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332020Volume 33, Issue9November 2020

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

  • Back to the Future: Why APS Stands the Test of Time

    Perhaps the ultimate APS insider, Sarah Brookhart joined the staff of the new association in 1990, only two years after psychological scientists founded a new society for their science. Over the years, before her retirement at the end of the summer, she ran APS’s government relations program, and then its policy and communications program, before becoming deputy director for policy and communications in 2001, deputy director in 2002, and executive director in 2015. In this issue of the Observer, I have invited Sarah to reflect on her long career at APS. I hope you will agree that her reflections are invaluable in orienting us to the past—as well as to the future—of our society. —Shinobu KitayamaAPS President Sarah Brookhart Who doesn’t love the 1980s—Rubik’s Cubes, neon leg warmers, Frankie Goes to Hollywood on your Walkman, not to mention the classic movie Back to the Future?

Recent Research

  • Research Briefs

    People Reject Algorithms in Uncertain Decision Domains Because They Have Diminishing Sensitivity to Forecasting Error Berkeley J. Dietvorst and Soaham Bharti Psychological Science People may be unwilling to use algorithmic decision-makers (e.g., virtual doctors, self-driving cars) in inherently uncertain domains, such as financial investing or medical decision-making. In nine studies, Dietvorst and Bharti showed that people have diminishing sensitivity to forecasting errors—they perceive "relatively large subjective differences between different magnitudes of near-perfect forecasts (the best possible forecasts that produce little to no error) and relatively small subjective differences between forecasts with greater amounts of error." As a result, they are less likely to choose the best decision-makers in domains that are more unpredictable (e.g., with random outcomes vs.

Government Relations

  • Government Funding for Psychological Science in Japan: A Brief Overview

    Japan has been at the forefront of scientific and technological advancements for decades, producing countless influential scientists and important research discoveries. Thanks to a robust system of government funding for science, Japanese psychological scientists can help to drive these discoveries and produce curiosity-driven research. If there’s one government funding program in particular that APS members should know about, it’s KAKENHI: Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research. Is there something APS can do to help you better understand and track funding opportunities in your country? Let us know by emailing [email protected]. Japan is a research and development powerhouse. As of 2017, the country was third globally in gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD), trailing only the United States and China. Of Japan’s $171 billion (translated to U.S.

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