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121999Volume 12, Issue7September 1999

Presidential Column

Elizabeth D. Capaldi headshot
Elizabeth D. Capaldi
University of Buffalo
APS President 1999 - 2000
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In this Issue:
Subdisciplines in Their Interactions

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

  • Subdisciplines in Their Interactions

    Consider the following: Most psychologists read only journals in their sub-specialty of psychology; Psychologists are employed in many departments on university campuses, not just psychology departments; Most psychologists attend psychology meetings only in their subdiscipline and often attend meetings that are not of psychologists (neuroscience, decision and information science). Are these strengths or weaknesses of our field? They can be viewed as strengths because psychology has relevance to any field that involves behavior, so we are useful in lots of different fields. But this can be a weakness if we don't bring this interaction with other fields back to the discipline of psychology itself. Many of us older folk were educated believing in big theories and scientific explanations that would be applied throughout all of psychology.

APS Spotlight


  • Teaching with Original Sources

    Why use key studies in teaching? To us the answer is obvious, but we will make the case because we have often found colleagues do not understand why we should teach from primary research, and some who even oppose it vigorously. We believe the main reasons for using primary research studies in teaching are: It shows students the quality of the basic evidence in psychology. It demystifies the subject and shows students they do not always need an interpreter (textbook) to read psychology. It presents firsthand accounts of methodology. It encourages critical thinking because students have real evidence to evaluate. When they read summaries of research in a text it is often difficult to evaluate the evidence because there is not enough detail. On the other hand, when they read the primary research, they are able to criticize the way it was conducted or the conclusions, and so on.

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