A picture of chromosomes with the telomeres highly visible.

The Long and the Short of It

Psychological scientists have uncovered an alarming link between chronic stress and cellular aging. The length of our telomeres, the protective caps at the tips of our chromosomes, may foretell health risks.

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Volume 27, Issue9November 2014

Presidential Column

Nancy Eisenberg
Nancy Eisenberg
Arizona State University, Tempe
APS President 2014 - 2015
All columns

In this Issue:
Academic Leadership

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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  • 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


  • Academic Leadership

    Over the years, I have been surprised by the number of my friends or acquaintances in psychology who have become deans, provosts, and even university presidents. One of those individuals is Peter Salovey, whom I have known since I was a young faculty member and he was an undergraduate student working with David Rosenhan at Stanford University. I have watched his impressive career with interest and admiration for over 3 decades. Peter is now president of Yale University and, in this column, he provides some insight regarding the match of psychology training with work in higher administration. -Nancy Eisenberg In 2008, I was asked to serve as Yale’s provost by the university’s then-President Rick Levin. His pitch to me, more or less, was, “It takes two things to run a university — economics and psychology; I have the economics covered.” As you may have guessed, Rick Levin is an economist.

Practice


  • 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 David G. Myers and C. Nathan DeWall’s new blog “Talk Psych” at www.talkpsych.com.

First Person


  • Ten Tips for Developing a Programmatic Line of Research

    “My research is about…” Many graduate students finish this sentence with a long, awkward pause and a deep sigh, followed by the admission that they have done a number of unrelated studies in order to fulfill their program requirements. However, as APS Past President Henry L. Roediger, III, wrote in a 2007 Observer article, “Early in one’s career, publishing a steady series of journal articles is how one builds a reputation.” A programmatic line of research on one topic helps young scientists transition from frantic graduate students to accomplished scientists. This column provides my ideas and suggestions, gathered from experience, for creating a coherent line of experimental research while in graduate school. 1. Start with a specific project.

More From This Issue


  • Books to Check Out: November 2014

    To submit a new book, email apsobserver@psychologicalscience.org. A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication by Richard Jackson Harris and Fred W. Sanborn; Taylor & Francis, 2014. Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence by Laurence Steinberg; Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 9, 2014. The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self — Not Just Your “Good” Self — Drives Success and Fulfillment by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener; Hudson Street Press, September 25, 2014. by Steven Pinker; Viking Adult, September 30, 2014. Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life by Brian Wansink; William Morrow, September 23, 2014.

  • Neural Evidence for an Internal ‘Calorie Counter’

    As you peruse the shelves in a supermarket, you may be thinking about each food’s taste and nutritional value, or you may be trying to decide what you’re in the mood for. A new neuroimaging study published in Psychological Science and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research suggests that while you’re thinking all these things, an internal calorie counter of sorts is also evaluating each food based on its caloric density. “Our study sought to determine how people’s awareness of caloric content influenced the brain areas known to be implicated in evaluating food options,” says lead study author Alain Dagher, a neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital.

  • Stepping Into the Mix

    I was introduced to interdisciplinary research during my very first lab meeting in graduate school in 1991. Judith Rodin, my first advisor, was leading a MacArthur Foundation network on Health-Promoting and Health-Damaging Behaviors, including the role of stress. The network included diverse and broad thinkers such as neuroscientist Bruce McEwen and social psychologist Nancy Adler. The MacArthur networks provided a great model of how small interdisciplinary discussion groups could be highly collaborative and generative in promoting new ideas that stretch people out of their disciplinary silos, as well as support students in their training.

  • Experiments in the Dilemma Zone

    Yellow traffic lights pose one of the more dangerous obstacles that people encounter on the road. When a signal changes from green to yellow, drivers have to make quick decisions without much information. And statistics show that their decisions are often tragically poor: In 2012, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that over 2.5 million cars were involved in crashes at intersections with traffic signals, resulting in 859,000 fatalities or injuries. A major survey by the car insurance industry found that nearly 85% of drivers could not identify the correct action to take when approaching a yellow traffic light at an intersection.

  • As “winged” scientists in the Navy, Aerospace Experimental Psychologists must obtain 4 hours of flight time per month. Lieutenant Commander Tatana Olson gets some flight time with the NAS Pensacola Search and Rescue detachment in the H-3 Sea King helicopter.

    Earning Their Wings in Science

    For military psychological scientists like Lieutenant Commander Tatana Olson, scientific training includes aviation school.

  • A Multilevel Perspective on Child Maltreatment

    For children, the effects of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, and of physical neglect, continue long after the maltreatment ends. Over the past 35 years, Dante Cicchetti, McKnight Presidential Chair and William Harris Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, has examined the effects of child maltreatment on multiple psychological and biological domains. His work has investigated the developmental pathways from abuse and neglect to psychopathology and also resilience.

  • Developing and Piloting a Psychology of Social Media Course

    In her 2012 TED talk Connected, but Alone?, psychological scientist Sherry Turkle said, “We’re smitten with technology. And we’re afraid, like young lovers, that too much talking might spoil the romance. But it’s time to talk.” How do we, as educators of psychological science, get this conversation started for our students? For me, the answer was developing and piloting an undergraduate Psychology of Social Media course this year. The course was dedicated to understanding some of the myriad ways that social media are changing how we think about, process, store, and retrieve information, as well as the ways social media affect individual relationships and society as a whole.

  • A Blueprint for Thoughtful Clinical Research

    We found ourselves, like many other psychology research labs, intrigued and excited to talk about Kurt Gray and Daniel M. Wegner’s “Six Guidelines for Interesting Research,” published in the Fall 2013 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science. A simple summary could not do justice to the humor and insight this article offered — both as a love letter to psychological science as well as a kind but stern “talking to,” an offering of guidance on ways we can continue to improve and advance our field. Gray and Wegner focused on psychological science broadly, with many relevant applications to clinical science.

  • Psychological Science Submission Guidelines Updates and Additions

    While many of us spent the summer catching rays on the beach or hanging out on the couch, the editors of Psychological Science were hard at work updating the journal’s submission guidelines. Some of the changes affect the reporting of statistics and fMRI data. The journal now requests that authors report their test statistics to two decimal points (e.g., t(25) = 8.23) and p values to three decimal points when they are between .001 and .249.

  • McClelland Receives Heineken Prize

    The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) presented the $200,000 C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Sciences to James L. (“Jay”) McClelland on October 2, 2014, in Amsterdam. McClelland is Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and Director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation at Stanford University. He is a past recipient of the APS William James Fellow Award. McClelland received the Heineken Prize in recognition of his work modeling cognitive processes with neural networks, a departure from earlier models that described the brain in terms of a computer processor that stores and retrieves information.

  • Seligman Named Recipient of Inaugural TANG Prize

    Martin E. P. Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center and Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named the recipient of the inaugural TANG Prize for Achievements in Psychology. The prize, awarded by the TANG Foundation in Toronto, Canada, was created to honor a scholar in psychology who is “internationally recognized” and whose work “has left an indelible mark on the field, particularly in its application to the psychological wellbeing of humanity.” In a statement naming Seligman the prize recipient, the TANG Foundation applauded the role Seligman played in founding the field of positive psychology.

  • APS Fellow Jennifer L. Eberhardt Named 2014 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow

    Stanford University social psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt has been named a 2014 MacArthur Fellow by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The APS Fellow will receive a $625,000 stipend over 5 years for the purpose of following her own creative vision as a researcher. She is among 21 MacArthur Fellows chosen this year. Eberhardt’s research reveals how unconscious racial biases associating African-Americans with crime can exert powerful effects on visual processing and behavior. Her studies have used statistical analysis to analyze how racially coded features, such as a defendant’s skin color and hair texture, impact the decisions of jurors and the harshness of sentencing.