In the Name of Science

The Board of Directors of the American Psychological Society has unanimously recommended that APS change its name to the Association for Psychological Science to underscore APS’s dedication to science as well as the international scope of its membership. This proposal will be decided by a vote of APS Members in October. In keeping with the Society’s bylaws, the name change will need approval from two-thirds of the votes cast.

This name change was presented earlier this year in an Observer column by APS Treasurer Roberta Klatzky (“The Case for Changing Our Name,” April, 2005). Writing on behalf of the Board, she said, “the Society’s name should be changed, because it will strengthen the scope and direction of the organization in three very important ways — it publicly defines, by name, psychology as a science; it embraces the international nature of our membership; and it demands respect for our science.”

A representative selection of Member responses was published in subsequent issues. The column and letters are available online at:

“As the field of psychology has become increasingly fractionated,” said APS Immediate Past President Robert Levenson, “APS has emerged as the primary advocate for the scientific aspects of our discipline. The APS position in this regard has been clear, coherent, and consistent,” he said, adding that the change will bring the Society’s name in line with its journals, all of which have “psychological science” in their titles, and even the APS web site (

From APS to APS
While the name would change, the familiar acronym wouldn’t. But it’s hoped that one benefit of the proposed change would be less confusion with the similarly-named American Psychological Association (APA). “During my term,” said Levenson, “I often found myself needing to explain to the non-cognoscenti that APS was not the same as APA, and that APS was not the organization that had said or done a particular thing.

“I believe that we would be better served now and in the future by a name that makes clear which part of psychology we represent,” Levenson said. “Changing our name to the Association for Psychological Science does that.”

“Normally, I favor inertia,” added Board Member Douglas Medin, tongue-in-cheek. “But I think there’s a good case for changing the name.”

International Importance
The Board also believes that dropping “American” from the name will make the Society even more welcoming to international members. Currently, approximately 10 percent of APS Members are from other countries.

“I support the name change because of the importance of internationalizing the society,” said Board Member Nancy Eisenberg. “Psychology is an international endeavor and we want to encourage membership from people outside of the United States.”

Online Vote in October
“I am very glad that the Board is bringing this vote to the membership,” said President-elect Morton Ann Gernsbacher. “In this way, all members can participate in determining the name of our organization.”

A vote on the proposed name change from American Psychological Society to Association for Psychological Science will be conducted online in mid-October. APS Members will receive further details via email.

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.