Mission and History

The mission of the Association for Psychological Science is to promote, protect, and advance the interests of scientifically oriented psychology in research, application, teaching, and the improvement of human welfare.

We are a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1988 to advance scientific psychology and its representation as a science on the national level. APS grew quickly, surpassing 5,000 members in its first six months. Today, 33,000 psychological researchers and their students in more than 80 countries, and spanning the entire spectrum of scientific, applied, and teaching specialties, are members of the Association.

The following articles on the founding of APS were written by APS Member Robin L. Cautin and published in the May 2009 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science:

The Founding of the Association for Psychological Science: Part 1. Dialectical Tensions Within Organized Psychology and 

The Founding of the Association for Psychological Science: Part 2. The Tipping Point and Early Years

Advocacy for Psychological Science

Soon after its founding, the Association (then the American Psychological Society) became involved in advocacy for psychological science. In January 1989, APS organized the first Summit of Scientific Psychological Societies, a gathering of representatives from over 40 psychological organizations, to discuss the role of scientific advocacy, the enhancement of psychology as a coherent scientific discipline, the protection of scientific values in education and training, the use of science in the public interest, and the scientific values of psychological practice. This summit served to open dialogue on often ignored issues integral to psychological science.

In 1990, APS organized the first of several Behavioral Science Research Summits, at which representatives from nearly 70 organizations developed a framework for a national behavioral science research agenda. This research agenda became encapsulated in the Human Capital Initiative (HCI). The HCI targets six critical contemporary problems facing the nation, communities, and families that can be helped by psychological science. The reports produced by the HCI project examined issues of worker productivity, schools and literacy, the aging society, drug and alcohol abuse, mental and physical health, and violence in American society.

APS fostered relationships with the institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its effort to represent psychological science nationally. APS helped ensure the preservation of the behavioral science mission of the research components of the former Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) during their transfer to NIH as part of the October 1992 ADAMHA Reorganization Act. Additionally, the Association supported the creation of the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at NIH in 1993.

Recognizing the need for a new cadre of young behavioral science investigators, APS prompted the creation of the Behavioral Science Track Award for Rapid Transition (B/START) program at the National Institute of Mental Health, which was launched in 1994. The B/START program was expanded to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 1996, and later to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 1999.

In late 2005, APS members voted favorably on an important referendum to help the organization emphasize its scientific mission and the international scope of its membership. The organization, then known as American Psychological Society, changed its name to Association for Psychological Science on January 1, 2006.

Also, in 2006, the Association established the APS Fund for Teaching and Public Understanding of Psychological Science, a program of small grants for activities relating to the teaching of psychology.

Dissemination of Psychological Research

Dissemination of psychological research is one of the primary goals of the Association for Psychological Science. To fulfill this mission, APS launched its flagship journal Psychological Science in 1989. Psychological Science publishes authoritative articles of interest across all of scientific psychology’s sub-disciplines, including the behavioral, clinical, cognitive, neural, and social sciences. Psychological Science soon became one of the most widely cited journals in the field of psychology.

In 1992, Psychological Science was followed by the creation of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, which publishes concise reviews written by leading experts, and spans all of scientific psychology and its applications. The articles found in Current Directions in Psychological Science are written in terms that are accessible outside of the realm of research subspecialties.

APS launched its third journal, Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI) in 2000. PSPI provides definitive assessments of topics where psychological science may have the potential to inform and improve the well-being of society. Topics addressed in this journal include the validity of projective techniques, such as the Rohrschach Inkblot Test, the impact of classroom size on student achievement, and whether herbal supplements, like Ginkgo biloba, can enhance cognitive abilities.

A fourth journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science was launched in March 2006. More eclectic in its scope, Perspectives presents a lively mix of theoretical statements, literature reviews, viewpoints and opinions, research presentations, and scholarship.

In 2013, APS began publishing its fifth journal, Clinical Psychological Science, which features advances in clinical science and provides a venue for cutting-edge research across a wide range of conceptual views, approaches, and topics. Clinical Psychological Science encompasses many core domains that have defined clinical psychology, but also boundary-crossing advances that integrate and make contact with diverse disciplines and that may not easily be found in traditional clinical psychology journals.

The latest journal from APS, Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science is the home for innovative developments in research methods, practices, and conduct across the full range of areas and topics within psychological science. AMPPS publishes new types of empirical work and articles and tutorials that reflect the various approaches to research across the field. AMPPS encourages integration of methodological and analytical questions across multiple branches of psychological science and brings the latest methodological advances to non-methodology experts across all areas of the field.