all good risk limiting the questions that researchers ask about it? Below are examples of research that identifies some bright facets of human behaviors that are typically viewed as nasty, mean, and dark. Objectification Objectification involves treating someone as a means to a goal. In both philosophy and psychological science, objectifying others has been viewed as an antisocial act, something to be minimized if at all possible.

  • Mahzarin Banaji and the Implicit Revolution

    APS Past President and William James Fellow Mahzarin Banaji pioneered research in implicit social cognition. Her collaborators and former students celebrate her work and influence.

  • A Hub for Teaching Psychology

    What is the best way to teach psychology? How should students study to learn? To date there has been no coordinated effort to examine these questions. Whereas a large body of pedagogical research on teaching and learning exists, I have found that the absolute majority of research is conducted within individual classes at different institutions. Furthermore, few studies test theoretically derived questions and not enough classroom research sufficiently translates and tests lab findings. The reasons for these shortcomings are clear. Relevant research is published in diverse areas.

  • Emotions in Context: What We Know About How We Feel

    Emotions motivate behaviors, rational or not. They are the “colors of the soul,” according to Tanja Michael, who spoke at the 2017 International Convention of Psychological Science in Vienna, Austria. Michael is a professor and department chair in the Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Department at Saarland University in Germany. She explained that fascination with emotions inspires many researchers and clinicians to enter the field of psychology and behavioral science. Emotions have huge implications for clinical psychology, as patients generally seek treatment because of feelings as opposed to thoughts or behaviors.