05 Feb 2018

How to Get the Salary Package You Really Need

How to Get the Salary Package You Really Need

Department heads offer their insights on how to negotiate the best deal when offered an academic job for the first time

It usually takes a couple of tries for newly minted psychologists to get their first academic job. According to data from the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates, in 2015, only about 18 percent of new psychology doctorates with definite postgraduate plans landed an academic job right out of graduate school. In addition, that number represents any employment in academia—not necessarily tenure-track positions, which are even harder to come by these days.

"Academic job openings often receive hundreds of applicants for a single position," says Karen Stamm, PhD, senior research officer in APA's Center for Workforce Studies.

So, when a candidate for a junior faculty position receives an offer, they are usually experiencing only one feeling: "Relief with a capital R," says Greg Neimeyer, PhD, APA's associate executive director for continuing education in psychology. "Oftentimes, they are so grateful to get the job that they will take offers that are, frankly, ridiculously low," he says.

To help junior faculty navigate the delicate process of negotiating their first academic job offer, the Monitor asked hiring experts to share their secrets on getting the salary package they deserve.

Knowledge is power. One of the best ways to ensure a fair start-up package is to come into the negotiation process as educated as possible on current salary ranges for new psychology faculty, says Deanna Barch, PhD, chair of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and chair of the board of directors of the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology.

That information is available from APA's latest Psychology Faculty Salaries report, which breaks down psychologists' annual salaries by geographic region, degree field, type of position, sector and demo-graphic characteristics. It also behooves candidates to ask others working in academia, at the same or similar institutions, about what they were able to negotiate when they started and what they wish they would have asked for. Talking to colleagues who are a year or two further along in their careers can help candidates determine whether the salaries they have in mind are reasonable. "I am much more convinced when a person comes to me and says, ‘You didn't offer me this, but I know these six other people on the market this year all got it,' than if they just say, ‘I want this,'" Barch says. "Use as much data as you can to buttress your request."

Negotiate

Consult with an experienced advisor. Keep in mind, however, that smaller universities will have dramatically different salary budgets and job perks for new faculty, says Karen Kelsky, PhD, founder of the career-­consulting business The Professor Is In. "This is why I urge everyone to consult with a trusted mentor or advisor on a tenure-track offer, to ensure the approach you're taking is appropriate for that institution," she says.

It's now or never. You are in the very best, strongest position to negotiate when your initial job offer is extended, Neimeyer says. "It is a very tough sell to renegotiate a salary," he says. "So, you really want to do it coming straight in because every raise, every promotion, every special dollop of money that you get throughout your career is based on a percentage, and it all starts from your base salary."

To that end, Neimeyer recommends that candidates adopt an attitude that any extra amount they can get at this stage is worth the effort.

"I know it sounds ridiculous—almost petty—but the difference of $500 or $1,000 when it comes to your starting salary can literally amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars across the course of your career," he says. "Very rarely is a dean or department chair going to say no to a request for a salary reconsideration of $1,000 or $2,000 more. They know that if they don't spend that, they may have to go to their second-best candidate, who may at that point already be gone."

Think outside the salary box. Candidates should also consider other elements of the compensation package. For example, there may be more wiggle room in the start-up funds you receive to buy lab equipment or pay study participants, says Ruth Fassinger, PhD, former chair of the then department of counseling and personnel services at the University of Maryland.

Candidates may also want to consider requesting additional research assistants or more lab space, or even an initial reduction in course load so that they have more time to get their research program up and running.

It also may be worth asking for reimbursement for moving expenses or for additional money to travel to conferences for the first few years of your career, Neimeyer says.

"Most departments will have a policy, like every faculty gets $500 or $1,000 a year for traveling to conferences," he says. "Find out what the standard policy is, and then ask for double that amount for a two-year period, to help you begin to network and establish yourself professionally."

Department chairs are unlikely to turn down such requests because those funds come out of a different budget line item, not the salary pool, he says.

Reimbursement for professional membership dues is something else that's ripe for negotiating into a start-up package, says Amber Garcia, PhD, chair of the psychology department at the College of Wooster.

Candidates who get job offers from smaller, less research-­intensive schools may also want to ask about funds for supplementing the institution's library resources, says Dana S. Dunn, PhD, a psychology professor at Moravian College. "Requesting access to a journal or books that you need—either for you or for your students—can be important to ensure your success," he says.

Neimeyer also notes that not all elements of a position are negotiable, but that doesn't mean they aren't important. Sick leave, health insurance and retirement benefits can vary widely from university to university and are a big part of the overall compensation package, even though they are not negotiable elements.

Be confident in your ask. Candidates should be prepared to convince the hiring manager that their financial requests will help them be more successful in the long term, says Fassinger, who also serves on the executive committee of APA's Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology.

"The more you go into a situation thinking about what you honestly need to get your job done, and the more prepared you are to make strong arguments for why you want and need certain things, the more likely you are to get those things," she says. Women especially need to keep this first and foremost in their minds throughout the negotiation process. "Our natural inclination tends to be not to ask for what we want, so female candidates in particular may want to get some mentoring and coaching around that," she says.

Think locally—and holistically. Kelsky notes that salaries and costs for moving, lab support and more are local. "National averages are interesting for various purposes but are not useful in pushing for a higher salary in any individual negotiation, which must always be pegged to local institutional norms," she says.

In addition, she recommends that candidates limit themselves to focusing on a limited number of items during the negotiation process and weigh them holistically so that all of them are not massive requests. "Otherwise you're likely to alienate the department," she says.

For example, if you are asking for a tenure-track spousal hire—the largest possible job perk in most cases—it would be unseemly to also ask for a massive salary and lofty start-up costs, Kelsky explains. "You want to be sensitive to a holistic set of asks that is not going to appear excessive."

Be polite, but firm. Candidates should aim for a balance of self-assurance and pleasant collegiality. For example, Kelsky says, this type of language is ineffective and tiresome: "I am so grateful for the incredibly generous offer and consider it such an honor to be offered this prestigious position, but was wondering if I could possibly ask for a tiny bit more salary if that wouldn't be too much for the department to consider."

And this language can be arrogant and alienating: "Given my extensive publication record, I consider the offered salary inadequate and would surely expect a salary closer to $85K."

A more appropriate response would be: "Thank you for this offer. I'd like to discuss a few elements before signing the contract. The first is salary. I would like to request a salary of $75K, reflecting my extensive research and funding background, particularly my four peer-reviewed journal publications and my two NSF grants." Such language is firm, but collegial in that it provides some foundation for an increased ask, without histrionics, defensiveness, codependency or entitlement, she says.

Protect yourself. Once you and the institution have come to an agreement, be sure to get it in writing, Kelsky warns. That may not mean in the contract itself, which at many institutions includes only the salary and teaching load. But get everything you agreed upon in an email thread and print it out for your records.

"If you don't, any nonwritten agreements you reached with the department head or dean will be null and void once that head or dean retires, moves to another job or leaves the position," she says. "Writing—in the contract or email thread—is your best and only defense of your offer elements."

Beyond money

Common perks that one could consider:

  1. More lab space.
  2. Money for moving expenses.
  3. Additional research assistants.
  4. Conference travel funds.
  5. Professional membership dues.

Further reading

The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD Into a Job
Kelsky, K., 2015

Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change
Babcock, L., & Laschever, S., 2007

APA's Science Career Series
www.apa.org/science

College and University Professional Association for Human Resources
Salary surveys, www.cupahr.org/surveys/results.aspx

This article was originally found in October 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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14 Dec 2017

Clinical Practice Guideline for PTSD

Are you familiar with APA’s Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Adults? Released earlier this year, the PTSD guideline recommends evidence-based treatments for PTSD and is supported by a comprehensive website of resources. Learn more about the guideline and consider how to apply it to their clinical work.

APA staff psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD reviews various website features including:

• Information for clinicians on recommended interventions,
• PTSD assessment instruments used in the studies that informed the clinical practice guideline,
• Case examples of treatment interventions, and
• Resources for patients and families to help them understand PTSD, its causes, and its effects and treatment options.

*This webinar does NOT offer CE credit.

Speaker bio:
Lynn Bufka, PhD, is Associate Executive Director, Practice Research and Policy, at the American Psychological Association. Dr. Bufka oversees programs and projects related to expanding opportunities for professional psychology including integration of psychology in the health care delivery system, diagnostic and functional classification, clinical practice guideline development and outcomes measurement. She frequently serves as a media spokesperson for APA on these topics and other policy matters relevant to professional practice. Additionally, Dr. Bufka is a Maryland licensed psychologist and continues to provide treatment and clinical consultation on a limited basis.

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20 Nov 2017

Executive Function Across the Life Span

This presentation discusses the theory, assessment, and research relevance of tools that can be used for a comprehensive assessment of executive function (EF). It also examines assessing EF using measures of observable behaviors, cognitive processing, and academic performance. Research evidence is presented from a number of assessment tools and resources including:

• The Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory (Naglieri & Goldstein, 2013)
• The Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory—Adult (Naglieri & Goldstein, 2017)
• The PASS neurocognitive theory (Cognitive Assessment System, 2nd ed.; Naglieri, Das, & Goldstein, 2014)
• Social-emotional skills (Devereux Student Strength Assessment; LeBuffe, Shapiro, & Naglieri, 2010)
• Academic skills (Feifer Assessment of Reading and Math; Feifer, 2015, 2017)

Intervention methods are discussed throughout the presentation. Viewers will gain a broad view of EF that can be used to guide assessment and instruction to improve academic and life skills.

jack naglieriSpeaker: Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D., is Research Professor at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Senior Research Scientist at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. He is a Fellow of APA Divisions 15 and 16 and recipient of several awards for his contribution to the field of psychology. Dr. Naglieri is the author or co-author of more than 300 scholarly papers, books, and tests. His scholarly research includes investigations related to topics such as intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, giftedness, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

This webinar is sponsored by MHS Inc., a leading publisher of psychological assessments for over 30 years.

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13 Nov 2017

MonitorLIVE: Exploring New Practice & Income Opportunities for Psychologists

Today, nearly 50% of licensed psychologists are in private practice. But as the roles of psychologists evolve, many practitioners are now asking, “How can I enhance my career, make it more rewarding, and earn a good living?”

APA and APAPO challenged practicing psychologists to think more broadly and explore innovative ways to use their skill set and training. On December 5, at APA’s headquarters in Washington, DC, members gathered for the latest monitorLIVE event to discover unique ways to grow their practice and supplement their income.

During the moderated discussion, eight panelists went over:

  • a diverse range of paths both in and outside of practice, including integrated health care, forensic consulting, parent coordination, niche population work, public office & lobbying, content, partnerships & media, adjunct teaching, and industry consulting
  • shared their favorite resources and tools to enhance a career
  • offered tips on how to get involved in a local community and professional associations
  • explored additional income opportunities
    and more!

monitorLIVE events connect psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline.

*Note: Audio has some distortion.

Topics & Speakers

Parenting Coordination

Giselle A. Hass, Psy.D., ABAP
Clinical & Forensic Psychologist

Giselle Hass is a Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, and Board Diplomate in Assessment Psychology, who, for the past 25 years, has worked as a forensic expert in family law for local and national courts, specifically in custody and divorce, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, cross and multi-cultural mental health, attachment, and psychological assessment. She was an Associate Professor in the Clinical Psychology Programs of Argosy University, Washington DC Campus from 1995 to 2010. Dr. Hass is a co-founder of the American Psychological Association Parenting Coordination Program in the DC Superior Court. This program was created to serve the needs of low-income, high conflict families involved in child custody disputes in the District of Columbia. Dr. Hass was the Clinical Director of this program from 2004 to 2009, and is currently a member of the Board of Advisors. She was a member of the APA Task Force to develop the APA Guidelines on Parenting Coordination.

Dr. Hass’ Top Parenting Coordination Resources

Adjunct Teaching

Eddy Ameen, Ph.D.
Director, APA Office on Early Career Psychologists

Dr. Eddy Ameen serves as the inaugural director of the Office on Early Career Psychologists at APA. He has been with APA since 2011, previously the Assistant Director of APAGS. He graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Boston College with a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling, and University of Miami with a PhD in Counseling Psychology. Outside of his work at APA, he is the board chair of StandUp For Kids, a national homeless youth organization which provides street outreach and other youth services in 17 cities across the US. He also leads a local LGBTQ youth advocacy coalition which has successfully advocated to ban conversion therapy, improve K-12 health education standards, require suicide prevention training of school personnel, and require LGBT cultural competency training of all healthcare providers, all within the District. Additionally, he is an third-year adjunct professor teaching family systems to clinical doctoral students, and he conducts asylum evaluations with Physicians for Human Rights.

Dr. Ameen’s Top Adjunct Teaching Resources

Integrated Health Care

Jessica Winkles, Ph.D.
Pediatric Psychologist

Dr. Winkles is the Pediatric Psychologist at Kenneth M. Klebanow, M.D. & Associates, P.A., a private pediatric primary care practice serving approximately 15,000 patients in Maryland. Dr. Winkles is dedicated to improving behavioral health care accessibility and promoting evidence-based interventions.  She established the practice’s fully integrated Behavioral Health Consultation Service, which delivers screening and brief psychosocial interventions to patients and their families. Her past work includes directing a SAMHSA-funded clinical research program focused on intergenerational stress and trauma at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She also supervised clinical psychology doctoral students in child assessment at Loyola University Maryland. Dr. Winkles earned her doctorate in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology from the University of Denver and completed her predoctoral internship in clinical child and pediatric psychology from Children’s National Health System. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Winkles’ Top Integrated Health Care Resources

Content, Partnerships & Media

Mary K. Alvord, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Mary Karapetian Alvord, Ph.D. is a psychologist and Director of Alvord, Baker & Associates, LLC, a private practice in Maryland. With more than 35 years of clinical experience, she specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents and adults with anxiety and mood disorders, ADHD and problems of self-regulation through individual and group therapy. Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine, she trains Psychiatry Fellows in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Dr. Alvord's focus has been on promoting resilience and stress management using strength-based approaches. Co-author of Resilience Builder Program for Children and Adolescents, and two audio CD's: Relaxation and Self-Regulation Techniques for Children and Teens, and Relaxation and Wellness Techniques (adults), she has contributed to the American Psychological Association's (APA) public education guides. Past President of APA Division 46, Society for Media Psychology and Technology, she currently serves as APA's Public Education Coordinator for the Maryland Psychological Association. She frequently appears in the national media. In 2009, Dr. Alvord was honored with the APA's Presidential Innovative Practice Citation. Most recently, she co-authored Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens: A Workbook to Break the Nine Thought Habits That Are Holding You Back and authored an essay in NPR Health Shots.

Dr. Alvord’s Top Content & Media Resources

Organizational Consulting

David W. Ballard, Psy.D., MBA
Assistant Executive Director for Organizational Excellence at APA

Dr. David Ballard serves as Assistant Executive Director for Organizational Excellence at the American Psychological Association (APA). In that capacity, he is responsible for leadership, direction, evaluation, and management of all activities related to APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, which includes the association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. Dr. Ballard has provided research, consultation, and training to government agencies, corporations, employer and industry groups, medical schools, and universities in the areas of workplace health and productivity, public health, prevention, and health care finance. He is currently on the Board of Directors of The Health Project / C. Everett Koop National Health Awards and co-chairs the Work, Stress and Health Conference, an international conference co-sponsored by APA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the Health Enhancement Research Organization and the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, as well as on workplace advisory bodies for the National Business Group on Health and Partnership for Prevention. Dr. Ballard received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology and his MBA in Health and Medical Services Administration from Widener University, where he completed concentrations in organizational and forensic psychology.

Dr. Ballard’s Top Organizational Consulting Resources

Government Relations & Advocacy

Craig D. Fisher, PsyD
Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer in the Science Government Relations Office at APA

Dr. Craig Fisher is a Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer in the APA Science Government Relations Office. He advocates for psychological science on Capitol Hill and at the federal science agencies, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.  He is also the Director of APA's Executive Branch Science Fellowship. Before joining APA, Dr. Fisher was a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs where he engaged key stakeholders about NSF-funded basic research, particularly in social and behavioral science. Previously, he worked as a licensed clinical psychologist in independent private practice in Northern Virginia and at George Mason University's Counseling and Psychological Services where he specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy for patients with anxiety disorders.

Dr. Fishers’s Top Government Relations & Advocacy Resources

Niche Population Practitioner

Michael L. Hendricks, Ph.D., ABPP
Clinical & Forensic Psychologist 

Dr. Michael L. Hendricks is a clinical and forensic psychologist in private practice at the Washington Psychological Center, P.C., in Washington, D.C., and is a Clinical Professor at the George Washington University. Dr. Hendricks is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Divisions 12 (Clinical), 42 (Independent Practice) and 44 (LGBT Issues), and a member of Divisions 9 (SPSSI) and 41 (American Psychology-Law Society). He is a past president of Section VII (Clinical Emergencies and Crises) of Division 12 and of Division 44. He was a member of the APA Task Force that developed the Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People and currently represents Division 44 on the APA Council of Representatives. He has conducted research with gender diverse people and is the lead author on the seminal paper on the minority stress model for transgender individuals. In 2015, he was awarded an APA Presidential Citation for his work on minority stress and suicide risk among gender diverse individuals. A primary focus of his clinical practice involves work with LGB and gender diverse adolescents and adults.

Dr. Hendricks’ Top Niche Population Resources

Forensic Consulting

Pius Ojevwe, Psy.D., ABPP
Forensic Pscyhologist

Dr. Ojevwe is a Board Certified Forensic Psychologist and a Fellow with American Academy of Forensic Psychology. For the past 12 years, he has worked as a forensic psychologist at local forensic hospitals including Clifton T. Perkins Hospital and Saint Elizabeth Hospital where he conducts a variety of forensic assessments such as competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and violent risk assessments. Dr. Ojevwe is an owner of a forensic private practice, COMPASS Mental Health Consultants, LLC, where he provides forensic assessments for juvenile and adults involved in the criminal justice system. He also teaches graduate courses as an associate professor at various local universities including Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Dr. Ojevwe’s Top Forensic Consulting Resources

07 Nov 2017

Special Report: 10 Trends to Watch in Psychology

Monitor on Psychology, November 2017
Monitor on Psychology, November 2017

More than ever before, there is a growing appreciation for psychologists’ expertise, including the research they do to illuminate human behavior and the treatment and insights they provide to improve health and well-being.

But of course the field’s capabilities go far beyond research and practice—psychology’s ever-multiplying subfields touch on every facet of life. Today’s psychologists are the innovators improving American products and services, from self-driving cars to the health-monitoring apps on our cellphones. They are the trailblazers steering efforts that improve health outcomes and enrich the performance of teams in workplaces nationwide. They are the thought leaders advocating for critical causes, from women’s rights to science-based public policy.

In this special APA Monitor report, “10 Trends to Watch in Psychology,” we explore how several far-reaching developments in psychology are transforming the field and society at large.

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18 Oct 2017

Julianne Holt-Lunstad Probes Loneliness, Social Connections

Julianne Holt-Lunstad Probes Loneliness, Social Connections
APA member Julianne Holt-Lunstad studies social connectivity and the the growing epidemic of loneliness. (Photo: Mark A. Philbrick)

Not many people willingly cop to being lonely. It carries with it a social stigma of pathos that, at the very least, may hurt your self-esteem.

But what if it can damage much more than that? What if it carries the same health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? What if social isolation is twice as harmful as obesity and as lethal as alcoholism?

Today, researchers from across the sciences are asking, “Can loneliness kill you?”

Recent public debate over this issue has centered largely on the isolating influence of social media on creating what has been referred to as a “loneliness epidemic” in the culture. However, APA member and social-connectedness expert Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, warns that the problem goes much deeper and that substantial evidence of it predates the technology boom.

“There have indeed been dramatic shifts in how people are connecting and interacting socially now,” Holt-Lunstad says, adding: “But the majority of the epidemiological data we have that established this as a risk factor for premature mortality was conducted before widespread use of most of these technologies.”

If anyone understands the gravity of the public health threat it poses—and the difficulty of getting it on the public health agenda—it is she.

Holt-Lunstad, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University, was the first U.S. researcher to publish a large-scale analysis of studies establishing poor social support as a major contributor to morbidity.

“I remember thinking early in my career, ‘Why doesn’t everyone else recognize this?’” says Holt-Lunstad, who read early studies about social connection while a graduate student. “Is it perhaps because the evidence isn’t as strong as I think it is? Or because it is being measured in a variety of different ways … that don’t give it that level of precision the medical community demands? That’s when I decided to do that first meta-analysis.”

Her trailblazing 2010 study, Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review (PLOS Medicine), blew the doors open on links between social connectivity and mortality and generated buzz in the media as well as in the medical establishment.

Significantly, it showed that people with strong social bonds are 50 percent less likely to die over a given period of time than those who have fewer social connections.

The meta-analysis combined data from148 studies that tracked the social habits of more than 300,000 people worldwide. The research team developed extensive coding for variables that could be weighted to get the overall magnitude effect of social connection on health—no matter the sample sizes of the studies.

These findings were confirmed with a follow-up meta-analysis published in 2015, which expanded the sample to more than 3.4 million individuals worldwide and teased out more nuances.

“We wanted to know: Does it vary by country (It does not!)? Does it vary by cause of death (Doesn’t matter!)? Is it stronger for men vs. women (Equally strong!)?” says Holt-Lunstad emphatically. “This was a snapshot of real life, right? With implications for real-life health outcomes.”

Developing interventions to tackle this public health threat has a host of challenges—not the least of which is fine-tuning our understanding of the quantity and quality of social relationships and their impact on long-term health and morbidity.

For starters, what are the differences between isolation and loneliness?

“The way they are conceptualized and measured is quite different,” says Holt-Lunstad. Isolation is defined more by the actual size of one’s network or the frequency of contact, she says, whereas loneliness “is thought to be more of a subjective experience or perception of isolation, a discrepancy between one’s desired and actual level of connection.”

Further, she observes: “Someone can be lonely but not isolated, or isolated but not lonely.”

These distinctions are important when designing measures and interventions for each. One of the ways Holt-Lunstad has attacked these issues is to gather data on biological pathways connected to the experience of social connectivity.

“Participants come to my lab and I hook them up to equipment to look at their cardiovascular functioning. I’ve also taken saliva and blood samples to look at the neuroendocrine piece. I measured the physiology among those who had more or less supportive people in their network. In some studies, I asked them to bring in a friend and measured their physiology while interacting with them.”

The results from this multidisciplinary research have yielded some fascinating information:

Holt-Lunstad’s life and work intersected perilously in 2011 when her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. The working mother of two suddenly found herself dependent on friends to help her keep the family running while supporting her hospitalized husband.

Fiercely independent by nature, she says it was “an eye-opener to me of just how hard it is to accept support.”

“One of these social barriers is that we value our independence so highly,” she reflects. “Needing others is viewed as a weakness rather than a conceptualization of interdependence—that we can rely on others and they can rely on us.”

Fortunately, her husband made a recovery, and Holt-Lunstad used her experiences to galvanize her mission to get the issue of social connectivity even more forcefully onto the public health agenda.

She recently testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where she outlined the greater social changes that underpin today’s loneliness epidemic. This summer, she and her cohorts published something of a manifesto in the American Psychologist http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-amp0000103.pdf, where they offered supporting data and detailed recommendations for advancing social connection as a U.S. public health priority.

“It’s incredibly gratifying that it’s getting the attention that it deserves but of course there’s still a long way to go,” she says. “If you look at CDC’s Social Detriments of Health it’s very peripheral, which is surprising since we know there is substantial evidence of lifestyle factors influencing health.

“It may sound a bit audacious,” she continues, “but I’ve been thinking about how we might have consensus guidelines around social connection, as we do around physical activity and sleep. If we expect the public to take this seriously for their health it seems we need something like that so they know what to do and how well they’re doing.

“Of course, these would need to be evidence-based and subject to periodic review as the science progresses, just as nutritional guidelines are,” she continues, “But by having these guidelines it could have a cascading effect on public health.”

Social-connectivity assessment and intervention could become part of medical education and the conversations doctors have with their patients at well-checks, she says. It could become part of K–12 health education, helping children to be more inclusive, build community and improve their mental health.

“When we look at the increase in anxiety and depression in kids and teens, social-connectedness interventions could potentially help reduce those,” says Holt-Lunstad. “I don’t want to claim this will solve all the world’s problems, but it could potentially help and it may be one of the root causes of some of our pressing public health issues.”

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16 Oct 2017

Access to Care for All Veterans

Access to Care for All Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs and APA are working to improve treatment for veterans in new ways

Hiring 1,000 more mental health professionals and increasing the number of private-sector mental health providers who are culturally competent in military issues are among the new priorities at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), according to VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, who testified in March to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Shulkin also emphasized the need to strengthen suicide-prevention programs and announced his intention to open up access to treatment to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

APA is helping to ensure that the secretary's goals become a reality by pushing Congress to expand resources for VA mental health care and research. "We are thrilled that Dr. Shulkin was named VA secretary," says Heather O'Beirne Kelly, PhD, who in March was named APA's first-ever director of veterans and military health policy. "And we applaud all his newly announced priorities."

Saving lives

The number of veterans committing suicide has dropped to roughly 20 a day, the secretary told Congress. But when it comes to suicide prevention, he said, "What we are doing now—and we are doing a lot—is not enough." The VA is seeking new approaches, he said. "We are reaching out to the very best and brightest from the academic world and the community to come in and tell us what else we can do."

As part of Shulkin's suicide-prevention effort, he plans to make emergency mental health care accessible to the 500,000-plus veterans who have other-than-honorable discharges, which render them ineligible for VA care. "Our goal is simple: to save lives," said Shulkin, explaining that the suicide rate among veterans who don't use VA facilities is increasing at a greater rate than that of veterans receiving care within the VA.

Shulkin's proposal would give veterans with other-than-honorable discharges access to VA emergency departments, vet centers and the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255. The secretary plans to meet with members of Congress, Department of Defense officials and representatives of veterans service organizations before finalizing his proposal this summer.

Veteran Thomas Burke, who received an other-than-honorable discharge after being booted from the Marines for smoking hashish to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Afghanistan, supports the proposal. "When people think of ‘less-than-honorable' discharge, they think of dishonorable; to get a dishonorable discharge, you have to rape or murder someone," says Burke, now treasurer of High Ground Veterans Advocacy and a master's degree candidate at Yale Divinity School. But, he says, other-than-honorable discharges are often the result of behavior related to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, military sexual assault and other mental health problems. Of course, says Burke, the secretary's proposal is just a proposal. That's why he and other veterans in High Ground support the Honor Our Commitment Act, which seeks to transform the proposal into legislation requiring the VA to provide mental and behavioral health services to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

APA outreach

APA supports the secretary's proposals, says Kelly. APA generally supports the proposed legislation, too, although Kelly wants to keep a close eye on implementation details. There have been calls to retroactively assess veterans' discharge statuses, for example, and it would be critical to understand how and by whom those assessments would be performed and interpreted and how they would be used by the VA for health-care decision-making, Kelly says.

Of course, the secretary will also need resources to fulfill his vision for the VA. APA called for that increased funding along with other requests in testimony to the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies in March:

  • Suicide prevention. APA supports Shulkin's commitment to enhanced suicide prevention efforts. In terms of other clinical priorities, Kelly urged Congress to support the hiring of more psychologists, increase support for integrated care and hold community providers to the VA's high standards.
  • Prescriptive authority. Kelly also urged Congress to grant prescriptive authority to appropriately trained psychologists in the VA.
  • Research funding. As part of the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research, APA asked for $713 million in fiscal year 2018 for VA research. "A strong VA psychological research program provides the scientific foundation for high-quality care within the VA system," Kelly told Congress.

One concern is the VA's push toward privatization, with more care being provided outside of VA facilities, adds Kelly. While many veterans groups were happy to hear the secretary talk of eliminating the rule requiring veterans who live close to VA facilities to get their care there, she says, APA is concerned that community providers may lack the preparation and capacity to handle the increased demand. Plus, says Kelly, having psychologists embedded into primary-care settings is vital to ensuring high-quality care for veterans.

"We will continue to work with Secretary Shulkin and the VA about what they mean by community care to ensure that the VA is strengthened as an integrated-care provider for veterans and not just as a funder of outside care," Kelly says.

To read Dr. Heather Kelly's full testimony to the House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, go to www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/military/testimony_va_research.pdf.

By Rebecca A. Clay


This article was originally published in the June 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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11 Oct 2017

How Much Do Today’s Psychologists Earn?

How Much Do Today’s Psychologists Earn?

The latest salary report from APA finds that psychologists in the middle of the country outearn their peers

In May, APA's Center for Workforce Studies (CWS) released its most comprehensive salary report to date. The report finds that the median annual salary for U.S. psychologists in 2015 was $85,000, but that salaries varied widely by subfield and geographic region.

Most psychologists (57.4 percent) earned between $60,000 and $120,000, 20 percent earned less than $60,000, and 22.7 percent earned more than $120,000. Those in industrial/organizational psychology were at the top of that range—the median annual salary for I/O psychologists was $125,000. Those with a degree in educational psychology, at the other end of the spectrum, earned a median salary of $75,000.

Want to earn more? Move to the Middle Atlantic region, where psychologists earned, on average, $108,000 per year. Psychologists in the East South Central region, in contrast, earned $59,000 per year.Psychologist salaries

Meanwhile, women continued to earn less than men ($80,000 compared with $91,000), white psychologists earned more ($88,000) than racial/ethnic minority psychologists ($71,000), and those with a PhD earned more ($85,000) than those with a PsyD ($75,000). (To read more about the gender pay gap, see the article "Women Outnumber Men in Psychology, But Not in the Field's Top Echelons" in the July/August Monitor.)

The new salary report is APA's most representative look yet at psychologists' earning power, according to Luona Lin, a CWS research associate. In previous reports, the association's salary data came from member surveys, but APA members skew older and less racially and ethnically diverse than the profession as a whole.

The new report instead analyzes data from the 2015 National Survey of College Graduates, a nationally representative survey conducted every two years by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The CWS report pulls the survey's data on full-time working psychologists—those with a doctorate or professional degree in psychology who work at least 35 hours per week.

The NSF survey was revised with a new sample design in 2010, adding a fresh level of detail for CWS to examine.

"Because this is a new data set to look at salaries in psychology, we have a lot of variables that weren't available before," Lin says. For example, for professional service positions, she and her colleagues were able to analyze salaries by employment sector (public, private, nonprofit) and employer size. For psychologists in management, they could break out salaries by a person's number of direct reports. And for researchers, they could examine salaries by type of institution and research activity.

There were a few surprises in the data. For example, salaries were highest in the Middle ­Atlantic region, which includes cities with a high cost of living, such as New York and Philadelphia. But salaries were also relatively high in the Midwest—$92,000 in the West North Central area (which stretches from Kansas to Minnesota), and $91,000 in the West South Central area (which includes Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana).

"That was kind of surprising at first glance," Lin says.

But, she adds, the explanation might lie in a 2014 CWS report on job ads, which found a high concentration of open positions in the center of the country.

"We haven't done a causal analysis for this, but we think it might be highly relevant—the salaries [in the Midwest] could be driven higher by demand."

Lin says that interest in the report has been high, and that CWS staff plan to produce new salary reports biannually when NSF releases new survey data.

To read the full report and access the underlying data, go to www.apa.org/workforce/publications/2015-salaries/index.aspx.

By Lea Winerman


This article was originally published in the September 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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04 Oct 2017

Boosting Productivity

Boosting Productivity

Research identifies small changes that lead to big improvements in performance

When Larry Rosen, PhD, talks to people who want to improve their productivity, he zeroes in on the importance of minimizing interruptions. Rosen, professor emeritus of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, goes as far as to suggest that people put up a "do not disturb" sign when they need to focus on a task.

While this may not be plausible for everyone, Rosen's studies have shown how being distracted can become a bad habit that ultimately decreases our effectiveness at work or in school.

Fortunately, he and other psychology researchers have identified new ways to help people overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of their productivity, whether they are personal habits or environmental challenges. Here are some of those findings.

Grow your attention span

Even though technology can empower us to accomplish things faster, Rosen has found that those benefits can disappear when digital distractions are so readily available.

In one study, Rosen asked 260 middle school, high school and university students to study for 15 minutes in their homes. He found that participants averaged less than 6 minutes of studying before switching tasks, most often due to technology distractions—phones vibrating, new email alerts or instant message notifications, as well as students' "self-interruptions" to check electronic devices (Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2013).

While it can be tempting to think that dealing with these messages is productive, Rosen says this is a false sense of effectiveness. "We may think we are multitasking, but we are really task-switching," he says. "These interruptions take us away from the task at hand." The original task becomes less salient in our brains, and when we return, we waste time trying to remember what we were thinking when we left, Rosen explains.

To increase attention span and productivity, one of Rosen's solutions is the "technology break." He encourages students and workers to give themselves a couple of minutes to check alerts, texts and other messages after 15 minutes of undistracted work. The best way to stay focused is silencing the phone, turning it face down to avoid seeing visual notifications, turning off email alerts and closing distracting websites, Rosen says.

"Once you learn how to work for 15 minutes, start increasing the time before taking a technology break," Rosen says.

Taking short breaks not only satisfies the technology fix, but it also allows us to maintain focus, according to a study conducted by Alejandro Lleras, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He found that participants who took a short break while focusing on a visual task maintained the same level of performance for 40 minutes, but performance declined for those who didn't take any breaks (Cognition, Vol. 118, No. 3, 2010).

"We know that after about 30 minutes, concentration starts to decrease, so it's important to take small breaks to stay focused on your main task."

The results also showed that the breaks can be surprisingly short—only a couple of seconds for some tasks—to achieve this effect.

Write out your goals

Many people who work are familiar with the idea of setting goals for themselves, but achieving those goals can be elusive. Research is showing that establishing a habit of writing about goals can boost performance.

Cheryl Travers, PhD, a professor at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England, asked students to identify areas where they needed to improve, such as raising a grade in a class or increasing concentration while studying. The students were asked to visualize desired outcomes and outline how they could put their goals into practice.

Then the students kept diaries for three months to reflect on their goal progress. For example, students could write down what happened as they attempted to make a change in a particular situation, what worked well or not well, what could have been done better and actions they could take going forward. Travers found that the reflective goal-related writing had a significant impact on their ability to perform better academically (British Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 85, No. 2, 2015).

"The act of writing something down seems to make us accountable to a goal," Travers says. "It also helps people to write their way through a problem when they encounter barriers."

By writing about successes and failures and thinking about strategies to overcome difficulties, students gained confidence in themselves and developed academic self-efficacy, Travers says. What was particularly interesting was the evidence showing that academic performance improved even for students who set nonacademic, "softer" goals, such as "increase my assertiveness" or "decrease stress."

Travers is now collecting diaries for managers in organizations, and she will be studying whether this reflective goal setting improves their effectiveness as leaders. "This process allows people to essentially become self-coaches because they are continually evaluating goal outcomes and becoming more self-aware about leader behaviors."

Get together

The idea of fitting in another meeting may seem counter-productive for people working in group settings, but research suggests that taking time to debrief as a team can improve productivity in the long run.

Michaela Schippers, PhD, a professor of behavior and performance management at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, studied teams working in a health-care environment. She found that the groups that met regularly to evaluate work processes were much more likely to come up with innovative solutions to problems than groups that did not meet regularly. Her work has shown how this team reflexivity (reflecting on team functioning) can significantly improve work performance levels (Journal of Management, Vol.41, No. 3, 2015; Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2013).

"Workers should have regular debriefings, like in the military, but the purpose is not to point out what people are doing wrong," Schippers says. "Instead, the group can brainstorm how to improve as a team, ideally with a facilitator who is leading the meeting."

In the study, the reflexive teams talked about issues such as decreasing waiting times for patients, improving patient record systems and developing a more effective appointment system.

"Our work showed that it was very important for teams that are particularly busy to meet regularly to debrief, because these teams benefited most from the innovative improvements," Schippers says. "The meetings gave them space to think collectively about what could be changed."

Get out of the chair

Researchers are finding that employees with stand-­capable workstations may be more productive than their seated counterparts. Mark Benden, PhD, a professor in the department of environmental and occupational health at Texas A&M School of Public Health, studied two groups of call center employees over six months. One group sat at traditional desks and the other group at stations that enabled workers to elevate their tables whenever they wanted to stand. Benden found that those with stand-capable workstations stood about 1.5 hours longer per day and were 42 percent more productive than those who worked at seated desks. Productivity was measured by how many successful calls the workers completed per hour (IIE Transaction on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, Vol. 4, No. 2-3, 2016).

"By being up more of the time, we improve blood flow to the brain and circulation to the body, and these things combine to make the brain more active and engaged," Benden says.

Research also suggests that it is important for people to avoid "static standing" in one place, he says. The best stand-­capable workstations have foot rails that allow workers to take weight off of one side of the body. If it's not possible to get this type of workstation, workers should take breaks to walk around and get out of the chair, Benden says.

Further reading

The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World 
Gazzaley, A., & Rosen, L., 2016

Managing Motivation: A Manager's Guide to Diagnosing and Improving Motivation 
Pritchard R.D., & Ashwood, E.L., 2008

Evidence-Based Productivity Improvement: A Practical Guide to the Productivity Measurement and Enhancement System 
Pritchard, R.D., Weaver, S.J., & Ashwood, E.L., 2012

Future Time Perspective and Promotion Focus as Determinants of Intraindividual Change in Work Motivation 
Kooij, D.T., Bal, P.M., & Kanfer, R., Psychology and Aging, 2014

By Heather Stringer


This article was originally published in the September 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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02 Oct 2017

Kit Yarrow is Unlocking Consumer Shopping Behavior

Kit Yarrow is Unlocking Consumer Shopping Behavior
Kit Yarrow
APA Fellow Kit Yarrow is a well-known researcher on consumer behavior.

Kit Yarrow, PhD, does not believe retail is dead, far from it. Consumer psychology has changed dramatically in the past decade, though, and Yarrow predicts the retailers who survive will be those who appreciate their shoppers’ potent desire for an engaging and validating experience in the marketplace.

Yarrow is a well-known researcher on consumer behavior, a popular speaker, a longtime academic and the author of two books: “Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail” (Jossey-Bass, 2009) with Jane O’Donnell and “Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy” (Jossey-Bass, 2014). She has blogged for magazines like Money, Time and Psychology Today, among other publications; her most popular article was for Money magazine in 2016, The Science of Why We Buy Clothes We Don’t Wear.

Yarrow identifies “three shifts in our world, three ways in which we as people have changed noticeably in the past 5 years or so, and, because of those shifts, how our needs have changed in terms of what we feel we need to add to our lives.”

First, technology is now embedded in daily activities, our phones and laptops tether us to one another in ways that are captivating but superficial, and ultimately unsatisfactory. “We feel more disconnected, so we use brands and products to feel seen and heard, and to reconnect with others,” she says.

Second, “there’s more emotionality, with elevated levels of anger and anxiety,” in part because people may not feel as safe or accepted as they once did. “People shop differently and want different things when they are more emotional. A hassle feels doubly so.” Retailers and manufacturers both need to make it easier for shoppers to understand the benefits of their products, and to streamline the purchasing process, Yarrow says.

Third, the past several years have seen a “trend toward individualism,” which means people are no longer as likely to make purchases as part of a group. Even young people are more willing to pass up “the cool item,” Yarrow says, taking the time to find one-of-a-kind pieces, sifting through thrift stores to put together a distinctive look.

“There’s no way to succeed in retail today without understanding consumer psychology,” she says. “Consumers actually don’t want to shop online. They want to go to stores, but not the way they are now.” Shoppers like to feel connected with other people like themselves, but “they don’t want to trawl through a mall and see the same thing in every store.” Yarrow says stores mostly run by “nimble younger retailers” willing to display interesting items, not necessarily keeping them in stock, and engaging their customers at every turn are where things are headed. Shoppers can touch and feel things in these stores, try them on, photograph and post them on social media, and then have them delivered from the warehouse to their homes. Yarrow singled out Betabrand, an online retailer with a store in San Francisco, where designs are often crowd-sourced and crowd-funded. Fans who vote for a design that makes it into production get a discount on the finished product.

Does this mean the end to department and traditional retail stores is at hand?  “These stores are part of our American culture, and I’m rooting for them, but they are going to have to change or die.” They must understand, Yarrow says, the consumer is in charge now.

As for online retailers, they need to “make it easy to navigate their sites, and offer opportunities to see what other shoppers are looking at and buying to create a more social environment,” she says.

In her research, Yarrow does not use focus groups, where people are invited to share their opinions of products, because she believes the real decision making about what to buy or not to buy does not occur at the conscious level.

“It’s more about how people feel than what they think,” she says.

Instead, Yarrow conducts a type of ethnography, spending time with people she often recruits through social media, going through their closets, “shopping along” on trips to stores and riding home with them after a successful, or not-so-successful, shopping trip.

“That’s where I get the goods—in the car,” she says. “People say the most wonderful things when they’re done shopping and they’re focused on the road. That’s when they can go inside themselves and help me understand why they passed this up, or bought that, how it’s related to the rest of their lives, what it all means.”

Marketers and manufacturers often fund Yarrow’s research, and sometimes are surprised that she is advising “the enemy,” but she says, “I have never worked for a company that has bad intentions. They want to make better products, and I can easily support what they are doing. No company lives on one-time purchases. If they don’t deliver, they will fail. I don’t think marketers are the enemy, and I never will.”

As Yarrow sees it, her training in clinical psychology is alive and well in her work. “I yearn to talk to consumers,” she says.

Yarrow did not set out to be psychologist.  She studied journalism in undergraduate school before deciding to become a clinical psychologist. She went to graduate school at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, Calif., where the need to keep up with tuition pushed Yarrow to teach an undergraduate marketing class as an adjunct at nearby Golden Gate University (GGU) in San Francisco—the serendipitous start to her life’s work.

“I was finishing up my psychology internships when I realized I loved the research, the teaching, the assessment. That’s where my heart was,” she says. “All of a sudden, I switched.”

When a full-time position opened in the GGU marketing department, Yarrow jumped at it. “I found a way to bring in psychology by doing research in consumer behavior.” She also taught undergraduate psychology classes.

In 1992, with the encouragement of the administration, Yarrow and six colleagues founded GGU’s graduate psychology department, which Yarrow chaired for nearly 25 years. She is a professor emerita now and exploring publishing her latest research in articles or another book.

“Just like everybody else I know, I did not follow a direct path,” she says.

Yarrow started her research and writing career 20 years ago—only after she was told she would have to start publishing if she wanted to get tenure at GGU.

“I’m so grateful for that admonishment,” she says. “I had to go deep. I started it, and then I got a nice grant to do more research, and now it’s the thing I do most. I live to know why. If you look at ‘the glass of Kit,’ it’s three-quarters ‘why.’ That’s the reason I’m a professor instead of a clinical psychologist.”

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