In psychology, you are rewarded (1) partly for the research you do, and (2) partly for (a) the topic on which you do the research and (b) the methods you use. The first point (1) is what you learn explicitly about throughout graduate school. The second point (2) you generally have to figure out for yourself as tacit knowledge. For example, suppose you want a good academic job. Then, with regard to (2), you should study something like (a) perception, attention, or memory using (b) fMRI methodology. You can be in lower (worse) percentiles of your cohort and you will still land a nice job. Suppose, though, that you study (a) intelligence, creativity, or wisdom using (b) individual-difference methodology. Good luck! So what I don’t understand is why I always choose both the less rewarded topics (2a) and methodologies (2b)! Am I a masochist or what?
Robert Sternberg is Dean of Tufts’ School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology, Adjunct Professor of Education, and Director of the PACE (Psychology of Abilities, Competencies and Expertise) Center. In 2002 he was listed among the 100 most influential psychologists of the twentieth century by the Review of General Psychology.
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