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Volume 29, Issue5May/June 2016

Presidential Column

C. Randy Gallistel
C. Randy Gallistel
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
APS President 2015 - 2016
All columns

In this Issue:
What We Have and Haven’t Learned

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.’

Featured


  • Uncommon Careers
    Initial thrust from NASA Space Shuttle launch

    Combining behavioral science with engineering expertise, APS Fellow Mary Kaiser has played a crucial part in preparing astronauts and their spacecraft for journeys beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

  • No matter how well we think we know our own traits, behaviors, and beliefs, experiments show that friends may have insights about us that we lack ourselves, says APS William James Fellow Timothy D. Wilson.

  • From facial cues to physical stances, our nonverbal expressions speak volumes to others. APS Fellows Klaus Scherer and Beatrice de Gelder and other researchers share the latest science on communication in the absence of speech.

Up Front


  • What We Have and Haven’t Learned

    In psychological science, as in other sciences, it is difficult to establish broadly consequential conclusions beyond reasonable dispute. It therefore sometimes seems that we make no progress at all; however, when I look back on what we have accomplished over the last half-century in the fields in which I have been active, I see the development of broad consensuses on several highly consequential conclusions. In this, my final column, I report what I think some of those conclusions are, and I discuss why they are broadly consequential. First, there has been broad acceptance of the computational theory of mind. How the brain computes is fiercely disputed, but the idea that it does in some meaningful sense compute is widely accepted. Moreover, David Marr’s thesis that a computational analysis is a necessary intermediary in linking behavior with neurobiology has become widely accepted.

Practice


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    Aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom, Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science offers 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. Current Directions is a peer-reviewed bimonthly journal featuring reviews by leading experts covering all of scientific psychology and its applications and allowing readers to stay apprised of important developments across subfields beyond their areas of expertise. Its articles are written to be accessible to nonexperts, making them ideally suited for use in the classroom. Visit the column for supplementary components, including classroom activities and demonstrations. Visit David G. Myers and C.

First Person


  • Mixed Methods Research

    Traditionally, there are three branches of methodology: quantitative (numeric data), qualitative (observational or interview data), and mixed methods (using both types of data). Psychology relies heavily on quantitative-based data analyses but could benefit from incorporating the advantages of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies into one cohesive framework. Mixed Methods (MM) ideally includes the benefits of both methods (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007): Quantitative analyses employ descriptive and inferential statistics, whereas qualitative analyses produce expressive data that provide descriptive details (often in narrative form) to examine the study’s research objectives.

More From This Issue


  • Books To Check Out: May/June 2016

    To submit a new book, email apsobserver@psychologicalscience.org. Cognitive Unconscious and Human Rationality Edited by Laura Macchi, Maria Bagassi, and Riccardo Viale; MIT Press, March 2016. Circadian Physiology, Third Edition by Roberto Refinetti; CRC Press, April 14, 2016. Emotions and the Body by Beatrice de Gelder; Oxford University Press, February 16, 2016.

  • Lilienfeld Named Editor of Clinical Psychological Science

    APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Scott O. Lilienfeld has been tapped as the new Editor of Clinical Psychological Science (CPS), succeeding Founding Editor and APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Alan E. Kazdin. Lilienfeld is a professor of psychology at Emory University and an advocate for evidence-based treatments and methods within the field.  His clinical work has primarily focused on psychopathy; he developed the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI-R), a 154-item personality test developed to be taken by general, rather than clinical, populations. The PPI-R provides an indication of traits associated with psychopathy without linking them to specific behaviors.

  • Clinical Psychological Science Illuminates Need for Multilevel Studies of Antisocial Behavior

    Antisocial behavior is a construct in clinical psychological science that encompasses many different behaviors and diagnoses. Behaviors as common as cheating, lying, and use of illicit substances are considered antisocial, as are aggression, theft, and violence. When such behaviors become chronic, they are viewed as pathological and can lead to a clinical diagnosis, ranging from conduct disorder in children to psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder in adults.

  • Lindsay Named Editor in Chief of Psychological Science

    APS Fellow D. Stephen Lindsay, who has been serving as Interim Editor of Psychological Science since July 2015, has been named Editor in Chief of the APS flagship journal. A professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria, Canada, Lindsay had served as the journal’s Associate Editor from 2013 until he took over as Interim Editor last summer. Lindsay replaces APS Fellow Eric Eich, who exited his editorial post to serve as Vice Provost and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of British Columbia, Canada. “I’ve had great fun as Interim Editor, and I’m thrilled to have been selected as Editor in Chief,” Lindsay says.

  • Sbarra Receives Varda Shoham Clinical Scientist Training Award

    Throughout her distinguished 30-year career, Past APS Board Member Varda Shoham was deeply involved in improving the training for the next generation of clinical scientists. When Shoham passed away in 2014 after a 4-year battle with cancer, clinical psychological science lost an outstanding investigator, teacher, and policy leader. In her memory, Shoham’s husband and longtime research collaborator, Michael Rohrbaugh (George Washington University), has established a training fund to continue her legacy of bridging the “science–practice gap” in clinical psychology.

  • Initial thrust from NASA Space Shuttle launch

    At NASA, Psychological Science Is Rocket Science

    Combining behavioral science with engineering expertise, APS Fellow Mary Kaiser has played a crucial part in preparing astronauts and their spacecraft for journeys beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

  • To Know Thyself, Turn to Science

    No matter how well we think we know our own traits, behaviors, and beliefs, experiments show that friends may have insights about us that we lack ourselves, says APS William James Fellow Timothy D. Wilson.

  • Louder Than Words

    From facial cues to physical stances, our nonverbal expressions speak volumes to others. APS Fellows Klaus Scherer and Beatrice de Gelder and other researchers share the latest science on communication in the absence of speech.

  • The Academic Time-Share

    Employment practices at US colleges and universities continue to evolve as administrators step up efforts to recruit full-time, multidepartment faculty. These appointments are distinct from “joint research,” “joint teaching,” or “courtesy” appointments in that multidepartment faculty typically divide their time proportionately across a specific set of departments (or academic units) while fulfilling the basic functions of a faculty member in each location. Faculty assignment across academic boundaries within an institution does not necessarily confer interdisciplinary status.

  • Ellen Langer to be Honored at Liberty Science Center Genius Gala

    APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Ellen Langer is among four leading figures in science and technology being honored on May 20th at the Liberty Science Center Genius Gala, an annual celebration of science and creativity. The recipient of four distinguished scientist awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship joins world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, paleontologist Jack Horner, and astrophysicist Kip Thorne among the 2016 honorees announced by the nonprofit Liberty Science Center (LSC), an interactive museum in Jersey City, New Jersey.

  • Brain Reconciles Sight and Sound in Different Ways

    A new study from psychology researchers at UCLA provides insights into how the brain combines sound and vision. The research suggests that there is not one sole mechanism in the brain that governs how much our senses work together to process information. Among the implications of the study: It might not be as easy as many people had assumed to categorize the way in which we perceive and learn. “We should be cautious not to make blanket statements about how we process information, like ‘I’m a visual learner,’” said Ladan Shams, an associate professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior author of the research. “That’s not necessarily true across the board.

  • Statistics Organization Speaks Out on P-Values

    As psychological scientists continue efforts to improve statistical and methodological practices, they can turn to a new resource for guidance. The American Statistical Association (ASA) has released a new statement on the use of p-values in science. The statement suggests researchers should be wary of statistical claims based on p-values alone. According to the ASA, there is an over-reliance on the p-value in scientific reasoning. Many students of psychological science are taught that obtaining a significant result, p < .05, is a “golden ticket” to publication.

  • Self-Driving Cars Need Social Skills

    Eye contact is enormously important in human communication, particularly in driving. Psychological research shows what can happen when autonomous vehicle technology replaces that interaction.