Once again, APA's Annual Convention will feature the well-loved G. Stanley Hall Lecture Series, which presents four eminent speakers discussing emerging science and trends that teachers of psychology can incorporate into their classes.
The four scholars and their topics are:
Stephen J. Suomi, PhD, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), on "Up-tight, Laid-back and Jumpy Monkeys," Sunday, Aug. 19, 2 p.m.
Mahzarin R. Banaji, PhD, of Harvard University, on "Unconscious Social Cognition: Research, Teaching and Self-Discovery," Sunday, Aug. 19, 3 p.m.
Saul M. Kassin, PhD, of Williams College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, on "Why Innocents Confess: Insights from the Psychology Research Laboratory," Saturday, Aug. 18, 1 p.m.
John C. Norcross, PhD, of the University of Scranton, on "Let Your Life Speak: Teaching the Career Development Seminar," Saturday, Aug. 18, 10 a.m.
The lecture series, named in honor of APA's first president, is selected and organized by a committee of APA Div. 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology), is co-sponsored by Div. 2 and the Council of Teachers of Undergraduate Psychology, and is funded by APA's Education Directorate.
Why are some people more resilient during stressful events? NICHD's Suomi, chief of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, is seeking to answer that question through his research on heritable and experiential factors that influence individual biobehavioral development.
Suomi's research explores three themes: the roles of genetic and environmental factors in developmental patterns of behavior; the influence of continuity or change in the environment on individuals' stability; and the degree of consistency among monkeys in captivity, monkeys in the wild and humans in different cultures. In his lecture, Suomi will describe his research on monkeys that demonstrate fearful and anxious versus impulsive and/or inappropriately aggressive responses to novel, mildly stressful situations.
Unconscious social cognition
In her research, Mahzarin Banaji examines factors that influence implicit social cognition--attitudes formed without the knowledge of the actor--and their characteristic impermeability to experimental interventions that seek to change them. Banaji is the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics in the Harvard University department of psychology and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study of Harvard University.
Banaji's lecture will describe her research on the mechanisms of unconscious social cognition. She will explain the relationship between unconscious social cognition and conscious attitudes, beliefs and identity; early childhood development; the predictability of related behavior; and the influence of internal and external interventions. Banaji will also discuss the theoretical and applied value of the investigative process and research results.
Why do innocent people confess to crimes that may lead to prison terms or death? In his lecture, Saul Kassin, distinguished professor of psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will describe a framework of the psychology of false confessions. He explains that innocence may put people at risk in several ways. For one, innocent people present verbal and nonverbal cues that suggest they are being deceptive during the initial information-gathering interview. They may also waive their Miranda rights and subsequently experience a protracted police interrogation. In addition, they may provide false confessions after experiencing coercive processes. Kassin will introduce procedures that provide a safety net for vulnerable innocent suspects to prevent false confessions.
Finding career fulfillment
The importance of career development seminars in helping students find satisfying careers is the focus of John Norcross's lecture. Norcross, the Distinguished University Fellow at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, will deliver this year's Harry Kirke Wolfe Lecture on how career development seminars provide increasingly valuable preparation for students as they think about career options, graduate school, application methods, employer expectations, admission criteria, costs and outcomes.
He will consider the goals of such seminars, their design and structure, sample assignments, representative outcomes and common objections. While the career development seminar helps students establish necessary vocational skills, Norcross notes that the greater good may be characterized by the Quaker admonition, "Let your life speak," that "reminds students to embody their values and to live authentically."
Rita M. Curl-Langager, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Minot State University.