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202007Volume 20, Issue5May 2007

Presidential Column

Morton Ann Gernsbacher
Morton Ann Gernsbacher
University of Wisconsin, Madison
APS President 2006 - 2007
All columns

In this Issue:
The Value of Undergraduate Training in Psychological Science

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

  • The Value of Undergraduate Training in Psychological Science

    It’s that time of the year, the season when students who have toiled through four (or five) years of higher education commence upon the world. Over the next few weeks, across hundreds of commencement exercises, we who wear the hoods will come face-to-face with those who wear the caps and gowns — and those who have footed the bill. Given that only a fraction of psychology majors continue on to graduate school (or take entry-level jobs with names even remotely derivative of the term psychology), how do we, the ones with the hoods, hold high our heads? What do we believe is the value of undergraduate training in psychological science?


  • Effective Teaching When Class Size Grows

    Class sizes seem to increase every year, through the combining of course sections into a few large sections or through class size creep, from 18 students to 25 or even 30. Whether adding a few students, or moving from 30 to 200, faculty must reconsider individual meetings with students, term papers with multiple drafts, and other time-intensive practices. As soon as you feel that you can no longer teach the course the way it has been taught in the past, it is time for reflection.

First Person

  • The Development of a Student-Operated Journal

    Many students currently pursuing degrees in psychology aim to one day work in an academic or research setting, and throughout graduate training they spend a great deal of time developing their CVs and skills to best prepare themselves for the competitive job market that lies ahead. Experience in manuscript preparation, editing, and peer-reviewing are fundamental skills necessary for students to obtain post-graduate school positions. However, there are few opportunities for students to cultivate their publishing skills or participate on editorial boards during their graduate school training. As students in the Clinical PhD program at the New School for Social Research who are considering future careers in research and teaching, we became interested in publishing and peer-reviewing early in our graduate careers.

More From This Issue

  • Kail Assumes Editorship of Psychological Science

    Meet APS Fellow Robert “Rob” Kail, Purdue University, the new editor of Psychological Science, APS’s flagship journal. Kail is inheriting the editorship from James Cutting, who has held the position since 2003. The new guy’s no slouch. Between 1977 and the end of 2006, he has logged nearly 41,000 miles bicycling, 14,970 miles running, and 2,315 miles swimming, albeit most of it in a gym. And yes, he’s been keeping track, meticulously, with an Excel spreadsheet to prove it. His proudest achievement on that score: “I’ve almost swum from New York to Los Angeles.” He brings that same intensity to set and achieve goals to his editorship. More on that to come. First, get to know the man.

  • From There to Here: Testifying Before Congress

    When I defended my dissertation one year ago, I had no inkling that I’d be testifying in front of a Congressional committee soon afterward. Talk about life taking a path uncharted! I recently had the privilege of appearing before the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations in the House of Representatives. This is the panel that oversees funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and, therefore, thousands of APS members’ research. It’s one of the most powerful groups in Congress. The committee spends a good deal of its hearing season listening to testimony from the directors of various agencies, including NIH.

  • From Findings to Front Page: APS Engages the Public in Psychological Science

    When I was a psychology student, I found that many people didn’t understand my field. Relatives were disappointed to hear I worked with rats more than with humans; some even became standoffish, convinced my degree was in reading minds. Eventually, I learned to grin and bear it each time I was asked when my private practice would be up and running. What I really wanted to hear was “what kind of research do you do?” But honestly, how can we blame those who harbor such misconceptions?

  • Life’s Ups and Downs May Stick

    In recent years, psychologists have been fond of stating that human happiness, what they call subjective well-being, is largely independent of our life circumstances. The wealthy aren’t much happier than the middle class, married people aren’t much happier than single people, healthy people aren’t much happier than sick people, and so on. It is an important message (particularly because it is so counterintuitive), and it is one supported by mounting quantities of evidence from all over the world. One might reasonably conclude, therefore, that changes in life circumstances would not have long-term effects on our happiness.

  • CASBS Fellow Selection Process Changes

    The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) recently announced that it will be changing its fellows selection process, allowing researchers and scholars to apply for fellowships instead of soliciting nominations, as has been the tradition. The change will take effect with the 2008-2009 class. Located near the Stanford University campus, this unique Center offers year-long residential fellowships in a collegial intellectual environment in which leading scholars have the freedom to pursue research topics in depth. The Center was established in 1954 to help develop knowledge about behavior that would improve the human condition.

  • Society for Neuroeconomics

    What do you get when you mix one part psychology, one part neuroscience, and one part economics? A cocktail called the Society for Neuroeconomics. Five years ago, Gregory Berns, Emory University, organized an informal meeting at Martha’s Vineyard for about 30 researchers whose work blends economics, neuroscience, and psychology. This meeting was such a success that a second was organized by Read Montague in 2003. At that second meeting, several researchers suggested creating a more formal society to support the newly emerging discipline.