Presidential Symposium

Psychology as a Hub Science

Time and Location
Friday May 23, 2008, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Sheraton 4 & 5


In the Middle Ages, theology and philosophy were the hub disciplines, and the other disciplines were organized in a circle around this center. This dynamic duo of hub disciplines influenced thinking across the other fields of knowledge. The past three centuries have been a period of unparalleled advances in knowledge and science. Are the sciences organized around a central discipline or two, or have all the scientific disciplines matured independently and sufficiently such that there is no central inherent overall structure in science? Scientometric research to address this question indicates contemporary science no longer originates from a single source. Instead, seven hub disciplines were found: mathematics, physics, chemistry, earth sciences, medicine, "social sciences," and psychology. The distinguished speakers in the Presidential Symposium represent diverse areas within psychology and have influenced scientific research across multiple scientific disciplines. Together, they illustrate the importance and centrality of psychological science.

John T. Cacioppo

John T. Cacioppo (Chair)
The University of Chicago

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman
Princeton University
Psychology, Behavioral Economics, and Policy
It is a fact of life that economics is the only social science that has a substantial impact on policy and on policy-makers. Furthermore, economists are the gate-keepers who present and represent social science research to policy makers. An implication of these facts is that psychology is most likely to affect policy indirectly, by way of its influence on behavioral economics. The history of this relationship and some recent success stories will be described.

Claude Steele

Claude Steele
Stanford University
Three Themes for the Future
On the continuum of social and natural sciences, psychology occupies the prime real estate of bridging the social to the biological sciences. This talk will focus on three challenges such a ‘hub’ science faces: understanding, as Michael Gazzaniga put it, ‘how the mind arises from the brain’; understanding how the mind rises from the socio-cultural context; how these pursuits relate to each other and how they may be shaped by the changing funding environment.

Richard F. Thompson

Richard F. Thompson
University of Southern California
Psychology, Neuroscience, and the 800 Pound Gorilla
Behavioral neuroscience, or physiological psychology, has always been at the heart of psychological science, as in Wundt’s Physiologische Psychologie, 1874. When the Society for Neuroscience was formed, in 1969, the largest number of scientists joining in terms of discipline were from psychology. The study of brain substrates of behavior has exploded in recent years because of the 800 pound Gorilla, human brain imaging. This talk will overview some key recent developments in this broad field.

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