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An Update from SPSP President Wendy Wood

Greetings from SPSP.  This marks the beginning of my presidential year in the organization. If you attended our conference in San Diego in January, 2016, you probably got a sense of how much is changing in our field and in SPSP as an organization.

Two developments in the field are especially worth noting.

  1. Standard research practices are changing, along with the role of replication —see the recent email from the SPSP Board. Social and personality psychology is in many ways on the cutting edge of addressing long-standing concerns about quality science.
  2. The field is positioned to become more central to public policy initiatives, given President Obama’s Sept 15, 2015 Executive Order to use behavioral insights to design government policies (www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/15/executive-order-using-behavioral-science-insights-better-serve-american).  An excerpt: 

“Research findings from fields such as behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them -- can be used to design government policies to better serve the American people…. the Federal Government should design its policies and programs to reflect our best understanding of how people engage with, participate in, use, and respond to those policies and programs.” 

This Executive Order is a wonderful recognition of the power of our science. It has tremendous implications, not the least being expanded employment opportunities for our students.  However, this initiative should not drive our science, and the conference in San Diego included many discussions of how we can best engage with policy.

As an organization, SPSP is also changing rapidly. Most of our funding currently comes from our journals, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Personality and Social Psychology Review, and Social Psychology and Personality Science. We are using these funds in a variety of ways:

  1. To ensure the future viability of important initiatives, we are setting up endowments to ensure the continuation of the SISSP graduate training workshop, primary awards, graduate travel awards, and diversity fund.
  2. We have initiated a number of new funding programs to provide support for members’ activities. These include the following:
  • Summer training program (SPUR) to support ethnic minority undergraduate students working with faculty to gain research experience
  • Research award program to provide small amounts of funding in support of faculty research initiatives
  • Small conference grant program to provide funding for targeted conferences in the field

We also are increasing our effectiveness as an organization and reaching out to new sets of members. We currently have the following 3 task forces:

  1. NonAcademic Task Force, focused on how to better serve our members who work in industry, policy, and other nonacademic settings (Ravi Iyer, Chair)
  2. Strategic Planning Task Force, designed to identify organizational goals and priorities (Richard Petty, Chair)
  3. Re-Imagining the Conference Task Force, that has outlined innovative programing that better meets members’ needs (Jennifer Beer, Chair)

A presidential term at SPSP is too short to make major changes, but most of these will benefit from the input of our next President, Diane Mackie. All of us in this office are committed to identifying the ways that SPSP can more actively promote and represent you and our science. This is an exciting time to be a social-personality psychologist.

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