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An Update from SPSP President Mark Leary

Mark Leary headshot


I am writing to update SPSP members on the summer meeting of the SPSP Board of Directors, which was held on August 9-10 immediately following the APA convention in Toronto.  Most of our time was spent on details involving the work of the various committees that oversee the convention, the convention program, student members, publications, awards, diversity and climate, fellows, training, and so on, along with topics related to the SPSP administration and budget.  However, I want to mention two specific issues about which you may have questions.    

Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines.  We had an extended discussion regarding whether SPSP should become an organizational signatory of the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines.  The TOP Guidelines, which have been endorsed by dozens of scholarly organizations and hundreds of journals, involve ways of increasing transparency, sharing of materials and data, and reproducibility in science.  Being an organizational signatory simply means that (1) an organization expresses its support for the principles of openness, transparency, and reproducibility and (2) encourages journals associated with the organization (in our case, PSPB and PSPR) to review the standards for potential adoption. After much discussion, the Board voted (8-1-1) for SPSP become a signatory, thereby expressing our support of the principles and asking the SPSP Publication Committee and journal editors to review relevant journal practices.

The Board wishes to assure our members that SPSP is not committing to adopting any particular TOPS standard, nor to limiting its scope only to issues identified by TOP.  Research in social and personality psychology involves diverse methods, populations, settings, and topics, and SPSP will identify the best way to implement publication changes that will support scientific progress across all facets of our field. This review will be conducted in a manner that is representative of the SPSP membership and its values. SPSP has a longstanding commitment to promoting practices that maintain the quality of research findings in social and personality psychology, and our endorsement of the TOPS Guidelines simply affirms that commitment.  To learn more about SPSP’s recent actions in this regard, see

The Hoffman Report and SPSP’s Relationship to APA.  In the wake of the Hoffman report’s indictment of APA’s involvement in forced interrogation, the Board discussed the nature of its relationship to APA at length. As you may know, SPSP grew out of APA’s Division 8, and although SPSP and Division 8 are distinct organizations, the Board continues to have oversight over Division 8.  In most ways, this has been a mutually beneficial relationship because, as the major organization for social and personality psychology, we have a role in APA and its convention, which benefits both APA and personality and social psychology. However, the APA scandal raises questions about our relationship with APA. Opinions were mixed, but in the end, the Board voted to release a statement reflecting our position on the Hoffman report ( and then to revisit the question of our association with APA after we see what steps APA takes in the coming year to change the organizational structure that allowed these events to occur and to obtain independent confirmation that those changes will be effective.

Other Topics.  Of course, most of the Board’s work was much less weighty than the TOPS Guidelines and the Hoffman Report.  Aside from required operational decisions, other key action and discussion items from the board meeting included:

1)      approving a $20k small grants program for SPSP members that will launch this fall

2)      approving a new Summer Undergraduate Research Program that will start in summer of 2016 (more on that soon)

3)      lowering student registration by $40 for the 2016 convention

4)      exploring ways to improve the SPSP Convention (Jenni Beer chairs a task force to explore options for redesigning aspects of the convention)

5)      meeting the needs of our members who work at teaching-intensive institutions (I’ll be writing more about that soon)

6)      the viability of publishing an open access journal in personality and social psychology, and

7)      appointing a task force to identify ways to make SPSP more open to members from non-academic settings.   

Finally, I want to thank all of the members who volunteer their time, energy, and expertise to SPSP. During the past year, over 200 people have been involved in working directly on behalf of SPSP, whether as elected board members and officers; members of committees, panels, and task forces; editors and associate editors of our journals; liaisons to other organizations; convention reviewers; or whatever.  I also want to thank our Central Office staff for the great work they do for our members on a daily basis.

Mark Leary, President

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