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Volume 17, Issue6June 2004

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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APS Spotlight

  • No Monkey Business

    Hoff "This is not a research institution!" was the response I received from the academic dean. This followed my request to go to an international primate conference from my new job as an assistant professor at Dalton Junior College in 1981. I had arrived on the campus several months before, after changing my career goals during my last year of graduate school at Emory University. When I went to Emory, I intended to become a researcher who also taught. However, in my last two years of graduate school, I was a part-time instructor for Mercer University in their prison program at Atlanta Federal Prison. I taught a range of classes and discovered that while I liked doing research, I loved teaching. Hence, I changed my career focus from being a researcher who also taught to being a teacher who also did research. The trick was to find a place to do both. Fortunately, Dalton Junior College, a small two-year college in north Georgia, was looking for a psychologist who could also teach anthropology. When I started teaching at Dalton, there were two psychologists on the faculty, and I taught five different classes, with a teaching load of three classes per quarter.

  • A Glimpse of Psychology’s Greatest Experiments

    OPENING SKINNER'S BOX: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century By Lauren Slater W. W. Norton 2004 In the Roaring Twenties, in the midst of what Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock called an "outbreak of psychology in America," Henry Knight Miller, a 31-year-old Methodist minister, resigned his Brooklyn pulpit to start a psychology magazine for an American public eager to reap the personal benefits of the new science. Banking on this enormous popularity of psychology with the general public and his success in generating interest in his self-help sermons, Miller produced his first issue of Psychology: Health, Happiness, Success in April 1923. He told his readers that psychology held the keys to self-determination. As the science of mind, psychology was the royal road to health, happiness, and success. He expressed dismay at the inability of psychologists to communicate the practicality of their work to the public. But that would be his role. He would get beyond the jargon and technicalities of this new science and translate the research into prescriptions for public consumption.

First Person

  • For Mentor or Worse: The Importance of Mentoring Relationships at the Undergraduate Level

    Hyde Research experience is one of the most important factors for graduate school applicants. The research skills you learn as an undergraduate will guide and direct you throughout your career. Research experience shouldn't be limited to a few lines on your CV, but should be more broadly defined in order to establish personal research interests, gain the intoxicating passion behind the research, and make a significant contribution to the field of psychology. This experience can best be gained through a mentored learning environment. A successful mentorship not only provides personal gain to the mentee, but also facilitates the professional work of the mentor, contributes to an area of psychological science, and creates a strong and enduring professional bond between the two parties. To gain the most out of mentor relationships, start early. No matter how busy you are, you must make time to gain research experience through mentored learning if you want to pursue graduate education in psychology. Ideally, students should pursue a mentor immediately after they choose psychology as their career choice. Starting early makes it possible to explore the many available options.

  • Psychology All-Stars: Susan Mineka

    Susan Mineka In an ongoing series in which the APS Student Caucus talks with highly recognized professors, Susan Mineka recently shared her views on tips for success and challenges facing graduate students. Mineka is a professor of psychology and program director for the clinical psychology program at Northwestern University. She is renowned for her research on the origins and maintenance of fear and anxiety. Mineka is an APS Fellow, chair of the APS Election Committee, and a member of the APS Board of Directors. APSSC: What led you to choose psychology as your career path? MINEKA: I got into psychology a bit accidentally. After dropping another course in my sophomore year at Cornell, I talked my way into an introductory psychology course. I enjoyed it to some extent and got my first A+, so I decided to take more psychology courses. I was considering three different majors at the time and tentatively selected psychology, since I had an intuitive sense that this field had some areas that would be of great interest to me once I learned more. During my junior year, I took an experimental psychology class with Marty Seligman, and that settled it.

More From This Issue

  • Motivational Seeker: Bargh Says the Pursuit of Goals Is Often Unconscious

    Bargh Have you ever noticed yourself driving slower on the freeway after spending time with your elderly parents? Or realized that you have been more productive at work ever since you put that picture of your spouse on your desk? Chances are you haven't. But according to APS Fellow and Charter Member John Bargh, these very things happen, and his research into nonconscious goal pursuit can prove it.

  • Three APS Members Inducted Into the National Academy of Sciences

    The National Academy of Sciences, a private organization dedicated to the furtherance of science, recently announced the election of 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 13 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. APS is proud to announce that three of its members, Elizabeth F. Loftus, Walter Mischel, and Elissa L. Newport were among the inducted class. Election to membership in the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a US scientist or engineer. Those elected in the most recent class brought the total number of active members to 1,949.

  • Through the Roof

    Custom-designed labs, 150 miles of ethernet cable, 600 computers, 650 doors - but the numbers are only part of the story of the psychology building at The University of Texas at Austin. The Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay psychology building at The University of Texas at Austin cost $52 million. In May 2002, the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin moved into its new home: the $52 million, 175,000 square feet Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Building. The building occupies a prominent position on the north end of campus and illustrates an integration of beauty and function.

  • Nurturing Nature and Environment

    After Jack M. Fletcher was born in a Tallahassee hospital in 1952, his parents took him half an hour west to their home to Greensboro, Florida. Greensboro was so tiny that the entire town's 400 or so children, from kindergarteners to high school seniors, attended classes in a single school. As a boy Fletcher helped run his father's farm, in the family for five generations since the mid-19th century and whose unusual crop, shaved tobacco, was used as the wrapping leaf around cigars. Jack M. Fletcher records information as a research assistant looks into a tachistoscope to evaluate interhemispheric transfer.

  • Believing Is Seeing: Troland Winner Peers Into Perceptual and Conceptual Learning

    Human concept learning clearly depends upon perception. Our concept of "gerbil" is built out of perceptual features such as "furry," "small," and "four-legged." However, recent research has found that the dependency works both ways. Perception not only influences, but is influenced by, the concepts that we learn. Our laboratory has been exploring the psychological mechanisms by which concepts and perception mutually influence one another, and building computational models to show that the circle of influences is benign rather than vicious. An initial suggestion that concept learning influences perception comes from a consideration of the differences between novices and experts.