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Volume 20, Issue6June/July 2007

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 the Observer newsletter and may access the online archive going back to 1988.

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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


  • Twelve Tips for Authors

    One of the most critical skills for academic psychologists is writing the empirical journal article. Yes, other forms of communication (review articles, theory articles, book chapters, books) are important, but the empirical journal article reporting two or more studies or experiments is the most common form of communication. Early in one’s career, publishing a steady series of journal articles is how one builds a reputation. Many sources exist to help writers craft journal articles, including whole books like Robert Sternberg’s The Psychologist’s Companion: A Guide to Writing for Students and Psychologists (Cambridge, 2003). In addition, Daryl Bem provides a masterful chapter on “Writing the empirical journal article” in The Compleat Academic (APA Press, 2004). The following tips only skim the surface of this subject.

APS Spotlight


  • Not Always Smooth Sailing

    We met at an anti-Vietnam War protest in 1971. Jerry was an associate professor and Judy was a graduate student at the University of Illinois. We encountered one another across the table at an anti-war strategy meeting, and our eventual relationship can be traced to a fortuitous game of footsie that went on under the table. Jerry has a vivid memory of the interaction while Judy has none at all, suggesting that she assumed the flirtatious foot was attached to her then boyfriend (sitting beside her). Happily, the case of mistaken identity eventually led to a life together. Although our personal relationship was deeply satisfying from the start, it created professional problems of a sort that were especially common for couples in academia at the time. In 1973, Judy received her PhD and left Champaign-Urbana for her first job as an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Jerry drove her from corn fields to palm trees in her 1963 Volkswagen Bug with rusted-out holes in the floor and two Siamese cats howling the whole way.

  • Champions of Psychology: Laura L. Koppes

    This is an ongoing series in which highly regarded professors share advice on the successes and challenges facing graduate students. Laura L. Koppes is Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of West Florida. After completing her PhD in industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology at The Ohio State University, she began her academic career when she joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to rebuild its graduate program. Before joining the University of West Florida, she was Director of Work-Life at the University of Kentucky and Associate Vice President in Academic Affairs at Eastern Kentucky University, where she also held a faculty position in the psychology department and established a new graduate program. Koppes has consulted and published numerous articles, book chapters, columns, and notes on various topics, including work-life, the history of I-O psychology, training, performance appraisals, credit reports and selection, and master’s education.

Practice


  • ‘Exporting’ Psychology

    In 1974, I was a young associate professor at Purdue and believed that I was doing just what I was supposed to be doing — teaching large courses, working with students, and conducting research. In fact, I had recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research on the effects of heat on aggression (the so-called “long, hot summer” effect). My students and I performed many laboratory studies in which we carefully varied temperature to observe the effects on human behavior. Then, for a change of pace and to test the generalizability of our work, we moved outside the laboratory and observed horn-honking by motorists on hot and cool days. As we expected, more honking occurred on hot days than on cool ones, and I presented these findings at a convention. The effect was totally unexpected: A major storm suddenly broke around my head. At that time, U.S. Senator William Proxmire was awarding “prizes” — the Golden Fleece — to faculty members in any field who, in his opinion, excelled in wasting taxpayers’ money.

  • Twelve Tips for Authors

    One of the most critical skills for academic psychologists is writing the empirical journal article. Yes, other forms of communication (review articles, theory articles, book chapters, books) are important, but the empirical journal article reporting two or more studies or experiments is the most common form of communication. Early in one’s career, publishing a steady series of journal articles is how one builds a reputation. Many sources exist to help writers craft journal articles, including whole books like Robert Sternberg’s The Psychologist’s Companion: A Guide to Writing for Students and Psychologists (Cambridge, 2003). In addition, Daryl Bem provides a masterful chapter on “Writing the empirical journal article” in The Compleat Academic (APA Press, 2004). The following tips only skim the surface of this subject. Most of us work hard at our writing, so it can be depressing to realize that only a small fraction of your target audience will ever read your pithy words. Just focusing on APS publications, a huge number of articles are published every year. For 2006, 270 articles were published in the four APS journals, and they consumed 1,880 pages.

More From This Issue


  • We Need a Second NIH

    “In my opinion, the greatest risk for science is to stop taking risks,” Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has written. In furtherance of this theme, which holds sacred status among science strategists, here’s a risky proposal for enlivening future biomedical research by directing some significant portion of it away from the NIH: Cap the budget and programs of the Bethesda behemoth at their current levels, with increases to meet inflation. Thus, the NIH as we know it — call it NIH I — will remain intact. But, when federal finances loosen up, as they will some day, direct funds for biomedical research growth to a new government philanthropy.

  • 2007-2008 Cattell Fund Fellowships Announced

    The James McKeen Cattell Fund and APS are pleased to announce that Lisa Feldman Barrett, Susan Gelman, and Sandra Waxman are this year’s James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowship recipients. Since 1974, the prestigious Cattell Fund Fellowships have allowed researchers to extend sabbaticals from their home institutions in order to pursue new research.

  • Get a (Second) Life

    As a psychology researcher, imagine being able to get a group of people together in a social environment where they are able to relax and be themselves, but where one can still collect data. Sounds like an elusive fantasy, but the possibility is becoming a reality through Internet research in an online world called Second Life. Second Life is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORG), but that title doesn’t accurately convey the complexity of this Internet haven. Users describe Second Life as a world of endless possibilities, where if you can imagine it, it can happen.

  • Tsunami Researchers Help Rebuild a Community

    On December 26, 2004, one of history’s deadliest and most destructive tsunamis struck 12 countries bordering the Indian Ocean, the result of a massive 9.1 magnitude underwater earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. The ensuing waves traveled across the ocean at over 550 miles per hour — as fast as a jet — to make first landfall within 30 minutes of the quake and reaching as far as East Africa over the next several hours. The tsunami left over 250,000 dead and 2.3 million people homeless. Studying Survivors David N.