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Volume 23, Issue2February 2010

Presidential Column

Linda Bartoshuk
Linda Bartoshuk
University of Florida
APS President 2009 - 2010
All columns

In this Issue:
Flavor Learning in Utero and Infancy

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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


  • Flavor Learning in Utero and Infancy

    In my previous columns about food behavior, I have contrasted the hard-wired affect for taste with the learned affect for flavor. This month, I present an interview with Julie Mennella, the pioneer who showed us that learning to like flavors begins even before we are born. My first exposure to this idea was as a graduate student studying taste at Brown University in the 1960s. I encountered a foreign student with a pregnant wife who was very concerned about getting a supply of spices traditionally consumed at home. He explained that for their child to like the foods of their culture, his wife needed to consume the traditional spices during pregnancy and breast feeding. At that time, I found this belief surprising. Now, Mennella has shown us that it is based on solid psychological science.

Practice


  • Incorporating Philosophy in Every Psychology Course and Why it Matters

    Psychology undergraduate students often have the notion that philosophy is dead and gone. I say this because many of these same students have overtly voiced this view when I have attempted to introduce philosophical concepts at the beginning of a Theories of Personality Course. They are Psychology Majors, after all, the students explain, and they often wonder out loud what we might be doing exploring various philosophical assumptions at the beginning of a Personality course. In this particular course, I often begin with an examination of Aristotle’s four causes, and in many cases, the student response is to ask pointedly, “Aristotle? Who is he, again?

First Person


  • They’re Just Not That Into Your Research: Rejection in Academia

    For three years, it seemed that getting into graduate school would be my last professional achievement; everything I had tried since then ended in rejection. It started with the grants I applied for in my first year, and it seemed as if it would never end. The worst was a two-month period where I received rejections for a poster, a journal article, a scholarship, and a summer workshop. I was never ambitious enough to believe the mainstream media would pick up my research, but I had thought it would be of interest to others in my field. Instead, at the end of my third year, no one outside my department (and, let’s face it, very few people inside my department) knew what I was doing. It posed an interesting philosophical question: If research is conducted, but there is no one who reads about it, does it still matter? Rejection is a way of life in academia.

More From This Issue


  • Scent of a Woman: Men’s Testosterone Responses to Olfactory Ovulation Cues

    Women around the world spend billions of dollars each year on exotic smelling perfumes and lotions in the hopes of attracting a mate. However, according to a new study in Psychological Science, going “au naturale” may be the best way to capture a potential mate’s attention.  Smells are known to be critical to animal mating habits: Animal studies have shown that male testosterone levels are influenced by odor signals emitted by females, particularly when they are ovulating (that is, when they are the most fertile). Saul L. Miller and Jon K. Maner from Florida State University wanted to see if a similar response occurs in humans.

  • Right-handed Chimpanzees Provide Clues to the Origin of Human Language

    Most of the linguistic functions in humans are controlled by the left cerebral hemisphere. A study of captive chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Atlanta, Georgia), reported in the January 2010 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/cortex), suggests that this “hemispheric lateralization” for language may have its evolutionary roots in the gestural communication of our common ancestors. A large majority of the chimpanzees in the study showed a significant bias towards right-handed gestures when communicating, which may reflect a similar dominance of the left hemisphere for communication in chimpanzees as that seen for language functions in humans.

  • Could Acetaminophen Ease Psychological Pain?

    Headaches and heartaches. Broken bones and broken spirits. Hurting bodies and hurt feelings. We often use the same words to describe physical and mental pain. Over-the-counter pain relieving drugs have long been used to alleviate physical pain, and a host of other medications have been employed in the treatment of depression and anxiety. But is it possible that a common painkiller could serve double duty, easing not just the physical pains of sore joints and headaches, but also the pain of social rejection? A research team led by psychologist C.

  • Revisiting the Green Monster

    When South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was caught red-handed returning from a tryst with his Argentine mistress last June, he told the Associated Press that he had met his “soul mate.” His choice of words seemed to suggest that having a deep emotional and spiritual connection with Maria Belen Chapur somehow made his sexual infidelity to his wife Jenny Sanford less tawdry. Jenny Sanford wasn’t buying it, and neither would most women. What the two-timing governor didn’t understand is that most women view emotional infidelity as worse, not better, than sexual betrayal.