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Volume 14, Issue8October 2001

Presidential Column

John Darley
John Darley
Princeton University
APS President 2001 - 2002
All columns

In this Issue:
The Limits of Our Archival Stance (cont.): We Fail to Contribute to Policy Debates

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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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Up Front


  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), one of only 88 Carnegie level-one research universities in the nation, is the largest institution of higher learning in the Chicago area. The Department of Psychology at UIC is rated in the top 50 in the country in research productivity. In addition to a comprehensive catalogue of undergraduate courses, the department supports 5 graduate programs. There are over 30 faculty members in a department that is highly successful in attracting external funding including training grants. In recent years, our level of extramural funding (which provides support for state-of-the-art laboratories and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students) typically exceeds $2.5 million per annum. The campus is located minutes away from downtown Chicago, offering all the benefits and excitement of a major metropolitan area. UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM The Department has one of the largest number of majors of any program on the campus. Majors in both General and Applied Psychology (both BA) as well as a minor are offered.

  • The Limits of Our Archival Stance (cont.): We Fail to Contribute to Policy Debates

    The story so far: I have suggested in previous columns that psychology, perhaps uniquely among the sciences, has adopted the perspective that our task is to discover the basic mechanisms of human memory, emotion, thought and action, and to demonstrate by experiments that we have gotten it right. We demand that the generalizations that find their way into our journals be empirically supported, preferably based on experimentation that allows for clear causal inference. We must not allow anything else to be archived, cited, depended on. Much has been gained by taking this stance, but costs have been incurred as well. That is, there are consequences that limit the advancement of our own science and our utility to society. Last month I suggested we do not have many outlets for insights that would be published in the form of essays suggesting connections between phenomena that we deal with in separate specializations ("speculative essays" in our somewhat dismissive terms). Certainly many psychologists have more in the way of interesting ideas than can fit into their painstakingly causal research agendas; we rob our collective progress because we do not let those insights out in public.

Practice


  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), one of only 88 Carnegie level-one research universities in the nation, is the largest institution of higher learning in the Chicago area. The Department of Psychology at UIC is rated in the top 50 in the country in research productivity. In addition to a comprehensive catalogue of undergraduate courses, the department supports 5 graduate programs. There are over 30 faculty members in a department that is highly successful in attracting external funding including training grants. In recent years, our level of extramural funding (which provides support for state-of-the-art laboratories and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students) typically exceeds $2.5 million per annum. The campus is located minutes away from downtown Chicago, offering all the benefits and excitement of a major metropolitan area.

More From This Issue


  • The IRB Review System: How Do We Know It Works?

    This is the second of a two-part series in which the authors consider the effectiveness of the research proposal ethics review process as it has evolved in psychological research in North America. They raise a fundamental question: Is there any evidence that these reviews are effective at reducing risk to the public? In Part I, they defined the situation and reviewed some irrelevant measures. In Part II, they discuss approaches and benefits to answering this question. EVIDENCE OF REVIEW EFFECTIVENESS In Part I (Observer, September, 2001), we argued that "problems found" do not constitute an acceptable measure of review effectiveness.

  • Protection Money: Human Subjects Research Legislation

    Quick, name the largest group dedicated to protecting human subjects in research... Okay, time's up. Does 'the United States Government' ring a bell? The federal government has thousands of pages in legislation and regulations aimed at the protection of human subjects. Most of the protections are laid out in 45 CFR 46, or "the Common Rule." Yet there have been no significant changes to the laws for human subjects protection in over twenty years. Agreement is widespread among virtually everyone involved - scientists, academic research administrators, federal agency officials - that revisions are necessary. But where do we begin?

  • Social Cognitive Neuroscience Goes Hollywood

    Hollywood's Sunset Strip has often been the stomping ground of rising stars and glitterati. It was no different earlier this year, when 250 social psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists, brain mappers, neuropsychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and economists descended on the Hyatt West Hollywood for the inaugural Social Cognitive Neuroscience conference. For three intense days, conference-goers attended invited symposia, perused a poster session, and participated in roundtable discussions about whether, how, and why minds and social environments are linked. "I'm in seventh heaven," reported neuro-psychologist David Perret of the University of St.

  • Sharing Data: It’s Time to End Psychology’s Guild Approach

    Psychological science is both a discipline and a guild. Sometimes the two realities rest uneasily with one another. Such is the case when psychologists try to wear both hats while addressing the question of how to optimize the output of psychological science. Characteristic of a guild is that its members have undergone a process of induction into the guild. Psychology researchers have learned how to perform their work in a prescribed way through the apprenticeship program known as graduate school. Growing adaptation to the guild way is tested in the initial years of a new guild members' working life.

  • In the Newsroom When Disaster Strikes

    Jill Kester Locantore is this year's APS-AAAS Media Fellow. She began her year-long internship with the Richmond Times-Dispatch on September 10. In the following report, she describes what it was like to be in a newsroom when the terrorist attacks took place. On the second day of my internship as the APS-AAAS Media Fellow, terror struck. I walked into the office just in time to witness the worst terrorist attacks in history. Although I was in the Richmond Times-Dispatch newsroom, far away from the disasters unfolding in Washington and New York, I was in the middle of the action.

  • Persuasion and the ‘Poison Parasite’

    A great deal of psychology research has focused on the mechanics and effects of persuasion. But what about the flip side: What techniques and strategies do we have to resist persuasion when it is unwelcome? Observer photo by Mel Hill Cialdini presents the APS William James Distinguished Lecture at the May 2001 MPA meeting. Robert Cialdini and colleagues at Arizona State University have studied the elements of counter persuasion and have developed models designed to puncture an opponents's messages, be they political campaign ads or self-serving commercials.

  • A Message of Caution

    The issue of appropriate - and especially less appropriate- crisis intervention is receiving all kinds of serious attention and concern right now, and it is important that it should. We must keep a focus on the critical importance of meeting people's needs as they define them in ways we can be confident will help . . . in some cases, this will mean protecting them from the convergence of "trauma tourists" who come to offer untested and ill-conceived fringe therapies for trauma to the desperately frightened and grieving. But we must also be aware that some approaches that seem intuitively reasonable and have been widely embraced have proven ineffective and even harmful.