Celebrating 25 Years of APS

In the next few issues, Perspectives on Psychological Science will publish several special sections celebrating the 25th anniversary of APS. Twenty-five is an interesting age for an organization: Many of our younger members were not yet born when APS began, and for many of our older members, 1988 was just another typical year in their long careers. Those of us in graduate school at the time may have wondered whether psychology really needed another professional organization and, if so, why it needed one with almost the same name as the behemoth American Psychological Association. (I’m sure many of you remember that APS began as the American Psychological Society before being renamed the Association for Psychological Science in 2006.) Well, 25 years later, our organization is thriving and it is close to the 25,000 member mark.

The articles in the current and upcoming special sections describe some of the huge changes in psychological science between 1988 and the present. There are now research and statistical tools that did not exist then, theoretical perspectives that have arisen or disappeared, and entire fields of inquiry that have been born, merged, split, renamed, and disbanded. The articles take two different forms. The longer ones delve deeply into the changes in various research areas that have been ongoing since (at least) 1988. We have two in the May issue: In the first, Eagly and Wood describe the years of tension between nature and nurture explanations for sex differences, and in the second, Ma, Golinkoff, Song, and Hirsh-Pasek show how the development of some very clever research tools improved our ability to study and understand children’s language acquisition. The shorter articles will begin appearing in the July issue. We asked the distinguished recipients of this year’s William James and James McKeen Cattell Fellow Awards, along with some other prominent researchers, to describe a major change in their area in under 1,000 words. We will thus be able to present views from across our discipline.

But before looking back only 25 years, we have a chance to look back 100 years. The first article in the special section is a book review of a collection of pieces by our hero William James, whose concerns 100 years ago have a surprisingly modern sound today.

This was first published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in May 2013.

The following are abstracts from articles in the May 2013 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science celebrating the 25th anniversary of APS.

Book Review: The Heart of William James

By Robert Richardson
Review by James H. Austin

William James lived from 1842 to 1910. In the century since his death, no one has surpassed him in the prescience with which he anticipated themes now within the scope of the Association for Psychological Science. James’s words live on in this centenary edition of his work—fresh reminders of the countless ways his far-sighted perspectives illuminate our contemporary discourse. This collection of 17 essays (including some book chapters) was carefully selected from the definitive 19-volume set of The Works of William James, published between 1975 and 1988 by Harvard University Press. The essays are arranged in chronological order, beginning with the topic of emotion (1884) and closing with his prescription of a moral equivalent of war (1910). In the intervening years, Richardson follows James’s many-faceted mind through diverse topics, including his crucial contributions to habit (1892), will (1899), and pragmatism (1899).

The Nature–Nurture Debates: 25 Years of Challenges in Understanding the Psychology of Gender

By Alice H. Eagly and Wendy Wood

Nature–nurture debates continue to be highly contentious in the psychology of gender despite the common recognition that both types of causal explanations are important. In this article, we provide a historical analysis of the vicissitudes of nature and nurture explanations of sex differences and similarities during the quarter century since the founding of the Association for Psychological Science. We consider how the increasing use of meta-analysis helped to clarify sex difference findings if not the causal explanations for these effects.

To illustrate these developments, this article describes socialization and preferences for mates as two important areas of gender research. We also highlight developing research trends that address the interactive processes by which nature and nurture work together in producing sex differences and similarities. Such theorizing holds the promise of better science as well as a more coherent account of the psychology of women and men that should prove to be more influential with the broader public.

Twenty-Five Years Using the Intermodal Preferential Looking Paradigm to Study Language Acquisition: What Have We Learned?

By Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Weiyi Ma, Lulu Song, and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

The intermodal preferential looking paradigm (IPLP) has proven to be a revolutionary method for the examination of infants’ emerging language knowledge. In the IPLP, infants’ language comprehension is measured by their differential visual fixation to two images presented side-by-side when only one of the images matches an accompanying linguistic stimulus. Researchers can examine burgeoning knowledge in the areas of phonology, semantics, syntax, and morphology in infants not yet speaking.

The IPLP enables the exploration of the underlying mechanisms involved in language learning and illuminates how infants identify the correspondences between language and referents in the world. It has also fostered the study of infants’ conceptions of the dynamic events that language will express. Exemplifying translational science, the IPLP is now being investigated for its clinical and diagnostic value.

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