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172004Volume 17, Issue1January 2004

Presidential Column

Henry L. Roediger, III
Henry L. Roediger, III
Washington University in St. Louis
APS President 2003 - 2004
All columns

In this Issue:
Vita Voyeur

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.

Up Front

  • Vita Voyeur

    I like to look at other people's vitas. There. My little secret is out in the open. Vitas are so delicious, so much fun to read. They tell so much about a person. Academics live for them. "You are your vita," Charles Lord writes in the first chapter of The Compleat Academic. Vitas are the record of our accomplishments great and (much more likely) small. Ambitious corporate executives strive for wealth and toys - the person who dies with the most money and cars and gadgets wins the game. In academia we don't play for money, by and large, but for other rewards - publications, citations, awards, editorships, and other hallmarks of success. Our vitas record our winnings, our small shots at immortality. But, like any publication, there are many decisions in creating our vitas: What to put on a vita? How many categories should there be? In what order should things go?

APS Spotlight

  • Psychology All-Stars: Robert Levenson

    In response to requests for more personal interactions with leaders in psychology, the APS Student Caucus is sponsoring a series of occasional Psychology All-Stars interviews. For the inaugural interview, we are fortunate to have Robert Levenson, APS President-elect, share his personal insights on what it takes to become a first-rate researcher. Levenson is a professor and director of the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley and is a leading expert in the field of emotion. APSSC: Why did you choose psychology as your career path? ROBERT LEVENSON: I didn't have a burning interest in it like some people had. As an undergraduate at Georgetown, I started in a foreign service school, and that wasn't a good career for me, given the politics of the day.


  • The First Day of Class

    Every time we think we are on top of our teaching, even briefly, a host of pedagogical issues nibble at our consciousness - course content, method of presentation, critical thinking, writing across the curriculum and others. Only the first day of class seems comparatively luxurious. Show up - distribute course materials - answer questions - and leave early. At least this is one class meeting we don't have to worry about or spend a lot of time on. Wrong! The first class meeting is critically important to the entire course to follow (does the primacy effect ring a bell?), deserves careful consideration, and is full of pitfalls. During your first class meeting you want to be interesting, organized and well prepared, clear, enthusiastic, and create a favorable climate for positive interpersonal relations.

First Person

  • Choosing a Dissertation Topic

    Graduate students may take several approaches to choosing a dissertation topic. While a perfunctory approach may hasten a degree, establishing a standard of quality will enable you to both advance the field and also evolve our own career. Eight steps are presented below to aid the graduate student in selecting a dissertation topic. 1. THE DISSERTATION TAKES PRIORITY. Following completion of comprehensive examinations and coursework, graduate students may often view their graduate education as almost over. On the contrary, the dissertation actually marks a new era of study. As a doctoral candidate, your procedural formalities are no longer dictated by faculty. Rather, you must examine the selected topic, create a timeline for its development, and alter your lifestyle to assure its completion. 2. PICK AN INTERESTING TOPIC.

More From This Issue

  • Courting Research: Psychology and Law Go Hand-in-Hand

    Life is full of tough choices. Sell or hold? Left or right? Guilty or not guilty? Every fall, many students around the country face a particularly difficult decision - law school or graduate school? For a small group of psychologists, the answer was easy: both. Monica Miller received her MA in psychology and her law degree last December. Now, she's working on her PhD in social psychology with an eye towards a career in trial consulting or public policy. As a student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Miller is completing a dual-degree program co-sponsored by the department of psychology and the school of law.

  • Annual Review Launches Clinical Psychology Volume

    Research in clinical psychology is coming of age, and one of the clearest markers of its arrival is that a new Annual Review, to be launched in 2005, will be devoted entirely to clinical research. Nolen-Hoeksema APS Charter Member Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, University of Michigan, is inaugural editor of the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. Its time has come, she said, because "clinical psychology is a huge field, one of the fastest expanding fields within psychology." The board of directors of Annual Reviews, Inc. had been talking about a separate volume on clinical psychology for years, she said, in response to the expansion of both its literature and its market.

  • NIDA Makes Behavioral Science a Priority for Public Health

    I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the members of the American Psychological Society and to highlight some of the activities that the National Institute on Drug Abuse is supporting in the behavioral research area. Given the complex nature of drug abuse and addiction, behavioral and social services research continue to be integral components of NIDA's research portfolio, with approximately $400 million spent in these areas in FY2003. NIDA is interested in increasing the impact of behavioral science research on public health, especially by using our knowledge in this area to steer children and young adults away from drug use.

  • Beck Wins Grawemeyer Award

    APS Fellow and Charter Member Aaron Beck - widely considered to be the founder of cognitive therapy - won the 2004 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for psychology. Beck is credited with the cognitive method of helping people learn techniques to help themselves. He developed this system of psychotherapy in the 1960s in what was considered a radical departure from the traditional Freudian theories, analysis, and behavioral approaches of that era. The Grawemeyer Award, which carries a hefty $200,000 prize, is presented annually for outstanding ideas in the field of psychology.

  • Taylor Takes on ‘Fight-or-Flight’

    Conventional research on stress has focused on the fight-or-flight theory, theorizing that all animals react to stress with either an aggressive or evasive response. APS Fellow and Charter Member Shelley Taylor argued that while the fight-or-flight model may be applicable to male animals, it may not apply to females. Females are primarily responsible for the care of early offspring, especially in primate animals, which are born physically immature and relatively defenseless. If females fight they may be injured and become unable to care for the offspring, or their offspring may be hurt. If they flee, then the offspring are left unprotected and unable to fend for themselves.

  • Steele and Markus on ‘Stereotype Threat and Black College Students’

    APS Fellow and former Board Member Claude Steele expounded on the relationship between stereotype and environment, and where he left off APS Fellow Hazel Rose Markus picked up. Their talk, "Stereotype Threat and Black College Students," was given on November 14, 2003 at a gathering of the Stanford Alumni Association.