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312018Volume 31, Issue9November 2018

Presidential Column

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

In this Issue:
The Objectivity Illusion in Medical Practice

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 Objectivity Illusion in Medical Practice

    This month’s column is written by two astute observers of the quirks, ironies, and inconsistencies of human behavior in the wild, and who bring those insights into the laboratory in inventive ways. One is from medicine and one from social psychology. The fact that both are Canadians may or may not be incidental. Each has a knack for finding captivating problems that have both practical significance and theoretical importance. Among other appointments, Don Redelmeier is Professor in the Department of Medicine, Canada Research Chair in Medical Decision Sciences, and Senior Scientist in the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences at the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.


  • 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 at his blog “Talk Psych”.

First Person

  • Professional Networking as a Graduate Student

    Networking means many different things to many different people, especially in graduate school. With many graduate students feeling uneasy about the post-PhD job market, the pressure to network, both socially and professionally, has reached a peak. This article will focus on networking at a professional level, defined simply as getting your name out into the academic world. The advice contained within this article may appear most relevant for students approaching graduation, but it is never too early to begin the networking process. Three methods of professional networking will be discussed: conferences, academic Twitter, and personal webpages. Conferencing For graduate students in psychology, conferences are the most ubiquitous opportunities to network at a professional level.

More From This Issue

  • Kristina Olson Named 2018 MacArthur Fellow

    APS Spence Award Recipient Kristina Olson has been named to the 2018 class of MacArthur Fellows for her innovative contributions to the scientific understanding of gender and the cognitive development of transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. The prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, also known as the “Genius” Grant, is awarded annually to individuals who demonstrate exceptional creativity in their field. The “no strings attached” award, which includes a $625,000 stipend, is designed to enable recipients to follow their creative instincts in pursuit of future advancements in the sciences, arts, education, and other fields.

  • Terrie Moffitt Elected to National Academy of Medicine

    APS Fellow Terrie E. Moffitt has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine in recognition of her ground-breaking contributions to the understanding of human development. Moffitt, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, is among 85 members elected to the Academy in 2018, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Moffitt’s research on the development of antisocial behavior has been highly influential both in the clinical treatment of childhood conduct disorders and in the courtroom.

  • Make Your Voice Heard: Tell NIH You Oppose the Classification of Basic Human Subjects Research as Clinical Trials

    Make Your Voice Heard on NIH Proposal

    NIH has issued a Request for Information asking the community to weigh in on a number of questions related to basic behavioral science, and NIH needs to hear from individual scientists like you that basic human subjects research should not be classified as clinical trials.

  • Social Class Determines Whether Buying Experiences or Things Promotes Happiness

    What is the best way to spend money to increase your happiness? It may depend, in part, on how wealthy you are, according to findings published in Psychological Science. In a series of studies, researchers Jacob C. Lee of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Deborah Hall of Arizona State University, and Wendy Wood of the University of Southern California found that only individuals who were relatively higher in social class showed the well-known effect of greater happiness from purchasing experiences, such as going to a concert or the movies, compared with purchasing material goods, such as a pair of shoes or accessories.

  • Cattell Fund Projects Include Explorations of Sensory Processes, Memory

    The 2018–2019 James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowships have been awarded to APS Fellows Cynthia F. Moss and Seth D. Pollak, Steven Franconeri, and R. Shayna Rosenbaum. Presented in partnership with APS, the fellowships allow recipients to extend their sabbatical periods from one semester to a full year. The four researchers plan to pursue diverse research projects, outlined below, during their sabbaticals. Cynthia F. Moss Johns Hopkins University For more than 30 years, I have pursued research in experimental psychology with an emphasis on the biological basis of behavior.

  • These Aren’t the Bots You’re Looking For

    This summer, researchers in psychological science and other fields noticed a sudden increase in low-quality responses to surveys and other experimental measures posted to Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Many of the responses originated from a small set of geolocations, leading some researchers to suspect bots as the source. Researchers raised concerns about the integrity of their data,  leading Turk Prime to launch a thorough investigation of the issue. Their results, published online in mid-September, revealed that around 60 of these repeated locations could be traced to server farms.

  • 2019 William James Fellow Award Goes to Phelps, Gilbert, Nadel, Werker

    APS Past President Elizabeth A. Phelps (Harvard University), APS Fellows Daniel T. Gilbert (Harvard University) and Lynn Nadel (University of Arizona), and Janet F. Werker (University of British Columbia, Canada) have been selected to receive the 2019 APS William James Fellow Award in recognition of their lifetime of intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. Phelps is a professor of psychology and neural science who researches the relationships among learning, emotion, and memory.

  • Back Page: Collaborating With a Crowd

    University of Sussex researcher Raphael Silberzahn describes how an early setback led him to develop an innovative crowd-sourced research project. This “many analysts” project reveals how research teams can draw different conclusions from the same data set as a result of the choices they make in conducting their analyses. Before transitioning to academia, you had a career as a business consultant. What led you to pursue graduate studies in behavioral science? After my undergraduate studies in international business administration I couldn’t wait to try myself out in the real business world, to participate in the action rather than merely learn about it.