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Volume 16, Issue1January 2003

Presidential Column

Susan T. Fiske
Susan T. Fiske
Princeton University
APS President 2002 - 2003
All columns

In this Issue:
The Joys and Sorrows of Cross-Disciplinary Research

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.

APS members receive online and print subscriptions to the Observer, including the online archive going back to 1988. The print edition is a member-only benefit.

Looking to connect with the Observer? Visit our Contact the Editor page to discuss writing for us and our Advertising page for sponsorship opportunities. If you have questions about your subscription, please email APS@psychologicalscience.org.

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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


  • The Joys and Sorrows of Cross-Disciplinary Research

    As part of our continuing series on bridging sub-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary boundaries, Professor David Watson reflects on his own experiences exporting research on mood, personality, and psychopathology. Professor of Psychology at the University of Iowa, he received his BS in psychology from Santa Clara University in 1975, and his PhD in personality research from the University of Minnesota in 1982. Clinical scientists face particular challenges and opportunities that he describes well. -Susan T. Fiske APS President Cross-disciplinary work presents challenges and frustrations similar to those of cross-cultural research. I know, because I have done both; indeed, I started doing both types of research very early in my career. While I was a graduate student, my wife and colleague, Lee Anna Clark, received a Fulbright fellowship to collect her dissertation data in Japan.

APS Spotlight


  • A Case of Entitlement

    During his conversation with Alan Kraut (APS Observer January 2002), Alan Leshner said, "When I came to the federal government, I always hesitated before I told my colleagues that I was a psychologist." Leshner then described how psychology has changed. His comments evoked vivid memories of my early days as a psychologist intern at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, and later, as a psychologist at New York University Prosthetic and Orthotic Studies. There was a recurring scenario at Bellevue, which at the time was a stronghold of unyielding psychiatric conservatism: Chief Psychologist David Wechsler always insisted that his intelligence scales (WBI, II, WAIS and WISC) be given in their entirety, not in an abbreviated form preferred by some staff psychologists. Wechsler deplored the minimization of psychometric and psychological evaluations by the staff psychologists who were more interested in gaining the right to pursue the lucrative field of psychotherapy, then dominated by psychiatry.

  • I Collect Data

    A couple of years ago I attended a meeting where Russell Belk, a professor of marketing from the University of Utah, gave a talk about "collecting," i.e., the phenomenon in which people go to great lengths to obtain large numbers of coins, stamps, or other objects. After his presentation, I approached Belk and said (with just a touch of smugness) that I didn't collect anything. But later that day, when during my talk I mentioned that I had "collected some data" to test a hypothesis, Belk smiled and said "Ah! You are a collector." I sputtered some reply and not so deftly returned to my talk, but his comment stayed with me. I have indeed spent most of my professional life collecting data. Was I no different than those who put a great deal of effort into collecting Elvis memorabilia, fancy cars, or Pokémon cards? When I breakfasted with Belk some months later, we discussed the parallels between what research has shown about collecting and how academics (not just me!) behave as data collectors. The similarities were many; below, I sketch out five of them. Collectors display their collections.

First Person


  • Science Versus Pseudoscience: Educating the Public Via the Bookstore Project

    Does the average citizen understand the difference between science and pseudoscience? A recent report on the state of public understanding in science conducted by the National Science Foundation1 suggests that belief in pseudoscience is widespread in America. Of the 1,574 adults that were surveyed, only one-third understood and could accurately describe the scientific process. Many Americans also agreed with a variety of pseudoscientific beliefs such as the existence of UFOs (30 percent), astrology (40 percent), and psychic powers (60 percent). Obstacles such as a lack of available information on scientific research in combination with the media's misrepresentation of science, particularly psychological science, impede public understanding and contribute to an erroneous belief in pseudoscientific ideas and practices.

More From This Issue


  • Gettysburg College

    Department of Psychology Box 407, Gettysburg College Gettysburg, PA 17325-1486 (717) 337-6171; ctuckey@gettysburg.edu Gettysburg College was founded in 1832 by a man named Samuel Schmucker. Because he had the foresight not to name the place after himself, it flourished. Now, 170 years later, Gettysburg College is consistently ranked among US News and World Report's top 50 liberal arts colleges in America. The campus occupies 200 acres in the town of Gettysburg, surrounded on all sides by Pennsylvania countryside and the historic Gettysburg battlefield. We currently enroll approximately 2,400 students, with a faculty-student ratio of 12:1.

  • Federal Support for Psych Research Climbing, Multidisciplinary Trend Emerges

    For psychologists at the nation's colleges and universities, a steady increase in federal monies has produced valuable research and interesting trends. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the high level of funding has enabled the school to establish a first-rate psychology department in which investigators are motivated to undertake research. According to Charles Snowdon, chair of the department, the boost in funding is a direct result of APS efforts in the nation's capital. "APS has been pushing federal funding for years," said Snowdon.

  • A Closer Look at the Trend

    Federal support for research and development activities at the nation's colleges and universities continues to rise for psychology, according to data compiled by the National Science Foundation.

  • Greetings from APA

    As President of the American Psychological Association (APA), I have often been asked how APA is faring relative to the American Psychological Society (APS). The assumption in such questions is that the organizations compete with each other, and that a gain for the one organization is in some way a loss for the other. As an officer of one organization but also a long-time loyal member of both, I beg to differ. I think the two organizations complement each other, and that they can and do work together effectively to serve the needs of psychologists.