Advances in Integrative Psychological Science

Increasingly, the excitement in psychological science is in integrative science —  research that spans disciplinary boundaries and geographic boundaries, and that combines different levels of analysis of the same phenomena. At the same time, it is increasingly clear that progress on the big questions involving behavior — whether in health, education, economic productivity, human rights, or other areas — requires multiple scientific perspectives and cross-cutting research that is not rooted in one particular subdiscipline.

This trend toward integrative approaches has significant implications for research funding, training, publishing, and other aspects of the psychological science infrastructure. It also creates new pressures on young investigators who want to work across disciplinary models while maintaining a core area of expertise.

Seizing the opportunities and meeting the challenges posed by integrative psychological science requires a global effort.  An international initiative on integrative science, organized under the auspices of APS in partnership with European subdisciplinary societies, is addressing some of the critical issues. The effort is being led by some of the field’s most distinguished scientists and, among other achievements, has given rise to the establishment of the first International Convention of Psychological Science, which will be held in 2015 in Amsterdam.

And over the next year, the Observer will be showcasing cutting-edge integrative science, beginning with our cover story this month on the multiple scientific perspectives being injected into research on addiction. Look for more feature stories on some highly innovative and collaborative studies being carried out across the globe.

Integrative Science to be Focus of International Convention

Nearly 5 years ago, a group of leading international scholars launched a unique effort to advance psychological science across geographical as well as disciplinary boundaries. The meeting, organized under the auspices of APS, included subdisciplinary societies whose membership spans all of Europe and beyond. There was a strong consensus among the participants, who were diverse in their research perspectives and nationalities, that a sustained effort is needed to address the scientific, cultural, and other hurdles facing our discipline.

The goals and ideas that resulted from that meeting included disseminating interdisciplinary research findings more broadly and rapidly via conferences, journals, and networking; creating a communication structure that will stimulate new research projects; redesigning training programs for a more integrative future; working with research funding agencies to support more integrative research and training; and developing a cadre of reviewers competent to review integrative science.

APS has collaborated with pan-European subdisciplinary groups over the last few years to bring about more integrative science and to connect North American and European scientists, resulting among other things in the APS Post Doc Exchange and the Global Observer, a monthly electronic publication featuring research and news of interest to an international readership.  In addition, there have been outstanding symposia featuring cutting-edge integrative research, held in conjunction with the annual meetings of European social, neuro, developmental, personality and cognitive psychology organizations.

The latest, and biggest, step is the inaugural International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS) which will be held in Amsterdam on 12–14 March 2015. This innovative event is distinguished by its international scope, a focus on integrative science, and an emphasis on methodology in addition to presenting cutting-edge research.

ICPS keynote speakers are APS Fellow Stanislas Dehaene, Collège de France, a psychological scientist and former mathematician who pioneered the field of numerical cognition; George Lakoff, University of California, Berkeley, a world-renowned cognitive linguist whose innovative theories changed the way scientists examine the connection between mind and body; and APS Fellow Terrie Moffitt, Duke University, whose work in gene-environment interaction research linked adult antisocial outcomes to childhood origins.

A steering committee overseeing the international initiative broadly, as well as the development of the ICPS, includes cochairs Walter Mischel, an APS Past President, of Columbia University, New York, US, and Gün Semin, APS Secretary, of Utrecht University, Netherlands, and Koç University, Turkey. Other members of the committee are APS Fellow Daniel Cervone, University of Illinois at Chicago, US; Kenneth Hugdahl, University of Bergen, Norway; APS Board Member Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Birkbeck, University of London, UK; APS Fellow Anne Maass, University of Padova, Italy; APS Fellow Tania Singer, Max Planck Institute, Germany; APS Fellow Sir Michael Rutter, King’s College, London, UK; APS Fellow Wolfgang Prinz, Max Planck Institute, Germany; APS Fellow Klaus Scherer, University of Geneva, Switzerland; and APS Executive Director Alan G. Kraut.

In addition to APS, organizations that have been involved in this event include the 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 Association of Developmental Psychology, and the Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology.

For additional information about the ICPS, visit

Observer Vol.27, No.1 January, 2014

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