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From the Editor:
Pirates of the CaribbeanYo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum

Allan H. Church
W. Warner Burke Associates, Inc.

Welcome to the April 2000 issue of TIP. As I think you will see, this issue is full of interesting, insightful, and hopefully even some entertaining items for your perusal, so I will try to keep my introductory musings short and to the point (assuming that's possible, of course). Whatever your reactions to this installment of TIP (positive, negative, or perhaps simply indifferent), I would appreciate hearing from you! You can email me at allanhc@aol.com, or stop by in person at the "Meet the TIP Board" conversation hour we are having at the SIOP conference in New Orleans on Friday, April 14th at 2:00 p.m. I hope to see hear from you or perhaps see you there (assuming those infamous Hurricanes don't get to me first!).

I've Become Comfortably Numb

Speaking of being in New Orleans in April, I would be lying if I said that I am enjoying the winter weather this year in the NY Metro region. While having a snow day at home from school was fun when I was a kid, it's not so fun when you have to drag your bones outside in the wee a.m. darkness, shovel yourself a tunnel through the snow bank plowed by the tow trucks over your driveway so that you can ram your car through it, and then drive in blurry, slippery erratic traffic to get to work while SUVs cruise by at higher-than-appropriate speeds and then proceed to cause bumper-to-bumper rubbernecking situations after they slide off the highway entirely. Of course, I am sure that the winter weather problem in other parts of the country is far worse, but that doesn't make it any more enticing here.

What can be enticing, however, is the chance to get away from it all to a sun-filled island in the B.V.I. (British Virgin Islands) during the very worst of it, which is exactly what I was fortunate enough to be able to do last week. Of course, my intentions in taking this developmental opportunity were entirely professional in nature: (a) to prepare my body, mind, and tolerance levels for the upcoming activities and rigors associated with the SIOP conference in New Orleans, and (b) to try snorkeling for the first time at Norman (a.k.a. Treasure) Island so that I could properly understand the multifaceted motivational and job satisfaction components that Blackbeard and the other pirates of the Caribbean must have felt in their days of plundering hapless ships. Actually, in all honesty, the trip was a necessary (and opportunistic) means for recharging some very low mental batteries (yes, I know my capacity is sorely limited anyway) which, in turn, facilitated the completion of this exciting issue of TIP that you now hold in your hands. How some people can survive without ever taking their vacation time, I will never know (though from a work perspective I can appreciate the vector forces in opposition to such actions). Clearly, this is grist for the job-life satisfaction and work-life balance arena.

What I Did on My Winter Vacation

At any rate, the main reason I brought this subject up is that, believe it or not, it reminds me of some of the complexities of doing applied research. Let me explain. On the final day of our journey, my wife and I had some time to kill before we could leave for the tiny Tortola airport. We were sitting at a small table in the marina watching the boats go idly by with our luggage stashed behind us waiting for yet another order of fish and chips at Pussersthe local yet branded touristy hangoutwhen we were stuck by the odd tendency for some people to go up to a shop door five feet away from us and pull (sometimes quite strenuously) on its door handle. This seemed particularly odd at the time given the fact that there was a large eye-level sign which clearly read PUSH in big letters. Using our keen psychological training we quickly surmised that this was a true phenomenon worthy of a juicy government research grantthe push/pull factoror, at least something that two cynical consultant types could attend to for a few minutes while munching away.

After several more initial observations (and an occasional remark or two as to any given shopper's IQ, EQ, GQ or any other Q for that matter), I declared that I would formally code the behavior and determine a percentage of push verses pull responses. Since my wife was first to observe a potential gender effect emerging from the raw data, even before recording actually began, I quickly sketched a 2 2 grid on my trusty applied research toolthe paper napkinand began the data collection process. After about 30 minutes of this (yes, this actually went on longer than you might thinkbut what would you expect from two I-O psychologists after a week in the sun?) we had the following counts:

  Male Female
Push (incorrect) 1 4
Pull (correct) 2 4

While this may seem like small numbers, many a dissertation in other fields has been completed on significantly fewer numbers of cases. Anyway, although one might initially construe a significant relationship by gender, as we continued to observe, however, it quickly became apparent that there may have been other potential variables involved in the push/pull factor that we had not initially considered, all of which might be important confounds. After some reflection, we decided that the following contextual variables also needed study before our results could be considered meaningful:

  • native language (while the sign was clearly in English due to the island's British heritage, the visitors were mostly Americansmany of whom obviously have serious problems with the English languageand a few Europeans)
  • prior experiencewith this specific door, and perhaps equally importantly, other doors which may have helped shape a contradictory door schema in the more successful individuals
  • level of intoxication from Caribbean rum drinks (including Pusser's famous Pain Killers which, not that I am familiar with them, come in level 2, 3, and 4 strengths) which have been found to impair judgment and decision-making abilities, or
  • differential levels in inherent ability to decode complex competing visual stimuli (e.g., there were many different signs and ads on the doorone of which said "braids inside" and resulted in a comment from one already-braided passerby "brains inside?"; also, the door handle was jutting out clearly looking to be pulled).

While I have no doubt that many I-O psychologists (and particularly those that serve as journal reviewers) could provide a much more comprehensive list of possible confounds, the point to all this is simple: Applied research (or any social science-related research for that matter) is a complex, multifaceted, and inherently flawed entity. While it sure beats a student-populated lab study with respect to generalizability, it lacks most of the subtle controls that such an environment affords. Neither one provides all the answers and both are flawed in their own ways. All we can do as trained researchers is to simply quest for that superior dataset with most (or at least some) of the right contextual conditions and hope that the data make sense when all is said and done.

Please don't misunderstand. I certainly enjoy conducting and publishing research myself (assuming that is, that anyone will want my articles after seeing how sloppy my methods were here), and reading and reviewing the work of colleagues and friends. I am also employed by a firm that believes strongly in data-driven (i.e., research) methods for organizational change. Nonetheless, this simple research experience over fish and chips at Pussers, makes me truly skeptical that we will ever find THE true answer to most of the nagging research and theoretical questions that drive our field. Why else would different meta-analyses of the same set of studies yield inconsistent findings? Of course, please feel free to disagree! I'd be happy to hear from you.

And in This Corner

Now onto the good stuff. As always, listed below is a brief summary of what's in store for you in this issue.

Featured Articles

In his LAST column (his emphasis) as SIOP President, Angelo DeNisi provides us once again with an interesting overview of some of the major issues facing the Society. He covers a number of topics including student membership concerns, the new Expanded Tutorials offerings at this year's conference, future conference plans and hotel problems due to ever increasing levels of attendance, the future of I-O psychology, and the lack of charm at the Crystal City Marriott.

In preparation for this year's SIOPen in New Orleans, Mick "The Quick" Kavanagh (and past TIP Editor) provides a summary of the highlights of last year's event in Atlanta, Georgia. Let's hope there are no dark and stormy days this year! Wait, I do enjoy a good Dark and Stormy (the local rum drink from Bermuda, that is) now and then. But that's another story.

I guess I am not the only one with research on the brain. Deniz Ones and Chockalingam Viswesvaran provide the results of their research on I-O researchers. More specifically, their article focuses on the most-published authors (and some interesting gender differences) among the last 10 years of two of the most well-respected research outlets for our field: the Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology.

Next, swinging to the humorous side, Michael McDaniel provides some entertaining examples of new ways to fake your test results. As an aside, we felt it was important to run this piece after the SIOP member survey was complete, just to be sure that Michael's suggestions would not unduly influence the results. Actually, I think I can add one additional example here regarding a response to the question "Have you ever pushed on a door that was clearly marked PULL in big letters?"

Speaking once again of results, have you ever wondered how one might go about advertising and/or promoting I-O psychology among the general public? Well, Adam Butler, Kelly Anderson, David Whitsett, and Rowena Tan have and they provide here the results of their research on the subject. Their findings, though perhaps not surprising, are disconcerting nonetheless regarding the extent to which we (do not) get the word out about I-O psychology. This is certainly an issue related to the future of I-O.

Next, we have a slightly different perspective on the importance of networking and connectivity from Nasha London-Vargas in her article "Living King's Dream: The Student Support NetworkA 21st Century Concept." She makes a call for changes in the undergraduate university setting which would open the door for greater student involvement and enrichment.

The final feature for this issue is somewhat of a historical piece on one of the original applied psychologists, John B. Watson (1878-1958). Using content taken from many of Watson's original writings from the Watson files in the Library of Congress, Diane DiClemente and Donald Hantula provide an interesting retrospective look at his largely unknown contributions to the field of I-O psychology.

Editorial Departments

As many of you have come to expect by now, Mike Harris once again offers up an intriguing title (and accompanying content) for his latest Practice Network column. This time around he explores why any I-O psychologist in their right mind would choose to actually enter the Evil Catbert's dreaded realm of the HR. Indeed, you may find what he found to be quite a finding. On a more personal note, I was quite pleased to read that "no one indicated that their training as I-O psychologists had been a waste of time" though I did find his comments about e-tomatoes or e-eggs somewhat disconcerting.

Next, in this issue's TIP-TOPICS for Students, Kim Hoffman goes it alone as she tackles yet another aspect of the scientist-practitioner role. This time, she explores the central questionwho are the "customers" of I-O Psychology? And perhaps the even more poignant issueare the customers of scientists and practitioners truly different? Without a doubt, this topic is becoming increasingly significant for the future of SIOP and I-O psychology. Her final section provides an informative look at the Student Development Programs at IUPUI. Did they read Nasha's article (see above) before this issue went to press?

Kim's not the only TIP Editorial Board Member with an opinion, as Janine Waclawski demonstrates in this issue's edition of The Real World. In one fell swoop she tackles the peeks and valleys of corporate transitions from downsizing to megamergers, with an unusual stop for some quick cash and a Venti double mocha cappuccino at the newly formed Starbanks on the way.

Ever wonder about the state of industrial and organizational psychology in Austria? Dirk Steiner did and he found the answer from K. Wolfgang Kallus in this edition's International Forum. As you will see, I-O encompasses some pretty interesting content areas in this region of the world including ambulatory psychophysiology, research in mobbing and leadership, traffic psychology, risk behavior, and risk personality.

The topic of Steven Rogelberg's Informed Decisions column this issue is competency modeling. Contrary to the normal type of review provided, however, his contributors Margaret Laber and Jimmie O'Connor highlight what they found to be a significant lack of sound research in this area despite its widespread usage in organizations. They raise a number of interesting questions for the future and point to some interesting ambiguities in the competency modeling field today.

Next, I am pleased to announce the introduction of a new department (so to speak) from a very familiar face (and another past TIP Editorit seems you can't ever shake these people!) Paul Muchinsky. In this first edition of his satirical column The High Society, he takes I-O psychology to the movies with reviews of his favorite I-O inspired films.

With every beginning there must eventually come an end. This issue marks the final contribution from two of our long-standing TIP columnists and familiar contributors to many. In her final Work in the 21st Century piece, Karen May provides a nice reflective summary of her nine years with TIP and some of the changes she has experienced. Similarly, Charmine Hrtel also concludes her 8-year tenure with TIP in her Global Vision column for this issue. We thank Karen and Charmine for their many years of interesting and insightful contributions to TIP and the Society, and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

Last but not least, this issue's Early Careers column by Dawn Riddle and Lori Foster focuses on an in-depth interview with Shelly Zedeck. In reading about his passion for travel, I wondered if Shelly has ever examined the push/pull factor in any of his adventures. Next, in their Career Gear section, Dawn and Lori focus on the advantages, disadvantages, and advice believed to be important for the early career psychologist with scientist-practitioner ambitions. For this segment they rely on a wonderful set of comments from extremely knowledgeable individuals including Ed Levine, Dave Day, George Thornton III, Karen Paul, Sandra Davis, and, oh yeah, me (I know for sure that they hadn't read the above study description when they asked me).

News and Reports

Besides the features and columns, what would TIP be without the usual plethora of interesting and informative news items, calls, and committee reports to keep you up to the minute (ok, up to the month) with what is happening in SIOP.

This issue is no exception, with updates from CEMA representative Denise Bane on meeting plans for New Orleans, and Jan Cannon-Bowers and Danielle Merket on highlights of the Division 14 program at this year's American Psychological Association Convention. There are also reports from SIOP Secretary Janet Barnes-Farrell and Kalen Pieper, Chair of the State Affairs Committee, not to mention some important Proposed SIOP Bylaws Amendments, and this year's call for SIOP 2001 Awards Nominations. Emily Demonte and David Arnold provide yet another informative review of a recent Business Necessity Defense case involving Southwestern Bell. There is also an interesting response from Division 13 by Andy Garman, Ann O'Roark, and Rodney Lowman to some of Angelo DeNisi's comments from his February 2000 presidential column that may spark some interesting discussions in New Orleans.

Aside from the usual section of Calls and Announcements later in the issue, John Hollenbeck sent in a short article to formally announce and provide his rationale for an upcoming special issue of Personnel Psychology on Quasi-Experimentation. Do I sense scientist-practitioner issues being raised again?

As always, this issue has David Pollack's very useful list of upcoming conference dates and locations for next year, along with the usual IOTAS, announcements, and job postings. Our Missives for this issue starts out with a serious question posed regarding the current state of TIP itself. For reasons that should be quite apparent, I would be very interested to hear reactions to the issues being raised here, as well as anything you might have to say about TIP, SIOP, or I-O in general. As always, email your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, comments to Allanhc@aol.com. I look forward to hearing from you. See you in New Orleans!


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