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212008Volume 21, Issue3March 2008

Presidential Column

John Cacioppo
John Cacioppo
University of Chicago
APS President 2007 - 2008
All columns

In this Issue:
Opportunities for Psychological Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health

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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  • Thumbnail Image for Disaster Response and Recovery

    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.


  • Professor Warren Thorngate writes about their time in Iran: It was not the career trajectory I planned. I never imagined I would fly to Iran for a conference in 1993, return 17 times and counting, live with Iranian families, teach at Tehran University, co-direct Iran’s first center for social psychology research at Shahid Beheshti University, and start a web site about psychology in Iran with funding from the Association for Psychological Science. But it all happened, and what an amazing turn it has been!

Up Front

  • Opportunities for Psychological Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health

    You may have heard that basic federal research funding for psychological scientists has fallen on hard times. But has it? To examine this question, I consulted the historical data on research and development funding provided in 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science ( The trends in federal research by discipline show that funding for psychological science has remained low for the past 36 years, whereas federal funding for nearly every other science has increased — in the case of life sciences the increase has been quite dramatic. This profile of federal funding is in sharp contrast to the status of psychology as a hub scientific discipline in terms of its benefit to other disciplines (Boyack, Klavans, & Borner, 2005; Cacioppo, 2007).

APS Spotlight

  • APS Teaching Fund Projects

    In Fall 2006, APS awarded the first round of grants from the APS Fund for Teaching and Public Understanding of Psychological Science. Established with the support of an endowed fund of $1 million from the David and Carol Myers Foundation, the Fund’s inaugural grants supported 6 diverse projects ranging from regional conferences in the United States, to teaching in Cambodia and Iran, to the development of websites which are supporting teachers around the globe. In this and the next issue of the Observer, we are pleased to feature first-hand reports of what these dedicated educators were able to achieve with their APS Fund support. Two are presented here. For information on a third, Warren Thorngate’s Psychology in Iran efforts, see this month’s Psychology Around the World column on page 23.


  • Academic Advising and Teachable Moments

    As I write this, it’s near the end of the semester, and yet another academic advising period has come and gone. For many busy faculty members, advising time conjures images of extended office hours, multiple meetings with frazzled advisees, and hectic schedules added to the normal routine of classes, research, and administrative or service responsibilities. Although academic advising is frequently underemphasized in yearly faculty activity reports and unappreciated in rank and tenure decisions, it is an integral and necessary part of most faculty positions. Granted, effectively advising students takes a considerable amount of energy, but the potential rewards often outweigh the costs and it is frequently a mutually beneficial exercise for everyone involved.

First Person

  • The Reality of Forensic Psychology

    Forensic psychology has gained recognition as a result of the entertainment media’s fascination with the intersection of psychology and law. In crime dramas, the forensic psychologist is often portrayed as the omnipotent seer with the clairvoyance to diagnose pathology instantaneously, capture even the most brilliant criminals, and manipulate the opinions of the most punitive jurors. Although forensic psychology certainly makes for an entertaining storyline, its reality is just as compelling. Of course, the real experts are not endowed with a sixth sense into criminal minds. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not need it. While the media’s imagination remains fixated on criminal minds and chasing runaway juries, the study of psychology and law provides researchers and clinicians an interdisciplinary framework for both scientific exploration and pragmatic application.

More From This Issue

  • Why Things Cost $19.95

    One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most enduring bits of comedy is the auction scene in the espionage thriller North by Northwest. Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a businessman who has been mistaken for a CIA agent by the ruthless Phillip Vandamm. At a critical juncture, Thornhill is cornered by his enemies inside a Chicago auction house, and the only way he can escape is by drawing attention to himself.

  • APS Member Wins Troland Award

    APS Member Isabel Gauthier, Vanderbilt University, has been awarded the 2008 Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The $50,000 prize is awarded every year to two young (under 40 years old) researchers in recognition of unusual achievement in empirical psychological research which explores the relationships between conscious awareness and the physical world around us.

  • Bartoshuk Named to NAS Governing Council

    Last month, APS Secretary and Charter Member Linda Bartoshuk was elected to the National Academy of Science (NAS) Governing Council. NAS is made up of about 2,100 of the nation’s premier scientists and 380 foreign associates. Since being formed in 1863 under the signature of Abraham Lincoln, NAS has served as scientific advisors to policy makers in many disparate arenas and advocated for science to improve the general welfare. Simply being named a member of the organization is one of the highest honors a researcher can receive. Bartoshuk received that honor in 2003.

  • A Conversation with OPASI Director Alan Krensky

    The recently established NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI) is taking hold just as NIH enters its fifth year of budget doldrums amid rising financial anxieties in the research community. OPASI is located in the Office of NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, as part of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). Its role is to help implement the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research — a Zerhouni innovation that began several years ago to support cross-cutting research that warrants attention from multiple institutes — by identifying gaps in research and promoting interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research.

  • On the Newsstand

    Happiness: Enough Already Newsweek February 2, 2008 “‘[O]nce a moderate level of happiness is achieved, further increases can sometimes be detrimental’ to income, career success, education and political participation, Diener and Colleagues write in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is extremely happy, 8s were more successful than 9s and 10s, getting more education and earning more.” Coverage of “The Optimum Level of Well-Being: Can People Be Too Happy?” in Perspectives on Psychological Science (Shigehiro Oishi, Ed Diener, and Richard E. Lucas, Volume 2(4), 346-360). Generation Me vs. You Revisited The New York Times January 17, 2008 “Ms.

  • New Office Space for APS

    For the majority of our history, APS has occupied the 11th Floor of 1010 Vermont Ave, NW, in downtown Washington, DC. But, with growth must come change. At the beginning of this month APS moved into new offices (left). Our new contact information: 1133 15th Street, NW Suite 1000 Washington, DC 20005 USA + Fax + E-mail and website stay the same: We'll miss the old place. The New Digs (No, not all ours.)