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Volume 17, Issue11November 2004

Presidential Column

Robert W. Levenson
Robert W. Levenson
University of California, Berkeley
APS President 2004 - 2005
All columns

In this Issue:
Patients and Impatience (Part II)

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.

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    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.’

Up Front


  • Patients and Impatience (Part II)

    In last month's column, I wrote about the National Institute of Mental Health's, or NIMH's, recent proposal to redirect a portion of its extramural research investment away from basic behavioral and social science research into research that more directly addresses issues of mental health and illness. This development reflects increasing impatience with the extent and pace of applying basic research to reduce the burden of mental illness. Ironically, the greatest burden that mental illness places on patients, families, and caregivers occurs in those areas where basic psychological scientists have the greatest skill in measurement, understanding, and producing change (i.e., decision-making, social attachments, emotion regulation, stigma, etc.).

APS Spotlight


  • Brussels Stout

    Shepperd and Hoorens descend the Steps of Erasmus, once home of the 16th century humanist Desiderius Erasmus, who lectured at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, where Shepperd performed research on human bias. The steps are all that remain of the original home and now lead to a place where visitors can get their hair cut. Psychologists have long known that people display a variety of biases in the way they process information and think about the future.

  • In Africa: Evaluating the Neuropsychological Effects of Cerebral Malaria in Ugandan Children

    Michael J. Boivin (front, second from left) was a Fulbright scholar to the department of pediatrics at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Seen here at a farewell dinner with his research team and family, Boivin is also professor of psychology at Indiana Wesleyan University, and an adjunct research investigator in the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. I spent a year at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda as a Fulbright researcher on the Regional African Research Program.

  • It’s Still a Rat Race: The Parallels Between Research and Administration

    APS Past President Elizabeth D. Capaldi is vice chancellor and chief of staff of the State University of New York. It was self defense: I became department chair to prevent a chair from possibly ruining my life. I taught and did research for 20 years before getting into administration and certainly didn't intend to become an administrator. But my belief is that to do academic administration you must be an academic, so that you understand the culture and values of higher education. I was (and am) a laboratory scientist, running rats, and I have taught introductory psychology for years.

Practice


  • Teaching a Course You Feel Unprepared to Teach

    Life in higher education is full of surprises. Like everyone else, sooner or later you will probably agree to teach a course you do not feel well prepared to teach. This might be in an area where you have no formal training, a topic just outside your disciplinary training, or even a course very different in format from how you have taught before. There are a number of reasons why you might need to cover such a course. This article should provide some guidance and advice to those faced with such an assignment. Where to Begin You have been asked to teach this course and although it makes you a bit nervous, the chair has assured you that you will do a great job. Accepting such an assignment may test your nerves, but will allow you to learn an area of psychology new to you. Find out why you are being asked to teach this course.

First Person


  • Step on It

    Summer Internship Resources Joint Program in Survey Methodology Junior Fellow Program www.jpsm.umd.edu/fellows_new Student Internships at the U.S. Census Bureau www.census.gov/hrd/www/jobs/student.html University of Wisconsin Psychology Research Experience Program, for underrepresented and first generation college students http://psych.wisc.edu/ugstudies/prepProgram.html NSF-sponsored, Research Experiences for Undergraduates program www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/reu Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research at NIH www.training.nih.gov/student/internship/internship.asp APA Summer Science Institute for "rising" sophomores and juniors www.apa.org/science/ssi.html Internship opportunities for 2005 in the social and natural sciences www.rit.edu/~gtfsbi/Symp/calpha20011.htm Last December, half-way through my sophomore year at the University of Michigan, I started to worry about where I would work the following summer. My problem was one that thousands of students face each year. If I continued to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, then most of my pay would be used to support myself.

  • Psychology All-Stars: Charles S. Carver

    In an ongoing series in which the APS Student Caucus talks with distinguished professors, APS Fellow and Charter Member Charles Carver recently shared his advice for success and challenges facing graduate students. Carver is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami and editor of the Personality Processes and Individual Differences section of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. He is renowned for his research on optimism versus pessimism, approach versus avoidance, coping in cancer patients, and other important self-regulation topics. Carver APSSC: What led you to choose psychology as your career path? CARVER: I was more or less unfit for everything else I looked into. [Editor's Note: Carver is just kidding, of course.] My parents hoped I would become a "scientist" until my "D" in college physics for physics majors. The psychology department of my undergraduate college focused almost entirely on aspects of psychology that were very remote from personality and social psychology, where I eventually wound up. My personality course was taught by a clinician who entertained us with stories about clinical cases, and there was no social course at all.

More From This Issue


  • News

    Leshner Receives Presidential Nomination to Serve on National Science Board Leshner APS Fellow and Charter Member Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, is among eight people nominated by President Bush to serve on the National Science Board. Leshner has been CEO of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science since December 2001. From 1994 to 2001, he served as director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and before that, as deputy director and acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

  • The Old and the Restless

    Richard Suzman, associate director for the Behavioral and Social Research Program at the National Institute on Aging, studies why the elderly are becoming increasingly healthy. Just a few years ago, most people saw modern medicine's great success, dramatically longer life spans for human beings, as something of a mixed blessing. By the year 1977, the expert consensus held that while doctors could extend life of a sort for individuals perhaps indefinitely, medical science could not extend vitality. People who lived beyond the age of 80, the experts argued, could expect their remaining lifetime to be one of dramatically increasing disability.

  • Psign of the Times

    Convocation participants at Yale on September 3, 2004. The President's Room of Yale University is an elegant rotunda lined with stately portraits of many past presidents since Yale was founded in 1701. Under their collective gaze, 75 people convened September 3, 2004 to celebrate "75 Years of Excellence" - a historic convocation saluting two landmark events: the Ninth International Congress of Psychology hosted by Yale on September 1-7, 1929, and the founding of Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology, on September 4, 1929.

  • Views From the Top

    Nothing better prepares you for top administrative positions in academia than working in psychological science, say those who have scaled the heights. And, among the accolades that may come, they might even name a building after you - or a mountain in Antarctica. See Also It's Still a Rat Race By Elizabeth Capaldi Rockefeller Taps Rodin The mountain was named after APS Fellow and Charter Member Richard Atkinson, who retired last year as president of the University of California. His 20 prior years of teaching and research were "a great asset" to his administrative career. "I certainly understood issues of evidence and how one interpreted data, what it meant to make a claim," Atkinson said.

  • Rockefeller Taps Rodin

    Rodin Former president of the University of Pennsylvania and APS Fellow Judith Rodin has been named president of the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the world's oldest and largest private philanthropies. "I am deeply honored to be given this opportunity to lead an organization committed to using knowledge-based initiatives to improve the lives of poor and excluded people throughout the world," Rodin said.

  • Making a Connection

    16th Annual Convention William James Fellow Award Address McClelland Attributes Learning, Memory, and Cognitive Development to a Strong Neuron Network James L. McClelland, Carnegie Mellon University, describes his distributed connectionist model of learning, memory, and cognitive development at the APS Annual Convention. How would you pronounce the nonsense word grook? Would you say it like book or spook? According to James L. McClelland, Carnegie Mellon University, it all depends on the connections among your neurons.

  • Diener Brings New ‘Perspectives’ to APS

    APS Past President Ed Diener, founding editor of new APS journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, thinks the publication will instantly move to the top of researchers' submission lists. Although he grew up on a tomato ranch in California, Ed Diener never liked farming. He fell in love with psychology while a student at California State University, Fresno in the late 1960s and turned that passion into a successful career. So, it's a bit surprising that some 40 years later, Diener is tackling his latest challenge as if he has once again donned overalls and picked up the pitchfork.