In January, The Clinical Neuropsychologist (TCN) and the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN) released the results of the TCN/AACN 2010 Salary Survey. Doctoral-level members of the AACN, members of Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), members of the National Academy of Neuropsychology, and other neuropsychologists were invited to participate in a web-based survey to learn more about their beliefs, their income, and their practice.

The following are just some of the findings that were released in the January issue of The Clinical Neuropsychologist.

  • The field of neuropsychology continues to see increasing numbers of women joining the profession – 7 out of 10 current postdoctoral residents are women. Furthermore, for the first time ever, more than half of the total respondents to the TCN/AACN survey were female.

  • Substantial numbers of young psychologists are entering the field of neuropsychology. The median age of APA members has been above 50 since the early 1990s, while the current median age of clinical neuropsychologists remains at 47 and has stayed relatively unchanged since 1989.

  • Neuropsychologists are preferring to use flexible battery assessments rather than fixed or standardized batteries. The flexible battery approach is continuing to see an upswing in popularity while the use of fixed batteries are on the decline.

  • Clinical neuropsychologists specializing in pediatrics are more likely than others to work part time, are more likely to be women, are more likely to work in institution settings, and also report lower incomes than respondents who see only adult clients or a combination of adult and pediatric clients.

  • Incomes are dependent on number of years in clinical practice, work setting, amount of forensic practice, and location (state and/or region of the country), and can vary considerably. However, according to survey data, job satisfaction has little relationship to income and is comparable across the variables of work setting, professional identity, and amount of forensic activity.

  • Neuropsychologists report higher job satisfaction than that reported for other jobs in the U.S. Fewer than 5% of respondents are considering changing job position.


Are you a neuropsychologist? Do you agree or disagree with these findings? Comment on this posting and let us know!

For the full results of this survey, see: Sweet, J. , Meyer, D., Giuffre , N., Nathaniel W., and Moberg, P. J. (2011). The TCN/AACN 2010 “Salary Survey”: Professional Practices, Beliefs, and Incomes of U.S. Neuropsychologists. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 25, 12-61.
Lying, it seems, is a very common part of human interaction. In their book 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology (2010), Scott Lilienfeld and his colleagues cite studies in which college students and others in the community admit to lying once or twice a day, on average. But how hard is it to tell if someone is lying? Don’t liars give off tell-tale signs of their deceptions? In fact, research reveals surprisingly few valid cues of deception, and Lilienfeld asserts that “most of us are dead wrong about bodily cues that give away liars” (p. 116).

If people are poor judges of truthfulness in others, does technology offer a better solution? Is the polygraph, or lie-detector test, an accurate means of detecting dishonesty? Most Americans (67% in one study) believe that lie-detector tests are “reliable” or “useful,” and films and television programs tend to corroborate this belief with story lines that portray polygraph testing as infallible.

The science, however, tells a different story. Lilienfeld and his colleagues explain that rather than truthfulness, the polygraph machine simply measures physiological activity—and then it is up to the examiner to ask questions and interpret the results. Factors such as blood pressure, respiration, and sweating can offer clues to lying because they are associated with how anxious the examinee is during the test; however, anxiousness is not the exclusive domain of lying, and “an honest examinee who tends to sweat a lot might mistakenly appear deceptive, whereas a deceptive examinee who tends to sweat very little may mistakenly appear truthful” (p. 118).

Another problem is confirmation bias, that is, the tendency for polygraph examiners to see what they expect to see. Examiners may have a preconceived notion of the examinee’s guilt based on outside information. Further, information on countermeasures, or techniques to “beat the test,” is widely available on the internet.

Estimates of the accuracy of one popular form of the polygraph test, the Comparison Question Test, put it at 85% for guilty individuals and 60% for innocent individuals. “That 40% of honest examinees appear deceptive provides exceedingly poor protection for innocent suspects,” suggests Lilienfeld (p. 120).

Because of their limited validity, polygraph tests are rarely admissible in court, and federal law prohibits most employers from administering lie detectors. Yet the public perception is that polygraph tests are accurate measures of truthfulness. Are people simply vulnerable to the images they see in television and movies, or is there something else that makes us want a machine that can detect the truth?

We would like to hear your opinion on this topic, so please post a comment and let’s start the conversation!
Those of us who did some shopping for young children recently couldn’t help but notice the huge range of toys, games, and music targeted at parents hoping to boost their children’s intelligence—and perhaps give their toddlers a “jump-start” on the competition for preschool.  Among the most popular items are music CDs designed to trigger the “Mozart Effect,” the supposed improvement in intelligence that results from listening to classical music.  But does it really work? Are babies who listen to Mozart really any smarter?  In his book 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, Emory University Professor Scott Lilienfeld and his coauthors take a closer look at the facts—and the misconceptions—about this phenomenon (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio, & Beyerstein, 2010).

According to Lilienfeld, the original scientific study upon which the theory of the “Mozart Effect” rests has very little to do with the runaway media hype that followed.  Some background: In 1993, the highly respected science journal Nature published an article by three University of California at Irvine researchers who reported that college students who listened to ten minutes of a Mozart piano sonata showed a significant improvement on a special reasoning task when compared with a control group (Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky, 1993).  However, the finding “didn’t imply anything about the long-term enhancement of spatial ability, let alone intelligence in general” (Lilienfeld, 2010, p. 46).  The test applied only to one task, administered immediately after listening to the music, and the subjects were all college students.  Other investigators tried to replicate the study, but they found either no improvement in spatial abilities or only trivial improvement.  Later researchers concluded that some students did improve short-term performance on certain tasks after exposure to Mozart’s sonatas, but this was likely the result of enhanced emotional arousal rather than being specifically attributable to the music; in fact, they found that listening to a passage from a Stephen King horror story produced a similar result (Nantais & Schellenberg, 1999).  Basically, heightened alertness improved performance, but had no effect on overall intelligence.

These facts did nothing to dissuade the media—as well as manufacturers of “intelligence enhancing” music CDs and videos—from making wild claims about the effects of classical music on children and infants (even though neither group was ever studied).  Eager parents, well-meaning relatives, teachers, and even legislators joined the band-wagon, and a $100 million a year industry was born.  Yet, according to Lilienfeld and other experts in developmental psychology, there is no good evidence that these products work.

As Lilienfeld concludes, “Of course, introducing Mozart and other great composers is a wonderful idea” (p. 48) but parents hoping to raise the IQ levels of their babies may want to take a closer look at the research.

So have you, or any of your clients, been tempted to buy one of these “intelligence-boosters”? Are these products, and the claims made by their manufacturers, taken seriously by the parents in your practice?  What alternatives might actually have a positive, measurable impact on children’s development?  We would like to hear your opinion on this topic!

Top Psychology Schools in the U.S.


A number of online academic resources have come out with lists of the best U.S. colleges for psychology majors. We decided to take a look at College Crunch, Social Psychology Network, Schoolahh to see which undergraduate programs were highly ranked across the board.

Stanford University in Palo Alto, California ranks number one on all three of the lists above. This isn’t surprising given that Stanford’s psychology department has been collecting kudos for more than fifty years. The philosophy of the department is that success results from the connection between teaching and scientific research. It’s organized into five areas of study within the field of psychology: Cognitive, Developmental, Neuroscience, Personality and Social Psychology. Research at Stanford includes (but is not limited to) topics like aggression, social behavior, competitiveness, dreaming, color perception, spatial relations, learning and memory.

The University of Michigan Ann Arbor appears in the top five of each list. This Big Ten School offers three concentrations: 1) Psychology, 2) Brain, Behavior and Cognitive Science and 3) Neuroscience. The school has many research labs that provide undergraduates with the ability to participate in research studies. Active research studies include African-American racial identity, human brain electrophysiology, human performance and cognition, visual and verbal working memory, affective neuroscience and biopsychology, neuronal mechanisms of movement and reward, and many more.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign appears in the top ten on the lists above largely because of its laboratories for research in human learning, animal learning, physiological psychology, animal motivation, human perception, and social behavior, just to name a few. The school houses extensive computer facilities, a complete animal colony, a fully equipped video laboratory facility for observation and videotape production. The Urbana-Champaign psychology department also operates a psychological clinic and other research and training facilities housed outside of its main building.

Because PAR, Inc. is based in Florida, we’re also familiar with high caliber programs in our Sunshine State.  Most notable is University of Florida’s graduate program, which was voted one of the best programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report in 2009. Programs at University of South Florida and University of Miami also earn high marks for their courses of study and resources.
Congratulations! You’ve received an unexpected financial windfall. Should you use the money to buy a new GPS or go to a concert with friends?

According to a 2009 study conducted by the San Francisco State University psychology department, you’d be well served to choose the concert; your appreciation of the experience will grow over time, whereas your appreciation for the GPS will lessen in a matter of weeks.

Participants in the study answered questions about purchases they made with the intention of making themselves happy. Most were initially happy with their purchases regardless of whether they were material or experiential. However, those who invested in experiences tended to show higher levels of satisfaction for a significant amount of time after the events occurred. Also, because the experiences usually included other people, they reported a sense of connecting to friends or relatives, fulfilling a need for social bonding.

We found out about this study in a blog post from David DiSalvo called Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About. There are some other interesting studies on his list. We encourage you to take a look.
When it comes to common fears, snakes, heights and confined spaces seem to grab all the headlines. But there are hundreds of other phobias we struggle from, including some you may never have heard of:

1.  Chionophobia: February 13, 2010 must have been a particularly bad day for Americans suffering from Chionophobia – a fear of snow. On that day, 49 out of 50 states had snow on the ground. The holdout? Hawaii.

2.  Coulrophobia: Finally! A proper name for our fear of clowns. Coulrophobia often originates with an early childhood experience that’s, well, not very funny.

3.  Phronemophobia: This could win the award for being the world’s most difficult phobia to treat -- the fear of thinking.

4.  Telephonophobia: No word on whether this phobia – a fear of telephones – extends to text messages.

5.  Geniophobia: We were certain this referred to a fear of genies, but the only genies that could scare a Geniophobe would be those with … chins.

Assuming that you don’t suffer from Sesquipedalophobia (fear of long words), we’d like to hear about other unusual phobias you know about. Please use the comment section below to add to our list.
Every once in a while a person or publication will try to rank the most influential people in the field of psychology, past and present. Inevitably each list delivers different results, so we want to bring the question to you. Fromm? Freud? Frasier? Who gets your vote? Is there a place on the list for popular culture?

We would love to hear who you think is the most influential person in the history of psychology and why. Please comment.

34

The percentage of psychologists who are self-employed—mainly as private practitioners.*


12

The percentage of employment growth expected between 2008 and 2018 for the overall field of psychology. Clinical, counseling, and school psychology are expected to grow about 11%, while industrial-organization psychology is expected to grow 26%.*


6,800

The projected number of additional neuropsychologists that will be needed by 2018 to keep up with demand.*


2

The number of states that currently allow appropriately-trained psychologists to prescribe medications (Louisiana and New Mexico).*


170,200

The number of jobs held by psychologists in 2008.*


0.270%

The percentage of the employed population who are psychologists in New Mexico, the state with the highest concentration of psychologists. Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and Connecticut all have concentrations of more than 0.1% of their respective populations.*


$87,130

The annual mean wage for psychologists in New Jersey, the top paying state for psychologists.*


93,000

According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Center for Workforce Studies, the number of practicing psychologists in the U.S.


31

The number of psychologists who are members of a union.*

*Information from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.