Human Behavior in the Time of COVID-19: Learning from Psychological Science

Highlights of APS’s recent outreach efforts to broadly share what psychological science says about epidemics and how human behavior might mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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Volume 33, Issue5May/June 2020

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 online and print subscriptions to the Observer, including the online archive going back to 1988. The print edition is a member-only benefit.

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Up Front


  • Mind, Body, Illness: Amidst Pandemic, Opportunities for Discovery

    This is my final column to you as APS President. In the midst of this extraordinarily difficult and trying time, I hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe. In early March, as I raced home from abroad to shelter in place with my family, I asked myself a question: Are respiratory diseases, such as the common cold, physical illnesses or psychological illnesses? If you think this is a silly question, think again. When scientists place a cold virus directly into the noses of healthy adults, only about one-third develop respiratory infections. So a cold must have other causal factors. And some of them may be psychological. The Common Cold Project is a series of prospective viral-challenge studies that were conducted from 1986 to 2011 (e.g., Cohen, 2005).

Recent Research


  • Research Briefs

    Distanced Self-Talk Enhances Goal Pursuit to Eat Healthier Celina R. Furman, Ethan Kross, and Ashley N. GearhardtHow to make healthier diet choices? Distanced self-talk—using one’s name and non-first-person singular pronouns—may be an effective strategy to increase healthier eating, this research suggests. After watching a health video or a neutral video, dieters and nondieters made food choices while reflecting on them using immersed self-talk (e.g., “What do I want?”) or distanced self-talk (e.g., “What does [Name] want?”). Dieters made healthier food choices more often after watching a health video and using distanced self-talk, and nondieters made healthier choices whenever they used distanced self-talk, regardless of the video watched.

Government Relations


  • Psychological Science and the European Research Council

    One of the premier funding organizations in Europe, the European Research Council (ERC) encourages the highest quality research with the goal of strengthening the European research system. The ERC’s approach is described as “bottom-up” or “investigator-driven,” meaning that scientists themselves set research priorities, not the agency or political system. Researchers can propose work in any field as long as it seeks to identify new research directions and opportunities. Psychological science is well represented at the ERC. Many APS Members hold ERC grants, and a considerable number of authors submitting to APS journals credit ERC support for their research programs.

APS Spotlight


  • 2020 APS Janet Taylor Spence Awards for Transformative Early Career Contributions

    Eight psychological scientists have been recognized with the 2020 APS Janet Taylor Spence Awards for Transformative Early Career Contributions. Named for APS’s first elected president, the award honors the most creative and promising researchers who embody the future of psychological science. This year’s recipients were selected for their innovative research impacting areas from advocacy related to migrant children facing family separation to using machine learning and cognitive modeling to understand why errors occur in medical image-based decision making. The Observer asked recipients to share their proudest achievements and ongoing research. Learn more about the Spence Awards, and see past recipients, at psychologicalscience.org/aps-spence-award.

Practice


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    Edited by C. Nathan DeWall Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science offers advice and guidance about teaching a particular area of research or topic covered in this peer-reviewed APS bimonthly journal, which features reviews covering all of scientific psychology and its applications. Even Dumbledore Made Bad Decisions: Decision-Making Competence Is More Than Intelligence Teaching Social Psychology Under the Coronavirus Even Dumbledore Made Bad Decisions: Decision-Making Competence Is More Than Intelligence By Michael Scullin and Cindi May Bruine de Bruin, W., Parker, A.M., & Fischhoff, B. (2020). Decision-making competence: More than intelligence? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29, 186–192. Perhaps no literary character more famously represents the “wise old man” archetype than Professor Albus Dumbledore.

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