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192006Volume 19, Issue11November 2006

Presidential Column

Morton Ann Gernsbacher
Morton Ann Gernsbacher
University of Wisconsin, Madison
APS President 2006 - 2007
All columns

In this Issue:
Presidential Column: How to Spot Bias in Research

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

  • Presidential Column: How to Spot Bias in Research

    A 1924 article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry reported the results of the following laboratory task: “A meaningless picture was produced by pouring India-ink of different intensities on a piece of thick limed paper and then pressing the paper under a glass plate. In addition some abstract lines were drawn by chance on the picture and a few pieces of white paper cut also by chance pasted on the same.” Two genetically distinct groups of 25 human participants were shown the meaningless picture and asked to talk, for two minutes, about any objects in the picture that they recognized.


  • For the ‘Grader’ Good

    College grading first appeared at Yale University in 1783, primarily for ranking students (Milton, Pollio, & Eison,1986) and around the turn of the 20th century, Max Meyer’s (1908) five-letter (A through F) grading scheme began to gain widespread acceptance. Despite minor modifications such as plus/minus grading, Meyer’s system has remained intact, yielding the all-important, enigmatic 400-point scale known as the grade point average or GPA (Milton et al., 1986). Although this grading scheme has received much criticism (e.g., Milton et al., 1986), it is deeply interwoven into the fabric of higher education. Rather than exploring grading alternatives, therefore, educators’ efforts are more productively spent reflecting on what we grade and why, and particularly on the myriad of seemingly minor grading decisions we face each semester. How Can We Use Grades to Motivate Students?

First Person

  • Getting Involved With OHP

    A Student's Perspective Attention to Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) — which covers issues of health and safety for workers and organizations — has been increasing since these issues were formally acknowledged with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970.  OHP reflects a multi-disciplinary approach to research and practice focused on improving the working lives of individuals, their families, communities, andthe organizations for which they work (Sauter & Hurrell, 1999; Society for Occupational Health Psychology, 2006). As initially conceived, this goal would be met by applying a combination of clinical, industrial-organizational (I-O), and health psychological principles to these challenges (Quick, 1999; Schneider, Camara, Tetrick, & Stenberg, 1999).

More From This Issue

  • The Power of Two

    One of the more memorable minor characters on the TV sitcom Seinfeld was Aaron, also known as the Close Talker. One of Elaine’s many boyfriends, Aaron had the discomfiting habit of putting his face just inches from the face of whoever he was talking to, even complete strangers. He was also friendly to a fault, inviting Jerry’s elderly parents along on dates, to museums, My Fair Lady, even for a romantic dinner. Elaine, confused, finally asks him, “You had fun with Mr. and Mrs. Seinfeld?” He replies: “Yeah. They bought me a Coke.” It’s hard to process someone like Aaron. He’s not mean, or stupid, or uncultured, or anything else obviously objectionable.

  • Beck Wins Lasker Award

    APS Fellow Aaron T. Beck, widely considered the father of cognitive therapy, was recently awarded the 2006 Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research. Often referred to as “America’s Nobels,” the Lasker Awards honor scientists whose work has led to a better understanding of diseases and how we overcome them.

  • Jennifer Richeson Wins MacArthur Award

    Social psychologist Jennifer Richeson, Northwestern University, is the recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship award, known informally as a “Genius Grant.” Distributed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the MacArthur Fellowships highlight creativity in all its forms and are designed to allow awardees to work freely, unencumbered by financial concerns or the oversight of their institution or funders. Awardees receive $500,000, given quarterly over five years with no stings attached.

  • Taylor Wins Inaugural Clifton Strengths Award

    APS Fellow and Charter Member Shelley E. Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles, was awarded the inaugural Clifton Strengths Prize at the Fifth Annual International Positive Psychology Summit organized by the Gallup Positive Psychology Institute. The Prize was created in memory of Donald O. Clifton — a former chair of the Gallup Organization — who founded the positive psychology movement.