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242011Volume 24, Issue2February 2011

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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    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 Spotlight

  • Champions of Psychological Science: Carol Tavris

    Carol Tavris earned her PhD in social psychology at the University of Michigan. In her career as a writer and lecturer, she has sought to educate the public about the important contributions of psychological science and to explain how pseudoscience can lead us astray at best and, at worst, cause enormous personal and social harm. (She admits this is an uphill battle.) Her latest book, with Elliot Aronson, is Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, has been translated into 11 languages. Her other best-known books include Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion; The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, or the Opposite Sex; and, with Carole Wade, two textbooks in introductory psychology.


  • Offering a Careers Course in Psychology Opportunities and Challenges

    How many times has a student said to you… o    I just declared Psychology as my major. What can I do with it? o    How do I get into grad school? o    Is a school psychologist the same thing as a guidance counselor? o    I’m a Psychology major, but I’m not sure that’s what I want. o    I want to be a criminal profiler like on CSI. o    I’m going to grad school in psychology, but I’m only going to apply here because I don’t want to relocate. o    What’s a vita? Instructors likely find themselves fielding statements and questions like these repeatedly. From a developmental perspective it makes sense that students may lack the information they need to make informed decisions about their degree and career goals. One efficient and effective tool for reaching out to students and addressing a host of career and major issues is to implement a Careers in Psychology course.

First Person

  • How To Be a Good Mentee

    Mentoring relationships are the bedrock on which much of higher education is built. Mentoring reflects a relationship between an experienced senior colleague (mentor) and a less experienced junior colleague or student (mentee), in which the mentor provides the mentee with resources, expertise, skills, and perspectives related to personal development and career advancement. The mentee is not a passive vessel into which the mentor pours knowledge but rather is a collaborator who actively engages in learning and critically reflects on experiences (Zachary & Fischler, 2009). Mentoring relationships can be formal (the relationship between a professor and student) or informal (the relationship between older and younger students or senior and junior faculty). This article will focus on the formal relationship between faculty mentors and graduate student development.

More From This Issue

  • People With Similar Language Styles Are More Romantically Compatible

    It’s February and love is in the air! We know that people tend to be attracted to, date, and marry other people who resemble themselves in terms of personality, values, and physical appearance. However, these features only skim the surface of what makes a relationship work. The ways that people talk are also important. A new study published in Psychological Science, finds that people who speak in similar styles are more compatible. A study led by James Pennebaker, University of Texas at Austin, examined whether the speaking and writing styles couples adopt during conversation with each other predict future dating behavior and the long-term strength of relationships.

  • Opportunities and Challenges in Social Neuroscience

    The unifying Opportunities and Challenges in Social Neuroscience conference at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, is bringing together psychological scientists from around the world to discuss the directions that neuroscience is heading. New techniques resulting from advances in mapping the functional anatomy of the brain offer deeper insights into brain functioning, behavior, and behavioral and cognitive-affective disorders. The aim of the Opportunities and Challenges in Social Neuroscience conference is to provide a unified roadmap for the future of this interdisciplinary field. The conference includes talks by APS Past President John T.

  • Hunch for $1,000

    IBM and the game show “Jeopardy!” announced recently that “Watson” — a computerized contestant long in the works — is ready to show its cognitive savvy on the air. For three consecutive nights starting February 14, Watson will match wits with Ken Jennings —who won 74 games in a row, the longest streak ever — and Brad Rutter, who holds the record for “Jeopardy!” winnings, more than $3.2 million. As many as 20 IBM scientists have been working on Watson — named after the company’s founder, Thomas J. Watson — for more than three years. Why would a company commit so much time and money to such a, well, trivial pursuit? Well, think about just what it is that “Jeopardy!” really tests in people.

  • Want a Better Relationship?

    Gary W. Lewandowski, Monmouth University, told CNN that putting your partner first is relationship advice of the past. Lewandowski, who is speaking at the APS-STP Teaching Institute this May in Washington, DC, and his colleague, APS Fellow and Charter Member Arthur P. Aron, Stony Brook University, study “self-expansion,” how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences. Research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their romantic partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship.

  • When the Zebra Loses its Stripes

    The capacity to remember that a zebra has stripes, or that a giraffe is a four-legged mammal, is known as semantic memory. It allows us to assign meaning to words and to recall general knowledge and concepts that we have learned. The deterioration of these capacities is a defining feature of semantic dementia and can also occur in Alzheimer’s patients. A group of French neurologists and neuropsychologists has identified the elements of semantic memory that are the first to deteriorate and may thus have explained why a surprising phenomenon known as hyperpriming can be seen in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Getting Outside Myself to Help the Thai People

    APS Fellow Bruce Svare reflects on his time in Thailand Those of us in higher education have a tendency to develop tunnel vision and become overly focused on our professional careers as scientists. When world problems remote from our homes become the lead story in news reports, we often pay only brief attention. That was me until 2004, when a tsunami struck Phuket, Thailand. While trained psychologists descended on the country to provide needed assistance and comfort, I learned that the field of psychology was in its infancy in Thailand.