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Volume 26, Issue9November 2013

Presidential Column

Elizabeth A. Phelps
Elizabeth A. Phelps
New York University
APS President 2013 - 2014
All columns

In this Issue:
Restocking Our Subject Pools

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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  • This is a photo of a piece of paper torn to reveal the phrase "uncover the facts"

    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


  • Restocking Our Subject Pools

    My guest columnists this month are two early career scientists, Jay J. Van Bavel and David G. Rand, with interesting ideas about how to utilize new technology to advance psychological science. Their “call to action” suggests a way we can all get involved to enhance our research capabilities and the quality of our science.  –Elizabeth A. Phelps Over the past few years, psychological science has faced considerable scrutiny. As a recent article in Science pointed out, psychology’s “culture that too heavily favors new and counterintuitive ideas over the confirmation of existing results has led to too many findings that are striking for their novelty and published in respected journals — but are nonetheless false.” Many of the top scientists in the field have called for a more transparent science and reaffirmed the value of replication. For instance, one of APS’s leading journals, Perspectives on Psychological Science, has created a section to publish registered replication reports and several psychologists have launched an unprecedented, large-scale effort to replicate many of the most prominent psychology experiments. Why isn’t replication more common?

  • What’s New at Psychological Science

    Initiatives launching at Psychological Science in 2014 have the potential for far-reaching effects on authors, readers, and science as a whole. The Academic Observer sat down with Editor in Chief Eric Eich to talk about his experience with the journal so far and the exciting new changes ahead.   Henry L. Roediger, III, will deliver the Bring the Family Address at the 26th APS Annual Convention in San Francisco, May 22-25, 2014. Memory Athlete Nelson Dellis will join Roediger for the address “Make It Stick: How Memory Athletes Perform and How Their Techniques Can Help You." AO: You’re about to wind up your second year as Editor in Chief of Psychological Science (PS). How has the experience of the last two years meshed with what you expected before you took the job? EE: I had the good fortune to apprentice with Editor Emeritus Rob Kail beginning in the fall of 2011. Under his mentorship, I served as an Associate Editor in September and October, before switching to Senior Editor in November and December. The experience was enormously helpful in easing me into the Editor in Chief role, which started in January 2012.

Practice


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    C. Nathan DeWall, University of Kentucky, and renowned textbook author and APS Fellow David G. Myers, Hope College, have teamed up to create a series of Observer columns aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom. Each column will offer 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 bi-monthly 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 non-experts, making them ideally suited for use in the classroom. Teaching Students Why People Drive Aggressively and How to Prevent It Teaching Students Why People Drive Aggressively and How to Prevent It By C. Nathan DeWall Wickens, C. M., Mann, R. E., & Wiesenthal, D. L. (2013). Addressing driver aggression: Contributions from psychological science.

  • What’s New at Psychological Science

    Initiatives launching at Psychological Science in 2014 have the potential for far-reaching effects on authors, readers, and science as a whole. The Academic Observer sat down with Editor in Chief Eric Eich to talk about his experience with the journal so far and the exciting new changes ahead.   Henry L. Roediger, III, will deliver the Bring the Family Address at the 26th APS Annual Convention in San Francisco, May 22-25, 2014. Memory Athlete Nelson Dellis will join Roediger for the address “Make It Stick: How Memory Athletes Perform and How Their Techniques Can Help You." AO: You’re about to wind up your second year as Editor in Chief of Psychological Science (PS). How has the experience of the last two years meshed with what you expected before you took the job? EE: I had the good fortune to apprentice with Editor Emeritus Rob Kail beginning in the fall of 2011. Under his mentorship, I served as an Associate Editor in September and October, before switching to Senior Editor in November and December. The experience was enormously helpful in easing me into the Editor in Chief role, which started in January 2012.

First Person


  • On External Research Opportunities

    Spending the summer months garnering external lab experience as an intern or research assistant can be a valuable undertaking for undergraduates in pursuit of graduate school admission. Especially for students from smaller colleges and universities, this can be an advantageous way to spend the summer — particularly because smaller schools tend to have limited (if any) graduate programs in psychology. Consequently, research opportunities for students from smaller schools tend to be fewer, making it more difficult for these students to compete with applicants from more active research departments. But regardless of one’s undergraduate institution, all students can explore their individual interests, get involved in new research projects, and obtain exposure to additional mentorship perspectives.

More From This Issue


  • Deaux and Markus Honored With Service Award

    APS Past President Kay Deaux, City University of New York Graduate Center (emeritus) and New York University (visiting scholar), and APS Fellow Hazel Rose Markus, Stanford University, will each receive the 2013 Award for Service on Behalf of Personality and Social Psychology in February 2014 at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Deaux and Markus have each served as president of SPSP.

  • 2013 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Award Recipients

    Congratulations to 23 APS members who are 2013 Society for Personality and Social Psychology award recipients. The following scientists will be honored at the 15th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology to take place February 13–15, 2014, in Austin, Texas: APS Fellow Robert R. McCrae, National Institute on Aging Jack Block Award APS Fellow Timothy D. Wilson, University of Virginia Donald T. Campbell Award APS Fellow James H. Sidanius, Harvard University Career Contribution Award APS Fellows Judith Harackiewicz and Janet S. Hyde and APS Student Affiliate Christopher S.

  • Careers and Leadership the Focus of New Psychological Science Blog

    Countless professionals spend their workdays facing performance anxiety, low motivation, poor management, and burnout. Others utilize optimism, enthusiasm, and energy to reap success. Psychological scientists have amassed decades’ worth of research on these traits and behaviors, and on what factors foster an optimal work environment. Now, APS has launched Minds for Business, a blog devoted exclusively to the study of work and leadership. Minds for Business will feature the latest research on leadership and management issues in the modern workplace.

  • Foxx Recognized for Contributions to Applied Research

    APS Fellow Richard Foxx has received the 2013 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research from the American Psychological Association. Foxx is a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State Harrisburg and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. He is widely recognized for research on severe and challenging behavior, and he has made contributions in the treatment of urinary incontinence, the repetitive speech condition echolalia, cigarette smoking, social challenges, and impaired problem-solving skills.

  • APS Replication Initiative Under Way

    Funding Available for Labs in RRR Initiative In this era of tight research budgets and increasingly pricey data collection and analysis methods, cost may be a concern for researchers interested in participating in a replication. With this in mind, APS is excited to announce a fund dedicated to providing support for qualified labs that wish to participate in an RRR project. The Center for Open Science, with support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, has contributed a $250,000 grant to increase the number and variety of registered replications.

  • Reflecting on Lifetimes of Achievement

    As part of APS’s 25th anniversary celebration, the Board of Directors is honoring 25 distinguished scientists who have had a profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter-century. Eight individuals have been selected to receive the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award, honoring a lifetime of significant contributions to applied psychological research. Seventeen scientists are receiving the William James Fellow Award, which recognizes their significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. In this issue of the Observer, APS continues the series by profiling four of these eminent scientists.

  • Integrative Science Featured at European Conferences

    Annual Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology The 18th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP) was held August 29–September 1 in Budapest. The meeting featured a joint APS/ESCoP preconference symposium, “Building a Better Psychological Science: Good Data Practices and Replicability.” Leading experts discussed the causes and extent of bias and error problems in science as well as potential solutions to these and other complex problems affecting replicability.

  • What We Know Now: How Psychological Science Has Changed Over a Quarter Century

    This article is part of a series commemorating APS's 25th anniversary in 2013. Psychological science has experienced an unprecedented period of growth and advancement during the last 25 years. Since APS was formed in 1988, many disciplines within the field have flourished and expanded. And entire new sub-disciplines, areas of research, and methodologies have sprung up during that time. What’s been especially noteworthy about these areas is the fact that they cross both disciplinary and geographic boundaries, marking a trend toward a global, integrative approach to psychological research.

  • Psychology’s Image Problem

    Eyewitness testimony, vehicle safety, economics, and aptitude testing are just a few of the domains that have been revolutionized by psychological research — but few lay people even know it. “I think we take those applications for granted because we know about them, but they’ve often receded into the woodwork because they’re so much a part of everyday life that a lot of people aren’t sufficiently cognizant of them,” said Scott O. Lilienfeld in his APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Address at the 25th APS Annual Convention, held in May in Washington, DC.

  • How to Do Your Best Work and Succeed in a University Faculty Position

    There are many challenges that university faculty, especially junior faculty, face on the job that keep them from doing their very best creative scholarly work — the work that lured us into this career in the first place. I focus on four facets of academic life: inspiration, motivation, attitude, and practice. But first, there are two axioms about faculty work you need to keep in mind: (1) we can think about whatever we want, which is truly fantastic; (2) our work is never done. Inspiration Although we each arrived at our interests by different paths, we are alike in that our areas of study do not merely interest us; we are passionate about them. When the mind drifts, it drifts there.

  • A Matter of Trust — and Narrative

    Why do some people feel such hostility toward scientists? Psychological scientists have identified a key reason — lack of trust. People put faith in others with whom they find commonality, says APS Past President Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University, and that’s something that scientists have tended to neglect. Fiske was among several psychological scientists who participated in the Science of Science Communication colloquium, Sept. 23–25, at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, DC. Much of the discussion at the event focused on public beliefs and attitudes about science topics, not to mention the scholars who study them.

  • The Subterranean War on Science

    Science denial kills. More than 300,000 South Africans died needlessly in the early 2000s because the government of President Mbeki preferred to treat AIDS with garlic and beetroot rather than antiretroviral drugs (Chigwedere, Seage, Gruskin, Lee, & Essex,2008). The premature death toll from tobacco is staggering and historians have shown how it was needlessly inflated by industry-sponsored denial of robust medical evidence (Proctor, 2011). The US now faces the largest outbreak of whooping cough in decades, in part because of widespread denial of the benefits of vaccinations (Rosenau, 2012).

  • Using Blood Pressure to Predict Cognitive Function

    Vascular risk factors are receiving increasing attention in research investigating the development of cognitive decline and dementia. As researcher Matthew Pase and colleagues note in a new article in Psychological Science, “the importance of vascular risk factors in the development of cognitive decline and dementia is becoming increasingly apparent, with the brain recently having been conceptualized as an end organ of vascular disease.” Many studies have established brachial blood pressure, measured from the arm, as a cardiovascular risk factor.

  • The Biggest Brain (Sculpture) in the World

    Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) now holds bragging rights to the world’s largest anatomically correct sculpture of a human brain. The sculpture made its public debut during the festivities that celebrated another set of bragging rights held by IUB: The university’s psychology department celebrated its 125th anniversary this month, making it the oldest psychology department in the United States. Amy Brier, a sculptor, and a team of carvers led by Mike Donham of Accent Limestone, collaborated to design and build the 5-ton brain, which stands 7 feet tall. The sculpture was underwritten by the Harlan Family Foundation.

  • Could Your Last Name Be Hampering Your Career Path?

    It’s well-known that people who are taller and attractive are more likely to garner managerial positions than people of shorter or average stature and appearance. But new research suggests that, at least in some societies, a surname could determine whether you have the proverbial corner office or a cubicle. A newly published study in Germany has found that people with noble-sounding last names, such as Kaiser (“emperor”), König (“king”), or Fürst (“prince”) may have an advantage on the management track compared to people with names like Koch (“cook”) or Bauer (“farmer”).

  • Loftus’s TED Talk a Standout Hit

    A talk by APS Past President Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine, has become an overnight sensation among TED viewers, garnering over 300,000 views in the first week it was available online. In this talk, given at TEDGlobal 2013, Loftus explores the "fiction of memory," illustrating the malleability of what we often consider to be a veridical record of our experiences. She shows how memory can be influenced, often in very subtle ways, and she highlights the real-life repercussions that false memories can have. Loftus is a leading expert on memory -- in particular, false memory.

  • APS Hits Twitter Milestone

    The numerals 2 and 5 are magic numbers for APS this year. Not only is the association marking its 25th birthday, and nearing a membership count of 25,000, but we’ve just surpassed 25,000 followers on Twitter. Our followers represent a mix of scientists, students, writers, businesspeople, teachers, and more, reflecting broad public interest in all facets of psychological science. Follow us on Twitter, if you’re not already!

  • Duckworth Named 2013 MacArthur Fellow

    The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named University of Pennsylvania scientist and APS member Angela Lee Duckworth a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. She is among 24 MacArthur Fellows chosen this year for exceptional creativity as well as “a track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future.” A former math and science teacher, Duckworth received a PhD in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. Her research focuses on how factors other than intelligence predict achievement. Specifically, she is interested in grit, self-control, and the demonstrated role that both of these personality traits play in predicting success.