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212008Volume 21, Issue2February 2008

Presidential Column

John Cacioppo
John Cacioppo
University of Chicago
APS President 2007 - 2008
All columns

In this Issue:
Opportunities for Psychological Scientists at the National Institute on Aging

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

  • Opportunities for Psychological Scientists at the National Institute on Aging

    In prior columns, I have discussed the centrality of psychological science as a hub discipline, the rise in collaborative and interdisciplinary science, and the important role psychological scientists have to play in these developments. Large scale science is expensive, however, and these encouraging developments are being constrained by the stagnation in the growth in federal funding for psychological science.

APS Spotlight

  • Champions of Psychology: Lisa Diamond

    This is an ongoing series in which highly regarded professors share advice on the successes and challenges facing graduate students. Lisa M. Diamond is associate professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah. She received her doctorate in Human Development from Cornell University. Diamond's research focuses on two distinct but related areas - the nature and development of same-sex sexuality and the nature and development of affectional bonds. The common thread uniting these lines of research is her interest in the psychological and biobehavioral processes underlying our most intimate and important social ties and how they exert numerous influences on social, emotional, and sexual development across the entire life course.


  • Teaching Students to Work Well in Groups

    At the beginning of a market research project, 79 percent of students chose to participate in a group project rather than complete a similar one alone (Ryan & Ogilvie, 2005). Unfortunately, only 52 percent maintained this preference by the end of the semester-long experience. In addition, project quality often does not meet student hopes and expectations. Many instructors, at least occasionally, have seen similar outcomes in their own attempts to assign group projects. Given the appealing nature of group work for both instructors and students (at least initially), we wish to offer some strategies that can improve group process and performance. First and foremost, teachers must establish students' learning objectives before deciding what type of group project will best achieve them.

First Person

  • Mentoring: Long-Distance Relationships are Worth the Trouble

    There are many ways for students to acquire and maintain mentoring relationships that foster research, clinical, and other professional development. The rationale for mentoring is clear. Students benefit from the wisdom of mentors' education and experiences as they begin their careers. But finding a good mentor-protege match isn't always quite as simple. If you are fortunate enough to find a good match with a faculty member, clinician, or researcher, hold on to it, even if you are challenged by geographical distance. My Story During my senior year of college, I discovered a natural connection with a new faculty member in my department. At that point in my training, I was fairly certain that I wasn't interested in research as a career. But I knew that I wanted to practice psychotherapy at the doctoral level and research was an important part of reaching that goal.

More From This Issue

  • Talking With Your IRBs About Risk: Show Them the Data

    Say you want to distribute a questionnaire to trauma survivors in order to study coping mechanisms. Your IRB says to you, in essence, "Hmm, writing about traumatic experiences will be too stressful for the participants." "Why do you believe it will be stressful?" you ask. The reply: "It's a gut feeling" or "It's common sense" or "We just know." And then you're asked to make changes to your study. Grrr. We often hear cries for data, data, and more data when it comes to IRBs - data on how IRBs function; on rates of full, expedited, and exempt review; on how IRB composition affects outcomes, and on a whole host of other things.

  • National Science Foundation Update

    With a budget of $6 billion, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is the only federal science agency dedicated solely to supporting basic research. That doesn't mean NSF is the only agency that supports basic research - the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense have significant basic research programs. But NSF is distinguished by its efficiency and its essential role in supporting scientific inquiry that often would not be funded by more mission-oriented agencies.

  • Charter Member Memories

    The Observer recently invited our charter members to share their memories of APS. What was happening at the founding of the Association? What prompted them to join and remain loyal members for 20 years? Here is a selection of their responses. For more responses, see Janet Polivy: The Organization I Was Looking For I joined APS at its inception because APA was making me very concerned, as it seemed to be becoming a clinical/PsyD guild rather than a scientific professional organization.

  • Lasting Impression: Does the Face of a CEO Determine the Success of a Company?

    It certainly takes more than a pretty face to run a leading national corporation. But according to a recent Tufts University study, the performance levels of America's top companies could be related to the first impressions made by their chief executive officers (CEOs). Using photographs of the highest and lowest ranked Fortune 1000 CEOs, psychologists Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambady quizzed ordinary college students to determine which of the pictured faces were characteristic of a leader.

  • On the Newsstand

    The 'No' Muscle: How To Bulk Up Your Self-Control Boston Sunday Globe December 16, 2007 "If self-control can tire like a muscle, then one intriguing corollary is that it can also be built up like a muscle - and some research seems to say this is true. 'Targeted [efforts] to control behavior in one area, such as spending money or exercise' [write the authors]...'lead to improvements in unrelated areas, such as studying or household chores.'" - Coverage of "The Strength Model of Self-Control" in Current Directions in Psychological Science (Roy F. Baumeister, Kathleen D. Vohs, and Dianne M. Tice, Vol. 16 (6), 351-355).

  • Road Trip! APS Visits UVA

    It's not often that adults get to take field trips. Once we are grown, the prospect of a day away from the ordinary usually fades along with our memories of the school buses that took us on those adventures.

  • In Hard Times, NIH Reviews Peer Review

    When he was president of Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson concluded that it was easier to move a cemetery than it was to change a college curriculum. The same might be applied to the peer review system of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is undergoing a gargantuan review involving a cast of thousands, with the aim of doing better at distributing NIH's many, but always insufficient, billions of dollars. The introspection comes at a time when NIH's purchasing power has stagnated for four successive years, approval rates for grants are in a slump, and young investigators are especially aggrieved by the paucity of their budget share under reigning peer review methods.

  • About Face

    The motorcycle accident happened in August of 1980 and life would never be the same for the 39-year-old driver. His right arm endured significant damage, and he was right-handed. His judgment of construction design disappeared, and he was a city planner. Scenic landscapes and potential mates, once alluring sights, now aroused in him nothing, blending instead into indistinguishable images he could describe only as "dull." If after the collision the patient inspected himself in a mirror, he might not have recognized the face looking back, but not because unfamiliar bandages or bruises distorted the view.