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Why Social and Personality Psychologists Should Present Their Work at APA

The enormous APA convention is not often the first conference that personality and social psychologists think about when they strategize about where to present their research.  There is a perception that only practicing clinicians attend APA.  While it’s true that the crowd is heavily clinical, there is also lots of great personality and social psychology that takes place as well.  At the 2014 convention, our division put on talks by Jamie Pennebaker, Wendy Wood, Phillip Zimbardo, Rebecca Shiner, Brian Nosek, Keith Humphreys, and many others.  There were symposia on implicit attitudes, emotion regulation, climate change, and personality development.  But beyond the excellent personality and social psychological content, presenting at APA is a great opportunity for at least two other reasons: experience and outreach.
 
First, APA represents an excellent venue for graduate students, postdocs, and early career scholars to get experience presenting their work.  There’s simply no better way to improve your ability to communicate about your research than practice.  Many of the smaller conferences are extremely competitive, so most people don’t get accepted to present.  In contrast, given the size of the APA convention, our division is able to accept a much higher percentage of submissions, giving you the opportunity to get experience giving a talk or presenting a poster.
 
Second, the diversity of APA attendees provides an excellent opportunity to both recruit new personality and social psychologists and to share the most important findings in our field with people who might not otherwise come across them.  At last year’s convention, I overheard two undergraduates leaving a symposium; one said to the other, “I had no idea that the stuff I’m most interested in is called ‘social psychology.’  This is definitely what I want to go to graduate school to do!”  Many students who do not attend research universities don’t appreciate the differences between the many sub-fields of psychology and presenting at APA is one way of bringing new personality and social psychologists into the fold.  Also at last year’s convention, I chaired a symposium focused on personality development across the lifespan.  At the start of the symposium, I asked the standing-room-only crowd how many people had heard of the Big Five personality traits and only a handful of people raised their hand.  An hour later, over 150 people had learned something about one of the major tenets of personality psychology, something they can apply to whatever their specialty happens to be.  What an amazing opportunity to educate others about our work!
 
So, let me encourage you to submit your work to APA. The submission deadline is Monday, December 1 at 5pm EST at this link: http://tinyurl.com/2015Div8Call. Please note that we only accept proposals for symposia and posters (no individual papers).  Feel free to contact me (jadler@olin.edu), or Co-Chair Jeni Burnette (jlburne5@ncsu.edu) with any questions.
 
Jonathan Adler
Olin College of Engineering
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