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Volume 18, Issue2February 2005

Presidential Column

Robert W. Levenson
Robert W. Levenson
University of California, Berkeley
APS President 2004 - 2005
All columns

In this Issue:
Basic Research Funding: An Exercise in NIH-ilism

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


  • Are University Presidents Overpaid or Underappreciated?

    Every November The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes a special section on executive compensation of the chief executives (generally the presidents or chancellors) of American universities. The latest special section appeared November 19, 2004, and reported data for the 2002-2003 academic year. The data are collected from tax filings from the previous fiscal year and thus lag behind the current academic year. The focus of The Chronicle is always on the highest paid presidents in each category of university. In 2002-2003, William R. Brody of Johns Hopkins University topped the group at $897,786, but psychology's own Judith Rodin (in her last year as president of the University of Pennsylvania) came in a close second at $893,213. Among public universities, Mark A. Emmert of the University of Washington logged in at $762,000 and Carl Patton of Georgia State made $722,350. The Chronicle gives the salaries for the chief executive of all private and many public colleges and universities in the United States, so if you are interested you can go to your library (or work the Internet) and discover the salary of the chief executive of your employer or your alma mater.

  • Basic Research Funding: An Exercise in NIH-ilism

    "You don't need a Roadmap to know which way the wind blows." - With apologies to B. Dylan This month's cover story examines funding for basic behavioral research from the perspectives of National Institute of Mental Health leadership and staff, recent NIMH advisory workgroup members, APS leadership, and both newer and established basic behavioral scientists. There are lots of currents and cross-currents, but the overall conclusion is clear - when it comes to funding for basic research, the times they are a-changin'. There is now widespread awareness in the psychological science community that NIMH is vigorously refocusing its mission on "reducing the burden of mental and behavioral disorders." NIMH's fervent embrace of "translational research" was a significant step in this direction.

APS Spotlight


  • For Modern-Day Cupids, Data Replaces Dating

    Late in the fall of 1998 I received a call from an old friend, J. Galen Buckwalter: "Hey Carter," he asked. "Would you be interested in doing some data analysis?" At the time, I was halfheartedly pursuing a career as a research consultant for a variety of advertising and technology firms, while avoiding defending my dissertation. Galen is a research-oriented clinical psychologist who has focused much of his effort on investigating the effects of hormones on cognition, and was soon to be the head of research at Kaiser Permanente. I found myself strongly inclined to be involved in whatever Galen was working on. The project I was asked to join was working to determine construct validity for a set of factors derived from a 1,000+ item survey that had been administered to about 3,000 married couples.

Practice


  • Are University Presidents Overpaid or Underappreciated?

    Every November The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes a special section on executive compensation of the chief executives (generally the presidents or chancellors) of American universities. The latest special section appeared November 19, 2004, and reported data for the 2002-2003 academic year. The data are collected from tax filings from the previous fiscal year and thus lag behind the current academic year. The focus of The Chronicle is always on the highest paid presidents in each category of university. In 2002-2003, William R. Brody of Johns Hopkins University topped the group at $897,786, but psychology's own Judith Rodin (in her last year as president of the University of Pennsylvania) came in a close second at $893,213. Among public universities, Mark A. Emmert of the University of Washington logged in at $762,000 and Carl Patton of Georgia State made $722,350. The Chronicle gives the salaries for the chief executive of all private and many public colleges and universities in the United States, so if you are interested you can go to your library (or work the Internet) and discover the salary of the chief executive of your employer or your alma mater.

  • The Professor’s Voice

    What do most college professors have in common with Billy Joel, Reverend Billy Graham, Bill Murray, and Bill Clinton? Few of us are named "Bill," so that's not it. Rather, it is our occupational dependence on our voices. Like politicians, singers, actors, and preachers, teachers rely on their voices as a rich resource, capable of conveying, clarifying, and emphasizing ideas and feelings. The nature of our daily work, like that of politicians and singers, also puts our voices at risk. We speak for hours at a time, often in rooms with poor air quality, and we must project our voices to the depths of lecture halls with poor acoustics. There are a number of steps that any of us can take to strengthen our voices and be the James Earl Jones of our classrooms, speaking in vigorous, resonant tones that hold students' attention and enlarge their comprehension. Biomechanics of Voice Variations in voice production are often within our deliberate control. By consciously controlling specific muscle groups, we can create a more richly expressive voice with plenty of carrying power. Pitch Speech scientists tell us that we each are physically able to use about a two-octave range when we speak.

First Person


  • Fortuitous Opportunities: Taking Advantage of Student Competitions

    "Louis Pasteur once said, 'Chance favors the prepared mind.' Take advantage of fortuity by getting involved in a lot of activities." - Albert Bandura At the APS 16th Annual Convention, I learned the importance of fortuitous opportunities. For instance, I had no intention of becoming an APS Student Caucus Executive Board member, but, inspired by Bandura's message, I took a risk and ran for the Graduate Advocate position. There was no guarantee that I would get it, but I had to try. I decided that this was my opportunity and that the worst thing that could happen was that I wouldn't get any votes (students weren't allowed to bring tomatoes to pelt the candidates, so the only thing that could potentially get bruised would be my ego). The good news, of course, is that I was elected, but I never would have realized this potential had I not taken advantage of this opportunity.

More From This Issue


  • Something to Talk About

    Communication has always come easily for Morton Ann Gernsbacher. As a young girl in Dallas, Gernsbacher would carry on full-fledged conversations with every object in her room, including stuffed animals, bedposts, and crayons. Teachers in her elementary school were constantly reassigning her seat in a futile attempt to stifle her gregariousness. In high school, she spent at least four hours on the phone each night. College found her predominantly signing up for classes that included discussion sessions. She even chatted through the entire 13.1 miles of her first half marathon. It seems that Gernsbacher was destined for a career in communicating information.

  • NIH Advisory Panel Calls for Stable Home for Basic Behavioral Science

    In a highly anticipated report to the director of the National Institutes of Health, a panel of leading behavioral and social science researchers, including two APS Presidents, has recommended that NIH establish a secure and stable home for the most basic of NIH's behavioral science research and training. Their recommendation comes on the heels of a move by the National Institute of Mental Health to discontinue funding some areas of basic behavioral science.

  • What Wouldn’t Have Been

    The following comments were made to the advisory council of the National Institute of Mental Health during the council's deliberations on the future of basic behavioral science at the Institute. In 2004, three psychologists were elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences: Elizabeth Loftus, Elissa Newport, and Walter Mischel. All had significant NIMH funding at critical points in their careers, and studies by Newport and Mischel are currently funded by NIMH. I contacted all three and asked them about their NIMH support.

  • Rich Kid, Poor Kid

    It seems Bob Dylan was as much a scientific visionary as a social one. In his 1966 masterpiece Blonde on Blonde, Dylan rasps of being "helpless like a rich man's child." A study in the February issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science argues that growing up in an affluent culture forebodes potential psychosocial risks. "Children of the Affluent: Challenges to Well-Being" found evidence that upper-class children can manifest elevated tendencies toward substance use, anxiety, and depression. The authors traced these behaviors back to two factors common among affluent teens: excessive pressures to achieve and isolation (both literal and emotional) from parents.

  • Is This Good Buy?

    In his best-selling 1950s book The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard warned Americans that Madison Avenue was teaming with psychologists to unconsciously influence buyer behavior. While research has generally discredited the effectiveness of subliminal messages, businesses nevertheless spend billions each year to develop methods of seducing us into buying their wares. As it turns out, the most sophisticated sales technique may be the simplest. Corporations have recently hit upon a near-perfect marketing tool - we the people. A recent cover story in The New York Times Magazine describes a "word of mouth" marketing campaign engineered by a host of companies, such as Boston's BzzAgent.

  • Observations

    Evolution Says Men Marry Down Men are more likely to marry women below them on the corporate ladder, rather than their colleagues or bosses, researchers at the University of Michigan found. The study highlights male concerns about mating with dominant females. "These findings provide empirical support for the widespread belief that powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer to marry less accomplished women," said lead author Stephanie Brown, University of Michigan.