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312018Volume 31, Issue7September 2018

Presidential Column

Barbara Tverksy
Barbara Tversky
Teachers College, Columbia University and Stanford University
APS President 2018 - 2019
All columns

In this Issue:
Seeing Psychological Science Everywhere

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.


  • Barbara Tversky becomes Board President as Suparna Rajaram moves to Immediate Past President. Lisa Feldman Barrett steps in as President-Elect, and Vonnie C. McLoyd and Maryanne Garry begin terms as Members-at-Large.

Up Front

  • Seeing Psychological Science Everywhere

    Nearly 50 years ago, George Miller — yes, that Miller, the one from the Magical Number 7 +/- 2 — called for “giving psychology away” (Miller, 1969). Like many catchy phrases, this one has been echoed many times, sometimes without the cautionary title, “Psychology as a means of promoting human welfare.” Some years later, in his APS presidential columns (2007–2008), John T. Cacioppo brought data showing that psychological science was in fact being given away. Cacioppo presented a dense network of citation links within and across the sciences. A few sciences, psychology among them, were hub sciences. Like transportation hubs, a hub science is one that gets a lot of traffic; it is central to other sciences. In this case, it means that papers published in psychology journals are frequently cited by papers published in other disciplines.


  • 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 the column for supplementary components, including classroom activities and demonstrations. Visit David G. Myers at his blog “Talk Psych”.

First Person

  • A Call for the Positive: Why Young Psychological Scientists Should Take Positive Psychology Seriously

    Although there are benefits to studying the faults in airplanes that cause crashes, would it not be better to study the mechanisms that allow flight? Sonja Lyubomirsky, a positive psychology pioneer, introduced this analogy at the 5th World Congress on Positive Psychology in Montreal, Canada: Consider that humans are like airplanes. Traditionally, psychological science has favored studying the factors that cause “crashes,” holding an apparent bias toward studying what goes wrong with the mind and behavior. The new 20-year-old field of positive psychology is growing up to meet this negative bias with a focus on the positive, flourishing, happiness, and well-being — essentially, what happens when airplanes fly. As young psychological scientists, we need to recognize and understand the benefits of supporting and embracing this perspective shift.

More From This Issue

  • Researchers Investigate Problems With MTurk Data

    Some psychological researchers and other social scientists are warning about a possible problem with survey data being collected through the widely-used online tool Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). The researchers recently detected a noticeable number of survey responses from repeating GPS coordinates, indicating the presence of possible bots with spoof accounts. More details on the issue can be found online (at and, along with a proposed standardized procedure to test whether responses from repeating GPS coordinates provide evidentiary value.

  • APS Fellow Carsten de Dreu Receives Spinoza Prize

    APS Fellow Carsten de Dreu, a professor of social and organizational psychology at Leiden University, has been awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award given in the Netherlands. The prize recognizes researchers working in the Netherlands for making outstanding contributions to their fields on an international level. The award is accompanied by a 2.5 million Euro ($2.9 million) prize to support future research. “It is a tremendous honor,” de Dreu said in a press release.

  • The Psychological Science of Studying, Learning, and Teaching

    The academic year has begun throughout much of the world, with students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels facing the challenges of new classes and research pursuits. Research published in APS journals shows some of the strategies and traits associated with student success. Retrieval and Distributed Practice Can Boost Students’ Study Strategies Using flashcards, reviewing notes, and rereading textbooks probably isn’t teaching students as much as they think: Real learning is an effortful process, says Toshi Miyatsu, a graduate research fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.

  • Remembering Anne Treisman (February 27, 1935–February 9, 2018)

    Lynn C. Robertson University of California, Berkeley APS William James Fellow Anne Treisman was not only a giant in psychological science; her work influenced a broad set of scientific fields, including vision and auditory sciences, computational science, philosophy, linguistics, neuropsychology, and cognitive neurosciences (both applied and experimental). From her student days until she retired, she was driven by questions of whether and how selective attention influenced perception in cognition and in the brain.

  • Firm Foundations II

    Building on a feature story from the January issue, scientists contribute additional opinions on the most replicated discoveries in psychological science.

  • Making Statistics Personal

    Duke University psychological scientist Gregory Samanez-Larkin has developed an accessible way to teach statistical analysis — having students examine data about their own health.

  • The 2018–2019 APS Board

    Barbara Tversky becomes Board President as Suparna Rajaram moves to Immediate Past President. Lisa Feldman Barrett steps in as President-Elect, and Vonnie C. McLoyd and Maryanne Garry begin terms as Members-at-Large.

  • BISTOPS Holds Inaugural Seminar on Teaching Psychological Science

    Psychological scientists gathered July 9 through 13 in Paris, France to foster future research on teaching and learning psychology at the inaugural Biennial International Seminar on the Teaching of Psychological Science. Established educational psychologists and those with a newfound interest in the field alike came together to discuss existing research and exciting avenues for international collaboration to promote the evidence-based teaching of psychological science worldwide. The seminar, organized by APS Fellow Douglas A.

  • Newcombe, King Will Be New APS Journal Editors

    APS William James Fellow Nora S. Newcombe will become the new editor of Psychological Science in the Public Interest on January 1, 2019. She is the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple University. She researches education and learning, specifically STEM learning and education, spatial learning, and cognitive maps. Newcombe has been awarded the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award from the Society for Research in Child Development and the Women in Cognitive Science Mentorship Award. She also has received the George A. Miller Award for an Outstanding Recent Article on General Psychology, the G.

  • ’Playing Games With Basic Research’

    [embed][/embed] Today, doing homework means sitting down to fill out a worksheet, flipping through flash cards, or writing an essay. But what if all students had to do was plug in a controller and train their brains by playing games? It may be an enticing idea, says APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Richard E.