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322019Volume 32, Issue7September 2019

Presidential Column

Photo of Lisa Feldman Barrett
Lisa Feldman Barrett
Northeastern University
APS President 2019 - 2020
All columns

In this Issue:
The Publication Arms Race

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

  • The Publication Arms Race

    Psychological science today is locked in an arms race: a heated competition for superiority and status. This competition is not fought with weapons, material wealth, or even truth. It’s fought in publications. Published papers have always served two purposes in the economy of scientific inquiry: They convey knowledge, but they’re also the currency that buys you status and a successful scientific career. We are hired, paid, and promoted largely on the basis of the papers we publish — not just their content but also their quantity (Lawrence, 2007). Of course, there are other metrics for success —  grants, invited addresses and lectures, and so on — but publications are the primary currency of scientific distinction and standing. Over the past several decades, the publication arms race has accelerated (Bornmann & Mutz, 2015).


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    Edited by C. Nathan DeWall and David G. Myers 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. Connectivity Creates Costs: How Smartphones Hinder Well-Being Repeating Is Believing: Understanding the Repetition-Induced Truth Effect Connectivity Creates Costs: How Smartphones Hinder Well-Being By C. Nathan DeWall Kushlev, K., Dwyer, R., & Dunn, E. W. (2019). The social price of constant connectivity: Smartphones impose subtle costs on well-being. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 138–144. doi:10.1177/0963721418815685 How would you describe an ideal conversation?

First Person

  • Student Notebook: Why We Fall Into the Machine Zone and How to Get Out

    The next time you’re sitting in a crowd of faculty and graduate students waiting for a seminar to begin, take a moment to look around. You’ll notice that many of those around you are on their phones — maybe you are too. Whether we’re playing games, scrolling through social media, or responding to messages, many of us spend more time on our phones than we’d like to admit. These habits can be detrimental to our productivity and even our mental health. They can take a significant amount of the time away from things that we struggle to find time to do, like finally writing up that manuscript or enjoying much-needed self-care activities. So why do we succumb to this habit? Need for Social Connection Most activities that we engage in on our phones are social (e.g., texting, liking posts, looking at photos), reflecting our evolutionary need for social connection.

More From This Issue

  • The 2019–2020 APS Board

    Lisa Feldman Barrett takes the helm as Board President as Barbara Tversky moves to Immediate Past President. Shinobu Kitayama steps in as President-Elect, and Michele Gelfand and Ann M. Kring begin terms as Members-at-Large.

  • Banishing Bullying With Science

    From serving as a consultant to the National Anti-Bullying Campaign to her many appearances on national TV, APS Fellow Dorothy L. Espelage, a clinical psychologist at the University of Florida, is raising awareness about science-backed strategies for preventing bullying and youth violence. What brought you to your current work on bullying and peer victimization among school-aged children? As a graduate student at Indiana University in the early 1990s, I took a job as a research assistant for a Centers for Disease Control grant that was going to use the “the computer” to address youth violence.

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    No Crisis but No Time for Complacency

    APS Fellow Wendy Wood and APS William James Fellow Timothy D. Wilson offer a behind-the-scenes look at the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on reproducibility and replicability in science.

  • Polaschek Receives Prestigious Appointment in New Zealand’s Queen’s Birthday Honours

    APS Fellow Devon Leigh Logan Polaschek has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contributions to criminal psychological science. Polaschek, a professor of psychology and crime science at the University of Waikato, is among 56 individuals appointed as Members of the Order by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, in her right as Queen of New Zealand. The appointments are made on the advice of the New Zealand government to reward good works across the fields of health, arts, athletics, education, science, and social services.