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Volume 21, Issue6June/July 2008

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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  • This is a photo of a piece of paper torn to reveal the phrase "uncover the facts"

    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.’

Practice


  • Using Office Hours Effectively

    Ah, office hours. Some faculty actually enjoy holding them while others practically have to be forced to. Where you fall in this spectrum can be noted by your own reaction to the title of this article (insert dramatic pause here for a moment of self-reflection . . .). Using office hours effectively benefits both the student and you, the faculty member, in numerous academic ways (advising, clarifying course content, etc.).  However, it also encourages student-faculty contact, the first principle for effective undergraduate teaching (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). On a practical note, being available to students during office hours increases both communication with them and opportunities for rapport-building, both of which are related to higher teaching evaluations (Kerssen-Griep, Gayle, & Preiss, 2006).

First Person


  • Adherence to Exercise and the Older Adult

    I always knew I wanted to work in the health field. The medical field was fascinating, but I wanted a closer relationship with patients than most doctors have. The fitness industry was also appealing to me, but I couldn’t face working out 6 hours a day for the rest of my life. So, I put myself on the path to becoming a physical therapist, getting my undergraduate degree in exercise physiology and a master’s in Sport Psychology. During this time I worked my way through school with physical therapy and personal training jobs. Then I discovered health psychology. During this time, I also began work with older adult populations and fell in love with them. Health psychology deals with a wide range of issues related to health, including the biological, behavioral and social contexts important to older adult populations.

More From This Issue


  • On the Newsstand

    Sadness Spurs Spending, Experiment Shows NPR April 21, 2008 “If you’re feeling blue, you might want to think twice before you head out for a little shopping. That’s because research shows sad people are willing to pay significantly more money for everyday items such as a water bottle. Cynthia Cryder, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, recently explored the issue of emotion and spending in a simple experiment.” Coverage of “Misery Is Not Miserly: Sad and Self-Focused Individuals Spend More” in Psychological Science (Cynthia E. Cryder, Jennifer S. Lerner, James J. Gross, and Ronald E. Dahl, Volume 19(6), in press).

  • The History Corner: The 70th Anniversary of a Masterpiece

    In May of 1938, an advertisement appeared in Psychological Abstracts announcing the publication of a new book by the Appleton-Century Company. Slated to appear in June, The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis would be the next installment in the famed Century Psychology Series edited by Richard Elliott of the University of Minnesota. The author of The Behavior of Organisms was a relatively new assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, B. F. Skinner. This 457-page masterwork would become a seminal part of the behaviorist movement. In it, Skinner discussed over a decade of research on influencing behavior.

  • APS Delegation Visits China

    The APS delegation would like to extend its gratitude to the many hosts in China. Special thanks go to: Kan Zhang The Institute of Psychology Ye Liu The Institute of Psychology Shizhuan Zhang Chinese Academy of Science Xiaolan Fu The Institute of Psychology Xianghong Sun The Institute of Psychology Zhengkui Liu The Institute of Psychology Qicheng Jing Chinese Psychological Society Houcan Zhang Chinese Psychological Society Shihui Han Peking University Yan Xu Beijing Normal University Lin Chen National Laboratory for Brain Research Much like everything else in China, psychological science is currently undergoing a rapid transformation.

  • Personal Perspectives on the Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel: What Does Psychological Science Have to Do With It? Plenty!

    When I moved to Washington DC in 2001 to help start a new federal research agency, I could not have imagined the changes that would ensue in educational research or, as some now call it, the science of learning and teaching. The agency we started is flourishing, and is called the Institute of Education Sciences, which include cognitive and neurosciences. (We knew the future augured well when we achieved the largest budget increase for a federal agency, under the legendary Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniel.) Although I was invited to be “deputy dawg,” as IES director Russ Whitehurst put it, he was the top dog, and responsible for much of the agency’s success.

  • A Missed Opportunity for Psychology: The Story of Solomon Carter Fuller

    The 1909 Clark University Conference. Solomon Carter Fuller is on the extreme right, last row (or, the third person back). In the front row are E.B. Titchener (second from left), William James (third), G. Stanley Hall (sixth), Sigmund Freud (seventh), and Carl Jung (eighth).1 Psychology generally acknowledges Francis Cecil Sumner as the first African American psychologist. Sumner completed his PhD at Clark University in 1920 under G. Stanley Hall (Guthrie, 2004). A decade earlier, Hall had sponsored a weeklong conference at Clark, remembered now as the occasion of Freud’s only visit to America.

  • An SEP Hat Trick: Three from APS Win Annual Awards

    The prestigious Society for Experimental Psychologists (SEP) gave its 2008 recent research and lifetime achievement awards to two APS Past Presidents and its Early Career award to a rising star in the field who is also an APS Member.  Coincidence?  We think not. SEP awarded the Howard Crosby Warren Medal to past APS president (and the Academic Observer columnist) Henry L. Roediger, III, of Washington University in St. Louis. Given every year for “outstanding recent work in experimental psychology,” the Warren Medal is the Society’s highest honor. Four Warren Medal winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

  • Primed For Ripeness

    There was a time when the world was full of women named Daisy and Iris and Lily and Rose. Naming daughters after nature’s blooms was considered a high compliment, a celebration of feminine beauty. Flowery names aren’t in fashion so much these days, but the tradition of linking blossoms and womanhood runs long and deep. Just think back on the romantic imagery of Shakespeare or Burns or Keats. The tradition may go back even further than that as it turns out, way back before poetry and language, and indeed may be deep-wired into our neurons.

  • Having Less Power Impairs the Mind and Ability to Get Ahead

    Being put in a low-power role may impair a person’s basic cognitive functioning and thus, their ability to get ahead, according to new research in Psychological Science. In their article, Pamela Smith of Radboud University Nijmegen, and colleagues Nils B. Jostmann of VU University Amsterdam, Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Wilco W. van Dijk of VU University Amsterdam focus on executive functions. Executive functions help people maintain and pursue their goals in difficult, distracting situations.

  • Endowment “Hoarding” Draws Congressional Ire

    Among universities, too, the very rich are different from the rest. They have bigger endowments. This has inspired Congress to wonder why tuition keeps rising above the rate of inflation while endowments rise to record levels. The reality of academic finance is that only a small slice of America’s vast higher-education enterprise has any significant amount of invested wealth. But a college degree has become a minimum requirement for getting ahead, and as tuition keeps going up, the cost issue has inevitably drawn hostile Congressional attention, with some effect.

  • Behavioral Science and National Security

    In a rare joint hearing of the House Armed Services Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, behavioral and social science got top billing. On April 28, 2008, the chair of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee,  Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), and the chair of the Armed Forces Subcommittee, Adam Smith (D-WA),  held a hearing on “The Role of the Social and Behavioral Sciences in National Security” to explore the ways in which behavioral and social sciences help U.S.