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Volume 16, Issue5May 2003

Presidential Column

Susan T. Fiske
Susan T. Fiske
Princeton University
APS President 2002 - 2003
All columns

In this Issue:
Donald W. Fiske

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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Up Front


  • Donald W. Fiske

    This month's column is a memorial to one of the field's pioneering researchers in methodology, who happened to also be Susan Fiske's father. He passed away after a long illness, and at press time, she and her family are coping with their loss. The Observer will feature remembrances from his colleagues in a future issue; the following is reprinted with permission from the University of Chicago News Office. Donald W. Fiske, a University of Chicago psychologist whose research taught scholars how to measure a person's abilities and personality, died April 6 in his Hyde Park home. He promoted rigorous methods to make psychology a true science and accordingly influenced generations of researchers. He was 86. He co-authored an early article with Donald Campbell that provided a quantitative approach for measuring differences between people.

APS Spotlight


  • Accreditation Helps Researchers and Subjects Alike

    One of the least understood areas of human research protection is the application of federal regulations for protecting subjects who participate in behavioral and social science research. I would like to address two widely held beliefs: that federal regulations are not applicable to behavioral and social science research, and that, when applying them to behavioral and social science research, IRBs often over-interpret the regulations. The behavior of IRBs is driven by several factors. First, the federal regulations are written from a clinical perspective. Take, for example, one of two criteria for waiving documentation of consent: "That the research presents no more than minimal risk of harm to subjects and involves no procedures for which written consent is normally required outside of the research context." While this criterion is perfectly understandable in a clinical setting, it lacks meaningful definition for research conducted outside of a physician's office or hospital environment. Second, IRBs, in light of the suspensions of major research programs between 1991 and 2001, have followed the lead of their institutions and become adverse to risk.

  • 100 Years of ‘the Experimentalists’

    The Society of Experimental Psychologists celebrated the beginning of its centennial year March 7-8, 2003 by holding its 100th annual meeting at Washington University in St. Louis. The centennial observation will culminate in 2004 with a meeting at Cornell University where the society was established in 1904. Known initially as "the Experimentalists," the society was formed by Cornell psychologist Edward Bradford Titchener (1867-1927) as a vehicle for organizing small, informal gatherings of North America's leading experimental psychologists. Members and invited guests were encouraged to speak about current research in their labs and to exchange barbed criticisms in smoke-filled rooms; women were specifically excluded. "Titchener created the Experimentalists in his own image," suggested Ludy Benjamin Jr. a noted historian of psychology and professor of psychology and educational psychology at Texas A&M University. During a brief talk on SEP history offered as part of the annual meeting, Benjamin discussed Titchener's complete dominance of the group's early meetings. Titchener's control of the society, he noted, was released only in his death in 1927.

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