21 Jul 2017

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

In this 3-part web series, you'll learn the fundamentals of servant leadership, a leader or an organization that seeks first to serve others. The presentations cover effective communication, managing people and processes and positively transforming people and organizations. *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 1 CE credit for each session.

Each program runs about 1 hour:

Leadership and Communication

No communication skill is more important than listening. Knowing the basic barriers and shortfalls of communication and doing something about them is a big step in improving our ability to communicate effectively.

Leading and Managing People and Processes

In order to accomplish a mission, establishing a process is important. However, people complete the processes and ensure the mission is accomplished. Learn the importance of maintaining a dual focus on people and processes.

Leaders Implementing Positive Change

It takes strong leadership to help people and an organization transition in order to make a change. Change is the event, transition is the means of getting there. Learn what it takes to implement positive change by focusing on the transition process.

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12 Jul 2017

Tips for Applying to Graduate School

Tips for Applying to Graduate School

Applying to graduate school can be a challenging process that requires effort, patience and time. However, there are many things you can do to overcome your anxiety about the application process. Here are some tips that APA gathered from recruiters and successful graduate students that can help bring you one step closer to acceptance at your dream school.

Find you perfect match

Selecting the graduate program in psychology that is best for you requires thoughtful consideration. First, think carefully about your career goals and training interests, then apply to programs with graduates that succeed in the types of jobs and training programs you are most interested in. In addition, make sure your previous education and training have prepared you for success in the program. As you review graduate programs, ask these questions:

  1. What is the profile of recently admitted students in terms of academic background, standardized test scores, research experience, work experience and demographic characteristics? Your profile should be similar to theirs to help ensure your acceptance to and success within the program.
  2. What is the program's success rate in terms of the percentage of admitted students who graduate, and what is the average number of years they required to do so?
  3. What are the goals and objectives of the program? Do they match your interests and academic preparation as a prospective graduate student?
  4. For programs with an emphasis on academic and research careers, what is the record of graduates' success in obtaining postdoctoral research fellowships, academic appointments or applied research positions outside a college or university setting?
  5. For programs that require an internship or practicum, what is the success rate of placement for students attending the program? What level of assistance is provided to students in obtaining practicum and internship placements?
  6. For programs with an emphasis on professional practice, what is the program's accreditation status (only applicable to clinical, counseling and school doctoral programs)? Are their graduates successful in obtaining licensure, in being selected for advanced practice residencies, and in getting jobs after they finish training?
  7. What types of financial assistance does each program offer?

Graduate school is more of a mentorship program, where students are required to conduct their own research. Therefore, graduate schools look not only for students who will do well in the program, but also for those who will benefit from the program and contribute to the research projects of the schools. Before you apply, make sure that the program is the best fit for you academically and financially. Research the program carefully so that you can find out whether you are the best fit for the program.

Settle Your Score:  GRE and GPA

Most graduate schools seek the best students who will match their programs and offer the most to the field. One approach they use to select these students is to consider students’ GPA and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Even though these are not the only elements graduate schools use to decide whether a student will be accepted to the program, they are usually the explicit cutoff point. Your awesome recommendation letter or experience will not be considered if your GRE and GPA score is below the required level. There are many things that you can do to prevent yourself from a GRE/ GPA crisis:

  1. Set a goal to get your GPA and GRE scores up to the level that the schools expect you to have. This will offer more opportunity for your recommendation letters and experience to be considered.
  2. It is always smart to start early. You will never realize how difficult and time-consuming the GRE can be until you begin your learning process. Therefore, plan to study for the GRE early, so that you will be well prepared despite other unexpected factors that might affect your plan.
  3. Ask other students to study for the GRE with you. Having a partner can motivate you to be more serious with your study plan.
  4. Take advantage of all the resources you have. There are many different books, apps, and websites that can assist you in getting a higher GRE score.

In contrast with the GRE, building a strong GPA is more of a long-term process. You have to keep on working hard throughout all four years of undergraduate school to achieve a good GPA. The good news is that you do not need to have a 4.0. Be ambitious but also be realistic when you set out to reach your goal GPA so that you will not lose your motivation. Always keep in mind that you have to meet the requirements of the schools to which you are applying. If you have already tried hard but did not get the GPA or GRE score that you wanted, don’t let this undermine your academic career. You can still impress many programs with a well-written personal statement and by spotlighting research experiences and providing strong letters of recommendation. It is important to remember that many graduate programs, including the top ones such as Stanford University, look at more than just your GPA and GRE score.

Research Experience

  • Start research early. Graduate school admission reviewers expect stellar grades and strong GRE scores. Stand out from the applicant crowd by immersing yourself in research as soon as you think a psychology career might be in the cards for you, says Katherine Sledge Moore, a third-year cognitive psychology graduate student at the University of Michigan.

"Research experience is the best preparation for graduate school, and these days is virtually a requirement," she says.

There are many ways you can find research opportunities before applying to graduate school:

  1. Ask professors from your undergraduate psychology courses if they need research assistants or want to take on independent study students. And completing a senior thesis is a must, she adds, because it shows that you have the ability to conduct an entire research experiment from idea conception to final data analysis.
  2. Get psyched for summer.  Spend your free time over summer break or during afternoons off, for example, working in a research lab or volunteering at a hospital's behavioral health center.
  3. If you are having difficulty finding research opportunities, go to the APA’s PSYCIQ website: http://psyciq.apa.org/psyciq-quick-links-funding-sources/. There you will find search tools for locating grants, funds, internship, and research internships.
  4. Always remember to start early. Do not wait until the first semester of your senior year to look for your first research team. If you start early, you will be well prepared by the time you apply for graduate school.

"In two years, you'll have the substantive amount of work done, maybe even enough to submit for publication, before you apply," she says.

Personal statement

The personal statement is the most important element in your application package. You may have chosen the right schools to apply to, but now you must prove that you are the best fit for their program. Throughout your personal statement, show the recruiters that you have amazing research experiences, abilities, potential, clarity of plan, and writing skills. There are a few things that you should keep in mind while drafting your essays:

  1. Do not use the same statements for all schools. Different programs might have different requirements, which means you have to adjust your statement accordingly to what the programs are looking for.
  2. When you are writing about your goals and experiences, aim for precision and detail. Avoid generic statements.
  3. Proofread your statement many times before submitting it.

Recommendation letter

Most graduate school applications require recommendation letters, often from faculty you've worked for or taken classes with. It is easy to get a recommendation letter, but it takes more effort to get a good one that can impress the recruiters:

  1. Remember to ask the right people. Choose only those who know you and your abilities well, and who won’t simply say you got an A in the class.
  2. Make the process easy for your professor. He or she will appreciate it. Be specific about the program or position you are applying for, and provide an accurate list of your experiences and activities.
  3. Do not forget to show your sincere appreciation. A thoughtful, handwritten thank-you note may increase your chances for a future recommendation should you need one.

We hope that this advice gives you a clearer idea of the application process and what you can do to increase your chances of success. Remember that you have to show the recruiter how special and unique you are. Many applicants have outstanding grades and research experience, so make sure that you stand out to the recruiter with your own story. Applying for graduate schools can be challenging, but APA has tools and resources to assist you on your journey.

The information for this article comes from APA’s Graduate and Postdoctoral Education website:

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11 Jul 2017

Let’s Talk Money, monitorLIVE Event Explores Professional and Personal Financial Wellness

Even though mental health practitioners often cover a wide variety of difficult subjects in their work, money can be an especially challenging topic to broach. So much so, that sessions can begin and end without even addressing fees or payment schedules with clients. Financial wellness is tied to mental health, and we need to learn to talk about it, according to clinical psychologist Mary Gresham, PhD, who recently addressed a group of psychologists gathered in Atlanta, Ga., for APA’s second local networking event, monitorLIVE. monitorLIVE events connect psychology professionals and thought leaders so they can learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline.

Dr. Gresham noted that mental health practitioners have models of good marriages and good communication to teach to clients, but they may lack good models of financial wellness. Most leave money matters to finance professionals, even though mental health practitioners should be the ones applying therapy to the field, she said. While financial planners may take a class in coaching, they haven’t studied behavior, relationships, or any of the other deeper issues related to financial wellness. This, Dr. Gresham believes, is where psychologists can step in and effectively address those issues.

One way to begin addressing financial wellness with clients is through the use of schema—a cognitive framework that can help in the understanding of the concept. Doing so will allow you to interpret implicit and explicit beliefs about money and how they can impact individuals’ lives.

Dr. Gresham explained that money beliefs begin early, at about age three or four. She provided an example—a child thinking money grows in one’s pocket. Practitioners can address these misnomers in the context of behavioral finance, developed by the work of Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky, which examines how individuals make errors in their thought process around money, like believing money grows on trees or, in Dr. Gresham’s example, in a pocket. Behavioral finance explores how rational or irrational one can be about money matters, such as choosing to take one dollar today to immediately satisfy your desire for money, or taking $1.10 next year, which is actually a 10 percent increase, but might not feel like it.

Dr. Gresham went on to say that schema development depends on cultural beliefs, like thinking rich people are bad and poor people are good (or vice versa), or believing that if you work hard, money will come to you. These beliefs affect us, but they are simplistic, and we need to develop them to make them more sophisticated. This necessary development can happen through research on the cultural differences having to do with money, like the particular rules and customs about money that exist within the families of first-generation immigrants,such as not paying interest on a loan, and how those rules differ from cultural norms here in the United States, where borrowers might not like it, but interest is acceptable.

Another area in behavioral finance Dr. Gresham discussed with the audience is financial trauma. Even though many people suffer from financial trauma, whether they’ve lost everything in bad investments, or because of a spouse’s spending habits, there is not enough research on how to assist people with those experiences. “How do you help people come back from financial trauma and rebuild their lives? We need that research,” she said.

During her conversation, Dr. Gresham also touched on gender issues around money, such as women having lower financial levels of literacy than men and the lack of encouragement of women to enter the financial planning field.

She also noted that practitioners must examine money issues in their own lives, pointing out the costs associated with getting an education in the field and the need to understand what it means to be a self-employed business person by learning to communicate fees and by researching market rates, insurance rates, and retirement plans. Dr. Gresham suggested APA’s Division 42 and the book, “Handbook of Private Practice: Keys to Success for Mental Health Practitioners.”

Keep an eye out for future monitorLIVE events coming to a city near you.

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05 Jul 2017

A Collection of Basic Experimental Psychology Articles Booklet

A Collection of Basic Experimental Psychology Articles Booklet
This booklet, A Collection of Basic Experimental Psychology Articles, features articles on some timely topics, including how the Internet inflates people’s estimates of their own knowledge and how mobile technology can be used to crowd source data collection for psychological research.
 
If you enjoy these articles, don’t stop here. APA’s Journals Program maintains a database of hundreds of papers on basic experimental psychology. And as an APA member, you enjoy highly discounted access that enables you to explore these and other research topics online at www.apa.org/pubs/journals.

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28 Jun 2017

Six Questions to Ask Before Applying to Any Psychology Grad Program

Six Questions to Ask Before Applying to Any Psychology Grad Program

You've started your search for a doctoral program, but do you know how to pick the one that's right for you?

"In psychology, we pride ourselves on being evidence-based, but sometimes we forget to look at all the data when we're making our most important career choices," says John Norcross, PhD, a University of Scranton psychology professor and co-author of "The Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology" (2010).

According to graduate program directors and other experts, you've done your homework if can answer these six questions:

1. What kind of job do you eventually want?

Imagine your future career, and work backward to determine the kind of training and education you need. If you'd like to help companies select employees and build better teams, look into industrial-organizational psychology programs. If you want to investigate learning and memory, check out experimental psychology programs. If you hope to someday help judges determine who is competent to stand trial, explore forensic psychology programs.

"Talk with the psychology professors at your undergraduate institution about pathways in psychology, and read books and websites about psychology careers," advises Cynthia Belar, PhD, executive director of APA's Education Directorate. Then, check out APA's online database, "Graduate Study in Psychology," which provides descriptions, admission requirements and application deadlines for more than 600 psychology graduate programs in the United States and Canada.

2. How much debt can you reasonably take on?

Figure out how much you can expect to earn once you have your degree, and then use that number to calculate the amount of graduate school debt that's reasonable for you. According to 2009 data from APA's Center for Workforce Studies, the median starting salary for assistant psychology professors is $53,000, while a clinical psychologist can expect to start out earning $58,000. Given those salaries, it could take years to pay off the median debt loads of new psychologists: $120,000 for clinical PsyDs, $68,000 for clinical PhDs and $38,500 for research-focused PhDs.

If you don't want to be eating ramen into your golden years, limit your applications to psychology programs that offer financial aid in the form of fellowships, scholarships, research and teaching assistantships, and traineeships. "While cost shouldn't be your only basis for selecting a doctoral program, you don't want to wind up saddled with debt you didn't expect," says Elizabeth Klonoff, PhD, co-director of the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.

3. What is the added value of selecting an APA-accredited program?

If you're studying clinical, counseling or school psychology, choosing an APA-accredited doctoral program increases your career options. Many internships require students to attend an APA-accredited program, and some state licensing agencies and employers — including academic institutions and government agencies — likewise require a diploma from an APA-accredited doctoral program.

APA accreditation also helps provide some assurance that you'll receive a quality education. To be awarded accreditation, a program must demonstrate that it meets a set of standards established by APA's Commission on Accreditation — for example, it has to have qualified faculty and adequate facilities and student support services, and it must publicly disclose its requirements and policies. View a list of APA-accredited doctoral programs.

4. What are the internship match rates of the graduate programs you are interested in?

Before you can earn your degree in clinical, counseling or school psychology, you'll need to complete a yearlong internship. Unfortunately, there's a shortage of internship programs, with a quarter of psychology graduate students unable to find internships through the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center's match. Not having one can indefinitely delay your degree. So, before you apply to grad school, be sure the programs have good records for matching students to APA-accredited internships, says Klonoff. To find out programs' match rates to all internships (not just APA-accredited ones), visit the APPIC website (PDF, 1.4MB). APA-accredited graduate programs are required to list their match rates to APA-accredited internships on their websites. "A program that has historically matched really well is likely to match well in the future," says Klonoff.

5. What are your potential programs' EPPP pass rates?

Another issue for future therapists: Practicing psychologists must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, a computerized test of 225 multiple-choice questions. It's designed to evaluate your knowledge of core areas of psychology such as assessment and treatment and the biological bases of behavior. Pick a program with a high pass rate — for a list of pass rates by graduate school, visit the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards website

6. Who are the schools' top researchers?

If you're aiming for a research-focused program, study university websites to identify faculty members under whom you'd like to work. Ideally, you should pick a program where several professors are doing research that interests you, says M. Ellen Mitchell, PhD, dean of the College of Psychology at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. "If you want to do developmental psychology, it may not be the best decision to go to a program with only one faculty member whose work is in that area, unless that person's work aligns very closely with what you want to do," she says.

If possible, meet future faculty advisers at professional conferences or when you visit campuses for pre-admission interviews. "That's probably the best way to assess whether there's a good fit," says Rod Wellens, PhD, who chairs the University of Miami psychology department. "Also, look at the past performance of a potential faculty mentor — are their students publishing and getting good postdocs or other employment positions?" Check the professors' webpages for a list of their current students and postdocs. Then enter those students' names into PsycINFO and Google to search for their publications or other information about their work. 

If a particular faculty member shows he or she is really interested in working with you, that school should zoom to the top of your list, says Norcross. That's because a good faculty adviser is key to graduate school success. "They can offer individualized advice, serve as role models, and assist you in selecting an internship and launching your career," says Klonoff.

By Jen Uscher,  a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y.


This article was originally published in the September 2011 gradPSYCH Magazine

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20 Jun 2017

Stop Wasting Time: Keys to Great Meetings

Stop Wasting Time: Keys to Great Meetings

Whether it's a gathering of health-care providers, faculty, students or a mix, here's how to make your meetings productive

Meetings that start late, last too long and accomplish little can stress attendees far beyond that lost hour, says Steven Rogelberg, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who studies meeting science. Research shows bad meetings can lead to job dissatisfaction, employee fatigue and what he calls "meeting recovery syndrome"—time spent cooling off after a frustrating meeting, which often includes destructive commiseration with colleagues.

"The next thing you know, the weight of the crappy meeting is higher, and it can spill over into other areas of work," he says.

How can everyone make meetings more effective, even enjoyable? The best gatherings happen when meeting leaders view themselves as stewards of everyone else's valuable time, says Rogelberg. Good stewards plan meetings thoughtfully, manage group dynamics, find out in advance why people want to meet and promote other people's contributions rather than their own.

Here is more wisdom from experts for attendees and leaders on how to meet-up better.

Be on time. Arriving late to meetings undermines productivity from the start—and upper management members are often the worst offenders, says Daniel Post Senning, co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and great-great-grandson of manners guru Emily Post. "Often, they believe the rules don't apply to them."

Lateness may cause more than irritation: In a paper under review, Rogelberg and Joseph Allen, PhD, found that when a person showed up less than five minutes late for a meeting, productivity didn't suffer. But when an attendee or leader showed up five to 10 minutes late, "satisfaction, effectiveness and productivity of the meeting dropped dramatically," says Allen, an associate professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Wallace Dixon, PhD, psychology department chair at East Tennessee State University, leads by example by starting and ending his monthly faculty meeting precisely on time. "If you don't, you insult the people who got there on time, reward the people who got there late and convey to everyone their time isn't that important," he says.

Be prepared. Arriving "late, frazzled, with nothing but a leaky coffee cup doesn't leave a good impression," Senning says. Bring something to take notes with and a steady attention span. Complete any assigned reading in advance. "Nothing is worse than showing up to the meeting and finding that no one has read the documents that [you sent, and] you then have to explain to everyone what they should have read," says Allen.

Make your phone (mostly) invisible. Despite the leave-the-device-at-the-door practice made popular by President Obama and Amazon, in most settings it is considered OK to bring your smartphone to meetings if you keep your attention on the speaker, says Senning. He recommends telling people in advance if you plan to use your phone to take notes or images of PowerPoint slides. But if people are gravitating to their devices in meetings, it may be a sign that the meeting needs to be more engaging, says Rogelberg. "Devices are signals," he says. "Psychologically, the person is trying to regain control of the time."

Diversify the discussion. No one attendee should monopolize the conversation—and no good facilitator should let anyone do it. Dixon says he will pull faculty aside later if they are talking too much in meetings because it bothers other staff and "they will lose faith in you as a leader if you don't handle it," he says. All attendees can share in that responsibility by making an effort to contribute even if public speaking isn't their forte, says Allen. His research has shown that when people make an effort to participate in a meeting—especially when there is a decision-making component—they are happier with the meeting's result and the meeting is more effective.

Move it along. Dixon places a time limit on each discussion item when he plans his faculty meetings and enforces those limits with his smartphone's timer. Another way to prevent run-on discussions and create a sense of urgency, Rogelberg says, is to switch from hourlong weekly or monthly meetings to shorter, more frequent "huddles": 10- to 15-minute meet-ups designed to save time and boost efficiency. If a leader has a difficult time staying on task, any attendee can help move a meeting forward by tactfully redirecting his or her attention to the agenda, says Allen.

Be constructive. Meetings can unravel when attendees cut one another off, dismiss each other, hold side conversations or argue. Avoid such tension, such as by saying, "I agree with some of what you're saying" instead of a short-tempered, "I just don't agree with you," says Brenda Fellows, PhD, of the Haas School of Business, University of California. Along those lines, Dixon advises the department chairs he mentors never to put a contentious issue to a vote in a meeting because it makes people uncomfortable. "Voting only divides, it never unites," he says. "When you resort to a vote, you have stopped talking."

Additional reading

Participate or Else! The Effect of Participation in Decision-Making in Meetings on Employee Engagement
Yoerger, M., Crowe, J., & Allen, J.A. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 2015

Meeting Design Characteristics and Attendee Perceptions of Staff/Team Meeting Quality
Cohen, M.A., Rogelberg, S.G., Allen, J.A., & Luong, A. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2011

"Not Another Meeting!" Are Meeting Time Demands Related to Employee Well-Being?
Rogelberg, S.G., Leach, D.J., Warr, P.B., & Burnfield, J.L. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2006

By Jamie Chamberlin


This article was originally published in the December 2016 Monitor on Psychology

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20 Jun 2017

What Do Superheroes and Psychologists Have in Common? monitorLIVE Event Explores the Intersection of Passion and Profession

Much like superheroes, psychologists often have origin stories—impactful events that have shaped their professional identity and defined their mission. This was a major theme of the June 1st monitorLIVE event in Los Angeles, during which clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast Andrea Letamendi, PhD, shared her origin story that began as a graduate student.

As Dr. Letamendi explained, her origin story was marked by an experience of, “psychic disequilibrium," which occurs when individuals do not see their own identities reflected in their environment. As a graduate student, Dr. Letamendi rarely saw herself represented in her chosen field of psychology—she met few psychologists who shared her cultural background, history of immigration and discrimination, or passions and hobbies, including comics.  This struggle activated her personal supervillain, “Imposter Syndrome.” The villain resurfaced during stressful times such as during comps and dissertation research, making her feel like she did not belong in graduate school or in the field.

She was finally able to defeat the Imposter Syndrome villain with the antidote of being her true professional and personal self. She had been ignoring her love of comic books, which was a large part of her authentic identity. She did not know that the field of psychology offers a variety of career options and many ways to incorporate hobbies and interests into professional careers. She became a true superhero when she combined her passion for comics with her background in psychology to create her side hustle, an extra income stream that allows people to pursue an interest while keeping their full-time job.

Dr. Letamendi shared that side hustles can restore the professional identities of practitioners, helping them remember why they were initially drawn to the psychology field. Side hustles also help with daily burnout and compassion fatigue. She now connects her identity with her psychology background through her podcast, “The Arkham Sessions,” where she analyzes every episode of “Batman: the Animated Series” through the lens of a clinical psychologist. She examines characters and analyzes their behaviors and personalities. Dr. Letamendi’s childhood dream came full circle when DC Comics made her Batgirl’s psychologist in one of its published stories.

The point to a side hustle is not only to make money, but also to fulfill one’s creative passion. This is why Dr. Letamendi’s podcasts are free, in the spirit of “Giving Psychology Away.”

Dr. Letamendi’s mission, shaped by her origin story, is to increase public knowledge of mental health and to encourage help-seeking among people who would not otherwise seek treatment. Although she accomplishes this mission through her daily work, her side hustle gives her the opportunity to live and work authentically.

monitorLIVE events connect psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. Keep an eye out for future monitorLIVE events coming to a city near you.

Review photos from monitorLIVE: Los Angeles. This networking event from APA brings together psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. The featured speaker in Los Angeles was clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast, Andrea Letamendi, PhD. Dr. Letamendi offered her perspective on fusing a psychology background with a passion to open career opportunities one may never have considered.

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05 Jun 2017

When Your Research Gets Criticized or Politicized

When Your Research Gets Criticized or Politicized

As researchers, we are used to having our peers challenge our research and ask questions. It’s part of the scientific process that we hold so dear. But sometimes, our research results can generate unexpected outcomes that run counter to public or political opinion, resulting in personal attacks that are not based on the facts.

If you ever find your research is being attacked because of political views people have attributed to it, you may be unsure how or even whether to respond. Before you do anything, it might be helpful to consider the reason for the attacks.

A 2011 study on politics and social science research reports that ideas play into politics, and those ideas tend to shape people’s reactions to facts more than the actual research does. While people have their own reasons for consulting available research findings, their acceptance of the research has less to do with the actual research results than the message they want to convey. They may attack findings so they can continue to communicate their own messages.

According to a 2015 Pew study, many more people hold positions on issues that are strictly liberal or conservative today than they did two decades ago, which suggests that your research might not just come up against political-minded people in the policy world. The general public may attack your findings, too, if those findings go against what they believe.

This is why Dr. Susan Courtney, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, makes sure her students know that criticism from the public is part of the scientific process. “I try to prep my students from the very beginning of the research planning process to anticipate potential criticisms of the work so that they have already prepared answers when the expected criticism arrives,” she says.

So, should you find your research has become a part of a political debate, Courtney advises not to take it personally, but to respond professionally, only focusing on the scientific issues. Make sure you are very familiar with related literature, so that you can openly acknowledge alternative interpretations of the data, but also effectively defend your study and your results.

The OHSU School of Medicine offers curricula specifically designed to help researchers respond to feedback in a constructive manner, both orally and in written venues. It also has journal clubs that provide students with experience in responding to feedback on research, and seminar classes that often include mentoring on how to answer questions live.

If the feedback isn’t in a live format, but rather in an email or a social media post, you should probably talk to your dean or professor before responding. If your school doesn’t offer mentoring opportunities designed to help you with written responses like at OHSU, you can always go to your Principal Investigator, your Dissertation Advisory Committee, or any faculty member who advises on research for advice on an appropriate response.

The American Psychological Association Science Directorate provides three key pieces of advice. The first is to develop what’s called a one-pager about your research that explains the aims, the context, and the findings of your research, including information such as potential applications if relevant. APA suggests developing one-pagers to explain your research to congressional and other policymakers, but they are very useful in responses to media or other public inquiries as well (see examples). Second, make full use of your university public relations and media staff before responding to any sort of political attack. Third, let the APA Science Government Relations Office (pkobor@apa.org) know as well if your research is attacked by a government policymaker. APA makes it a priority to defend research that is subject to unwarranted political attacks, and co-leads the Coalition to Promote Research which was formed to help defend peer-reviewed research that is attacked in the congressional arena.

If you are the PI, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) freely available guide, Science in an Age of Scrutiny: How Scientists Can Respond to Criticism, and Personal Attacks, offers several suggestions, including evaluating the tone of the feedback and investigating the legitimacy of its source before responding, and refraining from responding in a way in which your response can be edited or manipulated.

The UCS advises to stand by your research and to let your data speak for itself. If you come across people attempting to discredit the findings you are reporting because they don’t fit into their agenda, or simply because they do not agree, convey to them that you are reporting facts, not opinion. Educate them about the meaning of research by letting them know you are neither for nor against what you’ve researched, because that isn’t how research works. The point of research is to examine a topic of importance and to present findings unbiasedly.

The good news is, many in the public respect research and understand that the scientific process may produce unexpected or challenging findings. The American Association for the Advancement of Science summarized several articles that appeared in the March, 2015 issue of the ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and determined that “the public tends to hold scientists in high regard. People also generally welcome learning more about a controversial issue, such as geoengineering, in which their minds aren’t already made up. So, the situation is far from hopeless.”

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23 May 2017

A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles Booklet

A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles Booklet

Psychologists working in the field of education study how people learn and retain knowledge. Their research unlocks clues about the way people process information that can help every student learn.

This booklet, A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles from APA Journals, zeroes in on a range of educational issues from student challenges in learning mathematics to improving teacher-student relationships.

If you enjoy these articles, don’t stop here. APA’s Journals Program maintains a database of hundreds of papers on educational psychology. And as an APA member, you enjoy highly discounted access that enables you to explore these and other research topics online at www.apa.org/pubs/journals.

 

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11 May 2017

Can I work here?

Can I work here?

Industrial/organizational psychologists offer their advice for helping job seekers determine whether a potential employer offers a good fit

Workers who feel valued by their employers are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and be motivated to do their best. They're also less likely to want to leave the organization in the next year, according to APA's 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, which polled more than 1,500 U.S. workers.

The survey also found that work-life fit—or how well a job fits with the rest of an employee's life—plays an important role in employee retention, says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, who directs APA's Center for Organizational Excellence. "Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work and, as such, they want to have harmony between their job demands and the other parts of their lives," Ballard says. That means that to remain competitive, employers need to create environments where employees feel connected to the organization and have a work experience that's part of a rich, fulfilling life.

How can psychologists determine whether a potential employer will give them that positive experience and work-life fit? Some industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists point to the importance of matching an employee's values with that of the organization. Others say previous work experiences—such as the factors they did and didn't like about a job or supervisor—are key indicators of what to look for in a new role. Overall, though, determining whether an organization is a good match has to start with a thorough understanding of your career priorities, I/O psychologists say. "It is as much about what your needs and preferences are as it is about the organization," Ballard says.

Look inward. Before the job search, psychologists should pinpoint what their work interests are, says I/O psychologist Edgar Schein, PhD, a professor emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Start by conducting a self-analysis of your career to date to help you determine your strengths, your values and what motivates you—or, as Schein calls it, your "career anchor." His research on career anchors has shown that most people place different amounts of emphasis on the importance of eight categories or preferences. They are technical/functional competence; general managerial competence; autonomy/independence; security/stability; entrepreneurial creativity; service/dedication to a cause; pure challenge; and lifestyle.

So, for example, among clinical psychologists, some want to work for an organization because they are more security/stability oriented, while others want to set up private practices because they want to be on their own.

He points out, however, that often one's anchor can't truly be discovered before spending several years in the workforce. "This really is a deeper level of knowledge about oneself that isn't usually something people know when they graduate," he explains. "They need 10 years of experience to really figure themselves out."

Network with experts. Early on in your career, Schein recommends reaching out to psychologists who are in jobs you can imagine moving into. "Find someone ahead of you in your career and get a sense of what work is like for them at that job," he says.

Determine personal priorities. Job seekers also have to think about their personal priorities and interests before they start their job searches, says Helena Cooper-Thomas, PhD, a professor of organizational behaviour at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Her point is backed by new research: In a meta-analysis of 92 studies with nearly 35,000 participants, employees whose interest profiles matched their job profiles were more likely to perform better, help others in the organization and stay with the company longer. The study, led by Michigan State University I/O psychologist Christopher Nye, PhD, shows that it's not a person's overall interest in a particular kind of work, but how their interests across various types of work match with the skills and tasks involved in a particular job. The researchers surmise that this match—known as person-environment fit—is a much better predictor of job performance than the more general interest or personality measures often used by college career centers (Journal of Vocational Psychology, 2017).

One way job seekers can determine whether their interests match with those of other company employees is to search for the employer on LinkedIn, Ballard says. There, you can often find employees' public-facing profiles, which can offer insight into the skill sets and longevity of people who work there.

Consider a "misfit" job. Candidates should also consider where they can tolerate or even benefit from "misfit," Cooper-Thomas adds. "If you're the type of person who likes to have fun at work by playing pranks or telling jokes, you probably wouldn't do well in a secure facility, while those with a competitive streak may conflict with the compassionate and calm values found in some health-care settings," she says.

But having knowledge or skills that are different from one's colleagues can result in more innovative ideas and helpful solutions, which can help employees get noticed and accelerate their careers, she points out.

Do more research. Once psychologists determine the factors that matter most to them in a job, they should read up on any organization they are interested in, paying particular attention to its mission or values statement, says Ballard. "Something that's often telling about an organization's attention to employee well-being is whether or not it has something about creating a positive or healthy work environment and supporting staff built into its mission statement or values," he says. He also recommends doing an Internet search using both Google and Glassdoor to see how the organization is portrayed and whether, for example, they've been embroiled in any controversy. "Look not just at the things the organization itself posts, but also the kinds of comments, statements and reactions they get from other people," he says.

Get specific in your interview. Of course, it's always helpful to ask about an organization's culture during the interview process—the drawback is that there is no guarantee that the recruiter's espoused values are the values in use, warns Cooper-Thomas. What can be more helpful, she suggests, is asking your interviewers to be more specific by sharing an incident at work that reveals the organization's values in action. Interviewers could discuss a time they were particularly proud of their employer, for example.

Cooper-Thomas also notes that every organization has different layers of culture, so job seekers should try to ascertain whether they would fit with the people they would work with on a daily basis, such as supervisors and colleagues. She suggests paying particular attention to how employers treat people: Is the receptionist friendly and helpful? Did the interviewers show respect by arriving on time? Did they answer the job seeker's questions honestly?

Gauge your potential support system. Also ask interviewers about the amount of autonomy employees have within the organization, the organization's structure and the kinds of support available, Ballard says. For example, if you're looking for a job where you're providing clinical services, you'll want to know whether there is administrative, billing and collection support.

In addition, pay attention to how formal or informal the work environment appears to be, as well as how diverse and inclusive it is, Ballard says.

And if it's important to you, talk to the recruiter and your potential supervisors about flexibility and work-life fit to find out if you'd have the ability to modify when, where, and how much you work to accommodate your needs.

Think about the "fun factor." Early career psychologists have spent many years studying and planning their career paths, and are usually quite passionate about further developing them, says University of Chicago Booth School of Business professor Ayelet Fishbach, PhD. But when it comes to sticking with a job, people thrive most when they're doing interesting work with people they like, according to research by Fishbach and behavioral science doctoral candidate Kaitlin Woolley (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2015). So, in addition to looking for benefits such as career development opportunities, it's important to consider whether you can expect to enjoy, be challenged, fulfilled and experience social connections in a work setting, the authors say. "A workplace that offers immediate benefits in terms of engagement and enjoyment is a place where people stay," Fishbach says.

Find out what a typical day would really look like. Finally, Schein encourages job seekers to get personal with the people they're interviewing. That means spending time to get to know the one or two people you have met in the organization by asking them why they got into the field and how they like their jobs. This tactic works best toward the end of the interview process, he says, or even as a follow-up call once a job is offered.

"What you really need to find out is not about all the benefits and bonuses that might be available to you, but what you'd really be doing day by day and would the people around you be supportive of that," Schein says. 

Trust your gut

Before you take a job, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will I be pursuing my true interests in this position?
  2. Will I have the work-life balance I want?
  3. Do my co-workers seem to mirror my values?
  4. Will I feel valued by this employer and in this position?

By Amy Novotney


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