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Academic Field

With traffic deaths on the rise, psychologists are being called on to make driving safer

U.S. traffic fatalities started rising 2 years ago after several years of declines. Psychologists around the world are looking for ways to improve traffic safety.

Psychologists have found both perceptual and cognitive biases that nudge people toward unsafe speeds, said Ola Svenson, PhD, a psychologist and head of the Risk Analysis, Social and Decision Research Unit at Stockholm University in Sweden. Drivers overestimate how much time they’ll save by speeding and grossly underestimate the increased accident risk at higher speeds (Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2009). They also underestimate how long it takes to stop at high speeds. In one study, Svenson and his team presented participants a scenario in which a child runs in front of a car driving 18 mph. At that speed, the driver can slam on the brakes and just avoid hitting the child. What then, the participants were asked, would happen if the driver were going 25 mph in this scenario?

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Lindsay Miller
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Mental Health Care Should Be Available for All, Not a Luxury

Rates of mental illness were already high in the U.S., but the pandemic intensified everything: Illness, loneliness, job loss, grief, and other stressors related to COVID induced a nationwide rise in anxiety and depression. As difficult as the pandemic has been, however, it hit some groups far harder than others. It exacerbated social and economic inequities already known to drive and sustain poor mental health among marginalized communities. Those in rural America, already less likely to receive mental health care than those in urban areas, were particularly hard hit. So were people of color, who are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID and are less likely to receive mental health care compared with white people. And for those who were unhoused or formerly incarcerated, the consequences have been profound.

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Embracing learners of all ages

Age-friendly campuses are catching on, thanks to shifting demographics, lower traditional student enrollments, and efforts to combat ageism. Psychologists are playing a lead role.

College and university campuses have always offered a wealth of intellectual, cultural, and practical resources and opportunities for the surrounding communities. Now, a group of visionaries that includes numerous psychologists is working to help U.S. campuses expand their opportunities for older adults in a wide variety of capacities—as students, community and research partners, university-based residents, and more.

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