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Volume 20, Issue8September 2007

Presidential Column

John Cacioppo
John Cacioppo
University of Chicago
APS President 2007 - 2008
All columns

In this Issue:
Psychology is a Hub Science

About the Observer

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


  • Psychology is a Hub Science

    In an issue of the magazine Scientific American, the editors observed that “whenever we run articles on social topics, some readers protest that we should stick to ‘real’ science” (The Peculiar Institution, 2002, p. 8). You and I are confident about the scientific stature of psychology, but who in APS hasn’t felt the icy skepticism of a fellow traveler on a flight after you respond to the question, “What is your occupation?” You may therefore be pleasantly surprised by a scientometric study entitled “Mapping the Backbone of Science” (Boyack, Klavans, & Borner, 2005).1 The article is must reading for deans who oversee scientific psychology departments. I will explain why shortly. But first, some background. In the Middle Ages, theology and philosophy were a dynamic duo of hub disciplines around which the other sciences were organized.

APS Spotlight


  • Bringing Science to Society

    Scientific advances seem to be emerging faster than ever before. Today, we can see brain functioning with neuroimaging, and we can measure attitudes that people are not even aware of with implicit association tests. With this knowledge comes even greater risk of scientific findings being misunderstood, distorted, or simply ignored by the public. To avoid this, we ask: How can we best translate scientific findings to the public so that they are understood and not misused? Equally important, how can we get the public to listen to credible scientific data when it conflicts with their core values or deeply-held assumptions?

  • Some Enchanted Meeting…

    One of the two questions we are asked most frequently, especially by those who know that Sam has been at Princeton for most of his academic life and that Kay was at Purdue University when we got together, is “How did you two meet?” The answer lies in academic rather than geographical space. In 1983, Kay was chair of the APA Publications Board, and Sam was editor of Journal of Experimental Psychology (JEP): General and Chair of the APA Council of Editors. The setting was hardly romantic: a meeting of the Publications Board in Washington, DC, where the burning issue of the moment was whether APA journals should be printed on acid-free paper.

  • Champions of Psychology: Linda Woolf, Webster University

    This is an ongoing series in which highly regarded professors share advice on the successes and challenges facing graduate students. Linda Woolf, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and International Human Rights at Webster University. She is currently Past-President of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence and Secretary for the Raphael Lemkin Award Committee. Woolf serves on the Psychologists for Social Responsibility and National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology steering committees, and the board of the Institute for the Study of Genocide.

Practice


  • Beyond the Grade: Feedback on Student Behavior

    Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1991, p. 121 Feedback is a special case of the general communication process that constitutes part of our ethical duty as psychology instructors (Ethical Standard 7.06; APA, 2002). Although instructors generally use grading tests and assignments as their primary academic feedback to students, value exists in other forms of feedback as well. For instance, some student behaviors that may warrant feedback include: Sally was unprepared for class discussions because she had not done the readings. Ralph often came 10-15 minutes late to class. Kyle monopolized the instructor’s office hours to complain and argue about grades. John interrupted the instructor frequently to call out comments or ask questions. Karen rarely spoke in class despite having many excellent ideas to share.

First Person


  • The Search for What Else: Typical Student Life as I Know It

    Over the past several months, I seem to have re-lived the true graduate school lifestyle: weeks packed full of mammoth research papers, one lengthy presentation after the next, those beloved reading assignments that never end until the semester is almost over. And, oh yeah… practicum! Many hours of practicum, plus commute time. Must I go on? I recall sitting in my professional development group last year with the school’s president, discussing how professionals in the field eat, sleep, and breathe psychology. But what else do they do? Are they interested in art, are they movie buffs, do they travel on weekends, do they run? So these days I couldn’t help but wonder, what is my what else? Even in undergrad, I was almost always involved in some combination of work (which I loved) and school (which I loved). I had my friends (whom I still love), but not much else. I did the scaled-down version of a hobby: the occasional project. People would ask about my hobbies, and I would talk about things I wanted to develop into hobbies. When you don’t have much free time, how do you squeeze hobbies into the necessities? I was never able to do that very well.

  • APS Student Caucus Welcomes New Board

    President Lisa Hasel Iowa State University Lisa Hasel is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in social psychology. Her research interests encompass the broad field of experimental psychology and law with a centralized focus on improving the diagnostic value of eyewitness, interrogation, and alibi evidence. She is the 2006 Psi Chi/APS Albert Bandura Graduate Research Award Winner for her research on facial composites, which was published in 2007 in Law and Human Behavior. During the fall of 2006, she served as the first Social Psychology Research Fellow at the Innocence Project in New York City. Lisa previously served on the APSSC Board as the Graduate Advocate and is actively involved in many other professional psychology associations. She expects to complete her PhD in Social Psychology at Iowa State University in 2008. Past President Andrew Butler Washington University in St. Louis Andrew Butler is a fifth-year doctoral student. His research primarily focuses on how cognitive psychology can be applied to enhance educational practice.

More From This Issue


  • Help Shape the Future of Psychological Science

    If you’re a long-time Member of APS, you’ve no doubt noticed the growth of our flagship journal Psychological Science.  Over the years, we’ve increased the frequency of the journal from bimonthly to monthly, and we’ve increased the number of pages in each issue, all in an effort to publish as many articles as possible and get as much cutting-edge research as possible into the hands of APS Members and other subscribers.  We are now seeking your input as we plan for two converging trends — a steeply increasing number of submissions and the electronic revolution in publishing — that could significantly expand the number of articles published in Psychological Science.

  • What They Would Have Said: APS Honors Patrick J. Kennedy

    Editor’s Note: No matter what your mother told you, sometimes things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to. But if Mom also told you that when one door closes, another opens, she’s right on that score. One of the events that was slated to take place during the Opening Ceremony of the 19th Annual APS Convention in Washington this past May was an award presentation to U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), to recognize his steadfast support of basic behavioral science.  Alas, it was not to be. The opening ceremony coincided with a critical Congressional debate and vote on Iraq funding, and Rep. Kennedy had to stay on Capitol Hill.

  • Elliot Aronson: The Intersection of Art and Science

    Art is a word not often associated with psychological science. Psychologists — APS members especially — prefer to characterize themselves as rational and methodical arbiters of psychological inquiry as opposed to virtuosos or artisans whose trade depends on their unique subjectivity. So the title of APS Fellow and Charter Member Elliot Aronson’s William James Award address, “The Art of Doing Science in Social Psychology” was somewhat of a head-scratcher. But just as art is not typically an element of scientific psychology, Aronson is not your typical psychologist.

  • Happy 20th to Us!

    2008 marks APS’s 20th Anniversary. This milestone will be commemorated in various ways over the coming months, including this series of columns, “Then and Now.” It’shard to believe, but after two decades, APS is entering a time when today’s young researchers don’t know a world without APS. Now, it’s more important than ever to look back on our 20 years of dedication to psychology and to look forward at the field’s bright future. In celebrating 20 years, APS stands out in its deep commitment to scientific theory, practice, and research.

  • Biobehavioral Training Grants Awarded

    APS has been engaged in a long-term effort to get the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to fulfill its Congressional mandate to fund behavioral science.  One of the first items on the agenda was behavioral research training, and we’re pleased to report some concrete steps in that direction. NIGMS is beginning to incorporate behavioral science into its training grant portfolio. The Institute is accepting applications for one of its newest training grants: Predoctoral Training at the Interface of the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences (PAR-06-503), which was announced last summer and will have one more round of applications during the current program announcement.

  • New APS Leaders at the Helm

    The annual rite of passage has occurred and new APS leaders are in place for 2007-08. John T. Cacioppo has taken over as President, and Morton Ann Gernsbacher begins her term as Immediate Past President. She succeeds Michael S. Gazzaniga in that post. Walter Mischel is APS President-Elect. Two new members of the APS Board of Directors are Thomas Oltmanns and Sharon Thompson-Schill. They replace retiring Board members Richard Bootzin and Elizabeth Phelps. Please welcome our new leaders and read more about them below. John T. Cacioppo APS President (2007-2008) APS Fellow and Charter Member John T.

  • Reviving Congress’s Old Think Tank

    When the Democrats regained power this year on Capitol Hill, hopes rose for the resurrection of Congress’s own think tank, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), a largely Democratic creation that was vengefully terminated in 1995 when the Republicans took back the House and Senate. Now there’s progress toward fulfilling those hopes, but just a bit. The House bill for financing Congressional operations next year allots $2.5 million to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a Congressional support agency, to explore technology assessments. The Senate was far less generous, providing only $750,000.

  • On the Growth of Psychological Science

    Being offered the job of editor at Psychological Science is a bit like being offered a ride in the Belmont Stakes on a horse that just won the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby. No matter how ill-equipped or inappropriate to the task one might feel, it is simply not something one can easily turn down. To be sure, the metaphor is not perfect. If editorial terms are races and editors are jockeys, there were three editors before me, not two, and there will be many more after; the journal will not be put out to stud, whatever that could mean; and there is no firm criterion for winning, only finishing. Nonetheless, even some of the inaptness of the metaphor is enlightening.

  • Gordon Bower Receives National Medal of Science

    Gordon Bower joined the nation’s scientific elite on July 27th as he received the 2005 National Medal of Science at a White House ceremony. Bower said he was “pleasantly surprised and greatly honored by [his] selection” and humbly noted that the award recognizes not only him, but also the research he has conducted with his many students and collaborators.