European Federations and APS Unite to Advance Psychological Science

European and U.S. scholars are engaged in a unique new effort to advance psychological science across geographical as well as disciplinary boundaries. This initiative was launched when representatives from nine organizations met in Paris this past summer to discuss the international promotion of research and education in psychology.

The meeting, organized under the auspices of APS, included subdisciplinary societies whose membership spans all of Europe. Diverse in their research perspectives and nationalities, there was a strong consensus among the participants that a global effort is needed to address the scientific, cultural, and political hurdles facing the discipline of psychology.

“To me, the meeting felt like a long overdue reunion with old colleagues, although most of us had never met before,” said Walter Mischel, APS Past President. “We quickly saw we shared common professional and scientific goals, with similar frustrations, challenges, and needs, and we recognized that a sustained connection at many levels promises to be of mutual benefit and is worth pursuing.”

APS Executive Director Alan Kraut sees this new effort as a milestone in the continued progress of scientific psychology. “The whole idea of breaking down barriers in psychological science is fundamental to the future of our discipline, whether they be barriers of geography or among subfields,” said Kraut. “In Paris, we broke both kinds.”

“The occasion was historic,” noted Gün Semin, chair of the APS International Committee from Utrecht University in The Netherlands. “It brought these European psychology associations together for the first time.” In the past, meetings tended to be organized around national psychology groups.

Previously, APS organized another historical effort, working with psychological scientists in China to increase exchanges between scholars in both nations and address issues of mutual concern. Among other things, this resulted in the establishment of program that connects APS Fellows and Chinese graduate students. (See June/July 2008 Observer).

The Paris group identified several broad goals, including:

  • Advancing the internationalization of psychological science across geographical boundaries.
  • Furthering public interest in and awareness of psychological science and its policy implications.
  • Furthering cross-talk between sub-fields within psychological science.
  • Influencing agenda-setting and funding policy at supranational levels (e.g., the European Union).

“This was indeed the overall purpose of the meeting,” said Semin, “to bridge the Atlantic by bringing together the APS and European Associations of Psychology in pursuit of joint and integrative goals for psychological science.

Standing: Shane O’Mara, Dan Zakay, J.F. Démonet, Christiane Spiel, Frosso Motti, Jane Riddoch, Axel Cleeremans, Sergio Della Sala, Jens Asendorpf, Gün Semin, Carsten De Dreu, Willem Koops, Alan Kraut. Seated: Nuria Sebastian Galles, Walter Mischel, Beatrice de Gelder, Xenia Chryssochoou.

Standing: Shane O’Mara, Dan Zakay, J.F. Démonet, Christiane Spiel, Frosso Motti, Jane Riddoch, Axel Cleeremans, Sergio Della Sala, Jens Asendorpf, Gün Semin, Carsten De Dreu, Willem Koops, Alan Kraut. Seated: Nuria Sebastian Galles, Walter Mischel, Beatrice de Gelder, Xenia Chryssochoou.

“Moreover,” he added, “the meeting underlined the necessity for a supra-disciplinary body that would have better chances of representing scientific psychology as a whole to European institutions and enhance a dialogue between disciplinary visions and build bridges between these visions towards a more systemic psychological science.”

A shared feeling emerged that psychological science in Europe would benefit from further cross-talk and collaborative action,” added Carsten K.W. De Dreu, University of Amsterdam, representing the European Association of Social Psychology.  “We decided to organize follow-up meetings to develop more specific and concrete initiatives. The Paris meeting may well turn out to be an important step towards an integrative psychological science in Europe.”

Suggestions Welcome

With the above goals as a framework, the group is in the process of planning specific activities that will be conducted jointly. Ideas and suggestions are welcome: Please send your comments to aps@psychologicalscience.org.

“We’re still in the early stages of this,” Kraut said, “but we all are committed to seeing this through. Who knows where we’ll end? The possibilities are enormous.

Participating Organizations

Association for Psychological Science

European Association of Personality Psychology

European Association of Social Psychology

European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology

European Brain and Behaviour Society

European Society for Cognitive Psychology

European Society for Developmental Psychology

Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology

Israeli Psychological Association

Representatives:

Jens Asendorpf

Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany)

European Association of Personality Psychology

Arnold Bakker

Erasmus University, Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology

 

Sarah Brookhart

Association for Psychological Science

Xenia Chryssochoou

Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences (Greece)

European Association of Social Psychology

 

Axel Cleeremans

Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

European Society for Cognitive Psychology

Carsten De Dreu

University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

European Association of Social Psychology

Beatrice de Gelder

University of Tilburg (The Netherlands)

European Brain and Behaviour Society

Sergio Della Sala

University of Edinburgh (UK)

Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology

J. F. Démonet

Hôpital Purpan (France)

Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology

Willem Koops

Utrecht University (The Netherlands)

European Society for Developmental Psychology

Alan Kraut

Association for Psychological Science

 

Walter Mischel

Columbia University (US)

Association for Psychological Science

Frosso Motti

University of Athens (Greece)

European Association of Personality Psychology

European Society for Developmental Psychology

Shane O’Mara

Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland)

European Brain and Behaviour Society

Jane Riddoch

University of Birmingham (UK)

Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology

Nuria Sebastian Galles

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain)

European Society for Cognitive Psychology

Gün Semin

Utrecht University (The Netherlands)

APS International Committee

Christiane Spiel

Universität Wien (Germany)

European Society for Developmental Psychology

Dan Zakay

Tel-Aviv University (Israel)

Israeli Psychological Association

Observer Vol.22, No.7 September, 2009

Leave a comment below and continue the conversation.

Comments

My suggestion is advance psychological science first deeply study the psyche of each nation and find out how can reduce the psyche of each nation so they can co-prate with each other.My observation main culprit for conflict,misunderstanding, war, arises because of different psyche of each nation,so they could not understand each other.not arises empathy with each other.I know this is very difficult job.but why not try it.My another suggestion is now we must include in psychological study other sciences also.there are tremendous research going on neuroscience,in Quantum physic artificial intelligence.

Teaching Psychology When You Don’t Teach Psychology
(Submission: Global Observer Teaching Forum)

I live in Beijing and teach Chinese lawyers a course in legal reasoning about the American legal system For many years, I taught introductory psychology and AP psychology in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I still try and work some of psychology’s lessons into my classes.

At the beginning of each class, I conduct a reasoning exercise because Chinese lawyers are just as prone to confirmation bias and belief perseverance as everyone else. My goal is to convince my students to investigate problems deeply and to continue asking the next “what if” question.

One exercise I use to induce students to ask questions is intended to develop students’ critical questioning abilities. I tell students a made-up story about the contents of an empty box which I have placed in front of the class. I tell my students that inside the box is an award-winning contest model of a prototypical Chinese high school in 2050, complete with an architect’s plan. Students then ask “yes” and “no” questions in order to attempt to guess the design. I let students guess at the “school’s design” for five minutes or so before revealing to them the empty box.

As they seize upon new information during the activity, guided by other students’ questions and my responses, students are revising their own thinking about the school’s design. Learning to adapt one’s original hypotheses based upon new information is a useful process for lawyers and psychologists alike. My job as teacher is to keep track of students’ questions in order to insure consistent answers. The follow-up is to get students reflecting upon and discussing their own thinking processes during the activity.

Since many of my students work as judges and prosecutors, I also want them to know about some basic psychological research so that they understand, for example, that our memories are fallible, leading even confident eyewitnesses to make mistakes. I give my students a copy of an article I wrote for the San Francisco/Los Angeles Daily Journal, California’s primary legal newspaper. The article is about how a “recovered memory” was used to convict a Boston priest, despite the testimony of memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, which cast doubt upon the alleged victim’s testimony. As a follow-up to that article, students research the California Supreme Court case of Taus v. Loftus, which involves the legal issue of right to privacy, tying it to Taus’ supposed recovered memory.

China’s Criminal Law Code is undergoing major revisions, but torture is still commonly used to coerce confessions and I want my students who are government officials to understand why those confessions are inherently unreliable, findings directly related to the work of social psychologist Richard Ofshe.

I have recently begun teaching English to Chinese students who intend to go to universities outside China. For those students, I am most interested in getting them to speak English since usually their English comprehension is already pretty good. One of the keys I’ve found to helping those students speak is role-playing, similar to what therapists might do to get patients to break down boundaries. My motto is speak before you think.

Another of psychology’s lessons is that we remember those things best that are most interesting to us. So, as a homework assignment, I might ask a student to research US universities which she might like to attend or find out about music groups in China that have incorporated English lyrics in songs and then teach me the songs.

One way psychologists can give psychology away is to write op-eds for newspapers. For the last eight years, I have been writing op-eds, often about psychological topics. It’s a great way to stay current and educate the public, if not your classes, about psychology.

Here are some suggestions. Write about how social norms can be useful to influence behavior. In China, our major health problem is smoking. There are more smokers in China than anywhere else in the world and it’s estimated that over halfof the adult male population smokes and that about 40% of doctors smoke.. Smoking is everywhere and is encouraged at social events where bowls of cigarettes are sometimes placed on food tables and cigarettes are a treasured gift. Obviously, since few women smoke, (about 3%) one target of campaigns to wipe out smoking here can be that gender imbalance which seems to have encouraged males (but not females) to smoke.

Teachers can also write about how understanding basic statistical information can help people become better informed citizens. For example, in China the newspapers often report statistical surveys that are based upon poor methodology. Sometimes, policy makers propose new legislation relying on a few vivid anecdotes. When that happens, it’s a good opportunity to highlight the availability heuristic and point out that policies should be based upon data, not drama.

Finally, teachers can interview famous psychologists and let the public know about the important work those people are doing. Here’s a link to an interview I had with Dr. Zimbardo that was published by China Daily Online. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2011-07/04/content_12827760.htm

Most psychology teachers want their students to absorb and apply psychology’s lessons when they leave their classrooms. When psychology teachers enter new fields, they should bring psychology with them too.

Patrick Mattimore
2101 Changyuan Tiandi Building B1
18 Suzhou St.
100080, Beijing, China
+86 (1)3439943249

Patrick Mattimore is an adjunct professor of law in the Temple University/Tsinghua University LLM program in Beijing, China.

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