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262013Volume 26, Issue3March 2013

Presidential Column

Joseph E. Steinmetz
Joseph E. Steinmetz
The Ohio State University
APS President 2012 - 2013
All columns

In this Issue:
Small Investment, Big Returns

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.

Up Front

  • Small Investment, Big Returns

    President’s Note: Members of APS certainly do not need to be educated on the value of behavioral and social science research — the research our psychological science colleagues have contributed have made this world a better place. In this month’s column, Steven F. Warren, a behavioral scientist who also happens to be vice chancellor of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at The University of Kansas, offers his views on the current state of federal funding for behavioral and social science research. -Joseph E. Steinmetz By most measures, we are living in the golden age of the social and behavioral sciences. Psychology, for example, is now viewed as a core discipline at many universities. As with other core disciplines (e.g., chemistry or physics), scientists with a PhD in psychology are found in a wide range of departments and centers spanning academia.

APS Spotlight

  • Immigrants or Adolescents?

    Adolescent immigrants not only confront normative age-related psychological, social, and biological changes. They also face acculturation-related challenges related to their immigrant status. Disentangling these two sources of intra- and inter-individual variation has become a growing field of research on immigrants (Fuligni, 2001; Michel, Titzmann, & Silbereisen, 2012; Titzmann & Silbereisen, 2012). Knowing whether developmental outcomes are mainly driven by general processes, similar to those in the majority population, or by immigrant-specific mechanisms is vital for researchers seeking to develop preventions and interventions aimed at the needs of immigrant or ethnic groups. The aim of this short overview is to present ideas about the link between normative development and immigration using the example of delinquent behavior in adolescence.


  • Tips for the First-Time Graduate Student Instructor

    Each year, thousands of psychology graduate students teach their first college course. Some are fortunate to receive preparation from their departments prior to being given the assignment (Mueller, Perlman, McCann, & McFadden, 1997; Myers & Prieto, 2000). Others are not so fortunate (Golde & Dore, 2001). When assigned to teach a course, some graduate students may receive only a copy of the required textbook and last semester’s syllabus. In this column, we provide some tips for the first-time graduate student instructor. In our view, the biggest challenges involve managing interactions with students both in and out of the classroom. Less Is More First-time instructors frequently set out to cover all the material presented in the textbook and, sometimes, aim to cover even more. College courses, unlike courses planned for the high school level, cover a great deal of information quickly. There is simply not enough time to cover every topic in the textbook in the typical three-credit college course. As pointed out by Nevid (2006), instructors have a tendency to talk quickly, either because of anxiety or out of a desire to cover more material in a class period.

  • Managing the Large(r) Classroom

    For most of us who teach in higher education, we entered the field expecting that our jobs were simply to teach information to students who were motivated, cooperative, and able learners. However, recent research suggests that despite the older ages of our students (typically 18 years and older), higher education instructors are facing concerns with classroom behavior (Carbone, 1999; Feldman, 2001). While it is incumbent upon instructors to deal with behavioral issues, few  receive training in this area, and with recent budgetary constraints, we are faced with the additional challenge of teaching larger and larger classes. Several authors have discussed ways to address inappropriate student behavior in postsecondary classrooms (e.g., Carbone, 1999; Schroeder & Robertson, 2008), as well as how to approach the teaching of large classes (e.g., Hilton, 1999). Many agree that prevention is an important component in dealing with classroom behavior concerns.

First Person

  • Get a Life

    For many students, graduate school may be characterized as a highly stressful experience. Indeed, juggling multiple work demands coupled with a less structured work schedule may make the pursuit of professional and personal goals difficult to navigate at times. It is possible, however, for graduate students to be successful — given the right strategies for managing work/nonwork boundaries. The study of boundary management has examined people’s preferences for managing and creating ideal professional and personal lives. Importantly, the boundary management choices we make share relationships with positive and negative psychological and work-relevant outcomes (i.e., Kossek, Lautsch, & Eaton, 2006). This article includes ways in which graduate students can support boundary management goals and create healthier, happier, and more productive years spent in graduate school and beyond.

More From This Issue

  • Anne Treisman Honored With National Medal of Science

    APS William James Fellow and past APS Secretary Anne Treisman, professor of psychology at Princeton University, receives the National Medal of Science award from President Barack Obama at The White House on February 1. She was one of 12 researchers to be honored. The National Medal of Science, along with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, is the highest honor that the US government grants to scientists, engineers, and inventors. Triesman is an expert on visual attention and is known for her research examining how humans turn sensory information into meaningful thoughts, memories, and actions.

  • Reflecting on a Lifetime of Achievement

    As part of APS’s 25th Anniversary celebration, the Board of Directors is honoring 25 distinguished  scientists who have had a profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter century. Eight individuals have been selected to receive the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award, honoring a lifetime of significant contributions to applied psychological research. The remaining 17 scientists are receiving the William James Fellow Award, which recognizes their significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. In this issue, the Observer launches a series of articles profiling these eminent scientists.

  • Closing the Science-Practice Gap

    This article is part of a series commemorating APS's 25th anniversary in 2013. The Association for Psychological Science is an organization of which I am proud to be a member, in no small measure because it has played a vital role in narrowing the science-practice gap — the sharp divide between the research literature concerning clinical interventions and its application to clients. [1]  In the following paragraphs, I offer some thoughts regarding the past, present, and future of clinical science, and focus on challenges that confront us when attempting to bridge the schism between science and practice.

  • Geraldine Dawson, Autism Sleuth

    Twenty years ago, the average person was probably as acquainted with autism as they were with the Internet, but both have since seen a rapid, profile-raising proliferation. In fact, the exploding prevalence of autism — a greater than tenfold increase in the last 40 years, with current estimates of one in 88 children in the United States affected — amounts to an emerging public health crisis. Naturally, this increased prevalence has come with soaring costs, currently estimated at around $137 billion annually. As with other global health challenges like Alzheimer’s disease, early detection and intervention are vital.

  • The Military as Microcosm

    The United States military may be a unique institution, but it is also a microcosm of society as a whole — especially when it comes to health care. The treatment of soldiers, their families, and veterans can illustrate how large-scale organizations are able to increase the use of treatments that have been scientifically tested and validated when they provide behavioral health care.

  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    C. Nathan DeWall, University of Kentucky, and renowned textbook author and APS Fellow David G. Myers, Hope College, have teamed up to create a new series of Observer columns aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom. Each column will offer advice and how-to guidance about teaching a particular area of research or topic in psychological science that has been the focus of an article in the APS journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

  • Learning, Memory, and Synesthesia

    Thanks to toys containing magnetic colored letters, psychological scientists Nathan Witthoft and Jonathan Winawer of Stanford University have made some interesting discoveries about the role of learning and memory in synesthesia. People with color-grapheme synesthesia experience color when viewing letters or numerals. Usually, each grapheme evokes a particular color (e.g., the letter A evokes the color red). In a study published in Psychological Science, Witthoft and Winawer presented data from 11 participants who had startlingly similar and reliable color-grapheme synesthesia.

  • New Evidence About the Building Blocks of Intelligence

    Supplementing young children’s diets with fish oil, enrolling them in quality preschool, and engaging them in interactive reading all turn out to be effective ways to increase intelligence, according to a new report published in Perspectives on Psychological Science by John Protzko, a doctoral student at New York University’s (NYU) Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

  • Brownell Named Dean of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy

    APS Fellow Kelly Brownell has been appointed the next dean of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Brownell, a leading authority on public policies to enhance nutrition and combat obesity, has advised the White House, Members of Congress, governors, and world health and nutrition organizations. Brownell is the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology at Yale University, is professor of epidemiology and public health, and also serves as director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. He has been influential in raising awareness about the link between unhealthy foods and obesity.

  • Measuring Performance of Individuals, Collectives

    APS Fellow Randall W. Engle, editor of Current Directions in Psychological Science, is participating in an ongoing project sponsored by the National Academies to map out an agenda for research on measuring human capabilities and performance potential. By taking advantage of modern cognitive psychology and research on the role of individual differences in cognitive factors, the panel seeks to identify scientifically valid methods for assessing the capabilities and predicting performance of individuals in various jobs in the US Army. This is a panel of the National Research Council and the project is funded by the US Department of Defense.

  • Learning and Memory the Focus of Presidential Symposium at 25th APS Annual Convention

    How we learn and remember everything from simple behaviors to complex information has been a major topic of research for psychological scientists for well over a century. At the 25th APS Annual Convention, the Presidential Symposium, to be chaired by APS President Joseph E. Steinmetz, will feature four distinguished psychological scientists who will present how learning and memory is studied from different perspectives and different levels of analyses. Ted Abel, director of the Biological Basis of Behavior Program at the University of Pennsylvania, will provide a summary of his work on cellular/molecular mechanisms of long-term memory storage.