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!
While the forefathers of psychology established many theories that became building blocks of what we study today, sometimes some of our highest-regarded researchers came up with some ideas that don’t necessarily fit with today’s view of the world of psychology. The following are some bits of “wisdom” from some familiar names.

“I wish that one would be persuaded that psychological experiments, especially those on the complex functions, are not improved [by large studies]; the statistical method gives only mediocre results; some recent examples demonstrate that. The American authors, who love to do things big, often publish experiments that have been conducted on hundreds and thousands of people; they instinctively obey the prejudice that the persuasiveness of a work is proportional to the number of observations. This is only an illusion.”
— Alfred Binet (1903). L' Études expérimentale de l'intelligence (p. 299). Paris, France: Schleicher.

“Being in love with the one parent and hating the other are among the essential constituents of the stock of psychical impulses which is formed at that time and which is of such importance in determining the symptoms of the later neurosis... This discovery is confirmed by a legend that has come down to us from classical antiquity: a legend whose profound and universal power to move can only be understood if the hypothesis I have put forward in regard to the psychology of children has an equally universal validity. What I have in mind is the legend of King Oedipus and Sophocles' drama which bears his name.”
— Sigmund Freud (1953). The Interpretation of Dreams. In J. Strachey (Ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 4, pp. 260-261). Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books (Original work published 1900)

“Since my mother is the type that's called schizophrenogenic in the literature—she's the one who makes crazy people, crazy children—I was awfully curious to find out why I didn't go insane.”
— Abraham Harold Maslow (2001). In Colin Wilson, New Pathways in Psychology: Maslow and the Post-Freudian Revolution (pp. 155-156). Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books (Original work published in 1972)

What do you think is psychology’s funniest or most interesting misstep?

Due to inclement weather and flight cancellations, PAR will not be exhibiting at the International Neuropsychological Society’s Annual Meeting in Boston this week. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please call our Customer Support Center with any questions at 1.800.331.8378.

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!
Did you know that graduate students and college educators can qualify for a significant discount on our products?

Grad students who are conducting master’s thesis or dissertation research using any of our proprietary assessment instruments can qualify for a 40% discount on those products. To qualify, the following conditions must be met:

•    The order subtotal must be $50.00 or more before the discount.
•    The product(s) you are ordering must be published by PAR.
•    You must complete a Graduate Student Discount Order Form and submit it
with your order.
•    If your school will be purchasing the assessment materials on your behalf, your completed discount form must be included with your school’s payment or purchase order.

Likewise, Customers who are conducting training with any of our proprietary assessment instruments in college or university measurement courses, internships, and/or clinical practicum programs can also qualify for a 40% discount on PAR products. To qualify, you must meet the first two specifications given above, and you must fill out the Training Program Discount Order Form and submit it with your order.

Why wait to start saving money? If you think you might qualify for one of these discounts, don’t hesitate—fill out a form today and submit it with your next order! For more information, visit or call our Customer Support Center at 1.800.331.8378.
According to the Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes, Third Edition, there is no one-size-fits-all code for psychologists. In fact, there are 9 entries for different types of occupational codes for psychologists, one entry for psychometrist, and many others for closely-related jobs. Does your job fit your Holland code?

Psychologist, chief- ISE

Psychologist, counseling- SIA

Psychologist, developmental- IRS

Psychologist, educational- IES

Psychologist, engineering- IRS

Psychologist, experimental- IAE

Psychologist, industrial-organizational- IES

Psychologist, school- SEI

Psychologist, social- IAE

Psychometrist- IES

To learn more about Dr. John Holland or to take the Self-Directed Search in order to find your Holland code, visit www.self-directed-search.com.

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Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
I was first interested in biology and especially in the brain. In my first behavioral neuroscience class, I felt that this field took on many of the questions that had always been interesting to me. Then I was given the chance to spend a summer as an undergraduate working on a study of people with aphasia. I realized then that I was really interested in neuropsychology.

What made you decide initially to develop the Memory for Intentions Test™ (MIST™)?
In working with people who have brain injury and asking them to set goals for rehabilitation, the problem of prospective memory, or memory for intentions, kept coming up. I wanted to understand what it was about completing an intention that was difficult for people with brain injury. At the time, there was no standardized measure available.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
I think it is very useful as a clinical measure and has the ability to discriminate between different types of prospective memory failures in different populations; the alternate form makes it useful to measure efficacy of rehabilitation. But it is also a useful research measure and has been published in a number of studies with people with different disorders.

What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
I love the theater and one of my jobs during graduate school in New York City was sewing costumes. My kids got interested in theater, and my son even convinced me to be in a community theater production with him. My daughter still does plays, but my son is now focused on playing guitar.

How do you spend your free time?
I spend as much time as I can with my two children, ages 10 and 14, and my husband. We had the wonderful experience of spending six weeks together as a family in Rome this summer while I taught a course titled “The Arts and the Brain.” I spend time volunteering in my kids’ schools or in other community activities. I love to read novels, the more tragic the better.
 

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
As a high school student, I was curious about what made people act the way they do. As a college student, I became interested in the scientific study of human behavior through applied behavior analysis. I entered psychology in order to do research and further our knowledge about the science of human behavior. During graduate school at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, I found that I enjoyed helping people as much, if not more, than doing research, so I trained to be a clinical psychologist. My first job after receiving my doctorate was as an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. I did a lot of research and teaching, but hardly any clinical practice. Something was missing. When I moved to Michigan and joined the staff at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Wayne State University, I had the opportunity to see a wide variety of children with medical illnesses and behavioral/emotional problems. This has proven to be very gratifying, and I have now been at Children’s Hospital for 30 years. I also get to do some research, such as my work with the Parent Adolescent Relationship Questionnaire™ (PARQ™), and a great deal of teaching.

What made you decide initially to develop the PARQ?
I had developed a number of brief measures of family relationships, but they did not provide a comprehensive picture of the parent-adolescent relationship. The clinicians would need to use several measures to get the full picture, and even then, the scores would not be on a common metric. In the early 1980s, I learned about the Marital Satisfaction Inventory, which Dr. Doug Snyder developed as a comprehensive measure of marital interactions. Dr. Snyder was at Wayne State University, so my co-authors and I got to talk with him. I decided to follow his example and develop a multidimensional measure of the parent-teen relationship. In addition, my co-authors, Dr. Tom Koepke and Dr. Ann Moye, needed dissertation topics. We decided to work together and develop the PARQ, which also provided them with dissertation topics.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
We have administered the PARQ in adolescents with spina bifida and with their parents. Some of this data is presented in the PARQ Professional Manual. We found that the adolescents with spina bifida and their parents reported better relationships than even our normative group. This partially replicates other investigator’s research on parent-adolescent relationships for families where the teen has spina bifida. We plan to use it a lot with adolescents who have a variety of chronic illnesses.

What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
I direct a psychology internship at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

How do you spend your free time?
O gauge model railroading and photography are my two hobbies. I like to combine them by taking pictures of my trains and layout, as well as other people’s train layouts. My first non-psychology publication in 35 years was a photograph of my holiday train layout published in the December 2009 issue of Classic Toy Trains magazine!
Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
As the brother of a deaf individual with developmental disabilities, I was intimately familiar with the needs of such individuals, their families, and their educators, and well aware of the paucity of services. I studied speech and hearing sciences/psychology at the University of Michigan and found myself fitting well in psychology. While working as an interpreter, interpreting everything from astrophysics to rock climbing and sailing to the courtroom, I interpreted for a psychological assessment, and quickly realized how much the interpreting process interfered with the assessment. After spending the next few years traveling with a theater of the deaf where I worked with children around the country, I decided that a doctorate in psychology would enable me to have the greatest flexibility in pursuing my goals of serving the needs of deaf children and individuals with disabilities. The program in Child Clinical Psychology and Law at the University at Buffalo was very well-suited to my goals.

What made you decide initially to develop the Tasks of Executive Control™ (TEC™)?
My colleagues and I had long been interested in executive functions from a developmental perspective. Given the challenges inherent in assessing these self-regulatory processes, we previously focused on ecological validity, resulting in the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function® (BRIEF®) family of instruments. We were also aware of the “molar,” or composite, nature of our extant performance tests of executive function, and sought a means of capturing the most fundamental aspects of executive function, namely working memory and inhibitory control, in a developmentally sensitive, easily administered, and repeatable way that took advantage of recent development in neuroscience. Some six or seven years later, the Tasks of Executive Control was launched.

What would you like to tell people about the TEC that they may not know?
The TEC is unique. It brings established neuroscience methods to clinical assessment to facilitate evaluation of how students cognitively manage increasing demands on working memory and inhibitory control over a more naturalistic, extended time period. We took advantage of current statistical methods for evaluating change over time, both within and between TEC administrations, and provided an abundance of measures that psychologists can examine. While the learning curve is likely steep given the newness of the measure and concepts, we believe it is worth the climb.

What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
I am a full-time clinician with specialty in pediatric neuropsychology, working in an independent practice and in schools. The ideas for assessment approaches come from my own clinical work and that of my colleagues. In this way, I am an “accidental” test author. Developing measures with my colleagues in practice and with PAR, Inc. has been very rewarding work.

How do you spend your free time?
Most of my free time is spent with my family, typically coaching my daughters through homework and attending their soccer, basketball, and softball games or coaching skiing. The only exception is Monday nights when I relive my youth and play bass in a rock band.