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172004Volume 17, Issue9September 2004

Presidential Column

Robert W. Levenson
Robert W. Levenson
University of California, Berkeley
APS President 2004 - 2005
All columns

In this Issue:
It Is the Best of Times, It Is (Not Quite) the Worst of Times

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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Up Front

  • It Is the Best of Times, It Is (Not Quite) the Worst of Times

    It was 1988 and I was starting my third year at Berkeley. One of my senior colleagues stopped by my office and dropped off a brochure describing the newly formed American Psychological Society saying: "You might find this interesting." He was right. The notion of an organization that cut across the various subdisciplines of our field, that was 100 percent devoted to the scientific side of psychology, and that would advocate for the support and development of psychological science was pretty irresistible (both to me and to the 5,000 or so others who joined APS in its first six months). After attending one of the early conventions and getting to hear wonderfully interesting talks from all areas of psychological science, I was hooked. This was to be the first of many APS Annual Conventions for me, and, over the years, I became increasingly involved in APS activities and governance.

APS Spotlight

  • The AP Psychology Reading: Life’s a Beach for Blair-Broeker

    The AP Reading Process The exams are stored in folders that hold 25 each and in boxes that hold about 10 folders. This is only a portion of the total. Readers receive rubric training for Question 2 on the exam. Over a half a day is spent on training. After training, readers are assigned to a table and supervised by a table leader. Each reader is also assigned a partner. Imagine getting paid to spend a week in Daytona Beach with a couple hundred psychology-teaching colleagues. You'll stay at the Adam's Mark Hotel, right on the beach, and spend your days interacting with high school teachers and college professors who share your passion for psychology and teaching.

  • Life After the Ivory Tower

    Don Kausler has become a successful author and columnist since leaving the ivory tower. He published The Graying of America in 1996. During his career, APS Fellow Don Kausler was instrumental in the development of cognitive aging as a scientific specialty. Since his retirement he has written a for-the-public book The Graying of America and writes a newspaper column on issues in aging. He has written 138 columns thus far, and his columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, including several that carry weekly columns, and in 20 online newspapers. The following article is a recap, so to speak, of an exemplary scientist who continues to offer good science to a broad public.

  • Dating the Data

    In current empirical psychological articles it is uncommon for the data collection to be dated. A typical experimental method section of a paper includes information about geographic location (e.g., "a large Midwestern university"), and the age, race/ethnic, and sex makeup of the sample. Whether the data were collected in 1979, 1989, or 2004 is not part of that description. An increase in meta-analyses has led us to adhere strictly to standard reporting methods regarding standard deviations, means, and exact p-values. It would take relatively little effort to include data collection dates as well. It seems at least as relevant to know when as to know where data collection occurred.

  • Psychology All-Stars: Susan T. Fiske

    Sponsored by the APS Student Caucus In an ongoing APS Student Caucus series of conversations with distinguished professors, Susan T. Fiske recently shared her advice for success and challenges facing graduate students. Fiske is a professor of psychology at Princeton University and an APS Past President. She is renowned for her research on stereotyping and prejudice of outgroups and across different cultures. Fiske APSSC: What led you to choose psychology research as a career? FISKE: I observed my own behavior! I looked at my grades and realized I was better at it than other subject areas. A simple case of Bem's self-perception theory. In truth, it was probably over-determined.

  • Ways of the Master Teacher

    I would be willing to wager my next year's salary that most of us can think of at least one or two undergraduate teachers who influenced us to pursue a career in psychology. I would also be willing to ante up the same sum in support of a more general claim: Most college graduates have had at least one professor who influenced their thinking in some important way. Whether such influence resides in shaping students' career trajectories, inspiring intellectual engagement in the subject matter, or modeling critical thinking skills, some professors clearly are more effective teachers than are other professors (see, e.g., Greimel-Fuhrmann, & Geyer, 2003).


  • Beyond the Classroom:Developing Students’ Professional Social Skills

    Have you ever encountered students whose academic performance is excellent, yet their attitudes are not? For example, you may have known a student who performed exceptionally on assignments, but was habitually late to class, argued over class points, and demanded personal exceptions to class policies. One of the reasons students might fit this description is poorly developed social skills. As teachers, our obligation to help students learn factual information about the field of psychology and to develop cognitive skills is clear. Teaching students critical thinking, written communication, and time management skills also has value. Less attention is given to developing students socially, although social proficiency can be equally critical for future academic and nonacademic success.

First Person

  • Navigating Your First IRB Review

    As students, the process of submitting a dissertation or thesis proposal to the local Institutional Review Board, or IRB, is one in which we are often left to fend for ourselves with little to no guidance. This is an exciting milestone in your career, and submitting your first research protocol doesn't need to be a daunting task. There are four important considerations to keep in mind as you embark on your first submission: 1) be realistic about your timeline; 2) become knowledgeable about the IRB process 3) avoid some of the common pitfalls in your first submission; and 4) communicate early and often with both the IRB and your advisor. Timeline Expectations Students often underestimate the length of time needed for the review process. Treat an IRB submission like a publication submission, with seriousness and patience.

More From This Issue

  • Mickey Mantle’s Greatest Error

    JANICE HASTRUP Team: University at Buffalo Field: Psychology APS Stat: Charter Member Interests: Behavioral medicine; Genetic risk factors; methodological issues; stress-related disorders MICKEY CHARLES MANTLE Born: 10-20-1931 Died: 8-13-1995 Team: NY Yankees Team: NY Yankees Bats: Both Throws: Right Years: 18 Errors: 107 Stats MVP-3 Gold Glove-1 World Series Wins-7 Fals Beliefs-1 In 2,290 games for the New York Yankees, centerfielder Mickey Mantle made only 107 errors and won the 1962 Gold Glove, baseball's highest fielding honor.

  • Levenson Becomes APS President

    Levenson Robert W. Levenson of the University of California, Berkeley, has assumed the post of APS President, and new board members Michael S. Gazzaniga (President-Elect), Richard R. Bootzin, and Elizabeth Phelps, have started their three-year terms. Levenson succeeds Henry L. Roediger III, Washington University in St. Louis, who now serves as Immediate Past President. Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University, concluded her term as Past President. Levenson is a widely known and highly respected researcher in the field of psychophysiology, focusing particularly on the relationship between emotion and bodily processes.

  • Toward a Psychology of Human Agency

    Albert Bandura, Stanford University Bandura Skinner and other classic behaviorists argued that human behavior is a product of environment. But even Skinner realized this could not be completely true, as humans do indeed exert some influence on their own behavior, and he urged people to shape their world by applying his operant-conditioning methods. In his Award Address at the APS Annual Convention, Albert Bandura argued that it is a two-way street: people act as agents who intentionally regulate their behavior and life circumstances.

  • Deconstructing Depression: A Diathesis-Stress Perspective

    APS Student Member George M. Slavich receives the first APS/Psi Chi Albert Bandura Award at the APS Annual Convention Opening Ceremony. Slavich is a graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon. His reserach examines how severe life stress affects self attitudes during depression. Major depressive disorder is common and costly, but not well understood. Even in light of the substantial literature on depression, some relatively basic questions remain unanswered, including, how exactly does depression develop and persist?

  • A Psychologist in Charge:Croyle Bridges Basic and Applied Research at NCI

    Psychologist Robert T. Croyle is director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, which has an annual behavioral research budget of $280 million. Robert T. Croyle, who was appointed director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences in July of 2003, said he got some excellent insight into how his profession was viewed internally at one of the first conferences he attended after joining the agency in 1998. "I'd only been here a month and I was introducing myself," he said. "And someone said, 'Croyle, you'll go far at NIH.

  • News

    Influential Researcher Holzman Dies at 82 On June 1, 2004 Philip S. Holzman died at the age of 82. Holzman was an APS Fellow and Charter Member, founder and director of McLean Hospital's Psychology Research Laboratory, and one of the world's preeminent scientists in schizophrenia research. Holzman began his career at McLean in 1977, focusing on the investigation of psychotic illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. His landmark studies of oculomotor function documented the presence of abnormal smooth pursuit eye movements in individuals with schizophrenia and their clinically unaffected relatives.

  • Ramirez First Psychologist to Receive NSF Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching

    Ramirez The National Science Foundation recently recognized eight outstanding educators with its 2004 Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. APS Member Julio J. Ramirez, Davidson College, was among the recipients, and the first psychologist to receive the award. "The award is the proverbial 'icing on the cake,' since the satisfaction in teaching and research is very much intrinsic," Ramirez said. Ramirez's work explores the recovery of memory after an injury to the central nervous system. He has often involved undergraduates in his research, many of whom have co-authored his many scientific papers.