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Volume 28, Issue8October, 2015

Reaching Citizens Through Science

How Behavioral Science is Shaping Government Services More

In his inaugural Presidential Column, APS President C. Randy Gallistel introduced beginners to Bayesian statistical analysis. This month, he continues the introduction to Bayes with a lesson on using prior distributions to improve parameter estimates. In last month’s column, I focused on the distinction between likelihood and probability. To review More

APS Past President Walter Mischel and two other psychological researchers were among the 2015 Golden Goose Award winners honored last month at a gala ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The award is given annually to highlight federally funded studies that have led to major scientific discoveries More

Can gestures speak louder than words? APS President-Elect Susan Goldin-Meadow certainly thinks so. During her William James Fellow Award Address, Goldin-Meadow shared highlights from her seminal research on the power of gesture, beginning with the integral role that gestures play in human learning and cognition. “You’ve got to be careful More

Researchers have long known that, much like physical traits, characteristics of mental health and mental illness can be passed down through family trees, moving from one generation to the next. Longitudinal studies and new forms of genetic analysis are helping shed light on intergenerational continuity and transmission of psychopathology. At More

Psychological Science’s (PS’s) first year of existence coincided with another critical milestone in the field’s history — the centennial of the publication of William James’s Principles of Psychology. James’s seminal textbook held particular significance for William Estes, PS’s founding editor. Estes and his wife, Katherine (Kay) Estes, lived in the More

Back in the early 1980s, the actress Dame Diana Rigg began asking colleagues in the theater and film industries — including some of the world’s most honored thespians — to share their worst-ever reviews. The responses turned into a collection, No Turn Unstoned, which eventually drew a cult following as More

Psychological science recently has drawn widespread public attention as a result of a new report estimating the reproducibility of studies in the field. This report, published in Science, showed that fewer than half of the psychology studies from a sample of 100 replicated. These results are eye-opening for many researchers More

Let’s see the data.” It is hard to accept that Keith Rayner will never say those words again. He succumbed to multiple myeloma on January 21, 2015, after struggling long and hard against the disease but never giving up hope. The illness didn’t change the way he interacted with people More

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 More

If the reader is to grasp what the writer means, the writer must understand what the reader needs.” -Gopen and Swan (1990), The Science of Scientific Writing Graduate school is like a juggling performance. Successful jugglers need not only keep the balls from hitting the ground but simultaneously amalgamate new More

In late 2005, I applied to several psychology PhD programs. I was invited for an interview at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and I remember meeting Elizabeth Loftus and thinking to myself, “There’s no way I’m qualified to work with a person so highly esteemed and accomplished.” Thus, I More

Unlike civilian government employees, active-duty servicemembers must log into a specific website and select how much they’d like to contribute in order to enroll in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a government retirement savings program. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the White House SBST, and university researchers worked More

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) wanted farmers who are just starting out, run small farms, or are disadvantaged to apply for its new loan program. In an attempt to increase participation, SBST sent an outreach letter to all farms in certain zip codes, selected randomly, in nine states. The More

Student-loan balances are ballooning, and many borrowers struggle to keep pace with their loan payments. Loan repayment plans that are tied to borrowers’ current incomes can make repayment more manageable, but borrowers have to know about and apply for these programs. The office of Federal Student Aid at the Department More

Small details, like the timing of an email, can have big outcomes for the success of government programs. In a collaboration with SBST, federal agencies found that sending an email at just the right time of day could considerably improve response rates. The General Service Administration (GSA) manages the office More

Vendors who work with the federal government are required to pay a fee based on a percentage of their sales. These fees, called industrial funding fees (IFF), are calculated based on self-reports submitted by the vendors. The IFF form, like most forms, requires vendors to confirm that their work is More

An initiative by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) aims to reframe mental health research — from research to treatment. The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative cuts across traditional diagnostic categories to identify relationships among observable behavior, neurobiological measures, and patient self-report of mental status. There are several ways More

Like a barrel-aged whiskey or a ripening cheese, some things improve with maturity – including some cognitive abilities, new research shows. While many visual and cognitive abilities seem to peak in early adulthood and decline thereafter, findings from researchers at VA Boston Healthcare System and Harvard University indicate that a More

When conducting psychology studies online or in the lab, researchers might not think about participants’ past experiences as a research subject. But research published in Psychological Science suggests that these experiences could make a difference in study outcomes. The research shows that participants who are not naïve to research methods More

APS Fellow Jagannath Prasad (J.P.) Das has been named a member of the Order of Canada. Das is Emeritus Director of the J.P. Das Developmental Disabilities Centre at the University of Alberta in Canada. He also is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Alberta. Das has spent More