Autism and Language

RKelaher by Chris Kelaher

In recent decades the number of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased substantially. While the reason(s) for this increase and the best course of action are still in debate, there has been a considerable increase in public awareness of the condition, thanks in part to organizations such as Autism Speaks and the Autism Society, as well as institutions such as Autism Awareness Month.

language-autismSocial interaction deficit and language impairment are common characteristics of ASD. But the precise nature of this disorder’s impact on language development is not well understood. Innovative Investigations of Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder, a recent release from APA Books that is part of the Language and Human Lifespan Series, a collaboration between APA Books and DeGruyter Mouton, will help psychologists, linguists, sociologists, and neuroscientists better understand the complicated relationship between autism and language.

Led by developmental psychologist Letitia R. Naigles of the University of Connecticut, contributors to Innovative Investigations come from a range of fields. Examining both spoken and written domains of communication, they employ innovative techniques to explore the language-ASD relationship. Is the variability of language development and use seen in children with ASD the function of a specific language, so that some linguistic domains are more vulnerable to ASD than others? Or is the variability a function of the individual, such that some characteristics predispose those with ASD to have varying levels of difficulty with language? Naigles and her colleagues provide detailed information about language development, processing, and production among children diagnosed with ASD.

APA Books is no stranger to this topic. Related titles include 2014’s Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools (edited by Lee Wilkinson) and V. Mark Durand’s Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Clinical Guide for General Practitioners (2014).

 

all-my-stripesMagination Press, APA’s children’s book imprint, published Russell’s World: A Story for Kids about Autism in 2011, and in 2015 Magination released All My Stripes: A Story for Children With Autism.

 

APA Videos on the topic include 2006’s Autism Spectrum Disorders, in which Dr. James A. Mulick demonstrates his approach to counseling children with autism and related disorders, such as Asperger’s. More recently, in 2015, APA Videos produced Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, in which Durand (University of South Florida St. Petersburg) demonstrates his positive parenting approach to working with mothers and fathers of children who have been diagnosed with ASD.

 

Giving Thanks

by Chris KelaherRKelaher

As the fourth Thursday in November approaches, thoughts in the United States inevitably turn to Thanksgiving. (Canada beats us to the punch by marking Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.) This national day of gratitude, whose roots trace back to a post-harvest feast shared by Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621, was first pronounced a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and has long been a staple of American cultural life. The holiday conjures up images of turkey and stuffing, parades and pie, airport delays, Black Friday shopping, and endless football. But the real star of the feast is thankfulness, or gratitude. So, what exactly is gratitude, and what does in mean in a psychology context?  cornucopia2

Here is the definition presented in The APA Dictionary of Psychology (American Psychological Association, 2013):

Gratitude n. a sense of thankfulness and happiness in response to receiving a gift, either a tangible benefit (e.g., a present or favor) given by someone or a fortunate happenstance (e.g. a beautiful day).

It is only in relatively recent years that the concept gratitude has received much attention by psychology researchers, but it is now an area of growing attention, due at least in part to its prominent role in positive psychology. It also is an area of interest within subfields such as personality, religion and spirituality, and happiness studies, among others.

Using the search term “gratitude” in APA’s PsycNET database brings up 1,017 results, including 129 books or book chapters. For example, Robert D. Carlisle and Jon-Ann Tsang contributed a chapter on “The Virtues: Gratitude and Forgiveness” to 2013’s APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, edited by Kenneth Pargament. (See link below.) Tsang and Carlisle define gratitude in this way: ““a positive emotional reaction to the receipt of a benefit that is perceived to have resulted from the good intentions of another.”

  • Other recent books of interest to those who study gratitude include Philip C. Watkins’ Gratitude and the Good Life: Toward a Psychology of Appreciation (Springer, 2014) and Salman Akhtar’s Good Stuff: Courage, Resilience, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Sacrifice (Jason Aronson, 2013.)

Several recent psychology books also include individual chapters devoted to the topic of gratitude. A partial sampling:

  • Anthony Ahrens, Courtney Forbes, and Michael Tirade contributed a “Gratitude” chapter to Guilford Press’ Handbook on Positive Emotions (2014).
  • Michael Furlong et al’s Handbook of Positive Psychology in the Schools 2ed includes the chapter “Gratitude in Schools: Benefits of Students and Schools” by Giaconda Bono, Jeffrey J. Froh, and Rafael Forrest.
  • 2014’s Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Positive Psychology in Interventions (Acacia C. Parks and Stephen M. Schuler, eds.) includes a chapter on “Gratitude Interventions: A Review and Future Agenda,” by Tara Lamas, Jeffrey J. Froh, Robert A. Emmons, Anjali Mishra, and Giaconda Bono.

Thanks to these researchers and others like them, we are developing a much better understanding of gratitude. It has benefits on both ends—for people who receive thanks or appreciation, of course, but also for those expressing thanks. For example, Carlisle and Tsang tell us that “gratitude provides information

about the value, cost, intentionality, and role-independent nature of a benefit from another person.” It promotes pro-social behavior, and researchers have also identified links between gratitude and other positive traits or circumstances, such as life satisfaction, happiness, optimism, empathy, and hope.

 

In the words of Robert Emmons, a leader in the field and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, “Gratitude works. It has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives.” So go forth, be grateful, and enjoy your Thanksgiving.

 

You can read more about the benefits of gratitude via the links below.

http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4311506.aspx

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/04/grateful-heart.aspx

http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2012/01/research-gratitude.aspx

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/08/health-benefits.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

What is Psycholinguistics?

RKelaher

by Chris Kelaher

 

Psycholinguistics is the scientific combination of psychology and linguistics. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology 2ed (Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2015):

 

Psycholinguistics n. a branch of psychology that employs formal linguistic models to investigate language use and the cognitive processes that accompany it. Developmental psycholinguistics is the formal term for the branch that investigates LANGUAGE ACQUISITION in children. In particular, various models of GENERATIVE GRAMMAR have been used to explain and predict language acquisition in children and the production and comprehension of speech by adults. To this extent, psycholinguistics is a specific discipline, distinguishable from the more general area of psychology of language, which encompasses many other fields and approaches.

Other sources frame the term more broadly, however, locating it within the wider scope of cognitive science. Dictionary.com defines psycholinguistics as “the study of the relationship between language and the cognitive or behavioral characteristics of those who use it.” And in the APA Encyclopedia of Psychology (2000), Maria D. Sera tells us that:

Psycholinguistics is the study of human language processing, involving a range of abilities, from cognition to sensorimotor activity, that are recruited to the service of a complex set of communicative functions. It is related to the traditional academic disciplines of linguistics, psychology, education, anthropology, and philosophy, and particularly the cross-disciplinary areas of speech science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, neurolinguistics, and language learning, teaching, and rehabilitation.

speech-bubblesIn his book Psycholinguistics 101 (Springer Publishing Co., 2011), H. Wind Cowles writes: “Psycholinguistics asks the question: How is it that people are able, moment-by-moment, to produce and understand language? …. How do children come to have this ability? How and why is it sometimes impaired after brain damage?”

How widely used is the term “psycholinguistics”? Well, typing the word into the Google search engine produces about 500,000 results. To give you some context, the term “psychotherapy” produces 35.5 million results while “neuroscience” produces over 41 million. So while the term is certainly not a state secret, it does not have the broad currency of many more established concepts within psychology. But it is a field growing in interest and significance, and we are excited to increase our offerings in the field of psycholinguistics.

To that effect, APA Books is collaborating with De Gruyter Mouton, a leading international publisher of linguistics and communication science, on a new book series. Language and the Human Lifespan will feature the best contemporary research in psycholinguistics. This month marks the release of the first title in the series, Bilingualism across the Lifespan: Factors Moderating Language Proficiency, co-edited by University of Alberta psychologist Elena Nicoladis and Simona Montanari, a linguist at Cal State, Los Angeles.

The Language and the Human Lifespan Series will be essential for all who work in or are interested in the porous disciplinary boundaries of psychology and linguistics, drawing on top-flight researchers from both fields. Future titles in the series will cover such topics as autism and language, research methods for studying language acquisition, and the concept of entrenchment—the ongoing reorganization and adaptation of communicative knowledge.

 

The Psychology of Democracy

RKelaher

by Chris Kelaher

The explosive U.S. presidential campaign is about to slam into even higher gear, as candidates prepare for the Iowa caucuses (February 1) and New Hampshire primaries (February 9). Anyone who has watched the past several months would admit the American system is far from perfect. But democracy still seems to be the best available system of governance when allowed to develop properly. Countries that have transitioned successfully to democracy are still a minority, however, and none has attained what Fathali Moghaddam calls “actualized democracy,” in which all citizens share full, informed, equal participation in decision making.

What is it about human nature that seems to work for—or against—democracy? In his new book The Psychology of Democracy (APA, 2016), Moghaddam explores political development through the lens of psychological science, examining the factors influencing whether and how democracy develops within a society. He concludes with recommended steps for promoting in citizens the psychological characteristics that foster democracy.

Fathali M. Moghaddam, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Georgetown University and editor-in-chief of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology (APA). His previous books include APA Books’ The Psychology of Dictatorship (2013). His research focus on psychology and the transition from dictatorship to democracy dates goes as far back as 1979, when he returned to his native Iran after its revolution.

Watch Dr. Moghaddam discuss this important new work below! To order or read more about The Psychology of Democracy, go to http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318137.aspx

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are APA Handbooks in Psychology?

RKelaherby Chris Kelaher

In April of 2015, APA Books proudly released the APA Handbook of Human Systems Integration, edited by Deborah A. Boehm-Davis (George Mason University), Francis Durso (Georgia Tech), and John D. Lee (University of Wisconsin-Madison). This most recent addition to APA’s Reference list is also the latest entry in our growing APA Handbooks in Psychology® series.

The Handbooks program is an integral and growing component of APA Books. With a steady focus on and commitment to best science and best practice, these handbooks address core subdisciplines in the field (e.g., educational psychology, counseling psychology) or specialized content areas within subdisciplines (e.g., aging, sexual behavior and identity). The series launched in early 2010 with the three-volume APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Sheldon Zedeck, Editor-in-Chief).

Each APA handbook addresses the key reference interests and essential needs of researchers, clinicians, and practitioners in psychology and allied behavioral fields, as well as graduate students in the relevant areas. The series includes 16 titles now available in print and electronic formats, with some dozen more currently in development and several under discussion.

APA Handbooks in PsychologyThe APA Handbooks in Psychology series is coordinated by the APA Reference Department, under the direction of Ted Baroody. Editing and development of manuscripts is handled through a back office peer-review and tracking system, managed internally by Reference Project Editor Lisa T. Corry, Senior Reference Editor Kristen Knight, Reference Project Editor Katharine Lenz, and Reference Editorial Manager Trish Mathis. The products vary in size, from one volume (e.g., APA Handbook of Human Systems Integration) up to the four-volume APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology (with the first five-volume set due in 2016). Each set or single-volume focuses on what is currently known in the area of study, including basic historical reviews, and identifies the most pertinent sources of information in both the core and emerging literature. Individual chapters pinpoint practical issues, probe unresolved and controversial topics, and present future theoretical, research, and practice trends. Cross-referencing among chapters within and across volumes leads the user to a clearer understanding of the complexities of each field.

In the classic reference model, the handbook sets take a meta-analytic approach, surveying the field broadly but in as much detail, and with as much balance given to varying perspectives and controversies, as space allows. The series is not intended to promote any research or clinical bias within fields but, rather, to lay out a well-balanced and comprehensive statement about how each field has developed, where each field currently stands, and where it may be heading.

Carrying the imprimatur of the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and the largest association of psychologists in the world, the APA Handbooks in Psychology® series is the indispensable and authoritative reference resources for researchers, instructors, practitioners, and field leaders alike.

Currently released titles in the series

APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology ©2011 (3 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Sheldon Zedeck

APA Handbook of Ethics in Psychology ©2012 (2 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Samuel J. Knapp

APA Educational Psychology Handbook ©2012 (3 volumes)

  • Editors-in-Chief: Karen R. Harris, Steve Graham, Tim Urdan

APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology ©2012 (3 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Harris Cooper

APA Addiction Syndrome Handbook ©2012 (2 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Howard J. Shaffer

APA Handbook of Counseling Psychology ©2012 (2 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Nadya A. Fouad

APA Handbook of Behavior Analysis ©2013 (2 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Gregory J. Madden

APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality ©2013 (2 volumes)

  •  Editor-in-Chief: Kenneth I. Pargament

APA Handbook of Testing and Assessment ©2013 (3 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Kurt E. Geisinger

APA Handbook of Multicultural Psychology ©2014 (2 volumes)

  • Editor-in-Chief: Frederick T.L. Leong

APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology ©2014 (2 volumes)

  • Editors-in-Chief: Deborah L. Tolman and Lisa M. Diamond

APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology ©2014 (4 volumes)

  • Editors-in-Chief: Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver

APA Handbook of Career Intervention ©2015 (2 volumes)

  • Editors-in-Chief: Paul J. Hartung, Mark L. Savickas, W. Bruce Walsh

APA Handbook of Forensic Psychology ©2015 (2 volumes)

  • Editors-in-Chief: Brian L. Cutler and Patricia A. Zapf

APA Handbook of Clinical Geropsychology ©2015 (2 volumes)

  • Editors-in-Chief: Peter A. Lichtenberg and Benjamin T. Mast

APA Handbook of Human Systems Integration ©2015

  • Editors-in-Chief: Deborah A. Boehm-Davis, Francis T. Durso, and John D. Lee