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SPSP Response to APA Actions Around Hoffman Report

The leadership of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Inc. has had extended conversations regarding the actions of APA that led to the findings in the Hoffman Report. Although SPSP is a separate organization than APA, we recognize that the public perception of psychology is contingent on the reputation of APA. The collusion and unethical actions by individuals involved in APA governance violate the values of SPSP and the ethical standards of the field of psychology.

We commend the recent actions of the APA Council of Representatives meeting, including banning the involvement of psychologists in any national security interrogations, establishing a special panel to evaluate and revise APA’s ethics processes and adjudication, and clarifying and strengthening procedures regarding conflicts of interest. These steps begin to address the issues that led to this unfortunate situation, but much more work needs to be done to reestablish the integrity of APA and to reset moral compass of our field.

We urge APA to take steps to hold all responsible individuals accountable for their actions, to evaluate and improve the governance structure in ways that enhance accountability and transparency, and to institute procedures to evaluate the effectiveness of any organizational changes. It is our understanding that recent changes in APA governance have streamlined the policy-change process, making less room for loopholes and unilateral administrative decisions that led to this catastrophe. The system must be tested and proof must be provided to rebuild the confidence and trust that an organization of APA’s magnitude must maintain. It is imperative that an outside review of processes and procedures be conducted to assess the organization’s ability to prevent and catch such egregious actions in the future. We cannot blindly trust that the changes will prevent such actions from ever occurring again; instead, any organizational changes must be validated through an independent, external assessment of all checks and balances within APA.

As an organization and as a field, we will continue to monitor APA’s progress in addressing the injustices that have occurred and in transforming the organization to reflect fully the values that are inherent to  psychology.

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