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Volume 13, Issue1January 2000

Presidential Column

Elizabeth D. Capaldi headshot
Elizabeth D. Capaldi
University of Buffalo
APS President 1999 - 2000
All columns

In this Issue:
What's Fair to Compare?

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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Up Front


  • What’s Fair to Compare?

    Who is Number 1? We are fascinated with this question. What is the best pizza, the best movie, the best TV show? In sports, winning and losing is part of the game and in most sports, a Number 1 team is usually unmistakable. In universities or psychology departments, the answer is not so clear, but still, we have endless single score rankings that set up a sports-like winner-loser competition. Many of these rankings are spurious, based on nothing but personal opinion, or on samples of opinion so small as to be ludicrous. Others claim to be based on data; most notable among these are U.S. News and World Report and the National Research Council's rankings of graduate programs. But even these rankings have significant problems. U.S. News changes their criteria and weighting every year, the cynical say, so that the rankings change and they sell magazines.