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332020Volume 33, Issue8October 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

  • Psychological Science in the Era of Infectious Disease

    Over the last several months, we have witnessed an unprecedented spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Some fear that its magnitude could eventually be comparable to that of the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed more than 50 million people worldwide. As the virus’s onslaught unfolded, I began to feel that psychological scientists must join forces in the fight against the pandemic. In particular, I wondered whether massive variation in countries’ vulnerability to the virus might shed light on the core mechanisms underlying its transmission. This thought may not be too far-fetched. Even though this infectious disease is caused by a virus (a bit of genetic material in a spiky lipid shell), its behavior is nearly entirely contingent on human behavior (Quammen, 2012).Thus, as a field, psychological science may have a lot to offer.

Recent Research

  • Research Briefs

    Preverbal Infants Discover Statistical Word Patterns at Similar Rates as Adults: Evidence From Neural Entrainment Dawoon Choi, Laura J. Batterink, Alexis K. Black, Ken A. Paller, and Janet F. Werker Psychological Science Preverbal children (under 6 months) appear to already have the ability to segment words from continuous speech, a process facilitated by learning the statistical patterns of language. Choi and colleagues used electroencephalogram measures to track the ability of infants to segment words. Infants’ neural processing increasingly synchronized with the embedded words over the learning period. This increase in neural synchronization to words during segmentation learning was comparable to that of adults and predicted future word discrimination.

Government Relations

  • National Academies Releases Report on How Behavioral Science Can Reduce National Food Waste

    The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a consensus study report in August detailing strategies for reducing food waste at the consumer level. The report was written by a committee of experts who reviewed pertinent research to deliver a holistic, systems-oriented strategy to combat food waste. More on the National Accademies The National Academies releases consensus study reports to disseminate findings and recommendations generated from a comprehensive review of information by a committee of experts. All consensus study reports undergo an intense independent peer review process.

APS Spotlight

  • APS Microgrants Fund Innovative Teaching Projects

    The APS Teaching Fund Committee has selected 25 projects for funding through its Microgrants for Online Learning program, launched in June in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which is meant to facilitate the rapid development and dissemination of best practices for teaching psychological science online, was designed to provide grants of up to $1,000 to support projects in four general categories, including webinars and virtual meetings, support for individual classes, scholarship of teaching and learning, and antiracist curricula. Fifty-six individuals and teams applied for the program, with an average funding request of $960. From those applicants, the APS Teaching Fund Committee selected 26 projects for funding. Here’s a closer look at three.


  • Teaching: Intricacies of Intolerance / Digital Emotion Regulation

    Edited by C. Nathan DeWall Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science offers advice and guidance about teaching a particular area of research or topic covered in this peer-reviewed APS bimonthly journal, which features reviews covering all of scientific psychology and its applications. Learning the Intricacies of Intolerance Digital Emotion Regulation: Using Devices to Feel Different Learning the Intricacies of Intolerance By C. Nathan DeWall Verkuyten, M., Adelman, L., & Yogeeswaran, K. (2020). The psychology of intolerance: Unpacking diverse understandings of intolerance. Current Directions in Psychological Science. Advance online publication. In August 2017, the Unite the Right rally took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and counterprotesters flooded the streets.

First Person

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