How Sound Becomes Music

What makes a lullaby recognizable around the world? Why does thrash metal enthrall some and repulse others? Psychological scientists are discovering the reasons why music plays such a central role in our lives.

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Volume 32, Issue5May/June 2019

Presidential Column

Barbara Tverksy
Barbara Tversky
Teachers College, Columbia University and Stanford University
APS President 2018 - 2019
All columns

In this Issue:
Perspectives

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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    How does misinformation spread and how do we combat it? Psychological science sheds light on the mechanisms underlying misinformation and ‘fake news.’

Featured


  • Presidential Column

    In her final column as APS President, Barbara Tversky embraces perspectives from other fields — including the arts — as a catalyst for scientific innovation.

  • Remembrance

    Colleagues and friends celebrate the vast scholarly contributions, curiosity, energy, and warmth of the pioneering scientist and APS Past President.

  • ICPS 2019 Keynote

    The impulsive behavior and decision making that characterize adolescence are
    a developmental feature, not a bug, says APS Fellow BJ Casey.

  • ICPS 2019 Keynote

    Humans’ unique cognitive abilities emerged from a cycle of interactions between brain, culture, and environment, says Atsushi Iriki.

Up Front


  • Perspectives

    Psychological science is not only important: It’s increasingly important in all realms of life. It’s people who make wars and make peace, it’s people who contribute to climate change, and it’s only people who can reign it in. It’s people who make laws, who buy and sell, who vote or don’t vote, who raise children, who design cities and automobiles and educational institutions and medical treatments and computer interfaces, it’s people who create art and science. All of those activities and more not only are created by people but also are meant for people. This past year, I invited distinguished scholars from outside our discipline to reflect on ways that they use psychological science in their practice. Although I knew each and thought I was familiar with their perspectives, each response surprised me and enlightened me.

First Person


  • Student Notebook: Avoiding the ‘Busy Trap’ in Graduate School

    One of the first things I noticed when I started my PhD — and something that you’ve surely noticed by now if you’re also a graduate student — is that people in academia tend to be really busy. It didn’t exactly come as a surprise; constant busyness seemed a logical and necessary response to the high demands of academic life. But as I stumbled through my first year in graduate school, I came to understand, in a frustrating, firsthand way, that not all kinds of “busy” are created equal. Much of my time throughout that first year was spent aimlessly toiling away at tasks that either didn’t benefit my development as a scholar or disrupted my work–life balance in a way that made me anxious and irritable. I took to these tasks not because I thoughtfully chose them, but because of an all-consuming, mindless urge to occupy myself with something — anything — that might seem productive.

More From This Issue


  • ICPS Highlights in Pictures

    Vive la Science! See some key moments from the 2019 International Convention of Psychological Science, which drew more 2,700 researchers from 70 countries to Paris. [rl_gallery id="160981"]

  • Lisa Feldman Barrett Named a Guggenheim Fellow

    APS President-Elect Lisa Feldman Barrett, known worldwide for her revolutionary research on emotion in the brain, has been selected to receive the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in neuroscience. Barrett is among a diverse group of 168 scholars, artists, and writers chosen for the Fellowship from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awards these prestigious fellowships annually on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. A University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, Barrett is a leading scholar in the field of emotion research.

  • Eleven APS Fellows Elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

    The American Academy of Arts & Sciences has announced the election of more than 200 new members, including 11 APS Fellows. The 2019 class includes APS Past Board Member and James McKeen Cattell Fellow Stephen J. Ceci (Cornell University), and APS Mentor Award Recipient Mark H. Johnson (University of Cambridge) was named an international honorary member. Ceci — who studies the development of intelligence and memory as well the accuracy of children’s courtroom testimony — is the author of approximately 450 articles, books, commentaries, reviews, and chapters.

  • Bottling the Symphonic Scents of Emotion

    APS Past Board Member Gün R. Semin is exploring what he calls the “invisible orchestra” of bodily scents related to happiness, fear, and other emotional experiences.

  • Bridging Science With Clinical Practice Around the World

    PCSAS Joins French Society to Promote Clinical Science Model Creating stronger connections than ever before between science and practice is becoming an overarching theme in international psychology discussions. For decades, many clinical psychologists have argued that mixing science with clinical judgment and intuition makes for a poor recipe in mental health care. But with the pressing need to address staggering rates of mental illness worldwide, the call for a strong clinical-science model is spreading across graduate training programs in many parts of the globe.

  • Using an Automated Wizard to Process Minimal-Risk Research

    Issues of mission creep and excess administrative burden are abundant in the area of human–subject research protections (e.g., Fost & Levine, 2007; Grady, 2010; Gunsalus et al., 2006, 2007; Joffe, 2012). Although there is no question that protecting research participants is essential, procedures for providing this assurance are often quite cumbersome and time-consuming but contribute little to the intended goal.

  • Oral-Health Researchers to Be Recognized at APS Convention

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) has selected four scientists who are conducting research at the intersection of psychological science and oral health to receive the 2019 Building Bridges Travel Award, offered jointly with APS. The awardees will present research posters at the 2019 APS Annual Convention in Washington, DC.

  • NSF Calls for Research on Harassment in STEM Contexts

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a call for research on sexual harassment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) contexts. Researchers are invited to submit proposals to programs across NSF that support progress towards safe and secure educational and research environments for current and future scientists. This announcement follows the publication of an NSF-funded report conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the prevalence and impact of sexual harassment in STEM departments and programs.

  • Learn About Behavioral Modeling With Support From the Estes Fund

    The Barcelona Summer School for Advanced Modeling of Behavior (BAMB), with the support of the William K. & Katherine W. Estes Fund, will offer 30 psychological scientists at the PhD and early-career levels the opportunity to learn the conceptual and technical skills necessary to carry out model-based behavioral analysis. The program, organized by Alex Hyafil (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain), Christopher Summerfield (University of Oxford, UK), and Klaus Wimmer (Centre de Recerca Matemàtica, Spain), will be held September 4–10, 2019, at the Institut d’Estudis Catalans in Barcelona.

  • Deficit or Development?

    The impulsive behavior and decision making that characterize adolescence are
    a developmental feature, not a bug, says APS Fellow BJ Casey.

  • Adapting Into the Future

    Humans’ unique cognitive abilities emerged from a cycle of interactions between brain, culture, and environment, says Atsushi Iriki.